Chicago Underground Film Festival 1997 Program

1997 FESTIVAL PROGRAM

SATURDAY AUGUST 16

FILM THEATER

1:00 PM

Shorts Program Part 3: Steps Casey Suchan, 16mm experimental short, 5 min., 1996 The first time a young woman masturbates, shown on cut, torn, scratched and painted film, combined with Super 8 childhood movies and images of Hollywood glamour. It’s sexuality juxtaposed with pre-pubescent girls and exaggerated visions of womanhood.(i.e., Betty Page). A Full Cup Jodie B. Myers, 16mm narrative short, 14 min. All Danny wants is to be a girl. All Tyler wants to do is help him… they’re roommates, they love each other and together they’ve been saving up for his operation. But you can’t put a whole lot aside when you work in a restaurant; surgery seems a very distant goal. Then one day Tyler has a really rude customer, but she forgives him in a hurry when she spots his huge wad of cash. And figures there’s more where that came from… The Whites Natasha Uppal, 16mm experimental short, 10 min., 1995 A surreal nightmare about a truly creepy family, shot 1920s’ style, complete with dialog cards. Ritual, repetition, exaggerated motion and compulsion make up the lives of the Whites…and their guests. My Pretty Little Girlfriend Jennifer M. Gentile, 16mm experimental short, 7 min., 1996 When is a hamburger not just a hamburger? X and O, two women struggling through a love/hate relationship, are having an ordinary lunch at a diner when a seemingly innocent beef patty triggers a heated argument about weight. Job Lisa McElroy, 16mm experimental short, 6 min., 1996 Filmed on location at the director’s former work site, this is a dark celebration of the trivial task, a trip into the mind of a barely human cog. Motion is reduced to mere repetition; language becomes just sounds. Macabre and very funny, Job was inspired by 1930’s monster movies and Man Ray’s surrealist Ray-o-Graphs, a cameraless technique in which objects are exposed directly onto undeveloped film. Seaschell Beach Holly Angell Hardman, 16mm narrative short, 27 min., 1995 A (truly rotten) day in the life of Sally, the living embodiment of the the t-shirt that says “I wanna be Barbie…the bitch has everything!”. All Sally wants to do is enjoy a day off work, show off some new shoes, smoke a little weed, hang out at the local OTB. But it’s just one of those days when every choice she makes is the wrong one, and Sally starts to think that maybe there really is no Ken…let alone no God.

If you want to wander off the beaten path, look for Holly Angell Hardman’s Seaschell Beach . – TimeOut, New York

2:30 PM

Two Small Bodies Beth B, 35mm narrative feature, 85 min., 1994 Eileen Maloney (Suzy Amis) opens the door to her house and instantly senses something terribly wrong: her two small children have disappeared. But Lieutenant Brann, (Fred Ward) the cop who comes to see her, is immediately suspicious and soon convinced that Eileen actually murdered her kids. After all, she works in a strip joint! But how did she do it, and what did she do with the bodies? The interrogation turns into a psychological and physical confrontation, where contempt and desire become indistinguishable, a sexually-charged game of obsession, surveillance, domination and resistance.

A plunge into the murky depths of eroticism, maternal demons and violence. — Peter Biskind, Premiere

B’s direction is a major tour de force. Confining the film to three rooms nd a backyard, she find infinite variety in a ritual defined by its repetition. — Amy Taubin, The Village Voice

4:15 PM

Hang Your Dog In The Wind Brian Flemming, 35mm narrative feature, 87 min., 1997

Life in Los Angeles can be just as boring and aimless as life in Anywhereville. Bill and his girlfriend are watching TV on a Saturday morning when a couple of slacker friends show up, along with a very photogenic hooded rat and a letter from Nick, a friend who’s vanished into the desert . Nick’s a guy who one day cut off all his hair, started barking at people on the street and obsessively serenading his girlfriend with Oi music. Then, in another burst of personality switching, he moved to a trailer at the end of the highway, with an address that’s simply “Mile Marker 40.”

Complaining the whole way, Bill takes the group on a road trip to check up on Nick. Eventually they find the trailer, and a trampoline, and Nick…who’s become a nudist.

A sunscorched vision quest, minimal in approach yet inspired with a cool, hyperreal tone. — Sundance Channel web site

Shown With

Candy Is Dandy

Kari Busch/Russ Forster, 16mm narrative short, 4 min., 1997

Dedicated to Terry Southern and cunnilingus than they would ever admit to. Featuring a number of Chicago luminaries, including Cynthia Plaster Caster, The Phantom Creeper and The Playboy Advisor. Visits to the concession stand are highly recommended

6:00 PM

The Rainbow Man/John 3:16
Sam Green, 16mm documentary short, 41 min., 1997 During the late ’70s and into the ’80s, Rollen Frederick Stewart started wearing a rainbow-striped Afro wig and making a fool of himself at sporting events, just so the TV cameras would turn to him. Becoming one of that pathetic group of “celebrities” who are famous for being famous, he went the drugs/alcohol/parties route and became more and more TV-obsessed. After finding God via a television evangelist late one night, Stewart added “John 3:16” to his persona, gave up his home and marriage and spent years living out of his car. And then something really snapped. In 1992 he took a hotel maid hostage. Holding her at gunpoint, he demanded a 3-hour TV press conference to urge America to repent before the world ended in six days. He is now serving three life sentences in a California prison. Shown With

Paranoia

Robert Edwards, 16mm documentary short, 23 min., 1996 In an age where cynicism abounds, the line between healthy skepticism and outright lunacy blurs. Does belief in malevolent forces beyond our control offer comfort in a random and chaotic world? Do you believe men never actually landed on the moon? Or that a cabal of evil bankers controls the world? A fascinating look at some questions for which there may never be answers. and

The Marionette

Seán McManus, 16mm documentary short,15 min., 1996

As Allen Falkner’s back is about to be pierced by 22 de-barbed shark hooks, he quotes Nietzsche: “That which does not kill me makes me stronger.” This is the chronicle of a ritual called a suspension, during which Falkner’s skin is pierced and he is suspended by pulleys and hooks from a studio ceiling. A professional body piercer, he states, “The skin is the largest organ in the body; very elastic, alive and moving, not rigid. It will conform to the hooks. I come to this as a seeker and a journeyer.”

7:45 PM

Fame Whore Jon Moritsugu, 16mm feature, 73 min., 1997 Saintly Jon Moritsugu, the creator of cinematic masterpieces such as My Degeneration, Mod Fuck Explosion and PBS-broadcast Terminal USA, returns with an unholy trinity of interwoven cautionary tales which show that the road to fame is paved with land mines. Or at least potholes. You’ll meet superstar Jody George, (Peter Friedrich) who has just been seeded the number-one tennis player in the world. He’s also the snottiest, angriest, vainest and dumbest.And suddenly the French press is screaming “Jody George is Gay!!” and what follows is not exactly a Greg Louganis coming-out story. And then there’s Sophie (the eternally deadpan Amy Davis) , the biggest dilletante in the Western world. In her own eyes she’s a multi-talented actress, photographer, performance artist and musician. To the rest of the world, including her acting coach (a deliriously funny cameo by Super8 hero Danny Plotnick, clearly on the verge of ripping his hair out) she should trade in her power suits for a straitjacket. And then there’s painfully PC George, manager of the Urban Dog Placement Center, who only wants a quiet routine of placing puppies in good homes. But he’s constantly fending off the public, tormented by everything from prank phonecallers (“My husband wants to watch me fucking a Great Dane”) to evil city workers. His only solace is the company of Mr. Peepers, a 6-foot tall, chain-smoking, irritable St. Bernard. Shown With

Madball

Charles Pinion, 16mm experimental short, 3 min., 1988

Possibly an homage to German abstract expressionism, delightfully gruesome toys and Elmer’s Glue. Possibly not. The star of the film is still in the filmmaker’s possession.

9:30 PM

Shorts Program Penisknifevaginawound Shade Rupe, 16mm experimental short, 7 min, 1996 Teensy porno bits flash by at fast-blink speed, accompanied by twirling Starlight mints in dazzling colors and set to a pulsing beat. Davey and the Son of Goliath Corky Quakenbush 16mm animated short, 4 min., The “Son of Sam” serial killer story, told in Claymation. Hapless little Davey didn’t really want to kill all those people, especially the couple making out in their car…but the dog made him do it! Bowl of Oatmeal PLAY LOUD! Productions, 16mm narrative short, 10 min., 1996 Desperate people who hate making decisions will take advice from just about anywhere…mail-order evangelists, psychics, politicians, breakfast food. A morbidly fascinating look at the effect two of the major food groups have on a lonely man’s life. Meat Jason Hernandez-Rosenblatt, 16mm narrative short, 17 min., 1997 Every teenager in the world thinks her parents suck and is embarrassed by family rituals. But 16-year-old Anabelle has a very real problem: her wholesome-looking, whitebread family are actually cannibals. And although mom may be a creative cook (an Asian victim is served up as a yummy stir-fry, complete with appropriate table decor) it really begins to bug Anabelle that every boy she brings home ends up as dinner. Hoping to find solace through vegetables, she flees to a produce market, but finds that her meat-enamored family won’t give her up to a world of leafy greens that easily.

The ugliest, funniest 15 minutes of film I’ve seen in ages. Three thumbs up! – Charles Fleming, LA Weekly.

The Fetishist Jim Trainor, 16mm experimental animated short, 38 min., 1997 A film based on the criminal career of William Heirens, a serial killer active in Chicago in the 1940s. Heirens, who murdered two women and a little girl before he was caught, is probably best known for a chilling message he wrote in lipstick on the bedroom wall of one of his victims: “For heaven’s sake catch me before I kill more, I cannot stop myself”. Unfolding as a series of vignettes, the film intertwines critical events in Heirens’ life with dreams and fantasies and presents a stark view of Heirens’ isolation from the world.
11:15 PM

A Gun For Jennifer Todd Morris, 35mm narrative feature, 91 min., 1996 You live in an evil small town in Ohio. You’re miserably married to an evil small-minded man who beats you up. Pushed to the limit, you fight back…and then he’s dead. So…shocked, scared but relieved, you don’t panic. You dye your hair blonde, sneak out of the bloody house and board the first Greyhound bus to New York City. For young Allison (Deborah Twiss), the nightmare’s just beginning. The big city’s evil, too; she gets jumped just minutes after getting off the bus. But her would-be rapist doesn’t get very far…she’s saved by a gang of well-trained women vigilantes led by tough, take-no-prisoners Jesse (Frieda Hoops). And then Allison finds there’s a big price to pay. The gang won’t let her go; she’s seen too much. Against her will, pushed to the point of having no will, Allison becomes Jennifer and gradually gets drawn deeper and deeper into the gang’s life of strip bars, guns and brutal vengeance against acquitted rapists. But they can’t get away with their deadly revenge forever. Hardboiled female cop Billie Perez (Benja Kay) is closing in on the gang as they plan their most ambitious hit yet: evil snuff-film producer Carl Varna (Carl Jasper).Suddenly it’s a three-way chess game, with no chance of stalemate…all the players are shooting for a deadly victory. Featuring new music by Tribe 8, Bush Tetras, Sexpod, The Mekons and others.

There are filmmakers out there who really know how to take female frustration and release it through a great narrative. It’s the perfect response to all the Hollywood stripper/hooker the studios are so into right now. I really, really loved this film. -Sarah Jacobson (director, Mary Jane’s Not a Virgin Anymore, FILMZONE Online)