2017 Jurors



David Dinnell

David Dinnell is a film programmer; he was Program Director of the Ann Arbor Film Festival from 2010 to 2016; programmer for the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Union Theater from 2007-09; the Flaherty NYC Film Series in Fall 2014; and guest curated film programs for the 2014 Bienal de la Imagen en Movimiento in Buenos Aires. He most recently presented film programs at UnionDocs in Brooklyn; the Los Angeles Filmforum; San Francisco’s ATA; the Light Field Film Festival; and Cinema Project in Portland, Oregon.


Sky Hopinka

Sky Hopinka (Ho-Chunk/Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians) was born and raised in Ferndale, Washington and spent a number of years in Palm Springs and Riverside, California, and Portland, Oregon and is currently based out of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  In Portland he studied and taught chinuk wawa, a language indigenous to the Lower Columbia River Basin. His work centers around personal positions of homeland and landscape, designs of language and facets of culture contained within, and the play between the accessibility of the known and the unknowable.  He received his BA from Portland State University in Liberal Arts and his MFA in Film, Video, Animation, and New Genres from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

His work has played at various festivals including ImagineNATIVE Media + Arts Festival, Images Festival, Courtisane Festival, Wavelengths, Ann Arbor Film Festival, American Indian Film Festival, Sundance, Antimatter, Chicago Underground Film Festival, FLEXfest, Projections, and the LA Film Festival.  His work was a part of the 2016 Wisconsin Triennial and the 2017 Whitney Biennial.  He was awarded jury prizes at the Milwaukee Underground Film Festival, the More with Less Award at the 2016 Images Festival, the Tom Berman Award for Most Promising Filmmaker at the 54th Ann Arbor Film Festival, and 3rd Prize at the 2015 Media City Film Festival.



Marianna Milhorat

Marianna Milhorat is a Chicago-based filmmaker, educator, and soon to be Canadian. Working in film and video, she utilizes landscape and duration to disrupt and transform notions of space and perspective. Her work has screened at CUFF for the past decade (Best Experimental Film, 2010) and internationally at festivals including the International Film Festival Rotterdam, the Ann Arbor Film Festival, Images Festival, and Videonale. She is the recipient of a 2017 Canada Council for the Arts grant for her upcoming film and a filmmaker for this year’s Chicago Film Archives’ Media Mixer.


2016 Awards


Honorable Mentions for photochemical work: ENGRAM OF RETURNING by Daïchi Saïto for astounding cinematography and locations: FOCUS ON INFINITY by Joerg Burger for best portrait film: HEAVY FOG TONIGHT by Nathan Reich for […]

Although the art of filmmaking is not a competition, The Chicago Underground Film Festival does give awards.

The festival jury presented six awards to films and videos selected as best or most interesting in whatever categories they see fit. Additionally “Made in Chicago” and Audience Choice awards will also be presented.



Jury Statements and Awards:


For BEST FEATURE, a film of exploitation and transformation, based on the work of Paul Bowles, who wrote, “I’ve always wanted to get as far as possible from the place where I was born. Far both geography and spiritually.” THE SKY TREMBLES AND THE EARTH IS AFRAID AND THE TWO EYES ARE NOT BROTHERS by Ben Rivers

In a category of BEST SELF-HELP FILM we recognize a film so totally singular with its weave of leftist history lessons, new wave and new age, like psycho-spiritual guerrilla warfare, the writing, the music, the models all come together to blow away the hybrid category that it creates for itself.   CHUMS FROM ACROSS THE VOID by Jim Finn

In the category of BEST ESSAY FILM,  we were struck by how the simplest of materials and gestures made its theoretical groundings come to life, the philosophical arguments made experiential. So much more than the sum of its minimal parts.  6500 by Lisa Truttmann.

In the category of BEST PHOTOGRAPHY we reward a film that creates a riveting, kinetic experience from a hard, immobile truth of the medium. As Susan Sontag wrote, “Photographs are a way of imprisoning reality… One can’t possess reality; one can possess images.  One can’t possess the present, but one can possess the past.”VINTAGE PRINT by Siegfried Fruhauf

In the category of BEST COMEDY We were struck by how weird and dry this film was, the acting, dialogue and plot turns all equally depending on each other to create a unique but believable, funny but achy world. SAVASANA by Brandon Daley

In a category of BEST EDUCATIONAL FILM, we selected a film that plays like the Land Without Bread of animal documentaries, examining the line between fantasy and reality. To quote Luis Bunuel, “Fantasy and reality are equally personal, and equally felt, so their confusion is a matter of only relative importance.” THE MASKED MONKEYS by Anja Dornieden & Juan David Gonzalez Monroy

The MADE IN CHICAGO AWARD goes to an amazing premise that shouldn’t be startling, told with straightforwardness and charm. We have endless respect for her political commitment as much as her sensibilities in her long career as both an artist and a thoughtful mentor to many, CRYSTAL LAKE by Jennifer Reeder.

The festival AUDIENCE AWARD went to Booger Red, directed by Berndt Mader. The film is a narrative/documentary hybrid starring Onur Tukel as a reporter investigating an alleged child sex ring in Texas.



Honorable Mentions


  • for photochemical work: ENGRAM OF RETURNING by Daïchi Saïto
  • for astounding cinematography and locations: FOCUS ON INFINITY by Joerg Burger
  • for best portrait film: HEAVY FOG TONIGHT by Nathan Reich
  • for outstanding performance: Jules David Bartowski for PASTOR PAUL
  • for most profound evocation of unnamable feelings: ANOTHER CITY by Lan Pham Ngoc
  • for best new voice: I REMEMBER NOTHING by Zia Anger



2016 Jurors


Jeffrey Bowers

Jeffrey Bowers is Senior Manager of Curation at Vimeo and also curates VICE media’s VICE Shorts and writes their column, “I’m Short, Not Stupid.” In the past he has programmed for Tribeca Film Festival, Hamptons Film Festival and Rooftop Films.



Rebecca Hall

Rebecca Hall is Executive Director of the Northwest Chicago Film Society and Operations and Digital Communications Manager at the Gene Siskel Film Center.



Tim Kinsella

Tim Kinsella is the author of two novels, Let Go and Go On and On (2014, Curbside Splendor) and The Karaoke Singer’s Guide to Self-Defense (2011, Featherproof Books) and one book of non-fiction All Over and Over (2015, Joyful Noise / Featherproof Books).

In 2014 he became the publisher and editor at Featherproof Books. Since 1996 his band Joan of Arc and its related projects have released dozens of albums and they continue to tour internationally on a regular basis. In 2015 he was both the Artist-in-Residence at Joyful Noise Records and the Visiting Writer at Roosevelt University, as well as serving on the programming committee at Chicago Filmmakers. Recent projects include multiple commissions for the MCA Chicago and The Museum of Contemporary Photography, as well as his ongoing collaborations with the experimental theater company Every house has a door.

Spencer Parsons

Spencer Parsons has been screening his short films at CUFF for over a decade, including 2015’s Bite Radius (named one of the top 5 short films of the year in New City). He has also directed the features I’ll Come Running(2008) and Saturday Morning Massacre (2012), and also served as Senior Programmer, and then as a curator for the Cinematexas International Short Film and Video Festival in Austin, TX, from 2000-2007. He is an Associate Professor in media production at Northwestern University.