What: Minneapolis Underground Film Festival
Where: Theaters 1, 2 and 3, Minneapolis College of Art and Design, 2501 Stevens Ave., Minneapolis
When: Friday, Dec. 2 through Sunday, Dec. 4, times vary
Cost: $6 individual ticket / $29 festival pass
In a post-apocalyptic world, all movies will be shown in dank, sparse rooms beneath the earth, in places without stadium seating, a medium-sized bag of popcorn will cost upwards of $6 and all credit sequences will include at least one song by Joe Cocker.
Fortunately, we’re only halfway there. For now, the “Underground” in this local film festival’s title can remain a metaphorical signifier of its content. This year, MUFF — an acronym favorable to the gynecologically inclined — will unfold a three-day, triple-theater slumber party in the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. It’s a full-on ode to cinematic projects marginalized by mainstream film culture, and if event organizers Greg Yolen and Mark Hanson have anything to say about it, this blowout won’t feature John Travolta.
“The whole concept of an underground film is a film that is hidden or a film that is brought to light,” Yolen said, “They’re not films that you can get on Netflix or at the multiplex or download off iTunes.”
In 2008, Yolen started MUFF on a whim after yet another filmmaking peer received a rejection from a film festival. He was on the phone with a friend whose work had just been turned down when inspiration struck.
“I was like, ‘OK, that’s it. You’re in the film festival ... You’ve just been accepted to the Minneapolis Underground Film Festival,’” *********** Yolen said.
When his friend asked how long the event had been around, Yolen replied, “about 30 seconds.”
MUFF is now in its fourth year and has drawn work from across the globe for the sprawling, 30-plus film screening series that will take place this weekend.
For this year’s festival, Yolen passed the curatorial torch to Hanson, who was coordinating screenings at Riverview Theater with his project “Black Market Cinema” before he put it on hold to organize MUFF full-time. Hanson’s selections range from the adorable to the horrifying, from enlightening documentaries to exploitation flicks, from an earnest documentary of European do-it-yourself culture to an art house narrative about a Muslim dominatrix coming to terms with her inner demons.
At one end of the spectrum is Québécois filmmaker Syl Disjonk’s “Ethereal Chrysalis,” whose title points to the hyperbolic imagery penned by Disjonk as both a “nightmare” and “labyrinth of madness” where a viewer will experience an “annihilation of all rational thought.” It’s a refreshingly committed eight-minute short that Disjonk spent $15,000 out of his own pocket to film and then polish in post-production — a budget almost twice that of the entire festival.
Certain moments of the film — such as a scene where Disjonk’s decapitated, screaming head flies through a red sky — push the piece onto camp ground, but Disjonk emphasizes that it isn’t just some costly and elaborate gag.
“I know it’s kind of funny at some places but for me … it’s not campy at all. It’s really serious and has a lot of meaning,” Disjonk said.
At the other end of the spectrum is Minneapolis director Dan S.’s rough-hewn “Invincible Force,” a feature film that follows one man’s mental and physical transformation from pudgy couch potato to a beefy muscle-fiend. In a case of life imitating art, actor Drew Ailes had to shed 35 pounds over 90 days for the role.
“He tried to drop out a week before we started filming, but he toughed it out,” Dan S. said. “Invincible” was made for exactly $0 and, as a formal counterpoint to Disjonk’s tech-savvy project, exclusively with outdated technology like Betamax.
The festival honors all breeds of massive film-related undertakings — often, Yolen adds, by those who still work other jobs. The event will be kicked off by Tyler Jensen’s ambitious “30 Films in 30 Days” project, which he made during his last summer in Minneapolis before moving to New York. After a month of consecutive 14-hour days, Jensen concluded his project in a ceremony no doubt shared by other bleary-eyed filmmakers.
“I just kind of sat at my computer and cried for 20 minutes,” Jensen said.
MUFF has its share of films that dutifully oblige genre, others that defy it. Some are funny; some are serious. Others may be funny while trying to be serious. Some are solemn and sensitive, while others are screaming and covered in blood. But these films all have one thing in common: they are all underground, and they are ready to come up, if only for just one weekend a year.
UMN students have traveled to Florida colleges to collaborate with students on various projects.
When UMN students plan for a vacation, having trip cancellation travel insurance is a worthwhile commodity to check out.
Minneapolis Used Cars
Give back to the Minnesota community with a boat donation at boat4causes.org.
If you have been involved in a car accident call a Philadelphia Car Accident Lawyer for a free consultation.