The 23rd Chicago Underground Film Festival returns to the Logan Theatre, 2646 N. Milwaukee Ave., June 1-5, 2016 and features an international slate of innovative, exciting and provocative films and videos. More than 100 features, documentaries and shorts will screen over five days at the longest running underground film festival in the world. This year’s event opens with the long awaited world premiere of Tyler Hubby’s feature documentary Tony Conrad Completely In the Present, about the legendary artist. Conrad was scheduled to attend the festival to accept the “Lifetime Achievement Award,” when he unexpectedly passed away on April 9, 2016. The festival will honor the artist with a posthumous award and tribute.
Tickets: $20 for opening night (includes admission to after party at Elastic Arts), $10 per program. Festival passes also available for $80, which grants admission to all screenings and events. Tickets available HERE. Members of IFP Chicago receive 15% off all tickets. EMAIL US for the discount code.
For over two decades, the Chicago Underground Film Festival has provided audiences with an accessible, viewer-friendly showcase for avant-garde and cult-cinema. Through sidebar events, infamous after-parties and lively panel discussions, CUFF promotes an atmosphere of engagement for filmmakers to discuss ideas, techniques and tactics, to network and to forge lifelong creative relationships.
“This year’s lineup is one of our strongest ever,” says Artistic Director Bryan Wendorf, “Our goal has always been to present work that is thought-provoking and challenges audience expectations but does so in a fun and enjoyable way and we’ve achieved that beyond even our own expectations. From retrospectives of important figures from the history of the avant-garde to films that push genre conventions into unusual new territory, bringing together the latest work by long time friends who have become some of the leading film artists working today and discovering brand new talents who will likely become the stars of tomorrow”
Festival Highlights and Special Programs include:
Opening Night: The Chicago Underground Film Festival is proud to present the World Premiere of “Tony Conrad: Completely In The Present”, a two decades in-the-making documentary by Tyler Hubby that explores the extraordinary life and influential work of the legendary artist, filmmaker and musician who passed away on April 9. Conrad was slated to be the festival’s Guest of Honor and the festival will pay tribute to him with a screening of his own film and video work.
Tony Conrad Tribute: A tribute to Tony Conrad presenting an overview of his film and video work from 1966 to 2011 including his groundbreaking film “The Flicker” a landmark of structural filmmaking that consists entirely of an alternating pattern of black and white frames creating a hypnotic and trancelike experience unlike anything else. Thursday, June 2 8:30 pm
Closing Night: The Chicago Underground Film Festival will conclude on Sunday, June 5 with the Chicago Premiere of “The Alchemist Cookbook” the latest micro-budget effort from Grand Rapids, Michigan auteur Joel Potrykus. The follow up to his critically acclaimed films Ape and Buzzard. A genre defying blend of black comedy and horror, “The Alchemist Cookbook” tells the story of Sean, a socially maladjusted outcast who isolates himself in the Michigan backwoods to study the occult arts. The film solidifies Potrykus reputation as one of the most intriguing young artists in contemporary American independent cinema.
Luther Price Program: Digital restorations of “Clown” and “A” two early works by Luther Price. A stand out figure of the contemporary avant-garde, Luther Price’s images of beautiful decay live and die in an instant onscreen, evoking the fragile, ephemeral nature of both life and cinema itself. Alternately iconoclastic and nostalgic, his films confront the specters of death, sex, and childhood trauma – Price’s early Super 8mm films offer a window into his singularly captivating psyche. In these small gauge works he inhabits alter egos, the nightmarish harlequin of “Clown” (1992) and the unhinged, Joan Crawford-esque drunk in the suicide melodrama A (1995) these painfully personal works took a psychic toll and led to him working with 16mm found footage in the early 2000s as “a way,” Price has written, “for me to still talk about issues…but not destroy me.” Saturday June 4, 8:00 pm
2016 Feature Film selections
This year the festival has programmed 11 feature length films, including two world premieres, and a US premiere running the gamut from narratives, documentary and experimental work that like the festival itself defy easy categorization.
• Festival alumni Ben Rivers’ “THE SKY TREMBLES AND THE EARTH IS AFRAID AND THE TWO EYES ARE NOT BROTHERS” is a hallucinatory narrative gorgeously shot against the rugged landscape of Morocco. A film director abandons his own set and descends into a perilous adventure that forms a multi-layered excavation into the illusion of cinema itself. Thursday, June 2, 7:00 pm
• Anna Biller’s “The Love Witch,” A modern-day witch uses spells and magic to get men to fall in love with her in this feminist tribute to 1960s pulp novels and Technicolor melodramas. Thursday, June 2 9:00 pm
• “Grace Period”, an experimental documentary by KyungMook KIM and Caroline Key that examines the activities of female sex workers in the Yeongdeungpo red-light district in Seoul, South Korea. Archival footage, mostly shot by the women themselves, shows their collective efforts as they organize with other sex workers from brothels across the country. Friday, June 3, 7:00 pm
• “Director's Commentary: Terror of Frankenstein” directed by Tim Kirk and produced by Rodney Ascher (Room 237, The Nightmare) is an exercise in extreme metafictional tragicomedy. Presented as the commentary track of a cynically rushed repressing of a forgotten (but 100% genuine) Frankenstein film's DVD, this project transforms the film into an entirely new, all too human horror story. "Director's Commentary: Terror of Frankenstein" is Mystery Science Theater 3000 by way of Sartre, an icy satire of the monsters on screen, behind the camera, and in the audience. Friday, June 3 9:00 pm
• “Focus on Infinity” a documentary by Austrian filmmaker Joerg Burger, a cinematic journey to people, machines and places that are connected with the exploration of the origin of our universe and our existence. Allowing an insight into the life and thoughts of scientists, this film will bring up questions, that are important to modern cosmology and quantum physics. Saturday, June 4 4:00 pm
• “Excursions” by Daniel Martinico. In the hopes of revitalizing their marriage, a husband and wife retreat to a remote cabin getaway with some longtime friends. Their pleasant interaction quickly assumes a relentless intensity as they push one another, mentally and physically, towards transcendence. This shortcut to enlightenment, however, has unexpected consequences. Saturday, June 4 6:00 pm
• The World Premiere of “Pastor Paul” by Jules Bartkowski. Filmed in Ghana and Nigeria, “Pastor Paul” is the first American Nollywood film; a white tourist in West Africa who is possessed by a ghost after acting in a Nollywood movie. Saturday June 4 9:00 pm
• The US Premiere of “Deprogrammed” by Mia Donovan Inspired by her stepbrother’s cult deprogramming by the infamous ‘Father of Deprogramming’ Ted ‘Black Lightning’ Patrick in 1991, Mia Donovan examines Patrick’s life and techniques and begins to unravel his notorious legacy. Sunday, June 5, 2:00pm
• “Booger Red” by Berndt Mader and Johnny McAllister is a hybrid documentary/narrative about a veteran reporter who searches for the truth behind the largest purported child sex ring in Texas history. On his journey through the bowels of East Texas, he's forced to confront his own history with abuse while he discovers that the allegations at the root of his investigation might have never happened. Mixing interviews with and acting from the actual defendants interwoven with a fictional narrative, The Austin Chronicle wrote “Booger Red falls somewhere between Errol Morris’s The Thin Blue Line and Call Northside 777’s cynicism”. Sunday, June 5, 4:00 pm.
2016 Shorts Programs
Blending experimental, documentary, traditional, and nontraditional narratives, the festival’s acclaimed shorts programming features an impressive lineup featuring nearly one hundred films from over twenty different countries. The programs include new work from festival favorites such as Ben Russell, Jennifer Reeder, Lori Felker James N. Kienitz Wilkins, Robert Todd, Jon Rafman, Anja Dornieden & Juan David González Monroy, Sasha Litvintseva, Beatrice Gibson, Laura Kranik, Daïchi Saïto, Kevin Jerome Everson as well work by many others making their first appearance at the festival.