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Chicago Underground Film Festival 

The eighth annual Chicago Underground Film Festival continues Friday through Wednesday, August 17 through 22, at the Biograph, 2433 N. Lincoln. Tickets are $7. A $30 pass will admit you to five films, a $55 pass will admit you to ten, and a $125 pass is good for all screenings. For more information call 773-327-3456. Films marked with a 4 are highly recommended.

FRIDAY, AUGUST 17

Media Assassins

"Assassinated by the Media" might be a more appropriate title for this video program: many of the artists depict a loss of control amid our modern onslaught of sound and imagery. The computer programmer and ex-anarchist in Stephen Combs's Punk as Fuck seems to stumble through life--and an Ed Ruscha exhibit at the Museum of Contemporary Art--with little understanding of what's happening to him or why. The diverse TV images in Zachary Stadel's On Television (1999) are made no less chaotic by the alphabetized words intoned on the sound track. And in Bryan Boyce's darkly witty State of the Union, President Bush's face becomes a sun emitting death rays that annihilate a bucolic landscape. Yet three strong tapes talk back: In Anthony Di Salvo's How Do I Feel About That? (2000) a developmentally disabled man has a delightful moment of responding to bigotry with bleeped-out obscenities; in Jennifer Reeves's Skinny Teeth three youths cavorting in a mall seem to be at war with the tape's collagelike media sound track; and in ReMI's abstract Enter the Devil (2000) the image itself disintegrates, as rapidly flickering geometrical patterns seem to tear themselves apart. On the same program, videos by Stephen Marshall and Kara Herold. 70 min. (FC) (5:45)

4 Schlock! The Secret History of American Movies

Ray Greene directed this valentine to the exploitation picture, tracing its arc from the repressed early 1950s to Roger Corman's classics to the big-budget Spielberg and Lucas films that sounded its death knell. Pioneer "exploiteers" like Corman, Samuel Z. Arkoff, Harry Novak (a collaborator of Herschell Gordon Lewis), and Doris Wishman (whose films contributed a rare female perspective) supply gutsy and amusing accounts of serving up sex and gore in a puritanical era, though blaxploitation directors like Melvin Van Peebles are conspicuously absent. Various scholars and genre icons (Dick Miller, Vampira) also chime in with sometimes half-baked sociocultural analyses, but this 2000 documentary is most valuable for its harvest of excerpts from the lurid and long-forgotten "roughies" and "nudie cuties" of the 60s and from Corman's loose adaptations of Poe (some of which featured a fresh-faced though already demented Jack Nicholson). 90 min. (TS) On the same program: a two-minute trailer for Surfbroads!, Cody Jarrett's feature in progress that pays homage to sexploitation flicks. (6:15)

Flowers of Romance

Short films by Amy Lockhart, Arlene Harting, Jeffrey Erbach, Nick Zedd, Brian Frye, Bryan Poyser, Dana Kristal, and Robert Banks. 78 min. (7:00)

No Pain No Gain

The least painful and most insightful of these eight videos is Fred Hickler's Daytime Drama, a three-by-two grid of soap-opera images stripped of their context (a woman bangs repeatedly on a door, etc), which allows you to invent your own story. At the other extreme, Paul Zinder's Prince Albert Hurts (2000) takes an unstinting look at a penis piercing, which some might find educational (guess what the straw is used for?). Far more disturbing ethically is Paul Lloyd Sargent's Aggression (2000), in which a teenage male seems to justify rape by recalling an irksome girlfriend who would get him aroused and then pull away. Jon Leone's Receiver documents teenage backyard wrestling in Belvedere, Illinois: contestants smash each other with garbage cans, throw each other onto beds of thumbtacks, and wrestle in a ring laced with barbed wire. Kurt "the Strangler" Jensen, a star of these painful displays, says he "always loved the blood" but complains about his fans, "bloodthirsty bastards" who demand ever-increasing mayhem. Also showing: videos by Jesse Brown, Derek Curl, Kristie Drew, and Zakery Weiss. 73 min. (FC) (7:30)

Bad Girls Go to Hell

Exploitation filmmaker Doris Wishman directed this 1965 "roughie" about a young woman who flees an attempted rape and winds up in Central Park, where she's abused by various fringe characters. 80 min. (8:00)

Maldoror

Duncan Reekie of the UK's Exploding Cinema Collective and Karsten Weber of Germany's Filmgruppe Chaos conceived of this 2000 compilation in which 12 different filmmakers adapted chapters of Les chants de Maldoror (1869), Lautreamont's protosurrealist attack on humanity. Using a variety of techniques, from clay animation to scratching on film, the episodes offer some provocative scenes and arresting images and occasionally bring to life the novel's strange logic (eyes in a still photo are gouged by fingers and start to bleed). Unfortunately the project is bedeviled by errors in conception and execution. The surrealists and their antecedents used a radical disjunction and disparity to attack bourgeois complacency, but the stylistic devices here can be seen in any music video; worse, many of the filmmakers literalize the texts read on the sound track, making the novel's wild, language-based visions seem cartoonish and silly. 100 min. (FC) (8:45)

20 Years of Einsturzende Neubauten--20 Years of Desire: Listen With Pain

This fawning 2000 video documentary by Christian Beetz and Birgit Herdlitschke traces the bizarre career trajectory of Germany's pioneering industrial band Einsturzende Neubauten, interspersing recent interviews with performance footage spanning the group's 20-year history. Their name translates as "collapsing new buildings," and when they began in 1980, flailing away at heaps of scrap metal, they seemed intent on destroying civilization (or at least pop music). But before long they happily accepted the embrace of Germany's cultural elite, a transformation the video glosses over. Beetz and Herdlitschke also fail to place the group's music in any context, ignoring both contemporaneous artists like England's Test Department and the Neubauten's significance in birthing industrial rock. The most revealing moment comes at the end; asked in 1982 if the band could ever appeal to a broad audience, leader Blixa Bargeld replies, "Eventually the public will have changed to the point where we will make music for it." Subsequent developments in pop would give this quote its prophetic bite, but you'd never guess it from the video. A U.S. premiere. 59 min. (Peter Margasak) On the same program, which totals 75 minutes, experimental video by Michaela Schwenter and Mark Hejnar. (9:15)

Coffin Joe: The Strange World of Jose Mojica Marins

Brazilian horror meister Jose Mojica Marins has gained a cult following abroad, and while he's largely ignored at home, his recurring character (and eventual namesake) Coffin Joe, an undertaker capable of unspeakable evils, is a fixture of Brazilian pop culture. This thorough and informative video documentary (66 min.) by journalists Andre Barcinski and Ivan Finotti traces Marins's career across five decades, during which he directed over 40 features and 100 TV films. In the interview segments he comes across as a genteel though blasphemous raconteur, recalling his impoverished childhood, salacious behind-the-scenes tidbits, and problems with censors, while family and close associates comment on his ingenuity and disregard for money. Clips from his work--including At Midnight I'll Take Your Soul and This Night I'll Possess Your Corpse (both screening at the festival)--show a filmmaker who may not rank with Bunuel, as some have claimed, but certainly compares to George Romero and Dario Argento. Also on the program is an excerpt from Jon Ausbrooks's forthcoming documentary Inside the Eye of Scorpio Rising (11 min.), about the making of Kenneth Anger's underground classic Scorpio Rising. (TS) (9:45)

The Rebel Breed

Short films by Jay Rosenblatt and Caveh Zahedi, Ariana Gerstein-McCollum, Rusty Nails, J.X. Williams, Carl Wiedemann, Shawn P. Morrissey, Anne Paas, Aaron Lubarsky, Jesse Schmal, Lee Lanier, and Scott Saunders. 75 min. (10:30)

The Fantastic Invasion of Planet Earth

Two of these videos explore the sexual anxiety at the root of the horror genre: In Carey Burtt's Hey Mister! You're in the Girl's Room a seductive blond follows a man into a men's room, undoes his fly--and out come the entrails. In Jason Moran's Deadguy a girl advises her zombie boyfriend to take his mind off flesh eating by watching TV, which only worsens his condition. Animated clay figures perform wonderfully awful nightclub acts in the main dream sequence of Naoko Nozawa's Tokyo Escalator (2000): in one of them, three girls praise bestiality ("Give equal access to all of the animals!") and the audience loves it. The title character of Nick Zedd and Jon Vomit's Thus Spake Zarathustra is an alienated figure who gets rejected as a weirdo by some girls and spouts philosophical fragments in intertitles. On the same program: tapes by Ian Haig, Xan Price, and Stom Sogo. 74 min. (FC) (11:00)

At Midnight I'll Take Your Soul

Brazilian horror director Jose Mojica Marins introduced his trademark character, the evil undertaker Coffin Joe, in this 1964 feature. 81 min. (11:30)

SATURDAY, AUGUST 18

Give Up the Funk

Short videos by Danny Plotnick, Jerry Rapp and Daedalius Howell, Tyler Hubby, George Kuchar, Jeremy Drummond, Michael Velliquette, Anthony Di Salvo, John Wood and John Harrison, and Johannes Kassenberg. 73 min. (12:30)

What About Me: The Rise of the Nihilist Spasm Band

Zev Asher's 2000 video documentary profiles the experimental Nihilist Spasm Band, a group of friends from London, Ontario, who pioneered noise rock in the mid-60s and have been at it ever since. 79 min. (1:00)

Flowers of Romance

See listing for Friday, August 17. (1:45)

Solid Gold

Animated and experimental videos by Eunjung Hwang, Sergei Aniskov, David Gracon, Peter Brinson, Sterling Ruby, Michael Lucid, Wayne Yung, and Steve Reinke. 78 min. (2:15)

Good Grief

A clique of high school outsiders who lose themselves in fantasy games hit the road looking for a rumored treasure in this 2000 coming-of-age drama by writer-director Andrew Dickson. Much of the action takes place en route, where the director does a decent job conveying the tight-knit group's dynamics and the teens' awkwardness, volatility, and confusion. But like Chuck, the gawky and put-upon kid who instigates the odyssey, Dickson seems to be making this up as he goes along. With Al Burian, Bethe Mack, music by the Fucking Champs, and a cameo by rock writer Richard Meltzer. 77 min. (TS) (2:45)

Maldoror

See listing for Friday, August 17. (3:30)

Expressionist Landscapes

Matt McCormick's The Subconscious Art of Graffiti Removal is at once a delightful parody of overheated art-history hermeneutics and an authentic plea for the appreciation of disregarded urban patterns. A dead-serious voice-over praises the rectangular and other patterns left by city employees who remove graffiti as an "unconscious and collaborative" art. Patterns on walls, train cars, and shipping containers are compared to paintings by Rothko and Malevich and catalogued as "symmetrical," "ghosting," and "radical," revealing of not only the workers but their bosses as well ("The unconscious artistic desires of even the most conservative members of the ruling system leak out"). Brian Doyle's Current is a study of paper scraps floating through the air in lower Manhattan, Harlan Wallach's Devon (1999) presents a collagelike impression of the colorful Chicago street, and Moira Tierney's Ride City (2000) does the same for a Dublin horse market. In Mountain, Daniel Martinico presents a fascinating artist who's creating a brightly colored mound in his desert encampment, but the video is ineptly photographed and edited. Also showing: Stacy Sargeant's Electric Fence. 74 min. (FC) (4:00)

Wormwood

Larry Foster, a former production assistant on the TV series Taxi, wrote and directed this anti-Hollywood screed about an improbably naive woman searching for her sister who encounters a series of movie-mad perverts in that modern-day Sodom and Gomorrah. As in The Day of the Locust, Foster populates his Hollywood back lot with ranting caricatures who've been simultaneously corrupted and marginalized, but his satire is too far-out and incoherent to make much of an impact. Except for the impassive protagonist (played by the director's wife, Lourdes Foster), the acting is way over the top, and the rickety expressionistic sets add to the impression of a deranged home video (indeed, it was shot mostly in Foster's house). Just a guess, but this probably won't show up at Sundance. 105 min. (TS) A world premiere. (4:30)

The American Egypt

Jesse Lerner, whose film Ruins played at the festival last year, directed this 57-minute experimental documentary about the progressive politics of the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico. A U.S. premiere. On the same program, Thomas Comerford's five-minute experimental film Depart. (5:15)

Still Life

Most of these videos are about the strangeness of ordinary life. In Meesoo Lee's gently humorous Stood Up (2000) a woman tries to retrieve her sweater from a friend; the story is told in silent-film style but with overblown music and portentous close-ups that exaggerate the importance of such objects as a telephone. Matthew Silver's Mother and Son (2000) presents a 47-year-old man who lives with his 80-year-old mother; they're both nuts, screaming and ranting, and the son blames his mother for everything as he washes his "special socks" in the bathtub. In Robert Rhyne's neosurrealist Invisible Man a hotel guest receives mysterious gifts outside his door. He brushes his teeth, cavorts in the nude, and drops his towel for the room service woman, and while the tape generates a feeling of unease, it never quite jells. Stephanie Rothenberg uses framing and editing to empower the mundane places and objects in Automatic Panoramic (2000)--that egg in boiling water stands for something, though we're never sure what. Also showing: works by David Reynolds, Brett Simon, Taima Smith, and Nicholas Provost. 77 min. (FC) (5:45)

The Atlas Moth

In the hands of a crueler filmmaker this video documentary about a hapless Minnesota metal band putting out their first CD after 15 years could have been a real-life This Is Spinal Tap, but instead Rolf Belgum crafts a compelling but unsentimental portrait of three guys uneasily negotiating middle age. At times Dan Cleveland, Sean Cassidy, and Jon Mortenson seem to have learned to integrate their love of music into their adult lives; other times they're the world's oldest adolescents, hanging out, avoiding responsibility, and blowing their spare cash on junk food. The title refers to Mortenson's obsession with one of the largest moths in the world, and the band's anticipation of the CD release often suggests the excitement of waiting for a cocoon to burst open. 75 min. (Jack Helbig) On the same program, Brad Vanderburg's eight-minute video documentary Bloodhag: The Faster You Go Deaf the More Time You Have to Read. (6:15)

Magnetic Resonance Imagery

Short films by Johanna Dery, Rosie Saunders, Pin Pin Tan, Sandra Gibson, Moira Tierney and Mash Goodannaya, Thomas Fleish, Jerome Gariepy, Siegfried Fruhauf, Don Hertzfeldt, Virgil Widrich, and the collective Summer Movie Madness. 82 min. (7:00)

4 Coil

Jesse Heffring's sensitive first feature examines both the conflicting emotions caused by rape and the problem of human authenticity in the media age, as a Calgary TV reporter is raped in a launderette, and the police refuse to believe her. Feeling helpless and then angry, she reenacts the incident alone, as the rapist, then vandalizes the scene of the crime. Heffring's key technique is showing almost everything through surveillance cameras, at a distance and usually from above. The closer shots, created by blowing up the previous image, are fuzzy and indistinct, while shots of the news anchor who periodically reports on the action are the sharpest. No matter how much the victim tries to assert herself, she's an image maker trapped in imagery not of her making. 79 min. (FC) A world premiere. (7:30)

Satan Was a Lady

This new feature by Doris Wishman, the veteran low-budget auteur, has everything you might want in a cheap exploitation film: laughable dialogue, awkward storytelling, and some of the worst acting this side of your high school musical. A dominatrix, played rather woodenly by Honey Lauren, begins blackmailing one of her best customers, a high-powered executive, and relatively simple lines like "Get the hell out of here" are delivered with so little nuance you wonder if the cast or director understands English. Glyn Styler's musical interludes are a welcome respite from an almost unwatchable film. 80 min. (Jack Helbig) (8:00)

The Foreigners

An elderly woman opens a large box from Turkey and peers into it, initiating a crazy quilt of scenes in which the mayor of Goreme touts the attractions of the Turkish town while seven accidental tourists (including a spaceman) wander through its streets and the oddly shaped hills surrounding it. Not much of this makes sense, and you may find yourself dozing before the trip is over, but the actors, the real-life villagers playing along, and filmmakers Brent Goodsell, Peter Barrickman, Didier LePlae, and Xav LePlae (of the Milwaukee art collective Pumpkin World) all seem to be having a good time with this stream-of-consciousness travelogue. 55 min. (TS) On the same program, two shorts: Ben Russell's Daume (2000, 7 min.) and, from Austria, Josef Dabernig's Jogging (2000, 11 min.). (8:45)

Skate and Annoy

Short films and videos by Helen Stickler, Lisa Barstone, Ward Howarth, and Julian Cautherly. 35 min. (9:15)

Plaster Caster

Cynthia Plaster Caster's notoriety dates back to the 1960s, when, given an art assignment to cast "something solid," she began casting rock stars' penises. This competent documentary by local filmmaker Jessica Villines presents her and her work in mind-numbing detail, including multiple views of her most famous artifact, a cast of Jimi Hendrix's member. Danny Doll Rod of the Demolition Doll Rods gets cast on camera, and other musicians recall their encounters with her, including some who lost it (the plaster is cold). Critic Camille Paglia describes Plaster Caster's work as "totemistic," as an example of "women taking control," yet in the end it seems oddly mundane. The whole thing might have been better as unrealized conceptual art; as one man in the street puts it, "Disembodied penises [are] not very interesting." 115 min. (FC) Presented in partnership with Ladyfest Midwest; pass holders for that festival will be admitted free. (9:45)

Rough Guide

Short films by Siegfried Fruhauf, Klaus Eisenlohr, Robert Todd, Kenneth Eisenstein, Greta Snider, Matt Holm, Joram ten Brink, and Christophe Jolly. 77 min. (10:30)

Up Against a Star

Though dubbed "the Spielberg of the digital age" by a TV newsmagazine, video maker Todd Verow might prefer a comparison to Andy Warhol, whose name is frequently invoked in this parodic self-tribute. Like Warhol, Verow has a stable of superstars and hangers-on, many of whom (including producer Jim Dwyer and punky starlets Brenda Velez and Eric Sapp) sing his praises. Verow passionately expounds on the mechanics, the validity, and the freedom of his shoestring epics. Capped by scenes of Verow and his entourage enjoying their 15 minutes at festivals in Berlin, Locarno, and Vienna, this cheeky and congratulatory documentary does have its poignant moments, like the sequence in which actress Philly returns to her childhood home to face a life she's eagerly left behind. CUFF cofounder Bryan Wendorf makes a cameo appearance. 85 min. (TS) On the same program, Daniel Martinico's 15-second video Wavelength (2000). (11:00)

This Night I'll Possess Your Corpse

The loathsome undertaker Coffin Joe, obsessed with having a son, leaves a trail of dead bodies as he searches for a woman worthy of receiving his seed in Jose Mojica Marins's 1966 sequel to his runaway Brazilian hit At Midnight I'll Take Your Soul. The film is packed with creepy images--hands poking out of a fresh grave, tarantulas crawling on sleeping women, a large stone crushing a man with a sickening thud--yet the story unfolds so slowly and manipulatively that it fails even as camp. Especially bathetic is a ten-minute sequence in hell, a Dantesque inferno that's about as terrifying as the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland. 107 min. (Jack Helbig) (11:30)

SUNDAY, AUGUST 19

Suburban Roulette

Further evidence that Americans are getting dumber, though the better videos on this program manage to render dumbness without quite succumbing to it. In High Rocks (2000) Jason Blalock presents the alienated youths and oddballs who hang out at an Oregon swimming hole where the bridge and cliffs can make for dangerous, even fatal, dives. Ron Beck's Scary Larry (2000) profiles a good-hearted Indiana character who claims to be a top-rated hairdresser but parties with teenagers. Mike Finch's Booty BBQ (2000) introduces Bootsy, an aimless suburban youth whose vocabulary consists mostly of "Man!" and "Fuck!" One really interesting tape is Gramaglia (2000), by Andrew Gurland and "revenge-umentary" filmmaker Huck Botko. Unpleasantly manipulative, it also reveals how willing some people are to be manipulated, as a woman prepares to abandon her friend when she thinks she's about to be cast in a movie by the friend's ex. Also showing: tapes by Skizz Cyzyk, Dylan Griffin, and Matthew T. 77 min. (FC) (12:30)

Up Against a Star

See listing for Saturday, August 18. (1:00)

The Rebel Breed

See listing for Friday, August 17. (1:45)

Green Fields in Daylight

Short films and videos by K.J. Mohr and Kelly Hayes, Adrianne Jorge, Guiomar Ramos, Jeremy Solterbeck, and Konstantin Bojanou and Ivaylo Simidchiev. 71 min. (2:15)

20 Years of Einsturzende Neubauten--20 Years of Desire: Listen With Pain

See listing for Friday, August 17. (2:45)

The Foreigners

See listing for Saturday, August 18. (3:30)

Present Tense

Donigan Cumming's If Only I (2000, 35 min.) is a raw and unnerving portrait of two troubled and marginal people. Colleen is a former mental patient who once set fire to her bed; her mother was in and out of mental hospitals and her father had sex with her when she was a teenager. Colin, homeless for much of his life, now shares a small room with her and dedicates himself to "saving her life against these evil bastards who are trying to ruin her," yet according to Colleen he's "forced himself" on her in the past. Awkwardly framed close-ups of Colleen, so extreme that every pore is visible, convey her discomfort with herself but also feel unpleasantly clinical. Bradley Quirk's fictional Clean (2000) tries to tell too many stories at once (a Bosnian immigrant who works as a maid, a hotel doorman who pimps on the side, even a hooker with a heart of gold). But Christina Vantzos's animated Now is a small gem, its suggestive line drawings alternating with richly colored images to produce a multilayered view of a woman doing daily tasks. On the same program, which runs 73 minutes, videos by Sterling Ruby and by Shawn Chappelle and Heather Frise. (FC) (4:00)

Well Done Now Sod Off

Ben Unwin directed this 2000 video documentary about Chumbawumba, the British punk ensemble that unexpectedly became a multiplatinum-selling pop act. A U.S. premiere. 85 min. (4:30)

What's the Frequency?

Short films by Vanessa O'Neill, Thomas Draschan, Tony Youngblood, Bart Vegter, and Greta Snider. 70 min. (5:15)

Ode: The Legend of Billy Joe McAllister

Kelly Reichardt directed this 1999 video about the legend chronicled in Bobbie Gentry's 1967 pop hit "Ode to Billy Joe." On the same program, two shorts: Cheryl Weaver's Slowfall (2000) and Paul Tarrago's Last Night Meant Nothing (1999). 76 min. (5:45)

What About Me: The Rise of the Nihilist Spasm Band

See listing for Saturday, August 18. (6:15)

Spells for All Your Troubles

Short experimental films by Kerry Lataila, Deco Dawson, Wenhwa Ts'ao, Ray Harmon, and James Fotopoulos. 58 min. (7:00)

Against

The world premiere of Todd Verow's latest digital feature, the story of a cross-dresser (Eric Sapp) plagued by various weirdos as he tries to sort through his late mother's possessions in her vacant apartment. With Brenda Velez, Philly, and Shawn Durr. 75 min. On the same program, Peter Rose's 11-minute video Omen. (7:30)

A Night to Dismember

Exploitation filmmaker Doris Wishman made her first foray into slasher flicks with this bloody, incoherent, but sometimes quite funny 1983 feature starring soft-core porn star Samantha Fox. Reportedly assembled from outtakes after a disgruntled employee destroyed the negative, it flirts with self-parody, incorporating every horror cliche from the not-very-scary graveyard scenes of Ed Wood to the unconvincing bloodbaths of Herschell Gordon Lewis. The story, recounted in flashback by a deep-voiced private detective, involves a great many knives, axes, and ice picks but never manages to be very frightening; the awful dubbing and numerous mismatched shots are hilarious, but whether that's intentional is a matter of debate. 80 min. (Jack Helbig) (8:00)

Curse of the Seven Jackals

Chris Jolly directed this one-hour guerrilla feature (a prizewinner at the New York Underground Film Festival) about a young man volunteering for an experiment in which his blood will be replaced by a synthetic substance. On the same program, Jolly's 12-minute film Abstract Pornographic Films. (8:45)

4 Audiovisions: New Videos & Music From Austria

These 11 recent works have almost nothing to do with mainstream music videos and their heavily produced songs and lush pictures; instead they hark back to the earliest attempts of abstract and other avant-garde filmmakers to synchronize sound and image in the 1920s and '30s, forging complex and thought-provoking relationships between them. In Skot's Aus (1998) a minimal sound track underlies images (suspension bridges, a beach scene) that repeat in an ever-shifting flow, encouraging the mind to make new connections. The sound in Michaela Grill's O.T. (1999) is even sparser--a few pops and bells, some static--adding just the right ambience to the black-and-white patterns that rush by in different directions as the camera pans over a concrete wall. Especially strong is Notdef./version one (1999) by maia./notdef, in which a pulsing, heartlike beat vies for control with heterogeneous abstract imagery, from lines to colored fields, the tension between them energizing both sound and image. And Ben Pointeker's Overfart (1999) is surprisingly successful at capturing the lively power of painter Caspar David Friedrich with its gliding mists and tall, ghostly ships. Also showing: videos by Dariusz Kreczek, Jurgen Moritz, [N:ja], ReMI, Tinhoko, and program curator Norbert Pfaffenbichler. 64 min. (FC) (9:15)

We Sold Our Souls for Rock 'n' Roll

Director Penelope Spheeris (Wayne's World, The Decline of Western Civilization) hits the road with Ozzfest, the touring heavy-metal festival organized by Black Sabbath vocalist Ozzy Osbourne and his wife, Sharon. Spheeris's documentary chronicles the inaugural extravaganza in 1999, which covered 30 cities and featured 15 acts (including Primus, Rob Zombie, Fear Factory, Slayer, and Sabbath, the forefathers of the genre, who closed the show). Her take is both wry and affectionate, and her backstage footage proves that there's no need for Spinal Tap when you've got the real thing: Ozzy, age 50, reads his lyrics off two huge TelePrompTers and hobbles offstage between numbers to suck down herbal power shakes and take hits from an oxygen tank, while Sabbath's drummer, Bill Ward, discusses the scars he's collected from the band's various attempts to set him on fire. Far more depressing are the legion of drunken fans, who seem as clueless to the music's self-parody as the religious protesters shadowing the tour. At least the eighth graders who encounter the masked members of Slipknot on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial seem to get it. 88 min. (Reece Pendleton) (9:45)

Hybrid

Monteith McCollum's 2000 documentary profiles Milford Beeghly, a centenarian Iowa farmer obsessed with developing hybrid seed corn. 93 min. (10:30)

No Pain No Gain

See listing for Friday, August 17. (11:00)

Awakening of the Beast

Jose Mojica Marins's 1969 feature about psychedelics and sexual perversion among Brazilian youth was banned for almost 20 years and has never been distributed. 91 min. (11:30)

MONDAY, AUGUST 20

Give Up the Funk

See listing for Saturday, August 18. (5:45)

Wormwood

See listing for Saturday, August 18. (6:15)

Hybrid

See listing for Sunday, August 19. (7:00)

Out With It

A half-dozen videos, most of them dealing with sexuality and identity. In Shawn Durr and Wayne Yung's Chopstick Bloody Chopstick the narrator tells his new Asian lover a series of witty but sad stories about past boyfriends who've left him, while images of bloody corpses evoke emotional loss as much as serial killing. In Ass, Usama Alashaibi rapidly intercuts a woman's face with a close-up of her fingering herself, but the result isn't much different from porn. Jennifer Montgomery's Transitional Objects (1999), an affecting meditation on the instability of identity, shows stuffed animals being sliced and resewn into new combinations that are identified by the voice of a little girl ("It's bunny leopard"). Les Leveque has created a series of Hollywood "remakes," and in Red Green Blue Gone With the Wind he condenses the bloated epic to 12 minutes (it's still too long) and comments on its original Technicolor process, which involved printing from three separate primary-color strips, by passing each frame through a red, green, or blue filter to create a rapid flicker with illusory colors that aren't found in any one frame. Also showing: work by Kyle Harris and Anne McGuire. 71 min. (FC) (7:30)

4 The American Astronaut

Astronauts roam the galaxy like homeless cowpokes in Cory McAbee's tripped out, low-budget comic space opera, a ripping yarn about a nearly broke intergalactic trader (McAbee) transporting a 16-year-old boy to a nearly all-female colony on Venus while being chased by the murderous Professor Hess (played with wonderful understatement by Rocco Sisto). Mott Hupfel II's noirish photography, Pete Beaudreau's smooth editing, and McAbee's wry script are all wonderful, and Dawn Weisberg's costumes are especially killing (the Venusian women dress like southern belles--hoopskirt, fan, and all). 91 min. (Jack Helbig) (8:00)

Sinister Luck Ensemble

The eponymous band, led by guitarist Charles Kim, will provide musical accompaniment to short films by Jeff Economy, Paula Frohle, Laura Heit, and Heather McAdams. (8:45)

Still Life

See listing for Saturday, August 18. (9:15)

The Atlas Moth

See listing for Saturday, August 18. (9:45)

5x8 Video Competition

A screening of works from the festival's 5x8 competition, in which teams of filmmakers will be given eight hours to create a five-minute video. (10:30)

TUESDAY, AUGUST 21

Curse of the Seven Jackals

See listing for Sunday, August 19. (5:15)

Green Fields in Daylight

See listing for Sunday, August 19. (5:45)

Good Grief

See listing for Saturday, August 18. (6:15)

4 Philosophies in Light

This nine-film program is so diverse you may have to shift gears frequently, yet two of the best entries lie at opposite ends of the spectrum. S. Barber's Dogs (2000) is a kind of metafilm in which two crude, awkwardly framed dog-head puppets converse about such topics as "the origins of the notion of individualism" and making "wrong" creative choices; at once goofy and endearing, it makes a case for crude and homemade art. Stan Brakhage's Rounds is another of his silent, hand-painted explorations of frame-at-a-time visual music. Exquisitely crafted, demanding close attention to each instant, it superimposes shapes in four different colors, with a precise balance worthy of polyphonic music. In Guy Sherwin's Flight (1998) a silhouetted bird seems trapped by slow motion and freeze-frames, while the ape in Leslie Thornton's Chimp the Normal Short (1999) escapes for a car ride that ends in a wreck. Two other films are so delicate they may cause you to question what you're seeing: in Brian Frye's Lachrymae (2000) fireflies make a cemetery seem otherworldly, and Thomas Comerford's ILLA CAMERA OBSCVRA (The Dark Room), shot with a pinhole camera, shows mostly interiors and windows, its mildly fuzzy cinematography creating a meditation on the tenuousness of cinema. Also showing: films by Abigail Child, Kurt Kren, and Kerry Laitala. 85 min. (FC) Curator Patrick Friel will attend the screening. (7:00)

Out With It

See listing for Monday, August 20. (7:30)

We Sold Our Souls for Rock 'n' Roll

See listing for Sunday, August 19. (8:00)

Rough Guide

See listing for Saturday, August 18. (8:45)

Well Done Now Sod Off

See listing for Sunday, August 19. (9:15)

4 Coil

See listing for Saturday, August 18. (9:45)

Spells for All Your Troubles

See listing for Sunday, August 19. (10:30)

Against

See listing for Sunday, August 19. (11:00)

WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 22

The American Egypt

See listing for Saturday, August 18. (5:15)

Suburban Roulette

See listing for Sunday, August 19. (5:45)

Media Assassins

See listing for Friday, August 17. (6:15)

What's the Frequency?

See listing for Sunday, August 19. (7:00)

Present Tense

See listing for Sunday, August 19. (7:30)

4 Resin

Vladimir Gyorski's riveting feature uses the principles of the Dogma 95 manifesto--natural lighting, improvised acting, and digicam cinematography--to create a verite-style drama about a small-time marijuana dealer victimized by California's infamous "three-strikes" law. Zeke, a genial vagabond of Gypsy ancestry, lives on the fringe of a Santa Barbara beach community of privileged dope-smoking college students, and when he's busted for selling grass and defending himself against drunken frat boys, he finds himself enmeshed in a legal nightmare. As Gyorski points out, his story is typical of the 3,000-plus nonviolent offenders serving 25 years to life in California. The flashbacks to Zeke's father being wronged by the justice system are extraneous, yet the protagonist's dilemmas, both legal and moral, are utterly compelling. 80 min. (TS) On the same program, Stephen Marshall's ten-minute video documentary Crack the CIA. (8:00)

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