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August 25, 2003 2:00 AM
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Chicago Underground Film Festival to Have a "Stoked" Opening

Chicago Underground Film Festival to Have a "Stoked" Opening

by Brian Brooks



Mark "Gator" Rogowski, subject of Helen Stickler's "Stoked: The Rise and Fall of Gator," which is opening CUFF. Photo by Mofo courtesy of Thrasher/Palm Pictures


Helen Stickler's skate doc, "Stoked: The Rise and Fall of Gator," will open the Chicago Underground Film Festival on Wednesday, kicking off the seven-day event. "Stoked" follows the rise of skateboarding culture in the 1980s by focusing on one of the era's stars, Mark "Gator" Rogowski. Gator's looks and attitude sparked his rise to skater superstar status, which began to spiral down toward the end of the decade ending in murder. Stickler is a veteran of CUFF with past shorts including "Queen Mercy," in 1994 and "Andre the Giant Has a Posse" in 1995.

CUFF's slate of features include the world premiere of Chicagoan Shawn Durr's "The Last Fuck," the final installment of Durr's DV series, "The Fuck cycle." The film, described by the festival as "deliberately offensive," looks at queer culture from a "unique" perspective providing unconventional and "morbid" commentary on gay iconography, porn "banality" and "femme-dyke-butch social tensions." Also making its world premiere is Usama Alshaibi's "Muhammed and Jane." The feature is the story of Muhammad Zeromski who returns to the U.S. after being away for nearly a year and is uncomfortable with the climate in the country. He then meets a woman who calls herself Jane Doe and develops a relationship with her based on their common paranoia.

The festival will also screen two features from controversial Chicago avant-garde director James Fotopoulos. "Families" presents, what the fest calls, "a dispassionate investigation of social structures and personal interactions," while the second film, "The Fountain" is a world premiere, which unites the director's 16mm feature work and his more recent study of abstract video art.

Documentaries set for the festival includes the world premiere of "The King, the Lawyers and the Cheese" by B. Maher which follows the battle between underground artist Stuart Helm and Kraft Foods regarding Helm's efforts to maintain his artistic title, 'King Velveeda.' Screening in the docs line up as well is "Heavy Metal Parking Lot" director Jeff Krulik's "Hitler's Hat," the story of a Jewish-American World War II veteran who brought Hitler's hat back to the U.S. as a souvenir. Closing the event on September 2 is the world premiere of Jennifer Montgomery's "Threads of Belonging." The film is a story written by patients involved in the anti-psychiatry movement of the 1960s lead by RD Laing. Montgomery tells the story by recreating the scene using actual case stories. CUFF screenings will take place at the Landmark Century Centre Cinema.

[For more information, visit: http://www.cuff.org]

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