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

Onion City Film Festival 

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Now in its 11th year, the Onion City Film Festival brings two nights of international experimental films to Chicago. The longest of the 12 films on the first program is also the strongest. Austrian Fridolin Schönwiese's 30-minute Cosmodrome initially seems to be a trippy meditation on what one critic called "the connection between cinema and the cosmos," opening with a rocket launch and a satellite view of earth. But Schönwiese seems to have something else in mind: the obstruction of vision. He takes footage from a plane window, but our view is restricted; we mostly see things like wheels retracting. The camera moves rapidly along rows of seats in an empty movie theater but never reaches the screen. Aerial views of a city are partially obstructed by black barriers, presumably part of the tower from which they're filmed. Every so often Schönwiese inserts the "cosmic" logo of Universal Pictures--the company name circling the globe. The film becomes a kind of dance around an empty center, concerned with the impossibility of creating authentic images in the postmodern world. Avoiding the typical pomo clutter of appropriated imagery, Schönwiese has made an oddly spiritual and affecting film about blindness in a world where everything's on show, where cityscapes are framed like movies, and where our best view of the cosmos comes from a corporate logo. Also on the program are Zack Stiglicz's Nothing Nobody Nowhere, in which densely layered pictures of males illustrate the instability of identity; Thomas Draschan's intense Super-8 collage Franziska; and films by Chana Pollack, Rebecca Reynolds, Dustin Lance Black, Laura Heit, Julie Goldstein, Brady Lewis, Jessica Joy Wise, V. Sheri Wills, and Christian Frossch and Kristina Konrad. The second night's program includes Paul F. Yates's Space Water Onion, a chilling, poetic sci-fi fantasy, and works by ten other filmmakers. Xoinx Tea Room, 2933 N. Lincoln, Friday (program one) and Saturday (program two), May 2 and 3, 8:00, 312-986-1823. --Fred Camper

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Uncredited photo of "Cosmodrome".

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