October 19, 2020


Karen Durham




The longest running underground film festival in the world, in-person screenings will be November 12-13 at ChiTown Drive-In and 

Live on Minecraft After Party will stream via YouTube November 17

CHICAGO–The 27th Annual Chicago Underground Film Festival (CUFF), the world’s longest-running underground film festival and called “the festival you wouldn’t take home to mom,” returns in 2020 with virtual screenings for the festival’s duration, November 9-22 with in-person screenings on November 12-13 only at the ChiTown Drive-In, 2343 S Throop St, Chicago, IL 60608. 

CUFF 27 highlights include the opening film GHOST OF THE GOLDEN GROVES (virtual; narrative feature) in which an urban survey officer representing machinery and industrialization, visits a forest to develop roads, meeting a sudden death; FLANNERY (Drive-In opening film; documentary feature), Chicago-based Elizabeth Coffman’s portrait of the multifaceted author; SLEEZE LAKE: VAN LIFE AT ITS LOWEST (Drive-In closing film; documentary feature), a look at young people in the post-Vietnam-War era hitting the open road in shag-carpeted custom vans creating a counterculture cocktail of irreverence and hedonism; Chicago filmmaker Danielle Beverly’s documentary DUSTY GROOVE: THE SOUND OF TRANSITION (virtual; documentary feature), a portrait of the iconic Chicago record store and owner Rick Wocjik on his buying trips in the homes of complete strangers, all of whom are facing some kind of life transition; the surrealist, non-linear satire PAPER SHADOWS (experimental feature) concerning the creative and emotional angst shared by an elderly Black man and a young white female art student; and MA?NI (TOWARDS THE OCEAN, TOWARDS THE SHORE) (festival closing film; experimental feature) which contemplates the afterlife, rebirth, and the place in-between as the two protagonists wander through each of their respective worlds.

More festival highlights include THESE DAYS partnership screenings of Kevin Coval and Langston Allston’s Everything Must Go (mini-doc), Victor IRL, and The Genesis of Internet.Hotspot–all directed and shot by Mike Sager–presented at the Drive-In on Friday, November 13 only; and the Live on Minecraft After Party, streamed on YouTube on Tuesday, November 17 at 7:30 pm.

Taila Howe, Producer of CUFF said: “One of the coolest things about CUFF is the melting pot of creativity that comes from the underground community kicking it during the festival. It would be misleading if I said we’re going to replicate that exact same vibe online. But, because we’ve been forced to pivot, we have been able to tap into the expansiveness and accessibility of the internet which has grown our community of counter-culture experimentalists. I think the Minecraft concert we’re throwing this year plus our drive-in screenings will bring together a new wave of misfits and the O.G. CUFF-goers. And maybe when CUFF 28 happens in real life, it will be an intergenerational homecoming for all the outcasts of the film world.”

While the majority of films in this year’s CUFF are from the United States, underground filmmaking is a global movement so a wide array of feature-length and short documentaries and narrative and experimental features from Latin America, Europe, Africa, and Asia will also be presented. The majority of the films in CUFF27 are documentary, experimental, and narrative shorts in 14 programs plus two dedicated solely to Chicago filmmakers, Chicago Shorts #1 and Chicago Shorts #2 (packaged as Chicago Shorts for the Drive-In screenings only but presented in other programs throughout the festival). Entries not to miss this year include Mike Hoolbloom’s 27 THOUGHTS ABOUT MY FATHER (experimental short), the filmmaker’s memories of his father featuring photos and found footage in a series of 27 vignettes; Shelly Silver’s A TINY PLACE THAT IS HARD TO TOUCH (experimental short), concerning an American researcher, a Japanese translator, and a Tokyo river transporting wildlife, garbage, and death; Matt McCormick’s THE DEEPEST HOLE (documentary short), reflecting on the Cold War when the United States and the Soviet Union raced to determine which country could dig the deepest hole, resulting in finding Hell in the process; Rajee Samarasinghe’s THE EYES OF SUMMER (experimental short), the filmmaker’s story about his mother’s communication with spirits in post-Civil-War Sri Lanka; Carol Nguyen’s NO CRYING AT THE DINNER TABLE (documentary short), an intergenerational portrait of the filmmaker’s family, its traumas, secrets, and grief; Bingham Bryant’s FOREIGN POWERS (narrative short), a woman’s foreign-city-set dream recalled to a friend with shared acquaintances that emerges as a shadow portrait of their lives; Callum Walter’s MERIDIAN (experimental short), in which a machine, before its disappearance, is part of an autonomous fleet charged with delivering emergency vaccines; Joanna Anrow’s LAYING OUT (narrative short), an absurd comedy that finds a woman examining her relationship with a man which leads to exploring her own misogyny, fantasies about having a penis, and hatred for traditional gender roles; Ben River’s GHOST STRATA (documentary short), a meditation on the past, present, and future of humanity’s impact on the planet through examining missing layers of the earth; and Ph?m Ng?c Lân’s BLESSED LAND (narrative short), in which the past and present collide in a search for grave in an unknown landscape, possibly a golf course or a cemetery.

As in years past, this year’s festival showcases the work of filmmakers with strong Chicago connections: Tirtza Even (LAND MINE), Lori Felker (I CAN’T), Shayna Connelly (BANANAS GIRL), Amir George (MAN OF THE PEOPLE), Brian Ashby (FLIGHT LOGS), Elizabeth Coffman (FLANNERY), Lisa Barcy (FÔRET), Lonnie Edwards (PERIPHERY), Natasha Nair (IN THE WAKE), Michele Ferris Dobles (HIGH TIDE), Caitlin Ryan (S P A C E L A N D), Amber Love (A GALAXY SITS IN CRACKS), Pegah Pasalar (LOST IN HER HAIR/MONDAY),

Callum Walter (MERIDIAN), Diana Darby (BABA SURA), Danielle Beverly (DUSTY GROOVES: THE SOUND OF TRANSITION), Kaitlin Martin (NO REGRETS FROM MY TIME AS A WEREWOLF), Emily Eddy, Natalie Chami (AMOUR POUR UNE FEMME), Britni Harris (GOFF), Jennifer Boles (THE REVERSAL), Jiayu Yang (I DREAM OF VIETNAM), Kurt Jolly (GLITTER LAND), Will Klein, Tymon Brown (CHILDREN OF THE MOON), and Andrew J. Morgan and Nick Nummerdor (SLEEZE LAKE: VAN LIFE AT ITS LOWEST).

Filmmakers who previously lived in Chicago featured in CUFF: Jenna Caravello (OTO REVISED), Usama Alshaibi (and Talia Watrous – THE DESIRE), Hisonni Johnson (TAKE OUT GIRL), Mike Gibisser (SLOW VOLUMES), Gwendolyn Infusino (ENDLESS VIDEO), Kevin Eskew (NOW 2), Rachel Wolther (GAMP), Tommy Heffron (A WORDLESS THING), Emilie Crewe (APPALLING NATURE), and Carson Parrish (BREATH CONTROL).

Tickets to this year’s CUFF are:

Virtual screenings: 

  • $10/single ticket and $10/all-access, before October 31; 
  • after October 31: $15/single ticket and $15/all-access.

Drive-In screenings: 

  • $35/single ticket and $65/all-access (November 12-13), before October 31; 
  • after October 31: $40/single ticket and $70/all-access.

Full festival pass: 

  • $115 (full access to all virtual films and all four drive-in screenings), before October 31;
  • after October 31: $120.

Live on Minecraft virtual After Party (November 17): free admission.

Films in CUFF 27 can be streamed anywhere in the world. To look at the entire festival program, to purchase tickets, and stream films, visit

CUFF 27 is a Hippiepunxx Production. The Minecraft After Party is in partnership with Aux Cord DJ’s, The Empty Bottle and Red Bull. This year’s festival artwork is designed by Sonnenzimmer.

About the Chicago Underground Film Festival

The cool cousin of the film festival circuit; a.k.a, the one who listens to Nick Cave and only wears black, the Chicago Underground Film Festival is hailed by the Chicago Sun-Times as “the city’s most eclectic and best-curated fest.” Founded in 1993 by Jay Bliznick, a Columbia College film student who was fed up with the exclusivity of the existing film festival circuit, and friend Bryan Wendorf, the two create a festival for the kind of films they wanted to see, which primarily were films that the established film festival circuit (increasingly dominated by distributor product) refused to show. Now approaching its twenty-seventh year, CUFF is officially the LONGEST RUNNING UNDERGROUND FILM FESTIVAL IN THE WORLD. The fest is an internationally recognized program that screens documentary, experimental, avant-garde and cult cinema, and showcases films that explore new approaches to established practices. While “Underground” isn’t always easy to define, at its core, it’s a fluid, inclusive, forward-thinking concept that has fueled movements and counter-culture revolutions over time. Chicago Underground Film Fest is no different. At our core, we welcome visionaries, activists, creatives, and we’re proud to be the longest running incubator of the avant-garde, controversial, the cutting edge, and the transformational. 

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