Onion City Film Festival, program two | Movie Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Onion City Film Festival, program two 

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Onion City Film Festival, program two

For 11 years the Onion City Film Festival has presented programs of unusual films from the avant-garde; this one, the second of two this weekend, includes strong, expressive films exploring individuality and its loss. Thad Povey's On Any Given Thursday manages to push the well-explored genre of found footage to a new level of weirdness. Cutting between a bald, burly lifeguard and a conservative-looking couple as they contemplate an abstract sculpture, it makes both images look unaccountably perverse, and footage of water sports--people marching down the beach or launching rowboats--is appealingly ridiculous on its own, pointing up the absurd, robotic existence embedded in such footage. Rob Butterworth's How to: Festoon is a surprisingly poetic view of a construction site: the different elements, which include a stream of moving crushed rocks, seem to collide with each other through editing and superimposition, their hardness palpable and their surfaces almost human in presence. In Michael Crochetiere's Nocturne the Montreal cityscape at night becomes a kind of image-generating machine: the complex rhythms, images, and editing present the city as an organism, while the long exposure times capture the variety of urban night light. Donghyun Park's Circulation is a short loop, the same sequence repeating again and again as a walking man is superimposed over staccato, single-frame images of an assaultive city. I also liked the first half of Tracy German's A Private Patch of Blue, in which handheld close-ups of vines, branches, and her own body seem to represent a wandering eye seeking a spiritual home. Most of these films demonstrate that avant-garde filmmakers, when inventive enough, can bring new life to existing genres. On the same program: Eric Deutschman's Split, Lynne Sachs's A Biography of Lilith, Barbara Albert's Die Fucht Deines Leibes, T. Comerford's Sisyphus's Cinema, and Amie Siegel's Inclusum Labor Illustrat. Xoinx Tea Room, 2933 N. Lincoln, Saturday, May 2, 8:00, 312-986-1823. --Fred Camper

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): On Any Given Thursday film still.

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