The Chicagoist will be launching later but in the meantime please enjoy our archives.

Films From A Land Down Under

By Scott Smith in Arts & Entertainment on Aug 16, 2006 4:43PM

Now in its 13th year, the Chicago Underground Film Fest is almost becoming an institution. Yet after more than a decade of presenting challenging, weird and hilarious films, CUFF still manages to seem fresh.

2006_08_danielson.jpgMusic videos are no longer the delivery system for underground music. But many filmmakers still use film as a way to explore how one art form enhances the other. Several film series at the fest including Jeff Krulik’s "The Maryland Trilogy", "Dance Party USA", "Glam-O-Rama" and the "Moments of Greatness" video collection, all use music as a starting point for visual imagery.

The other music-related title we’re marking as a must-see is Danielson: A Family Movie after the Jersey-born Daniel Smith surprised us at Pitchfork Fest, by not being a complete snooze. The documentary shows us how he led his Christian indie-rock siblings through the trials and tribulations of rock non-stardom and mentored Sufjan Stevens along the way.

The fest opens tomorrow at the Music Box with Nice Bombs, a film by Usama Alshaibi. Videos of the war in Iraq are all over YouTube, but Alshaibi aims to tell a different story. After leaving his home country during the Iran/Iraq war, Alshaibi leaves his adopted home in Chicago to return to Iraq in January of 2004. In on-camera discussions with his family, he contrasts the life he knew with the Iraq of today as he looks at “what TV and newspapers could not convey .“

Other films and series we’re scanning over the next week include "The Young And The Restless," The Monks and the cover version of Valley Girl. Similar to Cameron Crowe’s Vanilla Sky if it had no-name actors, no special effects and no budget, we’re really hoping this redux of the 1983 cult classic still includes Josie Cotton’s version of “Johnny, Are You Queer.” Trailers for many of the films are online.

The Chicago Underground Film Festival starts tomorrow with Nice Bombs and runs through August 24th. The opening night screening costs $15, though most other films will run $8. All films will screen at the Music Box. Check their full schedule for titles and times.