Wednesday May 31 8:00 PM

Theater 1

Opening Night!


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Drifting Towards The Crescent Laura Stewart

83 min., 2017, USA, Chicago Premiere

The Chicago Underground Film Festival proudly presents the Chicago premiere of “Drifting Towards the Crescent,†Laura Stewart’s captivating and intimate portrait of life in Keokuk, Iowa. Keokuk, situated along the Mississippi River just North of Hannibal, Missouri (birthplace of Mark Twain) is a place where the North ends and the South begins. A town of hunters and fisherman, drinkers, bikers and survivors, the inhabitants of Keokuk are proud of their lives that are a little rough around the edges but still easygoing and amiable. Weaving together the personal stories of these river town inhabitants, “Drifting Towards The Crescent†offers insights into the character of a region holding on tightly to its identity in the face of a changing global economy.

“Drifting Towards the Crescent†is about a town, and a moment and place in time, all the more critical after our recent election. It’s about the heartland of the US, and life on the Mississippi River. Even though I do not make didactic films, all of the characters but two would not have a job were it not for foreign investment. It’s about a place where the homes reflect the faded vestige of prosperity from the river’s glory days, but those days have long since ebbed. This film is about lack of mobility within a relentlessly mobile society.†– Laura Stewart

“An unusual portrait of an almost mythical Americaâ€. – Rotterdam Film Festival

Thursday June 1
6:30 PM

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Participate in My Relaxed State Katya Yakubov

20 min., 2016, USA

This fractured narrative follows one woman’s coming to terms with the elusive mind-body split. Challenging the validity of alternative as well as Western medicine, this film turns its attention instead to the moments in between therapy, and the possibilities that the strange encounter with another can bring.

Trust Fall Jeanne Donegan and Eileen Rae Walsh

4 min., 2015, USA

An experimental video using found footage that cycles through evocative imagery to elicit sensations of fear versus pleasure. This imagery is laid over the sound of the two artists gasping for breath, a sound that remains ambiguous as to whether it is induced by danger or excitement.

Emerald Ice Jesseca Ynez Simmons

14 min., 2016, USA

Emerald Ice is a cinematic odyssey exploring the mind of the American poet Diane Wakoski. This hybrid documentary, or docufantasy, brings to the screen her work–the sprawling beauty that is Diane’s emotional spectrum.

Lingua Absentia Kate Raney and Jeremy Bessoff

10 min., 2017, USA

An experiment in two contrasting points of view: A mother assists her daughter with severe schizophrenia undergoing a massive surgery to replace her tongue.

Gardening At Night Shayna Connelly

12 min., 2016, USA

Waiting for confirmation of Anne’s death creates an unbearable state of regret, sadness and anticipation in Samantha. That night she tames her neglected garden and finds a way to say good-bye and to help her friend come to terms with death.

The Pier [Like Mending Glass] Anna Hogg

26 min., 2016, USA

The filmmaker’s grandfather, suffering from Alzheimer’s, remembers, obsessively, an episode from his youth: an elegant young woman climbs over the railing of the pier and jumps into the water; he saves her. The old man’s speech becomes more confused; the women of his family repeat the story, now become mythical, using re-speaking techniques inspired by “verbatim theaterâ€; the filmmaker reconstructs the scene, casting a young woman whose blonde chignon brings to mind Vertigo’s Madeleine. Yet the moment comes when the grandfather has to be brought to a nursing home, where, gradually, he fades away. His mind, his breathing, fly away with the passing time, along the flowing water. The last image that stays with him, is that of the pier..

Thursday June 1
7:00 PM

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24.24.24 Daniel Dietzel

13 min., 2016, Canada

24.24.24. is a view of a day in concurrent time. All of the day’s twenty-four hours are presented at once. In the minutia of time, banal events unfold and are made extraordinary through the camera’s gaze. Light gains character, shadow reshapes objects, and time becomes palpable. Take a look.

On an Unknown Beach Adam Luxton & Summer Agnew

90 min., 2016, New Zealand, International Premiere

On an Unknown Beach is a speculative documentary on landscapes of ruin, and the three explorers who dive deep into the abyss. Aboard the state-of-the-art research vessel Tangaroa, coral scientist Di Tracey surveys the Chatham Rise seabed to document the impact of deep ocean trawl shing. Wandering through Christchurch’s eerie post-quake CBD, Bruce Russell, a sound artist and founding member of seminal noise band the Dead C, philosophises on urbanisation and regeneration through improvised soundscapes and his own highly evolved thought patterns. And navigating a fraught interior landscape, poet and actor David Hornblow uses Regression Hypnotherapy to traverse his past experiences with addiction.

“On an Unknown Beach… [is a] ground zero perspective of human life in the anthropocene; damaged, bruised, and in need of a fresh breath of air.” – Adam Luxton & Summer Agnew

Thursday June 1
8:00 PM

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38 River Road Josh Weissbach

7 min., 2016, USA/Switzerland

The voice of a figureless character is heard. The figure of a voiceless character is seen. A sequence of estranged voicemail’s is framed by unidentified events. Fear resides in the gesture of a telling.

Unknown Hours Calum Walter

12 min., 2016, USA

Unknown Hours studies a precarious nightscape. An observer journeys down a main street in Chicago towards a neighborhood known for its nightlife. The moving image is slowed to reveal the intermittence of street lights and sports bar televisions. A camera peers into the moments between events.

Ocean Hill Drive Lina Sieckmann and Miriam Gossing

20 min., 2016, USA/Germany

Ocean Hill Drive examines a rare phenomenon, the so-called‚ shadowflicker’, that occurs in a suburban area on the outskirts of Boston. As a result of an erroneously installed wind turbine, the flicker effect, which brings to mind structuralist experimental cinema, appears instead in documentary images showing the landscape and architecture of a Massachusetts coast town.

Luna E Santur Joshua Gen Solondz

10 min., 2016, USA

‘‘A visually assaultive threnody for losses never fully revealed and composed for monstrous times, “Luna E Santur†mingles sex and death with the supernatural and subnaturalistic.”-Colin Beckett

Sea With No Name Emi Linnakoski

36 min., 2015, Finland/Estonia

Desert. Sand blowing in eyes, back bent down, limbs heavy of waiting. Wallpapers reflecting the light beams from cars outside on the streets. Hands reaching warmth under the blanket or resting on thermostat.
When rejection and abandoning has beaten you repeatedly they sculpt themselves in human memory, all the way through your body.
Landscape in Tuula`s eyes is silent, days resemble one another, then suddenly a song blossoms in this desert, like a flower waking up at night. In that song she reveals herself to us. What kind of a prison has she built with only one feel – fear of abandoning?

Thursday June 1
9:00 PM

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The Pooka Luke Boyce

15 min., 2016, USA

In a desperate attempt to aid a lost soul, a benevolent oversized rabbit must find a way to rekindle a forgotten spark.

Joji Koyama and Tujiko Noriko
84 min., 2017, Germany/UK/Japan

Romi, a Japanese woman living in Paris, works in a karaoke bar. At home in the suburbs, she tends to her paraplegic lover Milou. To pass the time she recounts to him a story alluding to a period they once spent together in Japan. Soon, the mystery of a man named Mr. Ono begins to unsettle everything. Weaving together personal history, anecdotes and myths, the story takes a dark turn.

“..a singular and impressively accomplished work of art.†–Christopher Bourne, Screen Anarchy

“hypnotic and meditative, Kuro is a daring work of cinematic literature.†—David Shreve, Audiences Everywhere

Kuro Sponsored by


Friday June 2 6:30 PM


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News From the Sun Brendan & Jeremy Smyth

4 min., 2016, USA

An apocalyptic narrative unfolds through the words of “The Sun”, a British tabloid created by media mogul Rupert Murdoch. 4000 single frames were exposed, unedited, and accompanied with the pulsing rhythms of the sun collected by NASA, resembling the Buddhist “Om”, the sound of our universe.

Meridian Plain
Laura Kraning
19 min., 2016, USA

“Meridian Plain†maps an enigmatic distant landscape excavated from hundreds of thousands of archival still images, forecasting visions of a possible future, transmitted from a mechanical eye.

Ephraim Asili
12 min., 2016, USA/Jamaica

Shot between the Maroon village of Accompong, Jamaica, and Hudson, New York, the alternately sparse and exultantly polyrhythmic Kindah is part of a series of films examining the filmmaker’s relationship to the African diaspora. The title alludes to the mango tree that symbolizes common kinship in the Jamaican Maroon culture.

A Stroll Down Sunflower Lane
Mayye Zayed
14 min., 2016, Egypt

An old grandfather, a little granddaughter, an old house and some glimpses of memory. She was growing up building hers. He was getting old losing his.

The film is a reenactment of the filmmaker’s own memories with her late grandfather, using actors but real old TK tape recordings.

350 MYA
Terra Jean Long
5 min., 2016, Morocco/Canada

A sheet whips before the camera, shaped by the same wind that forms the rigid, undulating lines of sand below it as the film conjures the continued presence of the now vanished Rheic Ocean in the Tafilalt region of the arid Sahara Desert.

Konstantina Kotzamani
30 min., 2016, France/Greece

The leopard shall lie down with the goat.
The wolves shall live with the lambs.
And the young boy will lead them.
12+1 kids and the carcass of a whale washed ashore…

Friday June 2
7:00 PM

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Animal Condensed>Animal Expanded #1
Jennet Thomas
8 min., 2016, United Kingdom

Somewhere between virtual and actual, through the collision of meanings and anti-meanings, a visionary fever dream produces an enigmatic philosophical encounter between two post-anthropological agents. In an attempt to reconcile themselves with some unspecified trauma of mass biotechno violation, they quiz one another on the origins and ontologies of their species.

The Pink Egg
Jim Trainor
71 min., 2016, USA

Luis Buñuel’s observation – “You can find all of Shakespeare and de Sade in the lives of insects” – was the inspiration for this experimental horror movie, in which human actors wordlessly enact the life-cycles of wasps and bees. Its purpose is to depict with emotion, humor and unnerving specificity an alternative society that really exists and has nothing to do with human beings. A highly stylized depiction of nature in all her deceitful glory.

Friday June 2
8:30 PM

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Reckoning 4
Kent Lambert
10 min., 2016, USA

“Reckoning 4†is the second in a series of investigations into (among other things) 1. Terror and wonder in big-budget virtual worlds 2. The fluidity, fragility and loneliness of technologically mediated social identities and friendships 3. The queerness and malevolence of archetypal masculinity 4. The poetics of blockbuster aesthetics.

Lana Z Caplan
8 min., 2016, USA

Using animation, heat sensitive camera footage from US border patrol screens, military bombing drone monitors, and other collected footage, Maelstroms is a meditation on the dehumanizing use of image technology in current practice.

How to have your / own television show! / (you already do)
Jesse Malmed
13 min., 2016, USA

An unreliable narrator details how to deliver people in the age of surveillance from within and without, a how-to for lateral minds, a hippie family sitcommune set to a bootleg of Peter Hutton’s “Florenceâ€, a drearily rousing theme song as gps-to-mp3 directions out to the country. With Henry Thomas, Vic Mizzy and Peter Hutton

Sasha Litvintseva and Graeme Arnfield
20 min., 2016, UK

Shot in the mining town of Asbestos,Quebec, home to the world’s largest asbestos mine that only stopped extraction in 2012, the film is a meditation on the entanglement of the fragility of bodies, the nonlinearity of progress, and the persistence of matter.

Lynne Siefert
32 min., 2016, USA

Part travelogue, part philosophical meditation, Ark is a film about decadence and illusion. Set in the not too distant future, in a post-apocalyptic world, Ark melds lurid surrealist imagery with sardonic musings of anonymous passengers aboard a cruise ship at the end of the world.

Friday June 2
9:00 PM

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Dim the Fluorescents 
Daniel Warth
128 min., 2016, Canada

“Dim The Fluorescents” follows the friendship and creative partnership between struggling actress Audrey and aspiring playwright Lillian. Lacking a proper outlet for their creativity, they funnel all of their considerable passion and talent into the only paying work they can find: role-playing demonstrations for corporate seminars. With copious rewrites and rehearsals, immersive lighting and sound design, and wildly uninhibited performances, the duo attempts to elevate these ostensibly educational presentations (on subjects such as ‘Handling the Dissatisfied Customer’ and ‘Workplace Safety’) to the realm of high art… all for bewildered audiences of mid-level office employees.

When Lillian and Audrey book their biggest gig to date – at a hotel conference with an expected audience of three-hundred – the two commence what will surely be their most ambitious production to date. Over the course of their lengthy and emotionally fraught rehearsal process, two lifetimes’ worth of personal, professional and creative compromises rise to the surface and the ensuing tensions threaten to derail both the production and their friendship.

As wryly funny as it is unexpectedly poignant, Dim The Fluorescents is a one-of-a-kind portrait of the artistic life and process in the unlikeliest of settings.

Saturday June 3
2:00 PM

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Athyrium-Filix Femina
Kelly Egan
5 min., 2016, Canada

The second in a series of “quilt films†that pay homage to the work of pioneering female artists, Athyrium filix-femina reimagines Anna Atkins’ founding work in photography as a moving image. In 1843, Anna Atkins published the first book of photography, Photographs of British Algae: Cyanotype Impressions, an exploration of regional botany that classified different kinds of algae using direct prints of the plants. The cyanotype process was a relatively short-lived as a dominant form of photography, however, it found refuge in the domestic sphere where it was used to decorate fabric for pillows, drapes and clothing. By combining filmmaking and quilting, this film extends from the “domestication†of this photographic art by exploring experimental narrative and structural forms through the use of traditional “women’s work.†The “narrative†in this film is told through the symbolic patterning in quilt-making practices.

Étude 1a: Release (I)
Russell Sheaffer
5 min., 2016, USA

Exploring the musical concept of “release,” this film is a haunting found-footage study in the plurality of visual and auditory meanings of the term.  A series of collaborative works pairing artists working in visual and auditory mediums, the Études meditate on individual musical concepts through experiments with sound and film.

Not Even Nothing Can Be Free Of Ghosts
Rainer Kohlberger
11 min., 2016, Austria

Rainer Kohlberger´s audio-visual compositions are always fierce attacks on the human system of perception. His algorithmic works have little in common with conventional film and video.  What binds him with the avant-garde movements of the 20th century is the constant search for point zero.

Heliopolis Heliopolis
Anja Dornieden and Juan David Gonzalez
26 min., 2017, Germany

Heliopolis Heliopolis was the name of a metropolitan simulacrum devised as a training tool for urban planning at the NoUn School of Architecture in Egypt in the 3rd century BC. Heliopolis Heliopolis was created by an insurgent priest (whose name has been lost) as a tool to train students in the design of a revolutionary city meant to surpass the ancient city of Heliopolis. This in spite of the fact that the priest and his students appear never to have visited Heliopolis and based their model exclusively on texts and secondhand knowledge. Eventually this became a source of pride within the school and descriptions of Heliopolis gained a fantastical nature, becoming both meticulously elaborate and wildly implausible.  Heliopolis Heliopolis is a cinematic interpretation of the simulacrum and the hypnotic, trance-inducing ritual connected to its use.

Oblong Box
Robert Todd
8 min., 2016, USA

Resting places: The weight of distances between lives brought together via passageways through and to the ends of things.

The Place I Will Have Left
Lena Ditte Nissen
15 min., 2016, Germany

“The Place I Will Have Left†was shot around Rio Catatumbo in Venezuela, the area where most lightnings in the world strike down. The film is about the experience and absorption of something non-digestible. Something foreign and other, that does not assimilate, that remains within our selfs as a foreign body and provokes rejection reactions.The short and destructive energy of a lightning is delated into a state of stasis as an overreaction.

Deborah Strattman
15 min., 2016, Greece/USA

The Greek island of Syros is visited by a series of unexpected guests. Immutable forms, outside of time, foreign observants to human conditions.

Saturday June 3
3:00 PM

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CPS Closings & Delays
Kristin Reeves
7 min., 2017, USA

The Chicago Board of Education made history in 2013 approving the closure of 50 schools, the largest public school closing to date in the United States. I shot all 50 schools on a 100’ roll of 16mm film while my DSLR caught vignettes of their communities.

Robots For Illinois
Ben Kolak
5 min., 2017, USA

This film depicts Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner fantasizing about replacing the people of Illinois with robots.

Exodus: Sounds of the Great Migration Lonnie Edwards

12 min., 2017, USA

Award-winning filmmaker Lonnie Edwards gives an avant-garde look into how the Great Migration gave birth to many artists that fueled “the new negro” movement which influenced and empowered Black culture moving forward, as well as, the link between the present and the past as many artists are still affected to this day.

To The Right
Agnes Starczewski, Ben Kolak and Yana Kunichoff
10 min., 2017, USA

To the Right chronicles the events of Poland’s unfolding constitutional crisis through the lens of Chicago’s local Polish TV station, Polvision, and the diaspora community the station serves. The unfolding situation in Poland could help illuminate the situation at home.

More Dangerous Than a Thousand Rioters
Kelly Gallagher
7 min., 2016, USA

An experimental animated documentary exploring the powerful and inspiring life of revolutionary Lucy Parsons. This film illustrates her dedicated life to struggle, and her important, countless contributions fighting endlessly against capitalism, racism, and sexism.

The Magic Hedge
Frédéric Moffet
9 min., 2016, USA/Canada

“The Magic Hedge†explores a bird sanctuary located on a former Cold War Nike missile site on the north side of Chicago. Left to wander and observe, the viewer becomes aware of the park’s open secret: men looking for fleeting sexual contacts within the trees and shrubberies..

The 39th
Laura Fallsgraff
30 min., 2017, USA

26-year-old activist Will Guzzardi believes that he can mobilize a movement to upend Illinois’ dysfunctional political system. But he chose to run against the daughter of one of the best connected politicians in Chicago — and the establishment is not going to let her go down without a fight.

Saturday June 3
4:00 PM

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Sadhu In Bombay
Kabir Mehta
15 min., 2016, India

Sadhu In Bombay is a​ ​documentary portrait of a man, with ascetic origins, who has been radically transformed by city life​.

The Modern Jungle
Charles Fairbanks & Saul Kak
71 min., 2016, Mexico/USA

The Modern Jungle is a portrait of globalization filtered through the fever dream of a Mexican shaman, don Juan, who falls under the spell of a pyramid-scheme-marketed nutritional supplement. Juan’s neighbor Carmen lives simply, in harmony with the land her martyred husband paid for with his life. This film documents their struggles and encounters with outside forces: from capitalism and commodity fetish, to the culture of cinema, and the directors of this film.

Saturday June 3
5:00 PM

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way of the gods
Lorenzo Gattorna
10 min., 2016, China/Taiwan,/Japan,/USA

“The mysterious stirs a reaction: an ‘ah!’ This ‘ah!’ is not an ‘ah ha!’ or ‘Eureka’—that is, an exclamation of discovering an answer. The ‘ah!’ response to mystery is more a dumbfounded recognition and appreciation of an inexplicable power or presence … For Shinto, though, the point is to accept the awesome as part of the world in which we live. To deny or try to eradicate the wondrous mystery is no less than to run away from home.” – “Shinto: The Way Home”, Thomas Kasulis

As Without So Within
Manuela de Laborde
25 min., 2016, Mexico/United Kingdom/USA


Conceptually informed by the artist’s active film going, “As Without So Within” takes as its point of departure prop sculptures which are transformed both through hybrid techniques of framing, lighting, and superimposition and by being projected in an enclosed, silent architectural space.”As Without So Within” explores the possibility that the surfaces of things are entities worthy of their own depth for and in themselves, demanding to be seen and confronted as they exist.

Answer Print Mónica Savirón

5 min., 2016, USA

“The fading that devastates color films occurs in the dark. It is accelerated by high temperatures and, to a lesser extent, relative humidity. Dye fading is irreversible. Once the dye images have faded, the information lost cannot be recovered”—Image Permanence Institute

Masochism of the Margins
Cyrus Yoshi Tabar
16 min., 2016, USA

Legendary experimental filmmaker, Craig Baldwin, faces eviction from his home of 31 years, and struggles to keep his weekly show Other Cinema alive.

Fuddy Duddy
Siegfried A. Fruhauf
5 min., 2017, Austria

“Fuddy Duddy†uses the motif of the grid to blow it to pieces. Being occupied with structural film, Fruhauf repeatedly draws “frame plans,” using grid structures to precisely record the succession of individual images. This sometimes seems like a search for structures in an apparently chaotic world. The medium of film fulfills the need for orientation. So, then, it isn’t merely a personal preference for a certain working method.

Indefinite Pitch
James N. Kienitz Wilkins
23 min., 2016, USA

A pathetic movie pitch slips into the murkiness of memory, and histories best forgotten or purposely ignored.

Saturday June 3

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All The Rage (saved by sarno)
Suki Hawley, David Beilinson and Michael Galinsky
94 min., 2016, USA

Director Michael Galinsky’s father read Dr. John Sarno’s book “Healing Back Pain†in the 1980’s and was miraculously cured of the chronic whiplash he suffered for years.  The book, which connects pain with emotions rather than structural causes, put Sarno at blunt odds with the medical system.  When Michael was immobilized by excruciating back pain, he experienced the power of Dr. Sarno’s message and began a 12-year odyssey to make this personal narrative that weaves together his story of healing with the story of Dr. Sarno and his work.  Though dismissed by peers, Sarno’s work changed the lives of millions, including luminaries like Howard Stern and Larry David.  Dr. Sarno radically predicted that the medical system’s disregard for the true cause of chronic pain — repressed emotions — would lead to an epidemic. Unfortunately, he was right. Pain is the great health care cost in America by far. This artful and personal film braids Galinsky’s universal story of pain and emotion together with the story of Dr. Sarno’s work, connecting the audience to both the issues and the emotions at play.  

Saturday June 3
7:00 PM

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Birds With Human Heads
Max Wilde
10 min., 2016, USA

On a little red planet, beneath a blue tree, surrounded by puppet animals, Beth gives Henrietta her first neck tattoo.

It Grows Dark
Benjamin Capps
10 min., 2016, USA

A demented, cyclopean teddy bear drawn on a scrap of paper leads Deke Lape to the Tele-C booth call where a voice on the other end gives him a message from Hell itself.

Our Own Private Universe
Ben Balcolm
11 min., 2016, USA

Our language is unreliable. Is meaning adding up or emptying out? We need these actors to play their parts in order to mask their fictions. What do they say? To have been is not enough for them. Let them converse calmly, since they are incapable of keeping silent.

The Dundee Project
Mark Borchardt
19 min., 2016, USA

In his long-awaited follow-up to 1997’s ‘Coven,’ filmmaker Mark Borchardt steps behind the camera again with a documentary chronicling a small town UFO festival in Wisconsin. Featuring interviews with eccentric locals, the film explores the annual ritual, which is equal parts sky watching and heavy drinking, and leaves Borchardt wondering if it even happened at all.

Cave Small Cave Big
Joële Walinga
10 min., 2016, Canada

Jumping from character to character as they cope with the transience of ownership, Cave Small Cave Big, written by two five-year-old girls, captures that moment in a young mind when new muscles are stretched to grapple with ideas about possession and loss.

METUBE 2 – August Sings Carmen Burana
Daniel Moshel
5 min., 2016, Austria

After Elfie and her nerdy son August successfully proved themselves on their home webcam in MeTube 1, the odd pair venture onto the street to present the biggest, boldest, and sexiest operatic flash mob the internet has ever witnessed!

The Cure
Mike Olenick
20 min., 2017, USA

A mom cries, photos fly, cats spy, and bodies collide in this sci-fi soap opera that unravels the secret dreams of people who are desperately searching for ways to cure their fears of loneliness.

Saturday June 3
8:00 PM

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Batfish Soup
Amanda Bonaiuto
5 min., 2016, USA

Wacky relatives give way to mounting tensions with broken dolls, boiling stew and a bang.

Neighborhood Food Drive
Jerzy Rose
85 min., 2017, USA

Budding Chicago restaurateurs Naomi and Madeline know that image is everything for a new business. So, when a negative review says their restaurant Ciao “perfectly summarizes the hypocrisy of the bourgeoisieâ€, they know just what they need to do to change people’s minds: host a neighborhood food drive. Tax exempt status! Unpaid interns! What could go wrong? With these two, just about everything.

At the nearby college, students Steven and Bianca are having relationship problems. They both feel that the other isn’t really seeing who they are. When David, their professor and ersatz couples counselor, suggests that engaging in an activity together – perhaps charity work – would allow them time and space to bond, they become integral parts of Naomi and Madeline’s party planning committee.

These five narcissists bond to form a touchy-feely collective of incompetence and it soon becomes apparent that the primary purpose they serve in each other’s lives is to monitor for stray rational thoughts and obliterate them. With each failure, the rallying cry is the same: “next time, it will be different!â€. Ping-ponging between farce and tragedy, bland pop psychology flows effortlessly into negligent homicide as they are literally haunted by the ghost of rejected advice.-  Rebekah Murphy, Boston Underground Film Festival

Saturday June 3
9:00 PM

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Chicken Tuesdays
Brandon Daley
10 min., 2017, USA

Will Gillman sets out to impress his date by bringing her to a chicken photography competition at a local bar.

Sundays on the River
Kaitlin Martin
4 min., 2016, USA

A movie about looking for dead bodies in the St Joseph River while on a Sunday bike ride.

Troll: A Southern Tale
Marinah Janello
12 min., USA

Troll: A Southern Tale takes the viewer on a journey through the mind of a oddball artist.  The testimonies revealed in this short range  from accounts of class issues to homicide.   Each story culminates in the subject’s unique artistic view of his home state of Mississippi and its misrepresentation by out-of-town filmmakers…a perspective of the South that may otherwise be overlooked.

Panic Attack!
Eileen O’Meara
3 min., 2016, USA

You know the nagging thoughts that start with “did I leave the coffee on?” and turn into “what if I give birth to Satan’s baby?” This hand-drawn animation explores anxiety, obsession, and one woman’s slippery hold on reality.

Happy Place
Alexander Phillips
9 min., 2016, USA

Close your eyes. Think of the beach. A single seagull screams above your head. Remember how your acting teacher made the perfect Pina Colada. First, blend up innocent souls into a green mixture, and then enjoy your beverage as respite between fucking their undead bodies. Step into your light. Sing.

Lewis Vaughn
20 min., 2016, USA

A deranged, 300-pound masked ax murderer terrorizes the streets of Chicago as a calculated hunter tracks him.

Justine Raczkiewicz
16 min., 2016, USA

Roger lives a grim and detached life, picking up medical waste for a living, but looks forward to his evening conversations with his quirky roommate and foodie, Olive. But as the meals become increasingly strange, and push the limits of curiosity, Roger must ask himself how far he will go for love?

Hell Follows
Brian Harrison
11 min., 2016, Japan/United States

Betrayed by his clan and murdered for his past evil deeds, a sadistic killer’s soul possesses his identical twin’s body and sets out onto the road of vengeance for one final crusade of extermination. Everywhere he goes … HELL FOLLOWS. MUSIC BY THE DEATH GRIPS.

Saturday June 3
10:00 PM

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Cruising Elsewhere
Ryan White
13 min., 2016, USA

Whatever happened to Wohler Beach? Oral histories and spectral pornography resurrect memories of a once legendary gay beach.

Whatever Happened To Geletin
Angela Christlieb
82 min., 2016, Austria

Artist Liam Gillick hasn’t seen them. Director John Waters has no idea where they are. Filmmaker Tony Conrad has his theories, but he’s not saying. But whoever you ask, the fact remains, the four members of the Austrian artist group, Gelitin (Wolfgang Gantner, Ali Janka, Florian Reither, and Tobias Urban) have disappeared! So Salvatore Viviano, artist, art dealer, and occasional collaborator in Geletin performances, sets off on a cinematic search for the funniest boy group in the world. With an imposing microphone in hand, he questions artists, gallerists and curators about the group’s possible whereabouts.

This is a celebration of a multimedia practice oozing in humour, spontaneity, child-like naiveté and blatant sexuality. From performances and documentations of happenings to the iconic series such as Mona Lisa and Falling Sculptures, the show will once again invite the visitors to participate in this journey in order to enjoy art from a whole new perspective. This film pokes fun at how art is consumed in a conservative manner, forcing the viewer to engage in a new and exciting fashion.

Sunday June 4
2:00 PM

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Swamp Donkey, Sweet Sight
Colin Brant
3 min., 2016, USA

An entry from the second day of calling in Kapuskasing, Ontario. Sep 21, 2013.

Four Faces of the Moon
Amanda Strong
13 min., 2016, Canada

“This intricate stop-motion animation interlaces Canada’s colonial past with writer-director Amanda Strong’s personal family history — and illuminates Cree, Métis, and Anishinabe reclamation of culture, language, and Nationhoodâ€. -Danis Goulet, TIFF

INAATE/SE/ [it shines a certain way. to a certain place/it flies. falls./]
Adam Khalil and Zack Khalil
68 min., 2016, USA/Canada

Adam Khalil and Zack Khalil’s debut film re-imagines an Anishinaabe story, the Seven Fires Prophecy, which both predates and predicts first contact with Europeans. A kaleidoscopic experience blending documentary, narrative, and experimental forms, INAATE/SE/ explores how the prophecy resonates through the generations in their indigenous community on the Michigan/Canadian border. With acute geographic specificity, and grand historical scope, the film fixes its lens between the sacred and the profane to pry open the construction of contemporary indigenous identity.

Sunday June 4
3:00 PM

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In the Vicinity
Kelly Sears
9 min., 2016, USA

As warfare evolves, endless military sight is the ultimate reconnaissance goal. In this speculative instructional film, the full spectrum of official, covert, occult and limitless intelligence protocols are illustrated. This progression mirrors current expanded and cognitive reconnaissance initiatives actively in development.

To You Dear Friend
Jimmy Joe Roche
9 min., 2016, USA

A few years ago I was plagued by an intense bout of insomnia.  This film is an attempt to communicate my inner life during that most difficult time. Much of the film is shot through homemade lenses. I choose to keep the soundtrack silent to accentuate the rhythmic structure of the images and communicate the trance like space between waking and sleeping.

Mono Generation
Keil Troisi & A.W. Strouse
4 min., 2016, USA

In 2005, Lena Dunham starred in a film by Keil Troisi and A.W. Strouse. Endless problems plagued production—from the scatterbrained script to the cast’s partying to Strouse’s romance with Dunham. Now, this poetic short documentary reframes that footage into a commentary on celebrity, the War on Terror, and mononucleosis.

Shape of a Surface
Nazlı Dinçel
9 min., 2017, Turkey

The ground holds accounts of once pagan, then christian and now muslim ruins of the city built for Aphrodite. As she takes revenge on Narcissus, mirrors reveal what is seen and surfaces, limbs dismantle and marble turns flesh.

Lauren Cook
6 min. 2016, USA

Painted 16mm film undergoes a monstrous transformation becoming neither analog nor digital. A film about uncanny valleys and the space between.

This is Yates
Joshua Yates
12 min., 2016, USA

A visceral home movie collage interrogates the ways in which we shape identity and confront trauma via fragmented media.

Blue Movie
Michael Morris
7 min., 2015, USA

Blue Movie is an elegiac tribute to the late Juanita Slusher, a Dallas-based exotic dancer well known in the 50s and 60s as “Candy Barr”. Footage from the stag-film Smart Alec, a film given to me by my grandfather, is used as the majority of the source imagery set to a rendition of Autumn Leaves performed by Dallas-based vocalist Lily Taylor. The song was noted by Candy Barr as her favorite to dance to, while also noting that she viewed her dancing as a form of creative expression. The silver-based emulsion of the film was replaced with cyanotype chemistry and laid under the sun to create the blue image.

Death / Destruction / Some Other Terrible Fate
Jeremy Moss
9 min., 2016, USA

A spectacle of the disused and discontinued. They build in obsolescence. They plague us with updates.

Enola Em Evael
Kathryn Ramey
7 min., USA

An unfaithful remake of Man Ray’s 1926 “Emak Bakia” made without the use of a motion picture camera, “Enola Em Evael/Leave Me Alone” is a nonsensical response to brutality alongside a celebration of silver process.

Animals Under Anaesthesia: Speculations on the Dreamlife of Beasts
Brian M. Cassidy and Melanie Shatzky
15 min., 2016, Canada

Part lyrical document, part farce, Animals Under Anaesthesia: Speculations on the Dreamlife of Beasts explores the imagined unconscious minds of animals. Images of sex, death, and the natural world are made manifest in the murky and disquieting dreams of a dog, cat, pig, and rabbit.

Sunday June 4
4:00 PM

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Decadent Asylum
Amir George
19 min., 2016, USA

Decadent Asylum is a journey of the spirit to higher realms of consciousness

Weather House
Director – Frauke Havemann, Co-director – Eric Schefter
82 min., 2017, Germany

At the threshold of human extinction, a small group of disoriented people spend their time in absurd activities inside a house regularly battered by planetary climate change. Within such an unstable situation, and trying to provide a measure of normality, they develop their own strange belief systems and routines. One man builds a network of wires. Another keeps himself attached to a plant. A woman is constantly recording sounds, but why and for whom? A dark humor arises from the gradual decay of reason.

The title is borrowed from the Germanic folk art tradition of building humidity meters in the form of small, handcrafted houses, with figures that emerge according to specific weather predictions. The film presents a life-size adaptation of this idea. Told with minimalism and humor, “Weather House†is ultimately as dark, strange, and unpredictable as the weather itself.

“Mysterious and mesmerizing, Weather House turns the end of the world into fine art.” – Hammer To Nail

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Sunday June 4
5:00 PM


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The Body Heals
Annelise Ogaard
7 min., 2016, USA

A dreamy nonfiction dispatch from a plastic surgery vacation, reflecting on beauty in the moment of metamorphosis after the knife goes in, but before the bandages come off.

Press Play
Kym McDaniel
6 min., 2016, USA

Discernment becomes crucial as a little girl negotiates an adult world where different forms of entrapment threaten reality.

Monica Panzarino
4 min., 2017, USA

This performance of Barbra Streisand’s 1973 hit single, “The Way We Wereâ€, pairs a play on the word “memories†with real-time image/sound manipulation. The image is processed by rescanning a replica of the historic Paik/Abe “Wobbulator.†Panzarino’s voice is processed by “The Nipulator 2.0â€, a custom-built wireless performance tool.

States of Decay
James Bishop
14 min., 2016, UK

“States of Decay” is unique in both subject matter and presentation. It reveals a world brought into existence by human activity, which now exists beyond the normal confines of society. Seen through the lens of photographer Todd Dalgliesh this short documentary sheds light on the stagnation of Middle America and the remains of urban growth.

Little Red Giant, The Monster That I Was
Laura Harrison
16 min., 2016, USA

Anna, an unhinged artist, goes berserk at an academic’s barbecue. Her German Studies boyfriend, Klaus, mansplains to her about what her art should look like, Clair, a back stabbing comp lit chick, talks smack behind her back to Katrina, the science writer from MIT, and no one wants to hear about her art. Anna winds up in jail where she is finally given a sympathetic audience to the story about her ‘Forever Wolves’ art. A story about transformation through trauma.

Speechless In Japan
Weronika Mliczewska
23 min., 2016, Japan

“Speechless in Japan†is an edgy, participatory documentary that follows a cross-dressing Japanese outcast confronted by judgment from strangers who question his way-of-life. The film chronicles his personal, intimate and blunt journey in search of his own identity.

Fuck All Boys From Uptown
15 min., 2016, USA

Sometimes “f*ck you” and “I love you” means the same thing.


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All the Cities of the North / Svi severni gradovi
Dane Komljen
100 min., Bosnia/Montenegro, Chicago Premiere

A single, white room with a blue tent where two men share a relationship for which there are no words. Boban and Boris live within a set of identical, abandoned bungalows, in the midst of stray donkeys, plastic bottles, red berries, tall trees and transient workers. Someone else enters their secluded space, disturbing their routine. The outside world brings stories of different times, of cities to the north and south, of how something is made. New bonds form and old ones shift. Love can be fragile when not given a name. No, don’t call me “comradeâ€. What should I call you then?

“A challenging and formally intriguing piece connecting personal and collective histories, with a hard-to-define, but definitely present, emotional and physical componentâ€. – Vladan Petkovic,

Sunday June 4
7:00 PM

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Ariana Gerstein
7 min., 2016, USA

This film was constructed through a long process involving revision and reorganization across multiple cinematic media. It began with super 8 film shot at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago and 16mm shot from the El train and along lake Michigan. Images were thought through as they were re-worked by optical printing and hand chemical processing. Film cut every frame or two (would never run through a projector) were stepped up and down along the way (super 8 onto 16mm onto 35mm and back down to 16mm). The film remained as film for years. Recently it was taken to a new level by optical printing with a digital camera on a JK printer, also one frame at a time. It was rethought, retimed with a different screen ratio and sound. I would like to think the film has finally completed it’s journey- but we’ll see.

Steven Go Get Me a Switch
Jared Buckhiester
19 min., 2016, USA

‘Told through the voices of three elderly South Carolinian’s who reside in the homes in which they were born, Steven Go Get Me A Switch is an oral history mapping dichotomies of gender, familial mythologies, sexuality, and belief. A heavy use of symbolism commingles with suggestions of narrative proof. The desire to be good and the impossibility of such desire becomes a sharp inaudible pitch, like a dog whistles call to violence.  A taught reinforcement of the environment in which these images were taken, this work sits in opposition to contemporary critical thought, which relies heavily on the death of such symbolism.’
– Dawn Cerny

Jodie Mack
5 min., 2016, USA

Made entirely by hand from cut marbled paper, this odyssey of remnants re-imagines a dream-sequence love.

See A Dog, Hear A Dog
Jesse McLean
18 min., 2016, USA

Taking its title from a sound design maxim and using it as a conceit to grasp the desire for connection, See A Dog, Hear A Dog probes the limits and possibilities of communication. In this liminal cinematic space, the fear of conscious machines is matched with a desire to connect with nonhuman entities. Algorithms collaborate and improvise. Dogs obey/disobey human commands, displaying their own artistry and agency in the process. Technology, from domesticated animals to algorithmic music to chat rooms, reflects human desires but has its own inventiveness. Can we ever truly communicate with a machine, with a nonhuman animal, with each other? Our anthropomorphic tendencies, our fear of replacement by nonhuman forms, even our interpersonal limitations, can’t foreclose the possibility of connection and understanding, a great unknown sometimes called trust.

If I Were Any Further Away I’d Be Closer to Home
Rajee Samarasinghe
15 min., 2016, Sri Lanka/USA

A silent poem reflecting on the place of my mother’s birth and her first traces on earth. A generational portrait of South Asian “makers†becomes a perceptual voyage into memory, experience, and touch

Carolina Charry Quintero
22 min., 2016, Columbia/USA

Humanity and animality are enigmatically confronted and entwined. Combining rich high-contrast 16mm images with crisp digital color scenes, “Blua†composes an uncanny entry into the relationship between human and animal existence. With a montage that complicates the relationship between fact and fiction, reaching for equal beauty and strangeness, “Blua†is an assertion of the uncanny, a cine-poetic philosophical speculation.

Sunday June 4
8:00 PM

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Manlife:The Last of the Lawsonians
Ryan Sarnowski

83 min., 2017, USA, World Premiere

At 90-years-old, Merle Hayden, the last member of the utopian movement Lawsonomy, crusades tirelessly to spread the gospel and preserve the legacy of his Commander, Alfred Lawson. Lawson invented the United States’ first passenger airliner, but his company went bankrupt during the Great Depression. Dismayed by the economic policies at work, Lawson created the Direct Credits Society, a movement against what Lawson called “the one percent.†The Society advocated for economic reform and “justice for everyone that harms no one.†Thousands joined. Yet once the Depression ended, many members left Lawson and returned to gainful employment, but not Merle. Merle stuck with Lawson through the creation of the original University of Lawsonomy, where members enacted Lawson’s spiritual ideas to become a “new species,†the University’s closure at the hands of the IRS, and its relocation to Sturtevant, Wisconsin. Nearly 60 years after Lawson’s death, Merle continues disseminating Lawson’s economic and religious writings hoping to find followers to carry on the work.

Merle’s high school sweetheart, Betty Kasch, feels differently. As a teenager, Betty rejected Lawsonomy, and so Merle rejected her—left her to join the organization full time. She checked for letters every day but did not hear from him for over 60 years. Then an email arrived. Merle wanted to reconnect, and although they picked up where they left off romantically, Merle’s commitment to Lawsonomy continues overshadowing the life she would like them to share.

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