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Z Film Festival


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Presented by NeoKino.com, a Web site for independent and experimental cinema, this diverse two-hour program offers some strong films and videos, most of them by young Chicagoans but some from Europe as well. Mark Hejnar and T.M. Caldwell's Slow Death of a Large Animal combines found footage of a circus with rocket ship and concentration camp imagery, replacing the good humor of Bruce Conner's disaster collage A Movie (1958) with a sense of looming catastrophe. Even more acidic is Piotr Tokarski's Roof, a nightmarish enjambment of airplanes, buildings, and bizarre figures. C. Ottinger's engaging abstraction Turn Left Here should strike a chord with anyone who's been lost in the Chicago street grid, as shifting bands of color and abstract sounds eventually become fragmented images of buildings with voice-over offering driving directions. Colleen Walker's funny and disturbing 3 Faggots is a study of people sitting at a table, often alone, who don't seem to know what to do with their bodies. Other pieces are more lighthearted: Doug Lussenhop's sci-fi spoof Science Aliens is so silly it's endearing, and the energetic, slightly goofy O (1967), an underground classic by local veteran Tom Palazzolo, conflates scenes from the circus and the city. In A Self Portrait of Maura Kathleen Ugarte or The History of Rock n' Roll Part III, Ugarte uses stills and voice-over to tell her dramatic life story of art making and paralysis. Jim Trainor's The Bats and The Moschops are faux nature documentaries in which the animals' physicality and consciousness hint at human traits but remain almost extravagantly animalistic; avoiding the cuteness of Disney and other animators, Trainor instead shows and tells us disturbing details of animal life, some true and some invented (in one sequence a young bat has sex "with 42 different girls"). Among the other artists represented are James Fotopoulos, Vanessa Buccela, Kristie Drew, James Kimberling, Chad Knutson, and coorganizer Usama Alshaibi. Heaven Gallery, 1550 N. Milwaukee, second floor, Friday, December 1, 8:00, 312-409-3890.

--Fred Camper

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