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Chicago Underground Film Festival Goes Virtual and to the Drive-In in 27th Year

"Ghost of the Golden Groves" / Opening Night Film

It's been known as the longest running underground film festival in the world, and now people from all over the globe will have a chance to experience it. The 27th year of the Chicago Underground Film Festival will take place with worldwide-accessible virtual screenings and at the drive-in this year, running from November 9-22. Chicago's hub for refreshingly anti-mainstream movies is the kind of mind-expanding experience in which you'll see cinematic images like you've never witnessed before, and because of the movies' underground status, may not get to so easily see again. 

The festival will have in-person screenings on November 12-13, at the ChiTown Drive-In located at 7000 S. Harlem Ave, in Bridgeview, IL. 

For more information on this year's virtual and in-person Chicago Underground Film Festival, click here. The press release is below: 

"Paper Shadows"

CUFF 27 highlights include the opening film GHOST OF THE GOLDEN GROVES (virtual; narrative feature) in which an urban survey officer representing machinery and industrialization, visits a forest to develop roads, meeting a sudden death; FLANNERY (Drive-In opening film; documentary feature), Chicago-based Elizabeth Coffman’s portrait of the multifaceted author; SLEEZE LAKE: VAN LIFE AT ITS LOWEST (Drive-In closing film; documentary feature), a look at young people in the post-Vietnam-War era hitting the open road in shag-carpeted custom vans creating a counterculture cocktail of irreverence and hedonism; Chicago filmmaker Danielle Beverly’s documentary DUSTY GROOVE: THE SOUND OF TRANSITION (virtual; documentary feature), a portrait of the iconic Chicago record store and owner Rick Wocjik on his buying trips in the homes of complete strangers, all of whom are facing some kind of life transition; the surrealist, non-linear satire PAPER SHADOWS (experimental feature) concerning the creative and emotional angst shared by an elderly Black man and a young white female art student; and MAŁNI (TOWARDS THE OCEAN, TOWARDS THE SHORE) (festival closing film; experimental feature) which contemplates the afterlife, rebirth, and the place in-between as the two protagonists wander through each of their respective worlds.

More festival highlights include THESE DAYS partnership screenings of Kevin Coval and Langston Allston’s Everything Must Go (mini-doc), Victor IRL, and The Genesis of Internet.Hotspot--all directed and shot by Mike Sager--presented at the Drive-In on Friday, November 13 only; and the Live on Minecraft After Party, streamed on YouTube on Tuesday, November 17 at 7:30 pm.

Taila Howe, Producer of CUFF said: “One of the coolest things about CUFF is the melting pot of creativity that comes from the underground community kicking it during the festival. It would be misleading if I said we’re going to replicate that exact same vibe online. But, because we’ve been forced to pivot, we have been able to tap into the expansiveness and accessibility of the internet which has grown our community of counter-culture experimentalists. I think the Minecraft concert we’re throwing this year plus our drive-in screenings will bring together a new wave of misfits and the O.G. CUFF-goers. And maybe when CUFF 28 happens in real life, it will be an intergenerational homecoming for all the outcasts of the film world.”

While the majority of films in this year’s CUFF are from the United States, underground filmmaking is a global movement so a wide array of feature-length and short documentaries and narrative and experimental features from Latin America, Europe, Africa, and Asia will also be presented. The majority of the films in CUFF27 are documentary, experimental, and narrative shorts in 14 programs plus two dedicated solely to Chicago filmmakers, Chicago Shorts #1 and Chicago Shorts #2 (packaged as Chicago Shorts for the Drive-In screenings only but presented in other programs throughout the festival). Entries not to miss this year include Mike Hoolbloom’s 27 THOUGHTS ABOUT MY FATHER (experimental short), the filmmaker’s memories of his father featuring photos and found footage in a series of 27 vignettes; Shelly Silver’s A TINY PLACE THAT IS HARD TO TOUCH (experimental short), concerning an American researcher, a Japanese translator, and a Tokyo river transporting wildlife, garbage, and death; Matt McCormick’s THE DEEPEST HOLE (documentary short), reflecting on the Cold War when the United States and the Soviet Union raced to determine which country could dig the deepest hole, resulting in finding Hell in the process; Rajee Samarasinghe’s THE EYES OF SUMMER (experimental short), the filmmaker’s story about his mother’s communication with spirits in post-Civil-War Sri Lanka; Carol Nguyen’s NO CRYING AT THE DINNER TABLE (documentary short), an intergenerational portrait of the filmmaker’s family, its traumas, secrets, and grief; Bingham Bryant’s FOREIGN POWERS (narrative short), a woman’s foreign-city-set dream recalled to a friend with shared acquaintances that emerges as a shadow portrait of their lives; Callum Walter’s MERIDIAN (experimental short), in which a machine, before its disappearance, is part of an autonomous fleet charged with delivering emergency vaccines; Joanna Anrow’s LAYING OUT (narrative short), an absurd comedy that finds a woman examining her relationship with a man which leads to exploring her own misogyny, fantasies about having a penis, and hatred for traditional gender roles; Ben River’s GHOST STRATA (documentary short), a meditation on the past, present, and future of humanity’s impact on the planet through examining missing layers of the earth; and Phạm Ngọc Lân’s BLESSED LAND (narrative short), in which the past and present collide in a search for grave in an unknown landscape, possibly a golf course or a cemetery.

"Sleeze Lake: Vanlife at Its Lowest and Best" / Drive-In Closing Night Film

As in years past, this year’s festival showcases the work of filmmakers with strong Chicago connections: Tirtza Even (LAND MINE), Lori Felker (I CAN’T), Shayna Connelly (BANANAS GIRL), Amir George (MAN OF THE PEOPLE), Brian Ashby (FLIGHT LOGS), Elizabeth Coffman (FLANNERY), Lisa Barcy (FÔRET), Lonnie Edwards (PERIPHERY), Natasha Nair (IN THE WAKE), Michele Ferris Dobles (HIGH TIDE), Caitlin Ryan (S P A C E L A N D), Amber Love (A GALAXY SITS IN CRACKS), Pegah Pasalar (LOST IN HER HAIR/MONDAY), Callum Walter (MERIDIAN), Diana Darby (BABA SURA), Danielle Beverly (DUSTY GROOVES: THE SOUND OF TRANSITION), Kaitlin Martin (NO REGRETS FROM MY TIME AS A WEREWOLF), Emily Eddy, Natalie Chami (AMOUR POUR UNE FEMME), Britni Harris (GOFF), Jennifer Boles (THE REVERSAL), Jiayu Yang (I DREAM OF VIETNAM), Kurt Jolly (GLITTER LAND), Will Klein, Tymon Brown (CHILDREN OF THE MOON), and Andrew J. Morgan and Nick Nummerdor (SLEEZE LAKE: VAN LIFE AT ITS LOWEST).

Filmmakers who previously lived in Chicago featured in CUFF: Jenna Caravello (OTO REVISED), Usama Alshaibi (and Talia Watrous - THE DESIRE), Hisonni Johnson (TAKE OUT GIRL), Mike Gibisser (SLOW VOLUMES), Gwendolyn Infusino (ENDLESS VIDEO), Kevin Eskew (NOW 2), Rachel Wolther (GAMP), Tommy Heffron (A WORDLESS THING), Emilie Crewe (APPALLING NATURE), and Carson Parrish (BREATH CONTROL).

For more information on this year's Chicago Underground Film Festival, including where to purchase tickets or to stream films, click here 

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