Bryan Wendorf Answers Five Questions

Bryan Wendorf Answers Five Questions

In the latest installment of our regular running feature, Chicago Underground Film Festival Founder Bryan Wendorf answers Five Questions with SCREEN. The 22nd Annual Chicago Underground Film Festival (aka CUFF) opens tonight and runs through this Sunday May 17th. Buy your festival tickets at

SCREEN: Your fest is turning 22. Any memorable adventures you'd like to share from when YOU were 22?

WENDORF: When I was 22 I was a gothic looking punk kid (with a dyed black birds nest for hair) studying art at Columbia College and working nights at the Chicago incarnation of the Limelight nightclub. Working at Limelight was a great experience and I learned a lot about event and party planning which has helped me with CUFF to this day. I even managed to have a birthday party sponsored by a national brand vodka and learned the importance of having alcohol sponsors.

SCREEN: What's your guilty pleasure TV?

WENDORF: I try not to feel guilty about any of my TV or other pop culture interests. I'm a huge Batman fan so I guess if I had to pick something as a guilty pleasure it would be GOTHAM. There's a lot I like about the show but I thought the season finale was awful. I'll still be tuning in when Season Two starts up in the fall though.

SCREEN: Cubs or Sox?

WENDORF: Having just moved to the south side I'm going to say Sox. Besides black and white looks good.

SCREEN: What's your most played ipod track?

WENDORF: It's a tie for the top spot, both Chicago bands. "Ghosts of Grace" by the recently defunct psychedelic black metal band Nachtmystium (from their 2008 album Black Meddle Part 1) and "The Orchids" as performed by Califone. Tim Rutili of Califone studied film at Columbia College the same time I was there and his pre-Califone band Red Red Meat played the opening night party at CUFF back in 1997 when John Waters was our guest.

SCREEN: What makes this CUFF stand out from the past?

WENDORF: Several things come to mind. First having the North American premiere of a critically well received film on opening night and bringing our opening filmmaker Khavn here from the Philippines is definitely an indication of how the festival has grown in the past 22 years. After several tight budget years due to the economic downturn of 2008, we're starting to see some significant sponsorship again thanks in large part to Jameson Irish Whiskey and Lagunitas Brewery. Finally, I have to say the great festival team we have this year (Emily Oscarson, Julia Zinn, Danielle Campbell, Tommy Heffron to name just a few). Working with all of them as been an absolute joy.


SCREEN: What are three films you can't miss at CUFF this year?

WENDORF: These questions always feel like asking a parent which of their children they love the most but I'll give you three after I say that I really think this is one of the strongest line ups we've had in several years and anyone reading this should visit our website and check out the full schedule. Here's three personal favorites. I've already mentioned Ruined Heart: Another Lovestory About A Criminal And A Whore which will open the festival on Wednesday May 13 at 8pm. The film is directed by by the king of Filipino digital cinema who goes by the singular name Khavn. _Ruined Heart _ was also shot by acclaimed cinematographer Christopher Doyle who any cinephile should know from his frequent collaborations with Wong Kar-Wai. Khavn will also be playing piano at our opening night party making the whole evening something you don't want to miss.

We have a really strong shorts line up this year but one of the most entertaining is Ennui Ennui by Gabriel Abrantes (Saturday May 16, 5:00PM) which plays like a post-modernist political comedy that features a singing Obama, a talking drone and a plot that seems lifted from Warner Bros. Bugs Bunny cartoon.

Another really fun highlight is Living Stars (Sunday May 17, 6:00PM) an hour long video from Argentina of everyday people dancing to their favorite songs in their homes or workplace. This may be the most enjoyable hour you can spend at a film festival this year.

OK, you said three but I'm going to break the rules because that's how we do things at the Underground Film Festival and give a fourth pick. Our closing feature Burnt In Memory by Chicago filmmaker Robert Stockwell (Sunday May 17, 8:15PM). Burnt In Memory is a loving portrait of Chicago and we'll be presenting it with the entire cast of musicians performing the score live. It is certain to be a memorable way to close out this year's festivities.

The 22nd Chicago Underground Film Festival runs May 13-17 at the Logan Theatre complete schedule and ticket info at