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Chicago Underground Film Festival line-up

The 15th annual Chicago Underground Film Festival and Filmmakers Summit is pleased to announce this year’s films and summit schedule. Over 100 films made the cut, showcasing the best of documentary, experimental and feature films that won’t be found in mainstream movie theaters. Presented by IFP/Chicago, the five-day festival and summit takes place October 29 - November 2nd, 2008 at the Viaduct Theater, 3111 N Western Avenue. Schedule and tickets are available at

The festival kicks off with Anywhere, USA a quirky tale of trailer parks, terrorism, the tooth fairy and a rich man in search of just one black friend. Winner of the Special Jury Prize at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival, this film prompted Quentin Tarantino to call it a “…silly, provocative, risky and downright loose-screwed film…. that shows a love for the weird, love of the unsay able idea and a love for the privilege of movie making.”

Festival highlights include:
• A rare screening of Curtis Harrington’s cult classic, Night Tide. With Night Tide, Harrington creates a fiendish tale about a dark romance between a sailor and a sideshow performer, who just might be a murderous mermaid. Starring Dennis Hopper in his first film role. This screening features a newly restored 35mm print, courtesy of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Don’t miss this once in a lifetime opportunity to see this film as Harrington intended it.
• An evening of rarely seen Curtis Harrington Shorts including A Fragment of Seeking (1946), Picnic (1948), On the Edge (1949), The Wormwood Star (1956), The Assignation (1952).

• The closing night film will be Song Song Blue both the Audience and Jury winner at this years Slamdance Film Festival. Greg Kohs’s documentary is “…The alternately inspiring and tragic love story of Lighting and Thunder, a homegrown Milwaukee husband and wife singing duo who pay tribute to the music of Neil Diamond…a horrifying, tragic and heartbreaking portrait of a family.”

• Kids screening and family Dance Party: It’s never too early to expose your kids to experimental film. For all those party animals who have replaced the nightlife with night-lights - we will have a family friendly Sunday morning film screening and dance party courtesy of Chica-go-go.

Features screening at the festival include:
The Auteur, James Westby * Midwest Premiere – A washed-up porn director tries to plan a comeback at a retrospective of his work.
A Necessary Death, Daniel Stamm – A film student decides to make a documentary about someone committing suicide, but what happens when that person has second thoughts?

Wellness, Jeff Mahaffy – A 21st century Willie Lohman realizes that he’s lost his life savings in a pyramid scheme.

Between Something and Nothing, Todd Verow – Based on Verow’s own experience, this is the tale of two “townies” who learn about life, love, drugs and art while trying to make it in art school.

The Golden Age of Fish, Kevin Jerome Everson - An experimental feature film weaving various fragmentary narratives concerning Cleveland, Ohio’s landscape from its prehistoric past to late twentieth century visual representation.

The Juche Idea, Jim Finn – A fantastical exploration of Kim Jung Il’s cinematic doctrine.

Accidents at Home and How They Happen, Jennifer Reeder *World Premiere – An almost robotic professional starts to find parts of herself when her twin sister kills herself.

The Zoo Keeper, James Fotopoulos *World Premiere – The latest from Chicago’s own exceedingly prolific Jim Fotopoulus.

Mock Up On Mu, Craig Baldwin – A found footage extravaganza that takes on California’s major military, entertainment and religious industries. Baldwin hits upon everything from Satanism to Scientology, the Beats to the jets (propulsion, that is).

Deliver, Jennifer Montgomery – An experimental retelling of Deliverance, featuring a cast of well-known lesbian experimental filmmakers.

This year’s documentary selections truly reflect a country at a crossroads – a place where personal politics and public policy often clash. But they also show a passion for life that overshadows competing agendas – from witch schools in the heartland (Hoopeston, Thomas Bender) to the international competition to find the “god particle” (The Atom Smashers, Clayton Brown, Monica Ross).

An Alternative to Slitting Your Wrists, Owen Lowery * Chicago Premiere – Ready to end his life, Owen Lowery gives himself a year to learn how to live.

How to Cross a Border, Tim Parsa *World Premiere – A rich American expat decides to return home, but first he must convince a loyal employee not risk his life to follow him by crossing the border illegally.

Hoopeston, Thomas Bender * Midwest Premiere – America’s sweet corn capital gets more than it bargained for when its economic development program attracts a school for Wiccans.

She’s A Boy I Knew, Gwen Haworth – Gwen Haworth found herself when she became a woman, but her family lost a son, brother and husband. This is all of their stories.

Such Hawks, Such Hounds: Scenes From The American Hard Rock Underground, John Srebalus, Jessica Hundle * Midwest Premiere – From Black Sabbath to Fu Manchu.

The Atom Smashers, Clayton Brown & Monica Ross - Despite crushing budget cuts from the Bush Administration, America’s top theoretical physics race to find the “God particle” before Europe opens the world’s largest particle accelerator.

We are Wizards, Josh Koury - There is another side to Harry Potter fans. A much more musical side.

Silhouette City, Michael Wilson - From a small mid-west compound to today’s headlines; the Christian right is trying to spread Jesus’ love. God help the people who get in their way.

It’s in the Game, Dylan Griffin - It isn’t all fun and games working for video game developer EA.

The shorts programs reveal a complex world, often at odds with itself, yet wonderfully nuanced and complete. These programs tackle everything from technology’s pervasive role in our lives (A Short Social Commentary on Dancing in Second Life by Visakh Menon, Every (Text, Image, Sound, Movie) On My Cell Phone by Darrin Martin) to nature’s industriousness (Heron Pond: Boardwalk View | Cade Bursell 2007) and give snapshots into the often unrecognized monuments of human existence (Ninety-three, Kevin James Everson).

See the complete film schedule in the attached document. All programming is subject to change.

The Filmmakers Summit
IFP/Chicago will combine its highly regarded Filmmakers Summit with the Festival, incorporating the Summit’s panels and workshops. Panels this year will include “Anatomy of a Red Camera”, “Working the Festival Circuit”, and “New Media Exploitation”. The summit provides local filmmakers with access to key international programmers, distributors and journalists along with all the screenings and parties that inspired MSNBC Online to call CUFF “…a highlight on Chicago’s film festival circuit.”!

See the complete Summit schedule in the attached document. All programming is subject to change.

CUFF this year will be continue its tradition of bringing the best music to the city’s best Film Festival! Tapping into the vibrant Chicago music scene we will have an array of Chicago bands playing at the various evening parties! Bands and individuals participating will be Alla, Detholz!, Hood Internet, I Love Presets, Judson Claiborne, Sally Timms, Janet Bean, Big Buildings and many others.

As Ebert says “…what you get for your money is not just admission to the films but admission to a subculture.”

Deliberately defiant, political, as well as big-hearted, CUFF continues to surprise, disturb and delight.
For tickets, schedules of films, panels and bands as well as all general information go to our website, To buy tickets please go to Brown Paper tickets.

“I like the word ‘underground’ as in the Chicago Underground Film Festival. The word ‘independent’ carries a stigma of whininess. “Underground” means a good time!”-John Waters

“I had the best time of my life at this festival”—Penelope Spheeris


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