The 18th Chicago Underground Film Festival (CUFF), presented by IFP/Chicago, kicked off on Thursday, June 2, showcasing a savvy program of film and video exploring the many definitions and interpretations of the ‘underground’ concept. All films were screened at the Gene Siskel Film Center, 164 North State Street. The winners for this year’s festival were announced on Sunday, June 5 at an after-party upstairs at Delilah’s.
Each year, CUFF reveals a unique programming niche of films that ignore limitations of genre and are made with passion and drive. Audiences this year were again captivated by an array of films that included sixteen different programs of narrative, documentary and experimental film and video, question and answer sessions with many of the featured filmmakers, and a journey into the world of underground film.
Competitions were held in a variety of categories determined by the festival jury and winners were presented with handmade art pieces designed by Chicago artist Luke Breckon.
This year’s Audience Award, as chosen by festival attendees, was awarded to “Some Girls Never Learn” (USA) directed by Jerzy Rose. The film was also awarded the festival’s “Made in Chicago” award by the jury. Rose also won the “Made In Chicago” in 2008 for his short film “The Universe and Young Pilot Nelson” and a best narrative short film award in 2009 for “All Ghost Women Play The Theremin.”
Jury award winners:
Best Documentary (feature): And Again – Adele Horne
Best Documentary (short): History Minor – Ryan Garrett
Best Experimental: Home Movie – John Price
Best Experimental: Slow Action – Ben Rivers
Best Narrative (feature): The Color Wheel – Alex Ross Perry
Best Narrative (feature): Snow on tha Bluff – Damon Russell
Young Bird Season – Nellie Kluz
Second Law: South Leh St. – Mike Gibisser
Chainsaw Found Jesus – Spencer Parsons
Devil’s Gate – Laura Kraning
The 2011 Chicago Underground Film Festival Jury:
Donald Harrison is Executive Director of the Ann Arbor Film Festival, the longest-running independent and experimental film festival in North America. During his tenure he has expanded the AAFF traveling tour, launched the festival’s DVD collections of short films, hosted more than 100 screenings and reviewed thousands of works under consideration. Prior to joining the AAFF in 2006, Donald worked for several years at the Film Arts Foundation in San Francisco where he also studied documentary and experimental film. He currently serves on the boards of the Michigan Theater and Arts Alliance in Ann Arbor and the advisory board for the Aurora Picture Show in Houston, TX. Donald was raised to be a professional bowler and most recently carried a 219 league average.
Chinese-born media artist Chi Jang Yin is known for her conceptual, documentary work, which comments upon the state of Chinese culture, past and present. She often imbues her work with elements from her background in photography and performance art. She received her BA and her MFA from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2000. Her videos were recently awarded: Honorable Mention at the In-Out Festival, Poland; Best Film on Architecture at the Asolo Art Film Festival, Italy; and Second Grand Prize at the Athens International Film Festival, Ohio. Her work has screened at the 2008 Asian Art Biennial at the Taiwan National Museum of Fine Arts, Taichung, the Los Angeles Film Festival, and the International Documentary Festival Amsterdam (IDFA).
Ignatiy Vishnevetsky is one of the new co-hosts for Ebert’s At The Movies, a critic and essayist for MUBI.com, co-founder of the acclaimed Cine-File.info, and a contributor to the Chicago Reader. Prior to becoming a film critic, Ignatiy worked as a translator for Novoe Literaturnoe Obozrenie, Russia’s premier literary journal. Born in the Soviet Union, Ignatiy moved to America when he was eight and soon moved to Chicago “because I could find more films to see here.” Ignatiy helps program the current Cine-File Selects series at the University of Chicago’s Doc Films, the nation’s oldest film society. He also co-manages the Odd Obsession underground and alternative video store.
Irvine Welsh is an acclaimed and often controversial writer of novels, stories and stage and screenplays. His book Trainspotting was made into a 1996 film of the same name directed by Danny Boyle which was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award and an Oscar. Welsh comes from Edinburgh, Scotland, and lives with his American wife Elizabeth, mainly in Chicago, IL and Miami, FL. He travels a great deal and his hobbies include socialising and sporting activities.