The 30th anniversary of the film festival features art showcases, DJ sets, footwork, and karaoke
The Chicago Underground Film Festival began in 1993 with the plans of creating its own niche, presenting avant-garde and cult cinema through workshops and panels. Dubbed the longest-running underground film festival in the world, the festival spent five days hosting screenings and late-night events.
Day One: Another VU at Bottom Lounge
The film festival began with a screening of Hello Dankness at the Gene Siskel Film Center in the Loop and was followed by an afterparty at Bottom Lounge in the West Loop.
The Opening Night Party with Another VU featured a double set from the cover band, covering songs of the iconic rock band, Velvet Underground. Another VU took over the bar, which had an open dance floor and a patio that looked out to the nearby apartment buildings. Standing on the patio, you could hear another performance happening at a different part of the bar.
Lights were strung along the ceiling above the seating area and bar, and the minimal lighting added to the rustic ambiance.
When Another VU finally came out, they performed in front of bright-colored, psychedelic videos that played from a projector. Hydrosonic Light Show, a 1960s and 1970s style light show made by Tim Ramirez, produced the concert’s visuals.
Day Two: Experimental Filmmaker Karaoke at Miyagi Records
The second night’s afterparty featured a karaoke session at a record shop a few steps away from the Garfield Green Line stop.
Miyagi Records, founded in late 2019, began as a side project with the intent to grow into the shop it is today. According to its website, the shop specializes in both obscure and classic records in various genres, including soul, funk, jazz, and blues.
When you first walk into the shop, records are seen in wooden containers and on the walls. Passing the front counter is a gallery-type area situated on a balcony that overlooks a downstairs space. The downstairs space had chairs in one corner and a makeshift DJ setup where the karaoke machine was accompanied by a projector and laptop. There was also a single chair next to the opposite wall for the person singing the karaoke.
People had the choice of looking over the balcony or sitting downstairs in the makeshift seating area to watch people sing karaoke.
The experimental filmmaking aspect comes in the form of the video playing as the song plays. The words pop up on the screen in different fonts as well as different videos. For one, while someone sang “Y.M.C.A” by Village People, various videos of Donald Trump during his various campaign stops and speeches played in the background. In another instance, as another person drunkenly sang Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance with Somebody,” the words appeared in bright colors and as letters from magazine clippings.
Day Three: Celebration of Chicago Footwork and Experimental Film
The Promontory, a live music and events venue in Hyde Park, hosted an afterparty dedicated to Footwork, a dance and music style that originated in Chicago.
Three of the venue’s walls were covered with projected videos of people footworking on top of videos of the Chicago skyline and highways. As the night progressed, a circle began to form around two people who began a footwork battle. At first, it was only one-against-one until it grew into a group effort.
Day Four: Clusterf—k at the Kulture Museum
The last afterparty of the film festival doubled as an art installation with various local vendors. One of the vendors was Momma Dee’s Soul Food, a local soul food catering service that sells her seasoning. Attendants were privy to spend up to $15 for one of her plates of soul food.
Aeriz Cannabis, another vendor, provided gifts that featured a lighter, rolling papers, and a sticker. Other vendors included Tarot Readings by Heavy Rest and Tattoos by LIFESUXLOL, where folks would have the opportunity to get tattoos.
The DJ sets included CTRLZora, Josue Olivares, Yaya the Bawse, and a special performance by Chicago underground icon, Jan Terri.
This year’s Chicago Underground Film Festival, named CUFF30 for its 30th anniversary, named six films as winners of the Grand Jury Award as well as six honorable mentions. The Audience Choice Award, an award based on audience votes, went to Melomaniac — a film that features Aadam Jacobs’s taping of live rock concerts. The Made in Chicago Award was awarded to “Sit Where the Light Corrupts Your Face,” a film that explores the psychogeography of two buildings that once shared the same space.
Header by MJ White