In a collaborative re-envisioning of the 28th Annual Chicago Underground Film Festival (CUFF)—the world’s longest-running underground film festival—Full Spectrum Features (FSF) is the official presenter of CUFF this year to program more diversity, equity, and inclusion to represent a wider range of artists and voices, including women, BIPOC, and LGBTQ+ filmmakers. The festival will showcase six feature-length films and six shorts programs, presented from Friday, November 5, through Sunday, November 7, at the Logan Theatre as well as online.
Bryan Wendorf, Festival Artistic Director and Head Programmer, said: “It feels so good to be able to hold the festival in the real world again. The challenges that everyone has faced in the past year have helped us rediscover the importance of community and connecting with others in person. CUFF has always stood for that idea. Connecting films and filmmakers with each other and with an appreciative audience. And with the developing partnership between us and Full Spectrum Features coming to fruition, this idea of community is foremost in our minds.
“We hope this year’s festival is as inclusive and as welcoming as it can be, and we’re excited to present the 28th edition of CUFF with an organization that values dissolving barriers that prevent filmmakers from breaking into the film industry.”
Opening Night Film! Co-directed by Chicago-based filmmakers Andrew Mausert-Mooney and Kera Mackenzie, co-founders of ACRE TV), the revealing “Make A Distinction” (Friday, November 5, 7 p.m., United States) takes its name from how species are identified in science. Featuring stylized scenes of field botanists, retail clerks, and soldiers in Clarksville, TN, and the television production community filming a cop show in Chicago, the viewer is confronted to “name the enemy or become it” as it is apparent that the police are ultimately protectors of capitalism. This screening is an encore presentation in the context of CUFF, after having its world premiere at The Onion City Film Festival in June 2021. Preceding the feature will be various shorts.
SHORTS 1: A Glimpse Through Is Walking In (Friday, November 5, 9 p.m.) features films in the animation, documentary, experimental, and music video genres by Chris Blue and Jeremy Bolen + Nina Barnett, among others. Productions are represented by Austria, Canada, Ecuador, Germany, South Africa, and the United States.
SHORTS 2: The Story Revolves (Saturday, November 6, 12:45 p.m.) features films in the animation, documentary, experimental, historical, and memory genres by Benjamin Buxton, Laura Conway and Kelly Gallagher, among others. Productions are represented by Cuba, France, Iran, Ireland, Islamic Republic of Singapore, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom, and the United States.
U.S. premiere! “Other Like Me: The Story Of Throbbing Gristle And Coum Transmissions” (Saturday, November 6, 2:45 p.m., United States/United Kingdom) looks at the drive to create and survive in the first documentary ever about COUM Transmissions and Throbbing Gristle, filled with archival footage and photos as well as interviews with founding members and industrial music pioneers Genesis P-Orridge and Cosey Fanni Tutti.
U.S. premiere! Directed by Jonathan Davies, “Topology Of Sirens” (Saturday, November 6, 6:45 p.m., United States) focuses on the art of listening, employing 90s personal computer games. This meditative mystery concerns Cas who goes on an odyssey of exploring ambient sound and minimalist music upon discovering an assortment of microcassettes. “Topology Of Sirens” features Courtney Stephens, Samantha Robinson and Chicago musician Whitney Johnson as herself.
Festival After Party (Saturday, November 6, 10:30 p.m.-2 a.m.) will open with DJ SJ (known for live sets in and around Chicago, specializing in industrial/EBM, new wave, and tech house) and will be followed by Allen Moore (a Chicago based educator, curator, painter, and experimental sound artist whose work converses with signifiers of Black culture and personal narrative, bringing to view the underlying themes of racial, emotional, and socio-economic conditions). It will close out with Roger Beebe with two 16mm performances: “Soundfilm,” a six-projector performance, exploring the history of sound recording and how sound is represented as image, and “Last Light Of A Dying Star,” a multi-projector meditation on the mysteries of space. The after-party will be at Elastic Arts Foundation, 3429 W. Diversey Ave., Suite 208.
Matthew Wade’s dreamy, atmospheric cosmic horror “A Black Rift Begins To Yawn” (Sunday, November 7, 7 p.m., United States) concerns Lara and Laura, two scientists who dive deep into a collection of cassettes featuring their deceased professor, discovering not only his mental decline but also that their sense of self and reality are disintegrating around them.
All screenings of CUFF will be at the Logan Theatre, located at 2646 N. Milwaukee Ave. in Chicago. Admission is $10 per ticket and $50 for an all-access pass. To attend the Festival After Party, tickets are $10 in advance and $15 at the door. CUFF will also be presented online via Eventive. For more information and a complete list of films, visit www.cuff28.org.
The cool cousin of the film festival circuit, aka the one who listens to Nick Cave and only wears black, the Chicago Underground Film Festival (CUFF) was hailed by the Chicago Sun-Times as “the city’s most eclectic and best-curated fest.” Founded in 1993 by Jay Blasick, a Columbia College film student who was fed up with the exclusivity of the existing film festival circuit, and friend Bryan Wendorf, the two created a festival for the kind of work they wanted to see, which primarily were films that the established film festival circuit (increasingly dominated by distributor product) refused to show. Now approaching its 28th year, CUFF is officially the longest-running underground film festival in the world.