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Chicago Underground Film Fest to be held on South Side

The 30th edition of the Chicago Underground Film Festival–the longest-running underground film festival in the world–is moving to Chicago’s South Side Harper Theater, 5238 S. Harper Ave., September 13-17. Opening night will be held at the Gene Siskel Film Center, 164 N. State St.

A global champion of the underground scene, the Chicago Underground Film Festival (CUFF) showcases and celebrates some of the most original films and video art being made today–all supplemented through screenings, panels, and nightly after-parties.

Highlights of this year’s festival include three locally-produced world premieres, an after-party at The Promontory, 5311 S. Lake Park Ave., curated by Eric Williams of the Silver Room, and an underground art market at The Kulture Museum, 629 W. Cermak Road, 2nd Floor.

This is alongside a number of curated events, several new films from festival alumni, and a plethora of other genre-bending features and shorts.

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Poster for “You Can’t
Stay Here.”

“The Chicago Underground Film Festival’s move to Chicago’s South Side and its transition into an independent 501(c)3 organization mark transformative milestones in our journey,” said Artistic Director Bryan Wendorf with unwavering enthusiasm.

“By embracing Hyde Park’s rich cultural mosaic, we ignite a vibrant tapestry of diversity, inviting artists and audiences from all walks of life to experience our boundary-pushing cinematic offerings. This pivotal moment empowers us to create a more inclusive and impactful festival where stories transcend boundaries, challenge perceptions, and empower underrepresented voices.

“As a non-profit entity, we amplify our commitment to alternative filmmaking, cultivating a vibrant community of filmmakers, cinephiles, and artists who push boundaries and provoke meaningful dialogues.

“Together, we revolutionize the way we perceive the world, harnessing the power of underground cinema to inspire, provoke and foster artistic freedom.”

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SEMI-RETIRED CHICAGO postal worker Eugene Thomas reflects on his life, music and martial arts practice. Oh, and that decade between the 80s and 90s when he was an international celebrity, starring in a dozen ninja movies filmed in Taiwan. Thomas is in the “Searching for Sugar Man” of martial arts, and “For Kicks” is a window into the history of Black martial arts in movies.

Programming highlights include Opening Night’s “Hello Dankness” (Soda Jerk), a fable-like collage film depicting the psychotropic spectacle of American politics from 2016 to 2021, making its Chicago debut after premiering at the Berlinale in February, and Closing Night’s “For Kicks” (Sean P. Fahey), a world premiere documentary feature about the extraordinary life of a semi-retired security guard and his 10-year stint as an internationally famous martial arts film star.

Other world premieres include the documentary features “Jan Terri: No Rules” (Fred Hickler, Darren Hacker), concerning the star of the viral “Worst Music Video Ever” and her ensuing career, and “Melomaniac” (Katlin Schneider), about Aadam Jacobs’ “Chicago’s Taping Guy” and the impact of his mass archive of 80s and 90s live music.

Other notable features are the music documentaries “Stand By For Failure” (Ryan Worsley), “Even Hell Has Its Heroes” (Clyde Petersen), “Dope, Hookers and Pavement” (Otto Buj), and “What You Could Not Visualize” (Marco Porsia), as well as CUFF alumni films “Back Home” (Nisha Platzer), “Still Film” (James N. Kienitz Wilkins), and “You Can’t Stay Here” (Todd Verow).

Additional features include “Satan Wants You” (Sean Horlor, Steve J. Adams), “Relict: A Phantasmagoria” (Melissa Ferrari), “Warm Blood” (Rick Charnoski) and “Sweetheart Deal” (Elisa Levine, Gabriel Miller).

TICKETS/INFORMATION: Individual Tickets: $12.

All-access Festival Passes: $150.

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