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Undershorts Film Festival

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The fourth annual Undershorts Film Festival runs Friday through Sunday, May 18 through 20, at the Biograph, 2433 N. Lincoln. Tickets are $7, and on Sunday a single admission covers the entire day's screenings. Unless otherwise noted, all films will be projected from videotape. For more information call 773-856-5220.

FRIDAY, MAY 18

Short films, program one

See Critic's Choice. (8:00)

SATURDAY, MAY 19

Short films, program two

The best reason for seeing this program is Guy Maddin's epochal The Heart of the World, a silent SF extravaganza in 16-

millimeter that lasts less than seven minutes but has all the depth of a feature; like David Cronenberg's Camera (see Critic's Choice), it was commissioned last year as part of the Toronto film festival's "Prelude" series of short films. Otherwise the binding thread in this collection of a dozen shorts appears to be irreverence--with hilarious results in the case of Dan Hertzfeldt's animation Rejected, part of which purports to have been commissioned but discarded by "the Family Learning Channel." Suzie Silver's fancy gender-bending music video A Spy (Hester Reeves Does the Doors), which has been around for ages, is worth checking out, and Jim Finn's Latino music video Quera? is almost as weird. There's also artier fare, such as Justin Krohn's nicely textured Subway 2:36 AM (2000), a Columbia College opus that crosscuts between two characters and makes an interesting use of freeze-frames; Webster Colcord's animated Slaughter Day and Summer Wind; Casandra Voltolina's Ektabiodegradable, which combines images of rockets taking off and a woman swimming; and Usama Alshaibi's Dogirl (2000), which reminds me of early Werner Schroeter. (JR) (8:00)

SUNDAY, MAY 20

Short films, programs one and two

See Critic's Choice for program one and listing for Saturday, May 19, for program two. (1:00)

We're Outta Here

A rambling but amiable tribute to the Ramones, the Brooklyn foursome that founded punk rock in the mid-70s. Built around their 1996 farewell concert at the Palace in LA, this 1997 documentary by Kevin Kerslake is stuffed with interviews, home movies, and archival performance footage (ranging from the band's early days at the Bowery dive CBGB to a TV guest spot on Sha Na Na). Jello Biafra, Jim Jarmusch, Deborah Harry, James Iha, and other underground celebs attest to the band's enormous influence on rock, though the more they wax rhapsodic about the Ramones' importance and "purity," the more they create an aura of pretentiousness that the band always shunned. There's not much reliable history here, but the generous concert footage and band interviews are swell; lead singer Joey Ramone, who died recently of cancer, is particularly charming. 114 min. (Reece Pendleton) (4:00)

Mutant Aliens

Bill Plympton, a perennial favorite at animation festivals, created this feature about an astronaut left for dead by an unscrupulous space agency who's rescued by aliens and returns to earth 20 years later to wreak havoc on the U.S. The thin plot is just an excuse for Plympton's usual black comedy and surrealistically obscene mayhem (after landing on a planet populated by warring tribes of enormous body parts, the astronaut falls for the queen of the giant noses), and though a little of it goes a long way, the film is funny and inventive enough to overcome its excesses. 83 min. (Reece Pendleton) (6:00)

Short features

Two films: Raoul Vehill's Mask of the Dragon and Matt Brookens's The Rubber Pool Movie or First I'm Gonna Eat That Kid and Then I'm Gonna Buy Some Beanie Babies. (6:00)

Short films, program three

The standout in this hodgepodge of shorts, most of them by students, is S. Rothenberg's Number .0001 (2000), a dizzying montage of jets, escalators, elevators, revolving doors, and other sterile images of modern life, the film's urgent repetition underscored by the growing frenzy of its female voice-over. Ricardo Fratelli's Mondo Ford (allegedly released in 1965) is a canny Italian-language spoof of the notorious exposé Mondo Cane, using archival "evidence" to reveal the shocking truth that Gerald Ford was a space alien who helped assassinate JFK. Jannea McClure's Purge-atory (1999) is a John Waters-style parody of American Beauty that gets its laughs at the expense of bulimic teenagers. In the longest entry, Making a Killing (2000), Kelly Anderson and Tami Gold examine the global sales strategy and deceptive advertising of Philip Morris; as with most antitobacco screeds, they demonize the industry but ignore the inconvenient fact that it's bankrolled by tens of millions of Americans. On the same program, which runs about 97 minutes, works by Ya-nan Chou, Andrei Enache, Dragos Lumpan, Doug Lussenhop, and Jessica L. Tate. (TS) (8:00)

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