The 2019 Chicago Underground Film Festival announces Filmmaker Awards for 26th edition of the fest(June 5-9)

Peter Parlow’s THE PLAGIARISTS wins The William Greaves Meta-Fiction Award, and Adam Sekuler’s 36 HOURS is named the Carolee Schneemann Award winner

The CUFF Audience Award winner was Stuart Swezey’s



Chicago, IL (June 12, 2019) – The Chicago Underground Film Festival, announced this year’s filmmaker award winners during the festival’s Closing Night after party Sunday evening at the Logan Theater (2646 N. Milwaukee Ave.). CUFF traditionally enlists its jurors to create the names for the awards given to add a unique and individual aspect to each edition of the film festival. This year, the jury designated each award to represent experimental and underground film legends, to draw the connection between their work and the influential work that had preceded them. Winners were led by Peter Parlow’s THE PLAGIARISTS, which took home The William Greaves Award, and Adam Sekuler’s 36 HOURS which was honored with The Carolee Schneeman Award. The CUFF Audience Award winner was Stuart Swezey’s DESOLATION CENTER.

CUFF Juror Kera MacKenzie, said, “We understood when creating the awards that underground and experimental filmmakers, even the most well known, are not exactly household names but that is part of the logic behind the awards. By highlighting important underground filmmakers who have passed away and are still influencing the work being made today we are connecting generations to a tradition that CUFF has stood for these past 26 years. Hopefully it prompts a google search or conversation for folks who are curious.”

CUFF Artistic Director Bryan Wendorf, added, “This year’s edition of CUFF once again brought together a number of disparate film artists literally from all around the world, representing some of the most inspirational and inventive work in experimental and underground cinema today. For close to three decades now, CUFF has been a yearly touchstone for filmmaking of this kind, so it was wonderful for our jury to connect those dots, by connecting this year’s award winners with the filmmakers that came before and in many ways created the path for them – and others, to follow.”


Additional jury award winners included; D. Madsen Minax’s THE EDDIES (The Curt McDowell Award); Jenna Caravello’s FRONTIER WISDOM (The Helen Hill Award); Naya (The Outdoor Cat)’s PIEDAD (The Jack Smith Award); and Ismaël Joffroy Chandoutis’s SWATTED (The Phil Solomon Award).

Cited for Jury Honorable Mentions were; Shayna Connelly’s ARTIST STATEMENT; Isabelle Carbonell’s THE BLESSED ASSURANCE; Roger Beebe’s LINEAGE (FOR NORMAN MCLAREN); Emily Esperanza’s MAKE OUT PARTY; Jimmy Joe Roche’s SKIN OF MAN; and Brandon Daley’s TECHNOLOGY LAKE: MEDITATIONS ON DEATH AND SEX.


CUFF’s Made in Chicago Award went to Heqiuzi Wang’s ROUGHLY DELICATE, and the Audience Award was given to Stuart Swezey’s DESOLATION CENTER.

Adam Sekuler, director of 36 HOUR

The 2019 Chicago Underground Film Festival Jurors

Brian Frye 
Brian L. Frye is the Spears-Gilbert Associate Professor of Law at the University of Kentucky College of Law. His scholarship focuses on intellectual property and charity law, especially in relation to the arts and legal history. He is also a filmmaker, film programmer, and film scholar.  

Kera MacKenzie

Kera MacKenzie is a Chicago-based interdisciplinary artist working primarily in film, video, live broadcast, and installation. Her work has explored radical subjectivities, the mechanisms of empathy, catastrophe, suspense, liveness, and control. She has screened and exhibited her work at spaces including the International Film Festival Rotterdam, Anthology Film Archives, UnionDocs, the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, and Chicago Underground Film Festival. Additionally, Kera is a Founding Co-Director of ACRE TV, an artist-made live streaming television network, a CUFF groupie, and an educator. 

Mike Olenick

Mike Olenick makes perverse genre-bending films that focus on memories, photography, transformation, and forbidden desire. Mike was a fellow at the inaugural Shudder Labs and his work has screened around the world at the Fantasia International Film Festival, Fantastic Fest, Palm Springs International ShortFest, Hamburg International Short Film Festival, and the World Wide Video Festival. He’s also won awards at the Slamdance Film Festival, Ann Arbor Film Festival, Cinematexas, Big Muddy Film Festival, and the Nightmares Film Festival. Since 2007, Mike has shown numerous films at CUFF, including RED LUCK, which won the Best Looking Film award. He’s also worked as an editor on projects for Guy Maddin, the Quay Brothers, Michael Robinson, and Lucy Raven. Since 2003 he’s edited countless films and videos for Jennifer Reeder including A MILLION MILES AWAY and KNIVES AND SKIN.

2019 CUFF Filmmaker Award Namesakes

William Greaves (October 8, 1926 – August 25, 2014) was a documentary filmmaker and a pioneer of African-American filmmaking. He produced more than two hundred documentary films and wrote and directed more than half of these. Greaves garnered many accolades for his work, including four Emmy nominations. The best known of his films, SYMBIOPSYCHOTAXIPLASM: TAKE ONE is a 1968 experimental documentary. The film, which is shot and presented in the style of a cinema vérité documentary, attempts to capture and examine pure reality unhindered by the presence of the cameras all around. It is perhaps most memorable for the layers of metatextual storytelling inherent in the concept of the story: that of a documentary inside a documentary inside a documentary.

Helen Hill

(May 9, 1970 – January 4, 2007) was an American artist, filmmaker, writer, teacher, and social activist. When her final film, The Florestine Collection, was released in 2011, curators and critics praised her work and legacy, describing her, for example, as “one of the most well-regarded experimental animators of her generation.” Curt McDowell (January 9, 1945 – June 3, 1987)  was a director, writer, actor and artist in underground cinema. In the mid sixties he moved to San Francisco to study painting at the S.F. Art Institute, but he soon became interested in filmmaking and transferred to the film department. Curt McDowell relished the spirit of sexual freedom, personal expression and artistic exploration that was very much the spirit of the times in San Francisco. He never stopped painting and drawing but film became his main creative outlet. Underground guru, director George Kuchar, became his partner and mentor.  Curt McDowell nourished the American dream of plenty in pan-sexual terms. His films were literally offbeat, intrusive, erotic, naked, authentic and straight to the point. Carolee Schneemann (October 12, 1939 – March 6, 2019) was an American visual experimental artist, known for her multi-media works on the body, narrative, sexuality and gender. Her work is primarily characterized by research into visual traditions, taboos, and the body of the individual in relation to social bodies. Jack Smith (November 14, 1932 – September 25, 1989) was an American filmmaker, actor, and pioneer of underground cinema. He is generally acclaimed as a founding father of American performance art, and has been critically recognized as a master photographer, though hisphotographic works are rare and remain largely unknown. Smith was one of the first proponents of the aesthetics which came to be known as ‘camp’ and ‘trash’, using no-budget means of production (e.g. using discarded color reversal film stock) to create a visual cosmos heavilyinfluenced by Hollywood kitsch, orientalism and with Flaming Creatures created drag culture as it is currently known. Smith was heavily involved with John Vaccaro, founder of The Playhouse of the Ridiculous, whose disregard for conventional theater practice deeply influenced Smith. Smith’s style influenced the film work of Andy Warhol as well as the early work of John Waters. Phil Solomon (January 3, 1954 – April 20, 2019) was an American experimental filmmaker noted for his work with both film and video. Recently, Solomon has earned acclaim for a series of films that incorporate machinima made using games from the Grand Theft Auto series. His films are often described as haunting and lyrical, using repurposed footage, manipulated images and striking soundtracks to make evocative experimental films.

2019 Chicago Underground Film Festival Filmmaker Awards

The William Greaves Meta-Fiction Award


Director: Peter Parlow

The Carolee Schneemann Award


Director: Adam Sekuler

The Curt McDowell Award


Director: D. Madsen Minax

The Helen Hill Experimental Animation Award


Director: Jenna Caravello

The Jack Smith Award


Director: Naya (The Outdoor Cat)

The Phil Solomon Award


Director: Ismaël Joffroy Chandoutis

Made in Chicago Award


Director: Heqiuzi Wang

Audience Award


Director: Stuart Swezey

Honorable Mentions


Director: Shayna Connelly


Director: Isabelle Carbonell


Director: Roger Beebe


Director: Emily Esperanza


Director: Jimmy Joe Roche

Director: Brandon Daley


The Chicago Underground Film Festival is an annual event showcasing independent, experimental and documentary films from around the world. Widely recognized as a world-class event, the festival showcases the best in new American and international cinema and provides the movie-loving public with access to some of the most critically acclaimed filmmakers and emerging talent from around the world. CUFF’s mission is to promote films and videos that dissent radically in form, technique, or content from the indie mainstream and to present adventurous works that challenge and transcend commercial and audience expectations. 25 programs comprised of narrative, documentary and experimental features, shorts, and music videos, representing more than 20 countries, make up the main body of the festival, along with nightly parties and live music, discussions and other networking and community building events. ABOUT IFP CHICAGO
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