Arts & Culture » Theater Critic's Choice

Undershorts Film Festival 6

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From its casual origins in organizer Trevor Arnholt's apartment in 1999, the Undershorts festival has become a prominent event on the city's indie film calendar: last year 2,000 people crowded into the Congress Theater for an evening of films, videos projected on an 80-foot screen, live music, magicians, jugglers, puppetry, performance art, and fashion. This year's film quotient totals about two hours, of which only 75 minutes were available for preview, but what I saw was pretty strong, ranging from moody live action to warped animation to comic/erotic music videos. In Parking (6 min.) cartoonist Bill Plympton applies his rumpled, hand-drawn style to the classic Road Runner formula, as an uptight parking attendant brings an escalating arsenal to bear against a stubborn weed growing in the concrete. In Gerardo Naranjo's enigmatic 35-millimeter short Last Attack of the Beast (14 min.) a white-collar drunk drives into a town that's been deserted in haste and starts smashing it up, unaware that the evacuees are watching him with binoculars from a nearby mesa. And Head Cleaner (2 min.) by Alessandro Bavari is a short but terrifying computer animation in which a brain and spinal cord thrash around beneath the surface of the earth; then the action moves above ground, where giant spiders with scissor legs and baby-doll heads patrol a desert plain. Tickets are $15, $12 in advance with canned food donation. Congress Theater, 2135 N. Milwaukee, Saturday, July 26, 7:00, 312-829-8637.

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