Chicago Underground Film Festival

SATURDAY, AUGUST 14
1:00

BURY ME IN KERN COUNTY Julian Nitzberg

U.S.A., Feature, 16mm, 90 min., 1998, Chicago Premiere

It’s white trash America circa 1980 in what was once a dead-end working class town, except now there isn’t even any work. All that remains is fucking and getting fucked up. Angel-faced Sandra Winthrop has the worst luck in one night…she has to find the money to pay for her worthless boyfriend’s mom’s funeral AND for his bail so he can be there. We’re talking close to a thousand bucks, and for this hick town girl, it might as well be a million. Naturally, the first step before doing anything is to get high, and Sandra’s adoring younger sister (an amazing performance by Mary Lynn Raajskul) is more than willing to go along. And then she’s more than Willing to help out with a liquor store heist. But when you’re stagger-stoned, things can get ugly, and then crazy ugly, and crazier ugly. Next thing you know, you’re shoveling out a pit by the light of a car’s headlights… A black comedy with a nod to the Coen Brothers, punctuated by a fine soundtrack produced by the Dust Brothers, which includes music from Dub Narcotic Sound System and Beck .

1:30

YES, MS. DAVIS! A VAGINAL CREME DAVIS RETROSPECTIVE

A program from the glamorous queer punk diva Dr. Vaginal Crhme Davis. The program takes you through various stages of her outrageous career, from performance artist to CEO of her own studio, MGM – Mateo Gobulin Mathu’ pictures.

That Fertile Feeling John “Quasi” O’Shea,

U.S.A., Video, 8 min., 1985

A quintessential classic following Vaginal Crhme Davis and Fertile LaToyah Jackson through a throng of mishaps, climaxing in Fertile giving birth to eleventuplets.

Live Action Murder Rick Castro

U.S.A., Short, Video, 5 min., 1994

An uproarious spoof of Hispanic tabloid television coverage of a murder, taken from the pages of Fertile LaToyah Jackson Video Magazine, The Kinky Issue.

Dot Mari Kono

U.S.A., Short, Video, 25 min., 1994

Set in Ms. Davis’ own apartment, a portrayal of the legendary lush Dorothy Parker. Ms. Dais’ estranged lover, Alfredo Botello, plays Mr. Robert Benchley. The first film under the Mateo Gobulin Mathu’ banner.

VooDoo Williamson – The Dona of Dance Vaginal Davis

U.S.A., Short, Video, 18 min., 1995

A “documentary” of VooDoo’s (Ms. Davis) 37 year old dance troupe, The Extemporaneous Contemporary Dance Theater of Lynwood. The troupe serves as a distraction for inner city young people, while exploring the pain and sacrifice of “the dance”.

Designy Living Vaginal Davis & Lawrence Elbert

U.S.A., Short, Video, 11 min. ,1995

A loose interpretation of Noel Coward’s Design For A Living, a hippy-esque Ms. Davis lives with a supposed hetero couple.

The White To Be Angry Vaginal Davis

U.S.A., Short, Video, 20 min., 1999

A day in the life of an odd skinhead boy…is he hiding his true feelings under his mask of hate?

2:30

SWEET SWEETBACK’S BAADASSSSS SONG Melvin Van Peebles

U.S.A., Feature, 35mm, 97 min., 1971, Lifetime Achievement Screening

Nearly 30 years after its release SWEET SWEETBACK’S BAADASSSSS SONG Remains one of the top grossing independent features of all time. Written, directed, produced, starring and featuring music composed by Melvin Van Peebles, this is the film that launched the ’70s blaxploitation craze and paved the way for Spike Lee, John Singleton and today. In an essay on the blaxploitation genre exploitation film chronicler Steve Puchalski called it “the ultimate kill whitey film of all time”. “Dedicated to all the brothers and sisters who’ve had enough of the man” and “rated X by an all-white jury” the film also features a soundtrack by Earth, Wind & Fire. “Melvin Van Peebles is a phenomenon” – The New York Times “My movie is often lauded as being a groundbreaking achievement and my 100% ownership as being an astute financial move. The facts are: I didn’t have partners because no one would come in with me; and I didn1t do it for money in the first place.” -Melvin Van Peebles

3:00

DELIGHTS, DEPRAVITY AND DELIRIUM

BURNING CONTOUR MATRIX Simon Tarr

U.S.A., Experimental, 16mm, 3 min., 1999

Digital images in a 3-D traded-over-email and hand-painted film Chronicle the information overload and angst spawned by the ubiquitous mass media.

CEDRIC’S WORLD Adam Cohen

Experimental, 16mm, 2 min., 1998

Shot from Cedric’s point of view, the story of a French dog who tries to make sense of life in America.

THE BATS Jim Trainor

U.S.A., Animation, 16mm, 8 min., 1998

Animator Jim Trainor’s latest felt-tip wonder is devoted to the life of a prehistoric bat who delights in sex, worms, and a motherly anal licking. “A vermivorous neotropical phyllostomid of no extant species narrates this story of a life devoted to carnal pleasures and the avoidance of predators, under the guidance of a prescient but ineffectual God.” –Jim Trainor.

SPIDERS IN LOVE: AN ARACHNOGASMIC MUSICAL Martha Colburn

U.S.A., Animation, 16mm, 3 min., 1999

Ah, yes, a tribute to the love in a spider’s little heart will make yours go pitter-pat.

FLEDGLING Eron Sheehan

Australia, Animation, 16mm, 9 min., 1999

A fetus develops before our eyes into a prodigious infant. Born of a subterranean womb, he is released into a harsh new environment. A desert nomad adopts the baby and shows that all life depends on death, and instinct must govern his survival.

PHI-BRITE Jeff Koone

U.S.A., Animation, 16mm, 2 min., 1998

A hypnotic dance of flashing color set to a funky disco beat. The Filmmaker used only a Lite Bright to make this charming animated film.

WHAT’S ON? Martha Colburn

U.S.A., Animation, 16mm, 2 min., 1997

A desperate plea, begging to know what will grace the boob-tube.

THE MANIPULATORS Andrew Jeffrey Wright and Clare E. Rojas

U.S.A., Animation, 16mm, 2 min., 1999

LoFi animation magic at its most mischievous. The Manipulators set out to manipulate the images the media uses to manipulate us. Watch the vengeful fun as whiteout and marker are applied to a beauty magazine to transform ads and fashion spreads into a laugh-fest that all can enjoy.

EVIL OF DRACULA Martha Colburn

U.S.A., Animation, 16mm, 2 min., 1997

It’s the myth of Dracula done Martha Colburn style: fast, trippy, flashing, and stupendous.

UNDERNEATH Emerson Balla U.S.A., Experimental, 16mm, 4 min., 1996

“This is a stop-motion animation which was processed in my bathtub using various formulas. The strung out rabbits and cum-soaked ancestors are memories of a plot of urban decay in my grandfather’s extinct attic.” -Emerson Balla

THERE’S A PERVERT IN OUR POOL Martha Colburn

U.S.A. , Animation, 16mm, 3 min., 1998

What to do when a deviant is swimming in your backyard watering hole?

THE PSYCHOTIC ODYSSEY OF RICHARD CHASE Carey Burtt

U.S.A., Short, 16mm, 6 min., 1998

Using dolls and tiny sets, Burtt’s film dramatizes the true story of cannibal-killer Richard Chase, “The Vampire of Sacramento”, from his childhood, through the mental deterioration which led to his ghastly crime spree, culminating in his trial and ultimate death.

HERD Mike Mitchell

U.S.A., Short, 16mm, 18 min., 1998

An ordinary fry-cook’s life is changed forever when he is visited by an almond-eyed being from another world.

TINY SUN-BATHERS Olivier Boulanger & Martin Koscielniak

U.S.A., Animation, 35mm, 3 min., 1998

Brightly colored ’60s Chinese propaganda footage reveals a sinister side To the Red Giant’s best intentions.

MILLENIUM BUG Lee Lanier

U.S.A., Animation, 35mm, 1 min., 1998

A Surrealist peek at the future of urban sprawl, using fancy-schmancy computer techniques to illustrate entries from a “New Millennium Dictionary”. Don’t blink.

OUTLET Robert Banks

U.S.A., Experimental, 35mm, 4 min., 1999

Color-drenched vignettes overlap in an aggressive celluloid cannonade as festival favorite Robert Banks explores stereotypes about female angst.

3:30

DISTORTED REALITY

MOVEMENT Brian P. Trecka

U.S.A., Animation, Video, 5 min., 1999

A study of images and characters inspired by a 16-year-old’s original music.

60hz Gene Ertel, James Woodfill, & John Sjoblom

U.S.A., Experimental, Video, 7 min., 1998

Environmental light sculptures, with their varying pulses and levels, command the viewer to examine the differences in luminosity and obscurity.

SPANK Diane Nerwen

U.S.A., Experimental, Video, 7 min., 1998

An eight second film clip becomes a seven minute, digitally modified restructuring of the relationship between a man and a young girl. The pulsating, vibrating sequences reveal the true details of their relationship.

THE AMATEURIST Miranda July

U.S.A., Experimental, Video, 14 min., 1998

A “professional” woman monitors the behavior of an “amateur” woman using a surveillance camera. By studying her movements and applying a bizarre numerology she synthesizes a sense of communication and control.

HUMAN ERROR IN THE MECHANICAL AGE Paul Tarrago

United Kingdom, Experimental, super 8, 11 min., 1997

Set in the hinterland between a good book and a bad night, a testament to the inappropriate misapplied at the wrong time.

SPECIAL REPORT Bryan Boyce

U.S.A., Experimental, Video, 3 min., 1999

A fantastic tale, told by manipulating the mouths of today’s more well known journalists.

NEVERMIND Jennifer Reeder

U.S.A., Experimental, Video, 17 min., 1999

The filmmaker who brought you the White Trash Girl series takes a 360 degree turn with a haunting portrayal of a woman listening intently to a popular Nirvana song.

4:30

MELVIN VAN PEEBLES’ CLASSIFIED X Mark Daniels

France/US, Documentary, 35mm, 52 min., 1997, Lifetime Achievement Screening

The director of SWEET SWEETBACK’S BAAdASSSSS SONG and the father of blaxploitation, Melvin Van Peebles presents a tour of Hollywood racism and typecasting with over 70 film clips. A startling look at the nightmare images of self that Hollywood traditionally offered up to African Americans prior to Van Peebles’ ground breaking film and even afterwards. “Movie images sustain racism. Over and over again, Hollywood made blacks the objects of derision or fear: African-Americans were illiterate primitives, rustic fools, fumbling servants, or simply outside society. Young blacks began to surrender to these self-images, while whites accepted them comfortably. Using images from classic American films as chilling reference, Van Peebles explains with wit and anger why popular culture is still a matter of black and white.” – Laurence Kardish, Sundance Film Festival

5:00

THE LOVE MACHINE Gordon Erickson

U.S.A., Feature, 16mm, 83 min., 1999, Chicago Premiere

http://www.TheLoveMachine.com is the address of an “adult” website set up on a New York City university web server as a prank by a student, Marcus . Becca Campbell is the self-styled investigative reporter who is attempting to make an expose’ of “sexual fantasy on the internet” by delving into the private lives of some of the local users of the site without their knowledge. A subject perfect for a sleazy talk show turns into something much deeper, as the participants become aware of the filmmaker’s purpose . Being forced to face the private details of their sex lives causes each participant to react in ways that alter their lives.
THE LOVE MACHINE is a satire of the stop-at-nothing American media. Structured as an homage to the classic New Wave film CHRONICLE OF A SWIMMER (in which filmmaker Jean Rouch stopped people on the streets of Paris and convinced them to talk about their private lives), the film is a portrait of hidden desires and the search for companionship.

5:30

THE TARGET SHOOTS FIRST Christopher Wilcha

U.S.A., Documentary, Video, 70 min., 1999, Chicago Premiere

You’re 22 years old and obsessed with music. It’s 1993 and Nirvana has suddenly transformed the corporate music scene. You’re offered a job at The Columbia Record and Tape Club which wants to put you in charge of a whole new marketing niche: you’re the guy who’s gonna bring the fans of “alternative rock” flocking to buy CDs via mail order. First plan of action? Bring a video-camera to work. By some twisted miracle you’re allowed to tape everything from planning meetings to the company’s Christmas bash. A great insider’s look at one of the grimmer sides of music marketing.

6:30

THE ACID HOUSE Paul McGuigan

United Kingdom, Feature, 35mm, 106 min., 1998, Chicago Premiere

Drop a tab of E and enjoy this trilogy of tales of working class fantasy from TRAINSPOTTING Author Irvine Welsh. The first segment “The Granton Star Cause” finds the cushy reality of Bob Coyle falling apart around him. He’s simultaneously kicked off the soccer team, kicked out of the house by his folks and dumped by his girlfriend. Drowning his sorrows at the local pub, Bob comes face to face with a bitter old drunk who insists he’s God. A vengeful, Old Testament God who’s had quite enough of Bob’s shit. “A Soft Touch” is the story of Johnny, the sort of guy who’d let himself be coerced into marrying his pregnant girlfriend even though half the guys in town could be the father. Soon he’s left caring for the baby while his wife is shagging the psycho upstairs neighbor. Finally, “The Acid House” is the comic and surreal tale of a young raver who takes one trip too many and literally finds himself seeing with the eyes of a child when his personality is transplanted into the body of a newborn . Featuring performances from TRAINSPOTTING stars Ewen Bremmer and Kevin McKidd and the film debut of Gary McCormick (of U.K. punk legends The Exploited) as the upstairs neighbor. The soundtrack features music from Nick Cave, Beth Orton, Chemical Brothers, Primal Scream and Oasis.

7:00

CLOSE UP: FILMS FROM THE AVANT-GARDE
Curated and Introduced by Patrick Friel

Found films, luminous films, odd films, theater films, sex films, singing films, silent films, mysterious films, test films and more. A program of recent avant-garde films which explore the edges of the genre, test its definitions and investigate its traditions. Ambulo (Aaron Scott, 1998, 7 min.) The Anatomy of Melancholy (Brien Frye, 1999, 11 min.) Suds/Turds (Michael Johnsen, 1997, 8 min.) Test (Kerry Laitala, 1997, 3 min.) Shipfilm (Stephanie Barber, 1997, 3 min.) A Little Present (Stephanie Barber, 1997, 3 min.) New York By Night (Julie Murray, 1998, 4 min.) Oona’s Screen Test (Ellen Smithee, 1999, 2 min.) Bare Strip (Luis Recorder, 1998, 9 min.) Untitled 1998 (Elizabeth Powers, 1998, 4 min.) Back In The Saddle Again (Scott Stark, 1997, 9 min.)

Patrick Friel is the Program Director at Chicago Filmmakers. As an independent curator he has presented programs at Pacific Film Archive (Berkeley), Cinematheque Ontario (Toronto), University of Wisconsin (Madison), Millennium Film Workshop (New York), and Anthology Film Archives (New York).

7:30

WADD: THE LIFE AND TIMES OF JOHN C. HOLMES Cass Paley

U.S.A., Documentary, Video, 120 min., 1998, Chicago Premiere

The Documentary winner at the 1999 South by Southwest Film Festival, WADD is a startlingly intimate look at the biggest in the business: porn king John C. Holmes. Featuring interviews with his first wife, his teenaged lover, his agent, and his second wife, porn-queen Misty Rain, WADD traces the curve of Holmes’ career up from shy Midwestern nobody to the largest john on the set and back down into a life of drugs, prostitution, and murder. Nicknamed “The Legend” for his massive sexual talent, Holmes turned out dozens of hardcore features and pornographic loops in the ’60s and ’70s. Despite his success, his small-time drug addiction drove him into a life of prostitution and thievery, culminating in his alleged participation in the Wonderland Avenue murders, a grisly gangland execution of his friend Bill Deverell. While he managed to find some work in the ’80s, his career never reached the zenith of his early days, and he succumbed to an AIDS-related illness in 1988. With overlapping stories and competing perspectives, WADD carefully reveals the man behind the muscle to paint a complex portrait of one of the most important men in the industry. This is the first authorized screening of the film in Chicago.

8:30

BETTER LIVING THROUGH CIRCUITRY Jon Reiss

U.S.A., Documentary, 35mm, 88 min., 1999, Chicago Premiere

BETTER LIVING THROUGH CIRCUITRY is a look at the electronic dance community and the culture that it has produced. A cross-section of the techno subculture is represented as ravers, DJs and musicians speak for themselves about their music and ideals. Insightful and entertaining, the film presents such dynamic aspects of rave culture as empowerment through technology, the DIY ethic, and the flowering of a new spirituality embracing transcendence through sound and rhythm. Among those interviewed are deconstructionist philosopher/mixmaster DJ Spooky, hedonistic streetsmart superstar DJ Keoki, Big Beat sonic wizards the Crystal Method, British drum-and-bass prophet Roni Size and Chicago’s own Derrick Carter. In addition to the DJs and musicians, the film profiles the graphic designers, promoters, fans and other essential components of the scene. Among them are Mike Szabo whose NASA flyers are included in the permanent collection of the Smithsonian Museum and OVT Visualz who’ve provided video and lighting spectacles at raves from underground lofts to Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art. Provocative and insightful, BETTER LIVING THROUGH CIRCUITRY explores with passionate intensity one of the most significant youth cultures of our time.

9:00

RED, WHITE & YELLOW Mark Littman & Marshall Dostal

U.S.A., Documentary, 16mm, 80 min., 1998, Chicago Premiere

On December 4, 1996, two-time world champion Ed “The Animal” Kratchie was at the top of his game. He held the world hot dog eating record with 22 hot dogs in 12 minutes. At 390 pounds, Krachie thought his one-on-one international contest with 136-pound challenger Hirofumi Kakajimi of Japan would be one more easy opportunity to show his superior skills in eating. 12 minutes later, however, the contest was over, Krachie had lost the title of world hot dog eating champion and possession of the coveted Mustard Yellow International Belt. Adding insult to injury, Nakajima had set a new world record of 22 1/4 hot dogs. Krachie was speechless, and America, which dominated the sport of competitive eating for nearly a century, was a nation in crisis. But Kratchie refused to quit. He demanded a rematch on July 4, 1997 on Coney Island, the birthplace of the hot dog. As Kratchie trains to reclaim both his title and the nations honor. RED, WHITE AND YELLOW provides a never-before seen look at the sport of competitive eating, exploring all aspects of the circuit no matter how controversial. Was Hirofumi Nakajima telling the truth when he claimed to have eaten his first hot dog just one day before the original contest? What about the claim that performance enhancing drugs and stomach altering surgery was employed to give Nakajima the edge? But most importantly the film gives the first look behind the celebrity, glamour and media frenzy to present the man who is Ed Kratchie, “The Maspeth Monster”, American, champion, and fat guy who eats hot dogs.

9:30

DISTURBING BEHAVIOR

JEFF Mark Hejnar

U.S.A., Experimental, Video/pixelvision, 3 min., 1999, World Premiere

Director Mark Hejnar (AFFLICTION, TV MINISTRY) weaves fantasy recreation and Milwaukee location footage with manipulated media imagery and sound to create an obsessive look at serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer.

SLEEPLESS MOVIE Mark Haren

U.S.A., Experimental, Video, 4 min., 1998

A varicolored, densely layered insomniac dream, brimming with childhood nightmares, existential angst, and jangled nerves.

PLEASANCE Jason K. Huddy

U.S.A., Experimental, Video, 6 min., 1998

The life of Lewis Carroll told through haunting images and letters written by the author, revealing the true nature of his love for the child on whom he based Alice In Wonderland.

NO STEP – AN IMMORAL DOCUMENTARY John Cook Fletcher

U.S.A., Documentary, Video, 8 min., 1999, World Premiere

Kids say and do the darndest things-but where do they learn it? A few privileged moments, observing the elusive Neighbor in its natural habitat, amid beer, filth and heaps of dirt.

THE BLANKET Gary Mrowca

U.S.A., Short, Video, 17 min.,1994

Life is hard for Hank. His cloistered existence, lack of friends, and alcoholism make day to day life a painful chore. Things continue to get increasingly worse as he wakes up each morning bruised and battered. He becomes certain that his crusty brown blanket is trying to do more than keep him warm at night. Based on a story by Charles Bukowski.

DIVIDED INTO ZERO Mitch Davis

Canada, Short, Video, 32 min., 1999, U.S. Premiere

A harrowing dissection of a singular life fraught with trauma. Confounded by familial tragedy, the character descends into a personal hell of isolation, body mutilation, pedophilia and murder. Told in Proustian-style memory flashes, the main character’s tortured life is splintered across different ages: as a boy, a young man, and an old man. In a poetic subjective voice-over we are told, “There is a crack in the center of me.” Through this crack pour forth manifestations of irreparable emotional damage: tears, blood, urine. Employing seductive camera movements, a surreal soundscape, and metaphorical editing, DIVIDED INTO ZERO uncomfortably captures the experience of living with trauma induced fear. Easily one of the most disturbing things in this year’s festival.

10:30

THE ACID HOUSE

Repeat Screening – See Saturday 6:30

11:00

QUEASY, UNEASY FEELINGS

ON EDGE Frazer Lee

United Kingdom, Short, 35mm, 15 min., 1999, U.S. Premiere

Rude businessman Mr. Thurlow grows impatient with having to wait to see hisdentist. Restlessly wandering around, he encounters impeccable Dr. Matthews in an empty office, who agrees to treat him on the spot. As the anaesthetic kicks in, Dr. Matthews’ initially amiable chattering grows stranger and Mr. Thurlow’s simple extraction turns into something far more complicated.

THE GREAT COAGULATOR Geoffrey Chadwick

U.S.A., Short, 16mm, 8 min., 1998

Inspired by some of the very first “talkie” films ever made, and using much of the same equipment, the film showcases The Great Coagulator in the heyday of vaudeville. You’ll be astonished by his act of daring and verve!

NOCTURNU Dennison Ramalho

Brazil, Short, 16mm, 11 min., 1999

A South American invitation into horrors evoking the likes of Coffin Joe, Fritz Lang, and Kenneth Anger, where Luciferian demons rise from a ghost-ship to feed on human flesh and a young nun struggles against the temptations of evil to save her life and chastity.

COLD COMFORT Branan Edgens

U.S.A., Short, 16mm, 25 min., 1998, U.S. Premiere

A forlorn civil engineer finds the companionship he desires. Unfortunately, he finds this in the form of a dead yet beautiful, woman buried in the middle of nowhere. Dark yet comical, COLD COMFORT is the story of a lonely man desperate for love in any form.

THE DEVIL Stacy Collerette

U.S.A., Short, 16mm, 26 min., 1998, U.S. Premiere

Set to a harsh, industrial soundtrack by Scorn, this film is a dark adaptation of Guy de Maupassant’s story Le Diable. This once provincial tale has been transformed into an unsettling story of greed, society and religion.

11:30

SHABONDAMA ELEGY Ian Kerkhof

Netherlands/Japan, Feature, Video, 86 min., 1999, US Premiere

With SHABONDAMA ELEGY determinedly renegade filmmaker Ian Kerkhof uses the freedom and flexibility of digital video to boldly clash genre conventions, combining elements of crime film, art film and porno to create a new form appropriate to the digital age. When a young gangster (Thom Hoffman) is released from a Tokyo prison he soon finds himself on the run from both the cops and the Yakuza. With just seven days to live he prepares for the inevitable. While hiding out in a bar he meets a beautiful Japanese girl (Japanese erotic film star Hoshino Mai) and they begin an intense and passionate affair that often goes to extreme limits. Kerkhof presents this in all its graphic, sexual intimacy, crossing boundaries of narrative propriety with impunity. The deceptively simple story is woven into a complex and ambitious mosaic, interweaving past and present with great flexibility.
Ian Kerkhof is a South African who has lived in Amsterdam for the last decade. He has written and directed many highly experimental shorts and features including: TEN MONOLOGUES FROM THE LIVES OF THE SERIAL KILLERS, NICE TO MEET YOU PLEASE DON’T RAPE ME, THE DEAD MAN 2: RETRN OF THE DEAD MAN, and WASTED!

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