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24th Chicago Underground Film Festival - DAY 5


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 Nationhood”. -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

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 Were”, 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 2.0”, 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.

Sunday June 4
6:00 PM

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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 “comrade”. 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 component”. - Vladan Petkovic,

Sunday June 4
7:00 PM

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.