March tends to be the dumping ground for weak movies — post-highbrow Oscar film season and before the onslaught of summer blockbusters — but in Chicago, it's prime-time to catch the freshest, weirdest and most interesting flicks of the year.
Wednesday marks the start of the Chicago Underground Film Festival, now in its 20th year. From March 6-10, the festival will feature 100 films at the Logan Theatre including a variety of documentaries, full-length features and shorts (one film is just 11 seconds long).
The festival's programmers told the Sun-Times their intent is for the CUFF to be a sharp departure from the types of films favored in mainstream, and even "art house" mainstream, circles.
“People got upset host Seth MacFarlane made people gasp once or twice, which is not always a good thing at the Oscars,” the festival's co-programmer Lori Felker said of the Academy's recent attempt at edginess. “But CUFF hopes to make people gasp for five days straight, reacting to works with 'Wow, I’ve never seen this before.'”
Screening films no one has ever seen before — and doing it for two decades, at that — is nothing short of remarkable during a period when even major fests like Sundance shrank on account of the recession.
"The key is to keep being open to all possible ideas of what 'underground' can mean and show the best examples of that work that we can," CUFF artistic director Bryan Wendorf told Gapers Block.
Though all of the official festival entries will be screened at the Logan, festival organizers are keeping the action in the neighborhood with a series of after parties peppered around the Logan Square during each night of the fest.
The Chicago Underground Film Festival runs March 6-10 at the Logan Theatre on 2646 N. Milwaukee Ave. Tickets are $7 per film or $60 for an all-festival pass.