The 2017 Milwaukee Underground Film Festival will run from April 20th – April 23rd this year. See below for the 2017 Submission form or click HERE!
We’re currently hibernating. The good news is that enrollment is high for next year and we look forward to getting started with a really significant group of students. You can expect the Call For Entries to be posted by the end of DECEMBER!
Thank you so much to our Jurors for this year: Alee Peoples, David Dinnell and Eileen Rae Walsh. Below are the Juror Awards ($100 each) in no particular order and Honorable Mentions.
Jáaji Approx., Sky Hopinka
Logging and approximating a relationship between audio recordings of my father and videos gathered of the landscapes we have both separately traversed, this work approaches its concept through a tapering use of IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet) transcriptions of the audio. The initial distance between the logger and the recordings, of recollections and of songs, new and traditional, narrows while the images become an expanding semblance of filial affect. Jáaji is a near translation for directly addressing a father in the Hočak language.
Night Swells, Zachary Epcar
And you love that humid atmosphere/ And you look so lush under glass.
Solitary Acts #5, Nazli Dincel
The filmmaker films herself practice kissing with a mirror. She recalls teenage memories of overconsumption, confusing oral fixations that are both sexual (kissing) and bodily (eating). She ends up eating the carrot she is masturbating with, and feels a sense of cannibalism.
Suhail and The One Having Crossed Over, Anna Kipervaser
Before he was known as Canopus, he was called Suhail. And before that his name was Osiris. In all documented cases, he had two sisters, one of whom was left behind. She always signals the coming of an other, bigger than she. Their legend lives on to this day; each night the two sisters mourn him – and their separation – across the great heavenly river.
Traces/Legacy, Scott Stark
As with my earlier film Traces, the 35mm projector can only show a portion of the image at a time, so the viewer sees alterations between the top and bottom half of each frame. The images also overlap onto the optical sound area of the film, generating their own unique sounds.
Holland Man, Aaron Zeghers
As three growing years pass, Don Zeghers – farmer from Holland, Manitoba – phases out his multi-generational family farm. With experimental photography on Super 8, 16mm and digital mediums, his son Aaron Zeghers follows this life change. The dissolution of the family farm is seen both intimately but also as a microcosm of the modern industrialized world. Nature is contrasted with industrial might in this sentimental and existential portrait of one’s own family.
Mad Ladders, Michael Robinson
A modern prophet’s visions of mythical destruction and transformation are recounted across a turbulent geometric ceremony of rising curtains, swirling set pieces, and unveiled idols from music television’s past. Together, these parallel cults of revelation unlock a pathway to the far side of the sun.
Prima Materia, Charlotte Pryce
Delicate threads of energy spiral and transform into mysterious microscopic cells of golden dust: these are the luminous particles of the alchemist’s dream.
Prima Materia is inspired by the haunting wonderment of Lucretius’: De Rerum Natura. It is an homage to the first, tentative photographic records that revealed the extraordinary nature of phenomena lurking just beyond the edge of human vision.
This years festival will be taking place Thursday April 28 – Sunday May 1 at multiple venues in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Please allow us to introduce the 2016 Jurors:
David Dinnell is a filmmaker and film programmer based in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Since 2010, he has been the Program Director of the Ann Arbor Film Festival. Previously he was the film programmer for five seasons at UW-M Union Cinema. His own moving image work has been exhibited at various places including the International Film Festival Rotterdam, EXiS (Korea), Jihlava International Documentary Film Festival (Czech), Images Festival (Toronto) and the Views from the Avant Garde (New York Film Festival).
Alee Peoples (born 1981, Oklahoma City) currently lives and works in Los Angeles. She maintains a varied artistic practice that involves screen-printing, sewing, sculpture and film. She has taught youth classes at Echo Park Film Center and organized a 13-date film tour in the spring of 2014. This past summer she collaborated with filmmaker Mike Stoltz at an ACRE residency in Stueben, WI.
Eileen Rae Walsh is an artist and writer living and working in Chicago, IL. She works primarily in photography, video and the written word. She received her BFA from the University of North Florida in 2012, and will receive her MFA from Columbia College Chicago in May of 2016. Her work is steeped in the romantic, playing with photographic tropes tied to sublime sensation. Concerned with elevated states of being, the work obscures perception, relying on the inexplicable and the poetic — an idealized version of experience. She has exhibited at Women Made Gallery, The Franklin, ACRE TV, Mana Contemporary, The Pitch Project and Filter Photo Space, and has been featured in Ain’t Bad Magazine and Bridge Eight. She is the cofounder of the Crit-Exchange in Chicago and is a bookmaker for The Chicago Perch.
This past Winter, Milwaukee Underground Film brought Mono No Aware to Microlights for a screening to compliment their two days of hands on filmmaking workshops. Just after this year’s call for entries posted, we were treated to the work of Josh Lewis.
From Lewis came two entries in a series of “Doubts.” Doubt #6 and Doubt #9 come from a collection of 9 films created in a laboratory, mad scientist fashion. Working under a red light, in the basement of a lab (which already existed nearly as a basement itself to begin with), Josh scattered various chemicals onto outstretched canvases of 16mm black and white film. In his own words, “the struggle to maintain control quickly gives way to a kind of desperate religion.”
A documentary of his exploits in that basement, an exploration of his doubts about the outcome of his filmmaking process manifests itself in these artifact reels. Unknown combinations of chemicals applied to the celluloid surface expose the emulsion’s thickness. Exposures along the line of the strip make its vertical run clear. Meanwhile, chemicals continually shout out their acidic force or lack of it, their ability to make permanent or erase, and a general frenzy of applicative hits and misses.
One of my favorite moments in handmade film is the very thing that digital exhibition of them is completely incapable of– the refraction of light along the edge of exposure. Where the emulsion is removed by chemical or physical action, the projection of light to a distant screen renders the bevel of the exposure visible. Like bright sunlight grazing a window blind, there is that small bend of the lamp’s rays. It’s a bend that spreads over the distance from emulsion to screen that results in a display of an edge’s depth. Without the distance from the bulb, through gel, to screen, this is lost in the transfer to digital.
The Doubt series then becomes something of a meta-document. A document of its own making, one which, once described, I find entertaining and unforgettable. Mad scientist, in the basement of the lab, trying to come up with something but coming up with something else entirely. Beyond that beginning image, this series manages to document the space in which it is projected and develops, for a brief moment, an on-screen record of room, lamp, equipment and distance. It is in the nature of a no camera projection, that one can find that the bending of light past thin boundaries, into patterned refractions, renders form and depth, light, darkness, and color. And it can only be found in that room, at that time.
Diane Kitchen (Milwaukee, WI)
Diane Kitchen’s experimental documentaries, Before We Knew Nothing and Roots, Thorns, were made with the Ashaninka people in Peru’s Amazon Basin and have screened at diverse venues including the Museum of the American Indian, Museum of Modern Art, The Library of Congress, and internationally in France, Chile, Denmark, Bolivia, Hungary. Exhibition of recent films Wot the Ancient Sod and Quick’s Thicket include Montreal’s First Peoples’ Festival, the Whitney Biennial, London Film Festival and Toronto International Film Festival. She has received grants from the Smithsonian Institution, Jerome Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts/Film in the Cities, and the Wisconsin Arts Board.
STILL: DIANE KITCHEN FILMING IN PERU
Scott Stark (Austin, TX)
Scott Stark has made over 80 films and videos since the early 1980s, and has created numerous moving image installations, live performances and photo-collages. He received an MFA from the San Francisco Art Institute and served on the Board of Directors of the San Francisco Cinematheque from 1984-1991. His work has shown nationally and internationally in venues as diverse as New York’s Museum of Modern Art, the San Francisco Cinematheque, the Film Festival Rotterdam, the Tokyo Image Forum, and many others. His 16mm film Angel Beach was invited into the 2002 Whitney Biennial, and in 2007 he received a Guggenheim Fellowship. His 2013 film The Realist showed at numerous worldwide film festivals and was on several year-end “best” lists. His work has garnered numerous awards. He lives in Austin, Texas. He is the webmaster for Flicker (www.hi-beam.net), the web resource for experimental film and video.
artist website: http://www.scottstark.com/
STILL: SCOTT STARK
David Witzling (Milwaukee, WI)
David Witzling is a 1979 vintage Aquarius. He earned a BA in 2001 from UW-Madison after studying literature and philosophy. Since 2001 he has lived in Milwaukee, worked as a graphic designer, and shown his video work at a variety of alternative venues. His interests include the history of science, Modernist art, and the philosophy of religion. In 2009, he completed an MFA in film at UW-Milwaukee, and subsequently taught photography at Carroll University. He currently lectures in the Department of Film at UW-Milwaukee and is serving as the Program Coordinator for the Interdisciplinary Arts and Technology Program in the Peck School of the Arts. His recent video “Echoes of Information” was selected for Volume 31 of the Journal of Short Film.
artist website: http://drw.frametheweb.com/
STILL: DAVID WITZLING
Join us Tuesday, October 1st at 7pm as we share a spectacular program of Michael Robinson’s recent work at the Union Theatre, as part of the Experimental Tuesday Series. We’re delighted to have Michael Robinson in person! The program will run as follows:
And We All Shine On (7:00, 2006) *16mm
These Hammers Don’t Hurt Us (12:50, 2010)
The General Returns From One Place to Another (10:40, 2006)
Hold Me Now (5:00, 2008)
You Don’t Bring Me Flowers (8:00, 2005) *16mm
Light Is Waiting (11:20, 2007)
If There Be Thorns (13:20, 2010)
Line Describing Your Mom (5:50, 2011)
Victory Over the Sun (16mm, 12:30, 2007) *16mm
“Michael Robinson’s works bring together images and sounds from a wide range of original and pop-culture sources, forging new and uncanny correspondences. He blends film and video to create lyrical narratives that are equally opulent and restrained, their parent materials pulsing in and out of abstraction. Here and elsewhere, Robinson makes familiar media strange again, exploring collective memory through a poetics of devotion and loss.” – Whitney Museum of American Art 2012 Biennial Film & Video Screenings
Recent works by Ross Nugent, Hopper Repair (2010) and Tear it up, Son! (2011) study the interactions between subject, space, and time with regional specificity. Both films are portraits of cultural curiosities, sharing the extremes of commodity culture, which manifests both in the enjoyable misuse and intentional neglect of automobiles. The VW buses in Hopper Repair and homemade monster truck assemblages in Tear it up, Son! are signifiers of decay and denouement, out of which spectacle materializes. Nugent’s camera captures the circumstances of human spectacle with an observational gaze. It plays silent witness to acts of exhibition, putting emphasis on objects as signs of meaningful cultural description. Nugent frames the vehicles as objects of cultural reference and commentary, whose agency reveals the playful destruction of human enterprise.
Filmed at a ‘VW bus graveyard in Western Pennsylvania’, Hopper Repair (16mm) is a patient photographic study of abandoned vehicles. It begins with a succession of close shots, showing the varying shapes of VW bus headlights. The overgrown grass reaches above the chrome fixtures. With greater distance, the camera further emphasizes the height of the grass; it blows sleepily around the cars, engulfing their undersides with waves of green. The VW buses are helpless at the helms of nature. The square vehicles are stained with rust, whose organic dispersion disrupts the simple metal forms with aesthetic interest. The face of a white VW fills the frame. Its surface is pleasantly marred with dripping red lesions. There is a clear view through the vehicle; we peer through the windshield to the green growth of nature at its rear. The soft sounds of blowing grass, insects, and birds accompany the images; their authenticity establishes the rural location and enhances its quietness. The stillness of the images and auralscape pronounce the vehicles state of un-use. The buses sit idle in permanent arrest, without function or purpose, and their collective assemblage is striking. Without excess of movement or exuberant activity, the VW’s become a cinematic spectacle. The overgrown landscape, tactile rust-eaten surfaces, and overwhelming numerical display of vehicles amount to a scene of singularity. The VW buses, a form of ‘cultural detritus’, offer a portrait of culture through its processes of neglect and decay. Hopper Repair documents the edge of human existence—where forgotten objects reveal changing cultural ideals—and finds visual interest in the tactility of decay.
Tear it up, Son! (Super-16 transferred to HD) documents the daring and riotous antics at Yankee Lake Truck Night. The speeding mud-laden trucks and their thrill-seeking drivers offer a dramatic contrast to the resting VW’s in Hopper Repair. The film begins with sound– we acclimate to the space by listening only. The steady purr of insects is interrupted by distant voices, and then the muted sound of tires pushing nearer. As an engine groans the first image appears, revealing a bumpy upward view of treetops and clouds. A truck with a raised body is inspected by a group of interested viewers, who stand only as tall as its ridiculously enhanced wheels. As film viewers, we feel like spectators in the midst of more experienced participants. The camera remains stationary, letting the dirt-caked monster trucks and their howling passengers roll in-and-out of frame. The black-and-white film stock enhances the dirt’s gray mid-tones; it clings heavily to the surface of each vehicle. Again, the soundtrack situates us. The rumble of automotive sounds is accompanied by conversational dialogue—which surrounds us spatially, placing us among the on-screen action. A voice calls out, “I just yanked some dude’s bumper clean off his truck!” The film continues, and as darkness draws near, trucks roll into the thick woods. A shot of a driver’s profile in silhouette places us in the passenger seat, and we experience the car’s movements from a new vantage. Unlike in Hopper Repair, there is an emphasis on the people who utilize the vehicles. Tear it up, Son! documents the Truck Night’s raucous innocence, as the participants gather in good fun to exploit the capabilities of their homemade automobiles. The event is a spectacle of regional specificity, which demonstrates a culture of automobile entertainment specific to the mid-western location. The vehicles act as agents of human performance, a physical semblance of cultural excess and spectacle. The film is a document of cultural curiosity—a portrait of niche culture with genuine interest in spectacle as a normalizing human engagement. Tear it up, Son! depicts the Truck Night with intimacy, letting the dust settle around the camera, and providing a first-hand view of “mud-slinging hot-dawgers” with charm.
Tear it up, Son! has screened at the Antimatter Film Festival, Chicago Underground Film Festival, EFF Portland, Experiments in Cinema 8.53, Flyover Film Festival, New Delta Review, and Rural Route Film Festival. To see more of Ross Nugent’s work, check here.
Here they are:
2013 Milwaukee Underground Film Festival Results
Honorable Mentions: (in no particular order)
Strings of Colors by Sharan Mohanadoss
Football by Ana Husman
Hurty by Sonja Eklund
Workers Leaving the Googleplex by Andrew Norman Wilson
Eleven Forty Seven by Marika Borgeson
Wreading by Jesse Malmed
Pittsburgh by Ted Kennedy
Thanks for all of the fantastic work this year, filmmakers!