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“Certain Women” to Kick Off Annual NY Underground Fest Tomorrow

"Certain Women" to Kick Off Annual NY Underground Fest Tomorrow

“Certain Women” to Kick Off Annual NY Underground Fest Tomorrow

by Rania Richardson

An image from “Certain Women” which will open the 2004 New York Underground Film Festival on Wednesday. Photo credit: Jen DeNike.

The 11th Annual NY Underground Film Festival (NYUFF) will open tomorrow (Wednesday) and run through March 16 at New York’s Anthology Film Archives. The festival was created to support the outer fringes of independent cinema, with this year’s crop of work featuring many young filmmakers taking on political and social issues. The war in Iraq, life in the 1970s, and body image are some of the themes in the seventeen features and over 100 shorts to screen.

Opening night will feature the U.S. premiere of “Certain Women” by notables Bobby Abate and Peggy Ahwesh, a pulp-novel based melodrama that evokes the 1950s films of Douglas Sirk. The festival will close with a world premiere of Roddy Bogawa‘s “I Was Born but…” an experimental documentary exploring Asian-American identity and also punk culture.

Other world premieres include James Guardino‘s “Goldstein: The Trials of the Sultan of Smut” on pornographer Al Goldstein‘s civil lawsuit, and “Tater Tots,” bizarrely described by filmmaker Giuseppe Andrews as “the story of two heroin addict gas thieves and their journey through the universe run by a Charles Manson look-a-like who has tater tots as servants.”

This year’s festival marks the first for new festival director Kendra Gaeta, who has replaced Ed Halter, longtime fest chief. Halter has assumed the title of executive producer at NYUFF. Organizers noted that the change coincides with the event’s expansion into year-round programming, including touring shows and a fall music & video event dubbed Audio/Visual.

“In the Shoes of the Dragon,” the best documentary winner at Iceland’s national film awards, will have its U.S. premiere at the NY Underground Film Festival. Hronn Sveinsdottir and Arni Sveinsson‘s film follows a plus-size participant in the 2000 Miss Iceland Pageant. Other U.S. premieres include “The Manson Family” by Jim VanBebber, a retelling of the infamous spree of mass murders, and “This Ain’t No Heartland,” an exploration of how American Midwesterners feel about the war in Iraq, by Austrian filmmaker Andreas Horvath.

The festival will include new shorts by a variety of artists and media makers such as visual artist Seth Price, musician Ian Svenonius, political filmmaker Naomi Urman, and cult Canadian filmmaker Guy Maddin.

A three-feature retrospective of exploitation filmmaker “Andy Milligan: The Fassbinder of 42nd Street” will run as a special event. The openly gay filmmaker cranked out sleazy thrillers and sex films during the sexually liberated ’60s and ’70s.

Also presented as a special event will be “What the 70’s Really Looked Like” a collection of industrial footage, obscure cable access programs, and other ephemeral films curated and presented by Matt McCormick and Morgan Currie.

A highlight of the festival will be “Creased Comics Presents ‘Wizard People, Dear Readers,'” Austin-based comic book artist Brad Neely‘s book-on-tape style narration to run along with the Hollywood children’s film, “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.” The film will be screened in 35mm, along with Neely’s hilarious beatnik rewrite of the story as its alternative soundtrack.

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