Top Prizes Go To Ghost Of The Golden Groves, Felix In Wonderland, The Deepest Hole,Magic Explained, Umbilical, Blessed Land and The Reversal
Paper Shadows Wins Audience Award

Chicago, IL— After 29  online programs over 14 days and 4 drive-in screenings, the 27th Chicago Underground Film Festival’s Awards took place over zoom on Monday December 14, with jurors presenting 6 awards and 3 honorable mentions. Honorees, named in total below, represent new achievements in global underground and experimental filmmaking. The works selected run the gamut from documentary, experimental animation and narrative films. Regardless of genre classifications each of the films selected push new boundaries in form and/or content and represent the best of what independent films have to offer in 2020.

“The social isolation of the past year made this year’s festival a challenge but art and culture become even more essential for human beings during these difficult times,” said Bryan Wendorf, Co-founder and Artistic Director. “Congratulations to each and every one of this year’s award winners, and to all the talented film artists who participated in this year’s festival”

The awards announcement marked the culmination of the 2020 Festival, where 14 feature-length and 95 short films — selected from more than 2,100 submissions — were showcased.

This year’s jurors, invited in recognition of their accomplishments, experience and knowledge as both filmmakers and programmers, deliberated extensively before presenting these awards.  This year’s jurors were Raul Benitez, Warren Cockerham and Danièle Wilmouth,

Raul Benitez is a film programmer in Chicago for Full Spectrum Features. He also programs at Comfort Station Logan Square and The Nightingale Cinema. Raul has been a recipient of New City’s Film Chicago Screen Gem for 2015, 2017 and 2019. He was recently a juror for Chicago International Children’s film festival and  the DePaul School of Cinematic Arts Depaul Experimental Film Showcase. He has also recently been a screener for The Onion City Film Festival, Chicago On Screen local film showcase and True/False Film Festival.

Warren Cockerham is a film and video maker who received his MFA in Film, Video, and New Media from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2010 and a BA in English from the University of Florida’s Film and Media Studies program in 2006. He is the founder of FilmLAB@1512: a film and video program for teenagers in Chicago’s North Lawndale Community. His work is curious about complex power structures in familial/intimate relationships and how they are presented and observed through the mediation of public and private archival material. His films, rather than tell stories, pose a series of problems and questions. His short films and videos have screened at a variety of moving-image venues domestically and abroad. He is currently faculty at the University of Tampa and the artistic director and programmer of the Florida Experimental Film and Video Festival in Tampa, FL.

Danièle Wilmouth is fascinated by the unconscious choreography of ordinary life and how cinema reveals the miraculous spectacle of the everyday. She creates hybrid forms of experimental, narrative and non-fiction cinema, which explore ritual, pattern, monotony, and impermanence. Her award winning films investigate mediation of the choreographed body—constructing performances exclusively for the camera, as well as experimental approaches to social issue documentary. Wilmouth’s works have been shown on television, in film festivals, and in museums around the globe. She was on NewCity’s Film50 list of Chicago Screen Gems in 2020, and awarded a 3 Arts Make a Wave Grant in 2017. A collection of her performance films was included in the 2016 BODY+ACT exhibition at the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Seoul, South Korea. In 2013, Wilmouth was featured in Dance Films Association’s “Meet the Artist” series with a solo show at the Film Society of Lincoln Center. Retrospectives of her work have been held in South Korea (2012) and Russia (2004). She teaches at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and Columbia College Chicago


Honorable Mentions to Supermarket directed by Gianluca Abbate, Ride directed by Paul Bush and ( ( ( ( ( /*\ ) ) ) ) ) directed by Charles Fairbanks and Saul Kak

Badass Bolex Award to Felix in Wonderland directed by Marie Losier. Following on her demented yet deeply affectionate collaborations with George Kuchar, Guy Maddin, Genesis P-Orridge, and Cassandra, the Exotico!, Marie Losier unveils her most recent portrait of an oddball creator, the German electronic musician Felix Kubin. A portrait of a visionary artist for whom the music never stops.

Best Ghost Music Video Hybrid Feature to Ghost of the Golden Grovesdirected by Aniket Dutta and Roshni Sen. “An avant garde diptych set in the jungles of West Bengal, Ghost of the Golden Groves is a trippy Indian sci-fi fantasy sure to engage more adventurous viewers” – Screen Anarchy

Audacious Animation Award to Umbilical directed by Danski Tang. An animated documentary exploring how an abusive relationship between the filmmaker’s parents shaped her own experiences and how mother and daughter learn to understand and support one another.

Best In A Graveyard Short to Blessed Land directed by Ph?m Ng?c Lân. A middle-aged woman and her son search for her late husband’s grave which may have been covered over by a recently built golf course.

Best Pixelated Curiosity goes to Magic Explained directed by Paul Tarragó. “Prestidigitation before the age of the pixel”

The Race to Hell Award goes to The Deepest Hole directed by Matt McCormick for capturing the zeitgeist of the hellish 2020. An experimental documentary covering a forgotten moment of cold war competition between the United States and the Soviet Union to see which country could dig the deepest hole possibly discovering hell in the process.

The Made in Chicago Award was present to The Reversal directed by Jennifer Boles. A haunting animation of an institutional glass-plate photo archive documenting the reverse-engineering of an urban river and the invisible histories and legacies of our capital-driven landscapes.

The Audience Award voted on by festival viewers went to Paper Shadows directed by Robert Banks Jr. an experimental feature exploring racial, class, gendered, and generational gaps and complexities through the perspectives of an African-American janitor at an art school and a young white student completing her final year there. Classic experimental film methods and techniques are used to provide the viewer with idiosyncratic, metaphors for early 21st century frustration and alienation. 

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