Chicago Underground Film Festival

Sunday August 15
1:30

SUCKERFISH Brien Burroughs

U.S.A., Feature, 16mm, 90 min., 1999, Chicago Premiere

The debut feature from experimental filmmaker and photographer Brien Burroughs (aquamorpheus, CUFF 1997), SUCKERFISH is a dark comedy about the cutthroat world of pet supply salesmen, and the vicious territory war that erupts when Ken Preston, a new hot shot in sales, arrives to take over the business of a retiring super-salesman. Two competing salesmen in the same territory launch a campaign to ruin Ken’s reputation. Can Ken prove he has what it takes to survive in this dog-eat-dog business? A cautionary tale of greed and betrayal that’s been called “a hybrid of DOUBLE INDEMNITY and CLERKS”, SUCKERFISH was shot totally improvised, with no rehearsals, and features a cast assembled from the best of San Francisco’s improv theater community.

2:30

MELVIN VAN PEEBLES’ CLASSIFIED X
Repeat Screening – See Saturday 4:30

3:00

STRANGE HUNGER

HOMEBODY Steve Collins

U.S.A., Short, 16mm, 10 min., 1998

Chock full of belly button lint and botulism, HOMEBODY is the story of a young man so hungry that he begins to imagine that the ancient can of soup on his shelf is far tastier and more comforting than it could possibly ever be.

DOLLY DOES NEW YORK Ricardo Calil

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

A voyeuristic look at a hot babe, a Latino stud-boy, and an obnoxious director on the set of a porno shoot trying to “keep it real”. Stud-boy keeps his mind a-wanderin’ in order not to blow his load too soon. Come peek into his thoughts.

MACHINE GUN TWIRL Sheron Johnson

U.S.A., Short, 16mm, 5 min., 1998

Video poetry depicting a man’s violent reaction to political and social forces designed by “The Man”.

THE JENNY JAMES STORY Eric Cheevers

U.S.A., Short, 16mm, 27 min., 1998

Jenny, with her unethical new job and her out-of-work boyfriend, struggles to keep life under control during her pregnancy. To bring some spice to her life, she watches Donna Mills makeup-tip videos. But things go even more awry when she starts hearing strange noises in her head. Could the heavy eyeliner and gobbed on eyeshadow be controlling her thoughts?

NEW CLEAR FARM Daniel Deloach

U.S.A., Short, 35mm, 8min., 1999

When a couple of old geezers find a nuclear bomb in a field, anything can happen.

VEND Scott Edenstein and Eric Normington

U.S.A., Short, 35mm, 21 min., 1999

Carl Burndecker is a medical technician who takes punctuality to an absurd degree. He checks into his job every morning at 5:30 am and out at 5:00pm, precisely, exactly, never deviating. In fact, nothing about Carl ever deviates- his schedule is his life, until the day he decides to buy a soda. This simple act almost always requires change…

3:30

LONDON BRIEF Jon Jost

United Kingdom/Portugal, Experimental, 90 min., Video, 1998

“London Brief is an accidental film, the by-product of a trip to London for odds and ends of business. After 2 1/2 of casual on-the-run shooting while tending to life’s chores, I had what I thought was a nice 40 minutes of material. Sent unedited (just selected) to a documentary festival in Japan (Yamagata), they surprised me and asked it into their competition which meant fleshing out to a minimum of 60 minutes. I returned to London for a week, shooting deliberately things I thought would be right. Edited in 2 weeks in Lisboa at Edgar Pera’s Akademia Galaktica Lusitania on a Media 100 set up while my 3 month old daughter sat on my lap. LONDON BRIEF cost about $1000, most of which was travel to/from and staying in London. Camera: SONY DX700.”
“I think of it as a sketch (brief) of London heading into the 21st century. It is not meant to “entertain” but to provoke some discomfort and thought about urban life, circa 2000 AD.” – Jon Jost

4:30

SWEET SWEETBACK’S BADASSSSSSS SONG
Repeat Screening – See Saturday 2:30

5:00

CRASHING ILLUSIONS

DIRT Chel White

U.S.A., Experimental, 35mm, 4 min., 1998

A man’s strange obsession with dirt starts as a childhood game and eventually manifests itself on a most surreal level. Dark, expressionistic images create an allegory for individuality and self-sufficiency in this offbeat ecological parable.
“A post-modern INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS” -Christine Vachon

FISHING FOR BRAD Nicole Koschmann

U.S.A., Experimental, 35mm, 6 min., 1998

An exploration of the dual nature of sexuality, the tension between desiring someone and desiring to be desired. We see a fisherman in color, an exotic dancer in black and white. Gradually the images overlap and blend, creating a single idea of objects of desire, one conventional and one subjective.

CRACK Jon Moritsugu

U.S.A., Short, 16mm, 48 sec., 1999

From the director of MOD FUCK EXPLOSION and FAME WHORE comes this Don’t-blink-or-you’ll miss-it epic of underground spirit.

MIND’S EYE Gregory Godhard

U.S.A., Experimental, 16mm, 5 min., 1998

Beautiful, fleeting intrusion of illusion into reality. “In my mind I am free to travel where and how I desire. The laws of physics do not apply to my mind’s eye. My inner world is more real than the external one.”

THE LAST SPLIT SECOND Judith Doyle

Canada, Experimental, 16mm, 7min., 1998

A luminous, eloquent exploration of pain, told through medical scans, hospital footage, and the transcripts from Toronto artist Andy Patton’s historic account of breaking his back and surviving the requisite medical treatments.

SABINA Vivien Dybal

U.S.A., Documentary, 16mm, 9 min., 1998

Following her dream to visit New York City and take acting classes, Sabina revels in all the fun that the Big Apple has to offer. Becoming a successful actor is difficult enough, but Sabina1′ challenges are greater than most: she has no kidneys. The nightly rituals she must follow to keep herself alive may tie down her physical body, but not her hearty spirit.

MY FATHER’S STORY Mary Kocol

U.S.A., Animation, 16mm, 11 min., 1998

Told through a series of animated photographs and objects, the filmmaker relays the chronicles of her father’s struggle in Poland during World War II. The exposition of artifacts from her father’s experience enhances the trepidation of his stories.

TAXIDERMY: THE ART OF IMITATING LIFE Eva Aridjis

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

A compelling look at the work of Ron Kuhlman and Bill Arsell, two Long Island taxidermists who find beauty and satisfaction in work that some would consider distasteful or even unnecessary.

INGREDIENTS Thomas Gosser

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

The filmmaker created a functioning 16mm camera out of trash, free stuff and everyday materials and manually shot each of this film’s 8000 individual frames one by one. Says Gosser, “I wanted my film to be the product of touch.”

BANG BANG Jeff Scher

U.S.A., Experimental, 16mm, 4 min., 1998

An stunning experiment in bilateral symmetry, positive/negative shooting,and Freudian psychology as thousands of strobing Rorschach tests trick the eye and the mind to become dancing ink-spots of color.

SID Jeff Scher

U.S.A., Experimental, 16mm, 4 min., 1998

Forget Stupid Pet Tricks. Come see Sid the dog do one of the coolest and funniest things ever in this enchanting film.

TURKISH DELIGHT Jeff Scher

U.S.A., Experimental,16mm, 4 min., 1998

A somniferous sweep of color, accented with festive Turkish music.

5:30

HALF PINT HEROES Everett Downint

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

A Godzilla-like mutated cow, chock full of Mad Cow Disease, stomps through a major metropolitan area. The Half Pint Heroes promptly flutter in to save the day.

PIGSKIN ORGASM Jennifer Cluck & Amber Cluck

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

Pieces of strange behavior by sports heroes in action get spliced together, making the manly gentlemen look really, really fruity.

A DOMESTIC HOLE Gritt Uldall-Jessen

Denmark, Experimental, Video, 9 min., 1997

A slovenly woman, glumly taking a stab at cleaning her house gets exasperated when the vacuum suddenly conks out. But it isn’t an electrical short or an extra-huge clump of cat hair clogging the works…it’s a very odd looking stick which turns out to be a magic wand! Wish fulfillment fantasy at its finest.

KUNG FU KITCHEN Jeff Warmouth

U.S.A., Short, Video, 5 min., 1998

Kung Fu action as you’ve never seen it before. Featuring a star-studded all-vegetable cast.

GLAMOUR PUSS: HOW TO KEEP YOUR MAN HAPPY Mr. Means

U.S.A., Short, Super-8, 9 min., 1998

Who needs Cosmo when you’ve got Glamour Puss to show you how to juice up a relationship? You’ll get the straight dope: beauty tips, facial exercises AND a never-before seen use of a ceiling fan! Note taking is highly encouraged. Featuring the filmmaker’s parents as Glamour Puss and her man.

DOGGOD Niklaus Schlumpf

U.S.A., Short, Video, 13 min., 1999

A young skateboarder is verbally accosted with spiritual rantings by what looks like an ordinary street bum. But he is a space-time traveler whose words ring true after the lad is involved in a serious accident.

RAPING STEVEN SPIELBERG Anonymous

U.S.A., Short, Video, 35 min., 1998

Based on a true story, this tasteless yet scathingly hilarious comedy fictionalizes the inner life and outward deeds of the man who bravely attempted to sexually molest the most popular filmmaker of all time.

6:30

CLEOPATRA’S SECOND HUSBAND Jon Reiss

U.S.A., 35mm, 93 min., 1998, Chicago Premiere

Recalling the subtle brutality of Bunuel and creepy British classics such as THESERVANT, CLEOPATRA’S SECOND HUSBAND is a nightmarish chronicle of power. What begins as a simple house-sitting arrangement between an affluent couple and their live-in guests quickly morphs into a disturbing power play between the two men: Robert, a supplicating hypochondriac artist, and, Zack his hunky, sexually menacing houseguest. When Robert’s wife and Zack’s girlfriend leave in the wake of a marital indiscretion, Zack takes advantage of Robert’s psychological and physical frailties through sex, money, and physical abuse, to take over the house and drive Robert, quaking, into a bedroom retreat. Given Zack’s advantages, it would appear as if this arrangement were no contest. But this clever little film is just getting started.
“Jon Reiss’ debut feature is a harrowing yet delicious and often wickedly funny study of power and submission.” – Filmmaker Magazine

7:00

SLEEP Peter Calvin

U.S.A. Feature, 16mm, 103 min., 1999, Chicago Premiere

An experimental journey into the nightscape of Los Angeles through the eyes of four characters who each suffer from a different sleep disorder: an insomniac, a sleepwalker, a narcoleptic and a compulsive sleeper. In the tradition of essay films such as Chris Marker’s SAN SOLEIL, the film weaves analytical documentary footage with an abstract narrative, moving through a dark world of sounds that often go unnoticed. These moments explode into an associative structure featuring interviews with doctors, footage from sleep labs, text, and hypnagogic experimental sections. At its core, the film is a meditation on human consciousness, raising questions about our own perceptions of sleep and film. Featuring Bonnie Dickenson (LITTLE SHOTS OF HAPPINESS, SHUCKING THE CURVE), Tim Innes (MOD FUCK EXPLOSION, HUSTLER WHITE and Kerri Green (teen star of LUCAS and THE OONIES). “Bizarre and haunting. It’s punk Wim Wenders.” -New York Press

7:30

STRAIGHTMAN Ben Berkowitz and Ben Redgrave

U.S.A., Feature, 16mm on video, 100 min., 1999, Rough-cut Preview Screening

Take a first look at this finely crafted Chicago-lensed feature. A 1999 CUFF grant recipient, the film is currently finishing post-production and this rough-cut screening is a chance to see an exciting new film as a Work In Progress. STRAIGHTMAN is about the difficulties of navigating friendship and love between men. David is a womanizing glutton who has no real concept of love and Jack is a blue-collar guy struggling with his sexual identity. What follows is a hard look at friendship and the elusiveness of love in these young men’s life. Featuring topnotch performances from its ensemble cast and remarkably realistic dialogue, STRAIGHTMAN certainly marks these first-time feature filmmakers as names to watch.

8:30

BETTER LIVING THROUGH CIRCUITRY

Repeat Screening – See Saturday 8:30

9:00

SPOOFS AND GOOFS

CHUCK WEBBER’S LAND OF ABUSEMENT Mike Wellins

U.S.A., Animation, 35mm, 7 min., 1998

An animated tour of the only amusement park where injury and death are guaranteed, in writing.

SURPRISE CINEMA Bill Plympton

U.S.A., Animation, 35mm, 7 min., 1999

From the mind that spawned such outrageousness as I MARRIED A STRANGE PERSON and THE TUNE comes this sick spoof of Candid Camera–in which a psychotic host horribly injures unsuspecting bystanders in the name of entertainment.

HERB Amie Steir

U.S.A., Short, 16mm, 10 min., 1999

Herb is in a band. He likes to party. Do drugs. But mostly Herb is sexy and wants to get his picture in Playgirl magazine. Told from the point of view of his girlfriend, we follow Herb’s wacky routine as he waits to see if he’s been chosen to be in the “Real Men” section of the popular porno mag.

SWINGER’S SERENADE Danny Plotnick

U.S.A., Short, 16mm, 24 min., 1999 World Premiere

Super-8 Romeo Danny Plotnick turns to 16mm to faithfully shoot this script from a 1950s amateur movie magazine. It’s a tawdry tale of suburban sexual malaise plus a lesson in arcane film history rolled into one sin-tillating package. Starring the director’s wife along with some close friends and business associates, SWINGER’S SERENADE was a recipient of a 1999 Chicago Underground Film Fund Grant.

JOHNNY BAGPIPES Todd Korgan

U.S.A., Short, 16mm, 12 min., 1998

“We got to get the kids off the crack pipes and on the bagpipes.” So says Johhny Bagpipes in this mockumentary about the blue-collar, plaid-skirted bagpiper and his dreams of playing pipes in a rock-and-roll band. A must-see for the piper version of In-A-Gadda-Da-Veda.

SEARCHING FOR CARRIE FISHER Stephen Dooher

U.S.A., Documentary, 16mm, 20 min., 1998

Like many young boys circa 1977, filmmaker Stephen Dooher was caught up in the STAR WARS frenzy. He, along with his best friend, professed their true love for leading lady Carrie Fisher into a tape recorder. In 1998, they went on a mission to Hollywood to hunt down Ms. Fisher and present the recording to her. This film is a recounting of their journey into La La Land and the results of their lofty search.

UNTIL THERE ARE NONE Huck Botko

U.S.A., Short, 16mm, 15 min., 1992

The documentary-style story of a man who takes a very unique approach to the problem of the vanishing bald eagle.

9:30

WORLD WIDE WEIRD

VIRUS Birgitta Hosea

United Kingdom, Animation, Video, 4 min., 1999, U.S. Premiere

A short animated look at psychological epidemics.

IMPORTANT TOY Jennet Thomas

England, Short, Video, 8 min., 1997, U.S. Premiere

While walking past a thrift store with her mother, a young girl is captivated by an odd, lumpy toy in the window. They purchase the toy, and the relationship between the girl and toy grows. She feels a mental connection to the toy, but is forced to break the bond when the thoughts projected her way become too erratic and frightening.

LARS FROM 1-10 Sophie Fiennes and Shari Roman

U.S.A., Documentary, Video, 10 min., 1998

Lars Von Trier is the co-creator of Dogma 95, a provocative filmmaking manifesto which forbids props, sets, genre films, artificial light and the crediting of a director. Von Trier, here relaxed, vulnerable and remarkably eloquent, explains the origin of his controversial philosophy.

CLOTHESHORSE Paul Marcus

U.S.A., Experimental, Video, 12 min., 1998, World Premiere

An engaging array of images, showcasing the varied talents of Chicago artist Matthew Owens. A production of the Links Collaboratory, this is the first in a series of filmed collaborations with accomplished non-filmmaker artists.

UN GA NAI – BAD LUCK Christoph Draeger, Martin Frei & Thomas Thumena

Switzerland, Documentary, Video, 40 min., 1999

UN GA NAI is an odyssey through the Japan of 1995, the year during which an earthquake rocked the city of Kobe and The Aum Shinrikyo religious cult killed dozens in the Tokyo subway. It was also the 50th anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The film looks at the manner in which a culture deals with disaster, incorporating the psychology of catastrophe into the very structure of Japanese society. Showing survivalist training camps, safety drill parades, earthquake simulation centers and other unsettling scenarios, the film does not attempt to provide answers but raises questions about the essence of disaster and how a society where disaster is accepted as part of daily life creates methods of coping. “UN GA NAI seems to have taken permanent residence under my epidermis-it’s a dreamy, poetic portrait of fear and fearlessness” Aaron Krach, indieWIRE

10:30

THE LAST DAYS OF MAY George Spyros

U.S.A., Feature, 35mm, 93 min., 1998 Chicago Premiere

An engaging and original film about a divorced mother, Pat, and her loving and protective relationship with her mentally ill daughter May, who was once a brilliant mathematics major in college when something inside of her snapped, bringing about her hospitalization. The film begins after May’s release when she’s living with her mother, swallowing her medications and working part time in a daycare center. Pat is busy with her own full time job, watching over May, and defending May’s right to live outside of an institution. May secretly wishes to introduce a father figure into the equation, if not solely for their own security, then to ease some of Pat’s loneliness. With the attentions of a man in her mother’s life, perhaps she could begin to assert her own independence and move on with her life.

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