The 29th Chicago Underground Film Festival Lineup Is Packed with World Premieres, Panels, and Parties

Anyone who’s been to CUFF knows that a ticket to the festival doesn’t just get you admission to the films, it’s an admission to a subculture. Set for July 27-31 at the Logan Theatre, this year’s programming further solidifies that with 100+ pieces of video art to debut, panel discussions poised to examine the core of crypto and DAO structures through a speculative lens, after-party performances from La Armada at The Burlington Bar and The Enigma at Chicago’s Insect Asylum, and one of the most underground things CUFF has done to date: turned itself into a decentralized and autonomous organization (DAO). 

CUFF29 highlights include Opening Night film PROVO (world premiere) by Chicago filmmaker Emma Thatcher. The debut feature created by queer (mostly women) BIPOC, tells the story of Liz, an ex-Mormon drug addict living in Chicago who finds out her estranged, abusive father is on his deathbed in Provo, Utah.

Here is your first look at PROVO…


CUFF’s CLOSING NIGHT film is the World Premiere of ENDLESS CONTENT FOREVER by Chicago-based filmmaker Jacob Gregor. Gregor makes his narrative debut with a half narrative, half experimental view of the numb feeling of consuming endless amounts of bad content online instead of doing anything else.

Two more must-see World Premieres at CUFF29. TRIPLE TROUBLE by Homer Flynn is the first narrative feature film created by legendary and secretive experimental music and performance ensemble The Residents. CIRCUS OF THE SCARS by Chicory Wees tells the story of how a group of bizarre humans from the Pacific Northwest caused a sideshow sensation in the early 1990s grunge era.

Here’s your first look at the “full frontal of weirdness” that is CIRCUS OF THE SCARS…

Making its Midwest Premiere will be LARRY FLYNT FOR PRESIDENT, directed by Nadia Szold. This film is the untold story of one of America’s most notorious outcasts who in 1983 challenged Ronald Reagan for the presidency and set out to test the limits of parody and the nature of satire in a country that celebrates freedom of speech yet punishes those who dissent too loudly…

THE LOST RECORD (midwest premiere) by Ian Svenonius and Alexandra Cabral and based on the LP by Svenonius (The Make-Up, Nation of Ulysses) and Carbal’s band Escape-ism, THE LOST RECORD is a sci-fi rock ’n’ roll essay fantasy film about art, music, fetish, creation, love, & records; and JONAS IN THE FIELDS (International Premiere) by German filmmaker Peter Sempel, a personal film collage made in memory and thankfulness to the late Jonas Mekas, the great inspirer for independent Film, Art, Poetry and People who was called the ‘father of American Avant Garde film’…

More festival highlights include a partnership with Columbia University’s School of the Arts’ Digital Storytelling Lab to present BLOCKCHAIN FAIRY TALES (Saturday, July 30, 4:30 PM), EXTREME ANIMALS will headline the opening night after-party at Elastic Arts (Wednesday, July 27, 10:00PM), LA ARMADA at The Burlington Bar (Thursday, July 28, 10:00PM), EXPERIMENTAL KARAOKE with TribeHouse Chicago (Friday, July 29, 10:00PM), and The ENIGMA ALIVE!, ZAMORA! THE TORTURE KING!, and MATT “THE TUBE” CROWLEY at The Insect Asylum (Saturday, July 30, 10:00PM). 

As stated by Taila Howe, CUFF Producer, “Everything cool starts in the underground. And then mainstream catches on, and then it’s really not that cool anymore.”

While the spotlight is usually on feature-length films, there are over 70 shorts films programmed including new pieces from CUFF alumni Ken Jacobs, Lynne Sachs, Molly Hewiit, Jim Vendiola, Ben Russell, and Shayna Connelly. The program’s subject matter ranges from abstract animation to DMT trips, to penis dysmorphia and everything in between. 

This year is also notable as the festival re-establishes itself as its own fully independent not-for-profit organization. “After over a decade operating as a program of other existing not-for-profits, The Chicago Underground Film Festival is now its own completely independent 501(c)(3). This will allow us to follow our own mission as completely and as uncompromisingly as we want and be the most creative and underground festival we wish to be.” – Bryan Wendorf, CUFF Co-Founder, Programmer, and Artistic Director.

Tickets are $12 per program. Festival passes are also available for $150, which grants admission to all screenings, events. And after-parties. Tickets and more information about the festival are available at www.cuff.org.

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