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It’s been 20 years since a young Columbia College film student named Jay Bliznick established a film festival that would spotlight creative film and video work outside of the system that supports major Hollywood players and elitist distributor events. For him and others who share his passion for film and desire to see new, original projects, years of dedication and effort have established the Chicago Underground Film Festival as one of the most respected and anticipated annual events for cinephiles, movie buffs, and anyone else who wants to see the kind of independent, experimental, and documentary work that doesn't make it into the local metroplex.
This year’s festival will treat audiences to outstanding work from the past and present. In the words of Festival Coordinator Lori Felker, ”We've got a really energizing mix of films from the past 20 years mixed in with current in-competition films. It really gives you a sense of how broad the definition of ‘underground’ is, how weird ‘weird' can get, and interesting and talented people are.”
Felker describes Chicago’s status as a major metropolitan area separate from New York and Los Angeles as a natural choice to support an ongoing event like CUFF. “…firstly, because Chicago is more affordable. If you can save money on rent, you can spend that extra on films and make your movies the way you want to make them. But there's also a great and varied history, education system, and cinema community. There's a ton of things to do and see, but you can actually manage it and even master it over time. It isn't too big or too small. It's just right. And the more control you have of your community, making and dollars, the more you can break and change and subvert the system. “
As for advice for people who may be new to the underground film scene: “Open your eyes and ears, learn something and have fun. Some screenings will be eye-popping and gut-busting, while others will provide critical and challenging views of our culture and society. Just be open minded and if there's one thing that piques your interest, dive right in, you're pretty much guaranteed to see something you've never seen before.”
From March 6th through 10th at The Logan Theatre, the festival will serve up a feast of feature length and short-form films that explore and stretch the boundaries of narrative form and perception. CHIRP Radio will be on hand for Saturday evening's presentation of Taken by Storm: The Art of Storm Thorgerson and Hipgnosis, a 95 min. documentary on the artist behind some of the iconic images in Rock and Roll, including Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon and Led Leppelin's Houses of the Holy.
This is a truly unique event that is not to be missed. Visit CUFF's Web site for more information on the films and schedule. We’ll see you there!
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