CUFF opens June 5 with ‘Empty Metal’ and closes June 9 with “Dollhouse: the eradication of female subjectivity from American popular culture’ The Chicago Underground Film Festival has built a reputation for innovative, exciting, and provocative cinema since it was founded in 1993. Known as “the world’s longest-running” celebration of its kind, CUFF will expand … Continue reading “2019 Chicago Underground Film Festival”
CUFF adds second screening of “Industrial Accident,” the opening night film about Wax Trax! Records that sold out hours after going on sale After selling out the initioal opening night screening in less than an hour, the 25th annual Chicago Underground Film Festival has added a special encore presentation of INDUSTRIAL ACCIDENT: The Story of … Continue reading “Chicago Underground Film Festival 2018 lineup”
The June 1-5 Chicago Underground Film Festival (CUFF), presented by IFP/Chicago, opens its 23rd event with the world premiere of producer Tyler Hubby’s documentary film “Tony Conrad: Completely in the Present,” a two decade in-the-making documentary on the legendary artist’s extraordinary life and influential work.
The 14th Annual Chicago Underground Film Festival returns with “exceptionally strong documentaries, the usual lineup of cult films, and quite a bit of sex in the features,” said CUFF founder and festival director Bryan Wendorf.
CUFF runs Aug. 15-19, moving this year to non-traditional venues in Wicker Park: the Chopin Theater and Elegant Mr. Gallery.
“One trend in the films is people making unusual lifestyles, choosing live outside the mainstream,” noted Wendorf.
A heavy dose of hard-hitting politics joins the staples of transgressive and experimental cinema at the 12th Annual Chicago Underground Film Festival, which runs Aug. 18-25 in its new home at the Music Box Theatre.
CUFF 12 includes 13 narrative features, nine documentary features, 18 narrative shorts, 29 documentary shorts, 89 experimental shorts, and six animations.
After a year’s hiatus, DOC CHICAGO returns to bring Chicago-area documentary filmmakers together to learn from each other, exchange ideas, and connect. The free hybrid mini-conference runs Friday, Nov 5 – Sunday, Nov 7. Friday afternoon’s sessions and Sunday’s grant writing workshop will be held online, while an in-person gathering will take place on Saturday, … Continue reading “DOC CHICAGO: mini-conference by and for Chicago Doc filmmakers”
Full Spectrum Features will be the official presenter at the 28th Annual Chicago Underground Film Festival this year in order to program more diversity, equity, and inclusion to represent a wider range of artists and voices, including women, BIPOC, and LGBTQ+ filmmakers. Chicago Underground Film Festival (CUFF), the the world’s longest-running underground film festival, will … Continue reading “Full Spectrum official presenter of Chicago Underground Film Fest”
The 57th Chicago International Film Festival announced the esteemed members of the juries for its competitions, featuring acclaimed filmmakers and industry luminaries from around the globe. Juries shall award Gold and Silver Hugo Awards in the following competitions: International Competition; OutLook; City & State; and Short Film Competitions. The International Competition Jury will award the Gold Hugo … Continue reading “57th Chicago International Film Fest announces competition juries”
The Chicago International Film Festival announced the full lineup of its 57th edition, running October 13 – 24, 2021. This year’s Festival expands across the City, with screenings at AMC River East 21, Music Box Theatre, Gene Siskel Film Center, drive-in screenings at ChiTown Movies in Pilsen, and neighborhood pop-up screenings at Bronzeville’s historic Parkway … Continue reading “Chicago International Film Festival announces full lineup of 57th edition”
The Chicago International Film Festival announced the opening night film at its Opening Night at the Drive-In presentation, and more highlights of the 57th edition, running October 13 – 24, 2021. This year, the Festival expands to venues across Chicago, including AMC River East 21; the Music Box Theatre; and the Gene Siskel Film Center; … Continue reading “The Chicago International Film Festival announces Opening Night film”
Full Spectrum Features (FSF) announces the films and filmmakers selected to take part in Chicagoland Shorts Vol. 7, an annual short film collection featuring boundary-pushing, emerging filmmakers from around Chicago. The world premiere will take place at the Gene Siskel Film Center on Thursday September 2 at 7PM. Chicagoland Shorts Vol. 7 includes:“35” by Eseoghene … Continue reading “Full Spectrum Features announces selections for Chicagoland Shorts”
Our friends at KitSplit put together a list of some of the smaller film festivals that we love, with a focus on those that have deadlines coming up. In doing their research, they noticed something funny – no one is talking about which film festivals are good for industry newbies & up-and-comers. We don’t all get a … Continue reading “Entering the festival circuit? Here’s some smaller film festivals we love”
The Underground Donut, America’s Best Donut Tour, is adding another delicious version of their highly rated Chicago tour. Specifically, showcasing the amazing donuts in Chicago’s West Loop or Restaurant Row. The Underground Donut Tour has been in business for 6 years now with locations across the country including Chicago, Philadelphia, New York City, Portland, Seattle and, most recently, Boston. 6 years in business and now 6 … Continue reading “Underground Donut Tour begins in Chicago’s West Loop”
Film Independent announced nominations for the 2021 Film Independent Spirit Awards. Not just another pretty face on the awards circuit, the Spirit Awards are the primary fundraiser for the nonprofit Film Independent’s year-round slate of programs, which cultivate the careers of emerging filmmakers and promote diversity and inclusion in the industry. Film Independent President Josh … Continue reading “Film Independent Spirit Awards announces nominations”
Reeling announces the winners of the 38th annual Reeling: The Chicago LGBTQ+ International Film Festival. The festival was held virtually this year from September 24 to October 7 and the event included 39 programs with films from 21 countries. The festival featured 31 Q&As with filmmakers which have been recorded and can be viewed here. We would … Continue reading “Reeling: Chicago LGBTQ+ Int’l Film Fest award winners”
Asian Americans know that having talent and skills in the entertainment industry is [not nearly] half the battle. Every film needs financing; whether it’s raised through private investors or loving family members and crowdfunding, movies are expensive. Therefore, a huge part of the industry isn’t the actors on set, or the gear they use, but the … Continue reading “Full Spectrum Features supports diversity in Indie Films”
Newly installed office-holders explain their plans for keeping Chicago and Illinois on the path of success The thriving regional film industry is only going to get better, according to two of its recently appointed top leaders. Illinois Film Office Executive Director Peter Hawley and Director of the Chicago Film Office Kwame Amoaku described their visions … Continue reading “Hawley and Amoaku help film industry move forward”
Event will unite nearly 40 festivals to “better understand our collective work as an industry” The first-ever Chicago Film Festival Symposium will bring together Chicago-area film festival stakeholders for an industry-wide discussion addressing shared challenges and opportunities. Continental breakfast, lunch, and cocktail reception are included with the $20 registration fee. Learn more and register here. … Continue reading “2019 Chicago Film Festival Symposium”
Consolidated series presents premieres, partner screenings, special guests and sixteen films, from across the Asian continent Non-profit pan-Asian film organization Sophia’s Choice today announces Asian Pop-Up Cinema – Season Eight, the spring film series presenting sixteen films from across Asia, running March 12 through April 24, 2019. The schedule represents a consolidated schedule, with more … Continue reading “Chicago’s Asian Pop-Up Cinema, March 12 – April 24”
New technology aims to offer thousands of films that might otherwise disappear after screening at regional festivals Chicago film entrepreneurs Saj Adibs and Hamzah Jamjoom are bringing film festivals to viewers around the world through a new web application called Festivault. Festivault allows users to screen select film festival programs on individual laptops, tablets, and … Continue reading “Festivault brings a world of films to remote screens”
The power of Bryan Wendorf’s taste has grown to a metropolitan scale since he co-founded the Chicago Underground Film Festival 25 years ago. Following up on an idea that he hatched in 1994 with Jay Bliznick, a coworker in a video rental shop, Chicago Underground Film Fest (CUFF) co-founder and programmer Bryan Wendorf picks … Continue reading “Programming films from the underground”
Emily Esperanza is a filmmaker and artist whose passions lie in discarded aesthetics, liminal spaces, guerrilla approaches, and unconventional narrative. An advocate of rebellious voices in cinema, Emily is the founder and a co-curator of WRETCHED NOBLES, a Chicago-based immersive monthly film/video screening shorts program. Co-produced by Full Spectrum Features, Emily’s new film, Make Out … Continue reading “Reel Women: Emily Esperanza, Filmmaker”
Beginning June 5th, the Millennium Park Summer Film series will enhance the Tuesday night screenings that have become one of Chicago’s most beloved outdoor traditions. According to a press release issued by the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE), the movies will be “programmed in collaboration with a local independent film festival … Continue reading “Millennium Park Summer Film Series”
The ribbon-cutting ceremony for Chicago Filmmakers’ new Edgewater home featured dedications, activities, and hors d’oeuvres on Saturday April 28. It was an exciting chapter in a story that has and will continue to run for years. The event began with heartfelt introductions from Founder Sgharon Zurek and Executive Director Brenda Webb. “Chicago Filmmakers has been … Continue reading “Chicago Filmmakers’ housewarming celebration”
Opening night Julia Nash’s Industrial Accident: The Story of Wax Trax! Records Chicago premiere Closing night Lori Felker’s Future Language: The Dimensions of VON LMO Chicago premiere [Editor Note: The “Industrial Accident” screening sold out shortly after this story was published, but CUFF organizers are working to schedule another. Stay tuned to Reel … Continue reading “Chicago Underground Film Fest offers a taste of 2018”
FCB Chicago’s award-winning short film for the Clark Street Bridge School of Writing, Looking Back, is an inspirational trip into creativity. With galactic visuals and sparse music, it compares the Voyager II space probe’s exit from our solar system to a child’s first day at school: both craft and student turn around for one last … Continue reading “The celestial inspiration of FCB Chicago’s “Looking Back””
When 85-minute low-budget indie “Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer” — an art film masked as an exploitation film and shot in 16mm — was released in fall of 1986, its chances of theatrical success seemed unlikely.
The cards were stacked against it. Everyone connected with it was unknown. The budget was so low that family and friends were brought on as actors using their own possessions. And its highly-restrictive MPAA X-rating limited its commerciality.
Writer/producer/director Jack C. Newell’s romantic comedy, “Open Tables,” is one of 15 films showcasing in the 51st Chicago International Film Festival’s “City & State” section — the largest number of local participating filmmakers yet.
Elizabeth Collins, Odd Machine’s LA-based executive producer, has a short film screening in the 33rd Reeling: LGBTQ+ International Film Festival opening Thursday night, Sept. 17 through Sept. 24.
Because the 22nd Chicago Underground Film Festival May 13-17 is the largest and longest-running such festival in the USA and takes world cinema outside the mainstream, it’s a Chicago “must see” event.
The fanciful Underground Prop Art Show of costumes, props at the I Am Logan Square Gallery, will run in conjunction with the 22nd Chicago Underground Film Festival, May 13-17, next door at the Logan Theatre, 2646 N. Milwaukee.
This is it!
FILM FLAM. After six months of filming in the Detroit area, “Batman vs. Superman” is tentatively scheduled to film in Illinois for one to two weeks. The Yorkville location is the farmhouse where Superman grew up and the producers need to film winter scenes there.
“Law and Order’s” Dick Wolf, who’s here filming two NBC TV shows will be the keynote speaker at Sunday’s Chicago Film and Media Summit & Expo at the Cultural Center at 5 p.m. But be forewarned – his speech is open for registrants only so sign up to attend now.
THE MIDWEST INDEPENDENT FILM FESTIVAL’S annual Comedic Shorts night April 2 is doing something different this year by co-presenting with the Chicago Improv Festival. MWFF’s presents its section of the 16-film fest with scripted shorts and the Improv follows with its improvised films. All are shown here for the first time.
WOMEN IN FILM CHICAGO’S new screening series, “Emerging Talent: Females in Focus,” launches March 19 with films by Mary Kay Cook, Grace McPhillips and Anna Jung. A cocktail reception follows the screenings. It’s 6-9 p.m. at the Claudia Cassidy Theatre, Chicago Cultural Center, 77 E. Washington St. It’s free; RSVP encouraged.
The 3rd annual Advertising Community Shorts Night Tuesday at the Midwest Independent Film Festival, Tuesday, Oct. 1, presents the work of 15 filmmeisters from ad and marketing agencies, post/production houses, still photographers, Second City and Steppenwolf, from Chicago, Madison and Detroit.
Earlier this month a jury of knowledgeable souls from various aspects of visual media production judged an imaginative collection of entries from one to 16 minutes in length.
THIRTY FILMS BY CHICAGO CREW MEMBERS are featured on Industry Night, April 16, in the 6th annual MoFest festival and party, and features, The Beekeeper, by filmmaker Sean Jordan and Chicago Overcoat by Beverly Ridge Productions will screen Sunday, April 17.
USAMA ALSHAIBI’S button-pushing feature “Profane,” starring Manal Kara, as a devout Muslim dominatrix, has its U.S. premiere March 26 and 29 at the Boston Underground Film Festival.
Alshaibi made the personal Iraq documentary “Nice Bombs” and is working on the Kartemquin doc “American Arab.”
Charges are pending in a March 6 incident in which Alshaibi alleged that he was beaten and called racial slurs after wandering into a party in Fairfield, Iowa, where he moved last summer.
TAKING OVER THE REINS of the Independent Feature Project, Chicago’s 25-year old hub of indie filmmaking is Christy LeMaster, who has run IFP’s recent and successful fund-raising galas. She succeeds Ryan Jewell, who returned to his native Oklahoma City for family reasons.
LeMaster, who has a Masters in English from Truman State University, has a background in programming film festivals, starting with the True or False doc fest in Columbia, Mo.
CHICAGOANS AT SUNDANCE expected this weekend at Park City, Utah include Fox TV’s Robin Robinson and Ch. 7’s Sylvia Perez, providing TV coverage of the festivities; Julee White, NBC director of strategic sales and marketing; RDS’ Megan Ross; Kevin Farley, brother of the late Chris; the IFO’s Betsy Steinberg and Todd Lizak, Mesirow Financial’s Les Coney and Christina and Mike McGrath of Lexis McGrath.
Sundance and CineVegas programmer Mike Plante bought lunch one day for a filmmaker friend. “Instead of owing me lunch, why not make a film for that same money?” Plante writes in his blog.
Plante and the filmmaker wrote out a contract on a napkin, and so was born “Lunchfilm,” a growing collection of some 50 short films made for the price of a midday meal.
Plante has screened “Lunchfilm” programs at Sundance and at venues across the country. Now embarking on its second national tour, “Lunchfilm” makes its first Chicago stop Jan. 15 at Chicago Filmmakers.
Hollywood actor Casey Siemaszko grew up deeply immersed in Chicago’s Polish community, performing with his parents’ Polish dance troupe. And Siemaszko’s father Konstanty fought for the Polish underground in World War II.
Siemaszko made a fitting return to his hometown Friday night for the opening of the 21st Polish Film Festival in America, at the AMC River East 21 theatre.
DURING THEIR FOUR WHIRLWIND DAYS in L.A., a Chicago sales contingent saw 19 producers, several with possible projects for the state, says Local 476’s Mark Hogan. He was accompanied by Teamsters 726’s John Coli and IFO director Betsey Steinberg on their latest sales mission.
Any new projects heading our way?
September is going to be a bonanza month for film festival fans. As of now, seven uniquely different fests are scheduled throughout the state, and others surely will be announced later.
Most of the film events take place during the third week of September, which includes the first day of autumn. Here’s how they line up:
Sept. 10-13: Now under the auspices of the IFP, the 16th annual Chicago Underground Film Festival again will be combined with IFP’s Filmmakers Summit and be held at the Gene Siskel Center.
UIC professor and two-time Independent Spirit Award nominee Jennifer Montgomery’s “Deliver,” is one 25 local films featured in the Chicago Underground Film Festival Oct. 29-Nov. 2.
The 15th annual CUFF showcases 120 films from Illinois, Wisconsin and Michigan and hosts the 17th annual IFP Filmmakers Summit, all taking place at the Viaduct Theatre.
Montgomery was long fascinated by John Boorman’s classic “Deliverance,” but troubled by its portrayal of gender roles.
This year marks the 15th anniversary of the Chicago Underground Film Festival and its first year under the aegis of IFP. To underscore the artistic merger, IFP’s Filmmakers Summit is now part of CUFF’s presentations.
Out of the 1,200 worldwide entries received, 120 of the best of these will be showcased Oct. 31-Nov. 1 at the Viaduct Theatre.
Locally-made features by Carl Seaton, Joe Swanberg and Tom Gustafson, a feature doc about an underground rocker, and 10 shorts shine in the Spotlight Illinois section of the 44th Chicago International Film Festival.
The 14 locally-made films screen on different days throughout the festival, now through Oct. 29, at AMC River East, 322 E. Illinois.
Executive producer Robert Townsend stars in “Of Boys and Men,” the third feature by Columbia alum Seaton (“One Week”), shot on a reported $650,000 budget.
The Independent Feature Project/Midwest has made no little plans. Foremost among them is the possible acquisition of the 15-year old eclectic Chicago Underground Film Festival, plus expanding the number of screenings, workshops and networking events.
To help achieve these goals, IFP’s board added five new members to increase the board size to 25 members.
“We have branched out and brought in ideas from experts beyond the film world,” says IFP executive director Elizabeth Donius, noting the new members’ expertise includes public relations, development and arts management.
Oscar-nominated Bill Siegel, who co-directed and produced “The Weather Underground,” will teach Chicago Filmmakers’ most popular class, “Developing the Documentary,” during its winter 2008 instructional program.
Siegel’s feature doc, the story of the radical activists and politics of the ?70s, won top prizes in four major festivals, and was nominated as best feature doc by the DGA and the International Documentary Association.
Fast on the heels of its smashingly successful fund-raising gala comes IFP/Chicago’s 16th annual Midwest Filmmakers Summit the weekend of Oct. 19.
“We’re just recovering from the gala,” good-naturedly moaned IFP executive director Elizabeth Donius who, with development director Colleen O’Neill and staff put on one kick-ass event.
A full house of 300 guests jammed Salvage One Friday, Sept. 28 to party, meet other indie filmmakers, bid on a slew of neat auction items, and leave IFP approximately $20,000 richer to use for programs throughout the year.
Usama Alshaibi’s return to his native Iraq after a 25-year absence forms the heart of his new feature documentary “Nice Bombs.”
“Nice Bombs” will have its world premiere as the opening night film of the 13th Annual Chicago Underground Film Festival, which runs Aug. 17-24.
An Iraqi native who grew up in the U.S., Alshaibi hadn’t been to Iraq since his childhood, when he returned after the U.S. invasion, with his father and his wife, fellow filmmaker Kristie Alshaibi.
LAUREN FISCHER is hitting her stride as a recognized screenwriter. On Aug. 31 her “Wish I Might”?winner of the 2005 IFP/Chicago-Chicago Scriptworks contest?will have a staged reading by Chicago Scriptworks at the Cultural Center.
“Wish I Might” is the story of two teenaged stepsisters and the one wish that will either bring them together or tear their family apart. It’s also a semi-finalist in the 2005 PAGE International Screenwriting Awards.
CHICAGO INTERNATIONAL CHILDREN’S FILM FESTIVAL early deadline is May 1. For short projects under 60-minutes fee is $40, longer and feature length entries pay $80. Fees increase by $10 from May 1-May 31. Festival takes place Oct. 27-Nov. 6. Best of Fest prize is $2,500. See www.cicff.org, or call Kathleen Beckman, 773/281-9075 for entry forms.
THE 12TH CHICAGO UNDERGROUND FILM FESTIVAL, being held this August, is accepting entries through May 1, late deadline June 1.
Ben Berkowitz and Ben Redgrave are fresh from a Sundance Film Festival that saw them make strides on their diverse feature projects.
At Sundance they attended the launch party for Duly Noted, Inc., the new Hollywood independent production company founded by Effie T. Brown (Jane Campion’s “In the Cut,” HBO’s “Everyday People”).
Now Brown is producing “Polish Bar” for Berkowitz to direct from a script he wrote with Redgrave. They are co-producing through their Benzfilm Group, with a Chicago shoot slated for this fall.
Comedy genius Willy Laszlo says he had the time of his life in Chicago. He had creative freedom. He had a good full-time day job. He worked hard. But he was always broke.
“So why not work hard and be broke in Los Angeles,” he rationalizes. And everyone who appreciates his vast talent agrees the move was long overdue.
Laszlo, the prolific writer/director of a remarkable 40 comedy shorts over an eight year period, quit his Comcast job, wrapped his last Chicago comedy, bid goodbye to his family, friends and supporters and headed for L.A. in mid-November.
Z Film Festival program director Kristie Alshaibi’s debut feature, the explicit and experimental “Other People’s Mirrors,” has its world premiere Sept. 25 at the Gene Siskel Film Center.
Alshaibi stars as her recurring alter ego Echo Transgression, a schizophrenic woman who seeks trascendence by obeying hallucinated directives to violate a series of 12 sexual taboos. She created Echo in 1996 and has featured the character in a series of video, web, photo, performance and fiction pieces.
Local underground auteur James Fotopoulos screens his suburban gothic feature “The Nest” in its Chicago debut at the Chicago Underground Film Festival Aug. 22.
Fotopoulos continues his trademark minimalist terror with “The Nest,” in which he builds an atmosphere of mounting dread through sound design and surrealistic images in a young couple’s new apartment.
“There really wasn’t any inspiration,” Fotopoulos insisted. “Things just collage together over time and then I shape them together and get them out. Anything around me can trigger it.”
This is the second in a two-part survey of local documentarians, who they are, their background and credits. Ranging from national leaders like Kartemquin, Towers and Kurtis Productions, to small to mid-size companies, they capture public imagination and affect social change by telling true stories.
Chicago boasts one of the biggest and most vibrant independent film scenes in America, in terms of both production and outlets. To prove the point, Chicago is experiencing a boom in non-traditional screening series.
In addition to a growing roster of annual film festivals, established and fledgling organizations host screenings scattered around the city at theatres, nightclubs and other venues.
The new Sloppy Seconds screening series from the Chicago Underground Film Festival (CUFF) kicks off Feb. 4 with Todd Verow’s pioneering digital feature “Little Shots of Happiness.”
Running every other Wednesday in the 100-seat Viaduct Theater, Sloppy Seconds features highlights from the festival’s 10-year history. Eventually it will showcase films that haven’t appeared in the fest.
Jim Sikora could have had one of the first digital features ever released. If it had ever been released.
In his first Chicago speaking engagement, indie stalwart Jim Jarmusch heads up a colorful array of filmmakers and performers featured in the Second Anniversary Movieside Film Festival.
Before the recent spate of allegations about the adverse health effects of their products, Kraft Food Holdings had another adversary, in the unlikely guise of Wicker Park cartoonist Stu Helm.
In 2002 Kraft sued Helm over his use of the name King Velveeda. The company asserted that Helm’s art tarnished the wholesome image of their Velveeta cheese products.