The Onion City Experimental Film and Video Festival



Finely curated
weekend schedule
packs a firehouse
full of films
and filmmakers,
receptions, food,
music, art, and drink

The 29th edition of the Onion City Experimental Film and Video Festival opens tomorrow and runs through March 24, with all screenings held at Chicago Filmmakers Firehouse Cinema in Edgewater.

The opening night program on Thursday, March 21 includes work by Nazlı Dinçel, Melika Bass, Cauleen Smith and Deborah Stratman with footage shot by Barbara Hammer and Maya Deren.

The evening will begin with a reception at 7:30 PM with food and refreshments provided courtesy of Pastoral and Hopewell Brewery.

Local filmmaker Melika Bass will screen her award-winning film, Creature Companion, starring Croatian performer Selma Banich and American performer Penelope Hearn. For more information, click here.

Thursday, March 21, 7:30PM


Making its World Premiere at the 64th Internationale Kurzfilmtage Oberhausen, the International Jury awarded Creature Companion a Special Mention and remarked, “Domestic space, both its intimacy and its violence, has become one of the pressing political subject-matters of our times…This film combines aesthetics and politics by way of a choreography of indiscipline and insubordination.”

Opening night also includes a film by artist Cauleen Smith, Sojourner.

Set in Noah Purifoy’s Outdoor Desert Art Museum in Joshua Tree, California, artist Cauleen Smith reimagines this unique space as a radical feminist utopia. While paying homage to the feminist abolitionist Sojourner Truth, the title refers to the spiritual journey these women embark upon.

Local filmmaker and professor Deborah Stratman will present her latest work, Vever (for Barbara), a cross-generational binding of three female filmmakers seeking alternative possibilities to power structures of which they are an inherent part.

Stratman constructed the film by weaving together footage shot by Barbara Hammer on a motorcycle trip in Guatemala in 1975 with text written by Maya Deren on Haiti in the 1950s.

The film made its World Premiere at the 2019 Berlinale Film Festival.

Sunday, March 24, 7:30PM


Installations by artists Peter Rose (3D video), Hannah Piper Burns, and Evan Meaney will be on view throughout the building for the duration of the festival.

Fourteen local filmmakers will screen works at this year’s festival:

Creature Companion by Melika Bass;
Vever (for Barbara) by Deborah Stratman,
Stones for Thunder by Kera Mackenzie & Andrew Mausert-Mooney;
knee jerk | x it strata by Eshovo Momo;
Memoria Data by Lori Felker;
Sketches & Portraits of Jean Michel with a live musical score by Ben Lamar Gay;
The House With No Corners by Caitlin Ryan;
What I’m Looking For by Jillian Musielak;
In Conversation with Venus and Octavia by Xitlalli Sixta-Tarin;
Horsey by Frédéric Moffet;
I Don’t Know When the Armageddon Is by Casey Puccini;
Splinter Cells (‘mongst Ligeti) by Jesse Malmed;
2000 Women Named Stacy by Jessie Darnell;
Elder Abuse by Drew Durepos.

Saturday, March 23, 8PM


Thursday, March 21, 7:30PM
HISTORIES & FUTURES Speaking to the feminist-embodied experience of experience of labor and collaboration in filmmaking, Histories & Futures is a celebration of yonic power and joyous expression through sound and image. | Featuring work by the following artists: Nazlı Dinçel, Melika Bass, Cauleen Smith, and Deborah Stratman. | Reception starting at 7:30 PM with food and drinks donated by Pastoral and Hopewell Brewery!

Friday, March 22, 7PM
THE TENSION HERE Bodies connect, ships send distress signals, words and images are interpreted and misinterpreted and reinterpreted again, a boiling point is reached. This program asks: how do we feel tension as an individual, as a group, and as a country? | Featuring work by the following artists: Akosua Adomo Owusu, Sabine Gruffat, Greta Snider, Courtney Stephens, Eshovo Momoh, Kera Mackenzie, and Andrew Mausert-Mooney.

Friday, March 22, 9PM
CASTING SPELLS AND SLOWLY SWAYING These six works meditate on place, sound, relationships, and ethereal presence. Deeply emotive, spiritual, and healing, they are visits from loved ones past, astrological guides, and fireworks on the Fourth of July. | Featuring work by the following artists: Sky Hopinka, Kathleen Rugh, Jana Debus, Lori Felker, Sasha Waters Freyer, and Ephraim Asili.

Saturday, March 23, 3:30PM
THE GHOSTS ARE LAUGHING AT US A spooky air of events past and present haunts these works. Is history repeating itself? What can happen when everything has already happened? | Featuring works by the following artists: Jackie Goss, Mike Hoolboom, Caitlyn Ryan, and Michael Wawzenek.

Saturday, March 23, 5:30PM
EPHEMERALITY MEANS NO ONE CAN TAKE IT FROM YOU These works allow themselves to gently bob in the water, observing specific moments, stories, and personal confessions without judgement, relishing in the space they create. | Featuring work by the following artists: Jillian Musielak, Scott Fitzpatrick, Kym McDaniel, Cecelia Condit, Cecilia Dougherty, Xitlalli Sixta-Tarin, and Rhea Storr.

Saturday, March 23, 8PM
GIVING & TAKING & LOSING & LISTENING Dealing with grief, depression, unconditional love, and familial ties, this program unpacks what it means to care for each other while caring for ourselves. | Featuring work by the following artists: Oli Rodriguez, Victoria Stob, Shala Miller, Saif Alsaegh, and Sally Lawton.

Sunday, March 24, 3:30PM
THE VIBRATING WORLD Amplifying the ground hum of nature’s looping signals, these three works give the viewer a kind of synesthesia, radiating colors and sounds, creating a cosmic connection between bodies, plants, and animals. | Featuring work by the following artists: Joshua Gen Solondz, Philip Rabalais, and Samir Nahas.

Sunday, March 24, 5:30PM
MISERABLISM Lean into the misery, baby. These works are happily surrounded by loneliness, gloom, and self-deprecation, always suspect of what’s around the corner. | Featuring work by the following artists: Zachary Epcar, Adam Sekuler, Janie Geiser, Josh Weissbach, and Frédéric Moffet.

Sunday, March 24, 7:30PM
THE TRUTH! HA! A romp through medium, texture, and story, these works walk a thin line between reality and perception. At times humorous, at times alarming, this program questions the audience and questions itself. | Featuring work by the following artists: Michael Gitlin, Casey Puccini, Grace Mitchell, Jesse Malmed, Jessie Darnell, Nellie Kluz, and Drew Durepos.


About Onion City Film Festival
The Onion City Experimental Film + Video Festival is one of the premiere international festivals exclusively devoted to experimental film and video. Onion City was founded in the 1980s by the Experimental Film Coalition and run by them for many years. Chicago Filmmakers assumed responsibility for the festival in 2001, and expanded the size and opened it up to video work as well as film. It is generally 8-10 programs over four days and features roughly 60-70 works from around the world. Aside from the competition programs, there are occasional special presentations of new or old films of note or guest presentations. Screenings take place at Chicago Filmmakers and other venues during the month of March. | The mission of Onion City is to provide local and regional audiences with an opportunity to view a wide variety of contemporary experimental works, focused on artistic excellence but also with an eye towards representing differing styles, forms, and nationalities.

About Chicago Filmmakers
Chicago Filmmakers is a not-for-profit media arts organization that empowers local artists to create new work through production funding, equipment access, fiscal sponsorship, and other filmmaker services and resources; encourages the professional advancement of media artists through seminars, panel discussions, lectures, rough-cut and open screenings, as well as networking events and other opportunities for artistic exchange; and nurtures the development of aspiring filmmakers of all ages by offering classes, workshops, and summer camps. Chicago Filmmakers develops diverse film-going audiences through its year-round film and video exhibition programs and the production of two annual international film festivals.

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