The Crusader Newspaper Group

24th Chicago Underground Film Festival offers great range of films

By Elaine Hegwood Bowen, M.S.J., Chicago Crusader

The 24th Chicago Underground Film Festival (CUFF) returns to the Logan Theatre at 2646 N. Milwaukee Ave. on May 31, 2017, and features an international slate of innovative, exciting and provocative films and videos. More than 100 features, documentaries and shorts will screen over five days at the longest running underground film festival in the world. The event opens with the Chicago Premiere of Laura Stewart’s narrative/documentary hybrid film Drifting Towards The Crescent.” The film premiered in the Bright Future section of this year’s Rotterdam Film Festival and was named one of the most anticipated American films of 2017 by Filmmaker Magazine. CUFF will conclude with the wildly apropos World Premiere of Ryan Sarnowski’s documentary “Manlife: The Last of the Lawsonians.

“Our feature film lineup for 2017 presents a number of selections from Chicago ’s most talented and innovative filmmakers,” said festival programmer and artistic director Bryan Wendorf. “In addition we have an unusually high number of films from directors around the globe. We intentionally keep our definition of “underground” as fluid as possible but whatever the underground is in 2017, it is a global phenomenon. CUFF continues its mission to present challenging and thought-provoking work in an atmosphere that is fun and accessible to a general audience. We’re excited by this year’s lineup and we’re already thinking about plans for next year’s dramatic 25th anniversary celebration,” he added.

Returning for its fifth year at the lovingly restored Logan Theatre, CUFF has established itself as the premier venue for emerging independent filmmakers. From high camp to formal experimentation, CUFF programs films that wildly exceed expectations while breaking the boundaries of genres – films made with passion, obsession and drive. Moviemaker Magazine named CUFF one of the “coolest underground/experimental film festivals in the world” and a look at this year’s exciting lineup will make it clear why. This year CUFF will present a diverse slate of experimental, documentary and narrative features and shorts, carefully selected and curated into 25 unique programs, drawn from over 2,000 submissions from around the globe.

CUFF is proud to announce this year’s spectacular opening and closing selections.

Opening Night: CUFF is proud to present the Chicago Premiere of “Drifting Towards The Crescent”: As the Mississippi River flows past the town of Keokuk, Iowa, towards Hannibal, Missouri, the birthplace of Mark Twain, an antebellum history languishes in the air. “Drifting Towards the Crescent” captures the place on the Mississippi River where the North begins to drift into the South. As the diesel barges ply the waters, the river no longer needs the towns, but the towns still need the river. Laura Stewart is a Chicago-based filmmaker whose films are interested in places with an aura of the past influencing the present. Stewart’s work frequently focuses on the Midwest .

Closing Night: CUFF will conclude on Sunday, June 4, with the World Premiere of Ryan Sarnowski’s documentary “Manlife: The Last of the Lawsonians” that follows Merle Hayden, who at 90 years old remains an amazingly relevant, crusading devotee of aviation pioneer, economic reformer, and religious leader Alfred Lawson. Dismayed by the economic policies at work, Lawson created the Direct Credits Society, a movement against what Lawson prophetically called “the one percent.” The Society advocated for economic reform and “justice for everyone that harms no one.”

Other 2017 Feature Film selections include 13 feature length films, including a world premiere, an International Premiere and 11 regional premieres of films running the gamut from narrative, documentary and experimental work that is as diverse and hard to categorize as the festival itself.

Ticket prices are $20 for opening night, which includes admission to the after party at Elastic Arts, and $10 per program. Festival passes also available for $90, which grants admission to all screenings and events (excluding opening night). For more information visit Tickets are available at

About the Chicago Underground Film Festival:

Now in its twenty-fourth year, the Chicago Underground Film Festival, presented by IFP Chicago, is dedicated to the work of film and video makers with defiantly independent visions. Widely recognized as a world-class event, the festival showcases the best in new American and international cinema and providing the movie-loving public with access to some of the most critically acclaimed filmmakers and emerging talent from around the world. Our mission 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. 25 programs comprised of narrative, documentary and experimental features, shorts, and music videos, representing more than 20 countries, make up the main body of the festival, along with nightly parties and live music, discussions and other networking and community building events. To learn more about the festival visit, on Facebook at ChicagoUndergroundFilmFestival and Twitter @CUFF_Chicago



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