Chicago Underground Film Festival celebrates 23rd year

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 Conrad film will be one of more than 100 narrative, documentary and experimental features, shorts and music videos from acclaimed and emerging filmmakers in 15 countries to be screened at the historic Logan Theatre, 2646 N. Milwaukee.

CUFF’S mission, says Bryan Wendorf, CUFF founder / artistic director, “is to promote films and videos that dissent radically in form, technique, or content from the ‘indie’ mainstream and to present adventurous works that challenge and transcend commercial and audience expectations.”

The late Tony ConradCertainly fulfilling that mission are the works of Conrad, a professor at the University at Buffalo, New York, a powerhouse school for experimental media. He was named CUFF’s 2016 Lifetime Achievement award honoree and was scheduled to attend the festival until his unexpected death from pneumonia at 76 on April 9.

“A world without Tony in it seems inconceivable,” said LA-based director/editor Tyler Hubby. “He was one of the great stars in the cosmos — a filmmaker, artist, musician and educator — but sometimes only seen by those who knew where to look and criminally under appreciated.”

Adds Bryan Wendorf, CUFF Festival founder and artistic director, “Conrad’s constant invention and his ability to consistently challenge and expand prevailing notions of what film, music and art can be made him an inspirational figure to underground filmmakers and artists of every generation.”

The festival closes June 5 with the Chicago premiere of “The Alchemist Cookbook,” by award-winning Grand Rapids-based filmmaker Joel Potrykus of Sob Noisse Movies and screenwriting teacher a Grand Valley State University.

“Alchemist,” his third feature, is about a young hermit who sets out to solve an old mystery. It premiered at 2016 SXSW.

The opening night after party takes place at Elastic Arts Center, 3429 W. Diversey. Individual tickets are $10. Festival passes are $80 and include nightly parties, concerts and performance events by cutting edge artists from Chicago and beyond. Tickets may be purchased here.