As moderator of the festival’s fourth edition of “Bar Talks,” I can’t formally review what’s in store in the five days of the Chicago Underground Film Festival, but I’d like to indicate the goals of the annual “Bar Talks,” four extended filmmaker/audience conversations, especially in light of the notably consistent focus on atmosphere, mood and elusive narratives in the feature and shorts programming at the twenty-second edition of CUFF, the world’s longest-running underground film festival. The “bar talks,” taking place in the Logan Lounge at the Logan Theatre, are informal gatherings of local and guest filmmakers, with conversation the intention without the ping-pong of panel-like proclaiming. The talks may run an hour, or even an hour-and-a-half, depending on how much everyone has on their mind. For the events’ press release, I contributed the optimistic notion that “Each of these filmmakers who will be sharing stories and insights are underground, even experimental filmmakers, in one way or another. Their audacity in storytelling is matched only by the generosity that’s characteristic of Chicago artists, which the world recognizes more each and every year.” Here’s hoping for a nimble audience for the articulate filmmakers, many of whom have appeared on Newcity’s annual Film 50 roster. Prolific Philippines filmmaker Khavn De La Cruz and I will talk about the “cinema delirium” of his dreamlike gangster pop-opera, “A Ruined Heart” on Thursday, May 14 at 5pm. At the same time on Friday, May 15, “True Fiction” is the rubric for a conversation about fictional storytelling in underground film, with film critic Ben Sachs, and local filmmakers Jerzy Rose (“En Plein Air”), Spencer Parsons (the spectacularly seedy summa of a Chicago night gone wrong, way into the next day, “Bite Radius”), and Jennifer Reeder, whose recent shorts, including the featured “Blood Below the Skin” have been winning award after award around the world. On Saturday, May 16 at noon, “The Naked Truth” will include nonfiction filmmakers Maggie Bowman (“Hard Earned”), Ruth Leitman (“Lipstick & Dynamite”), Dan Rybicky (“Almost There”), Bill Siegel (“The Weather Underground,” “The Trials Of Muhammad Ali”) and Deborah Tolchinsky, director of Northwestern’s MFA in Documentary Media program. Sunday’s noon discussion is about filmmaking in Chicago, from low budget to no budget. “Local Option” will include “Algren” producer and IFP/Chicago president Nicole Bernardi-Reis and filmmakers Jennifer Reeder, Melika Bass and Stephen Cone (“The Wise Kids”). Each event is free and open to the public. More information at cuff.org (Ray Pride)
Ray Pride is Newcity’s film critic and a contributing editor to Filmmaker magazine.
His history of Chicago “Ghost Signs” in words and images will be published in Spring 2022.