Tired of over-polished, over-long, soulless Hollywood fare? Long for something shorter, stranger and with more midwestern accents? On April 14, CFA teams up with The Hideout for a virtual screening of amateur and student films from our collection.
The midwest is a strange place. And when you collect and preserve the filmic heritage of the region, like we do at Chicago Film Archives, you come across a lot of weird and wonderful things produced by art school students, cine-clubs, school children and other so-called “amateur” filmmaking enthusiasts. This hour long program is guaranteed to make you want to grab a camera, some cheap film stock, and your weirdest friends and start getting to work on your own off-kilter masterpiece (which you will then donate to CFA, right?).
Purchase tickets here.
Programmed and introduced by Olivia Babler and Justin Dean (CFA).
1. Obey Your Air Raid Warden
1942, Robert Davis & Harry Hilfinger
16mm, color, optical sound, 3 min
A trio of Kansas City, MO friends came together to parody the popular song (and public service announcement) by Tony Pastor and His Orchestra as an exercise in DIY sound-on-film filmmaking.
2. February 31st
1972, Mardik Sikat, Philip Tascon, Richard Saenz & Raymundo Villarreal
Super 8 printed to 16mm, color, optical sound, 3.5 min
A deeply silly stop motion film starring a quartet of fruit, made by four boys from St. Thomas of Canterbury grade school in Chicago. The film is part of a series of student films that won awards at the 1972 Young Chicago Filmmaker’s Festival.
3. Games for Married Men
ca. 1957, Ed Sinnott
16mm, color, magnetic sound, 9.5 min
A distinctly Chicago tale of marital infidelity made by Central Cinematographers, a Chicago cine-club made up of “advanced amateurs” who met once a week to produce short narrative films (which were frequently about marital infidelity…).
4. Saga of the First and Last
1954, Margaret Conneely
16mm, color, optical sound, 4 min
CFA’s favorite amateur Margaret Conneely enlists her son John for this cautionary tale featuring a gun, a pack of cigarettes, and some horrible consequences.
ca. 1970, Helen & Sidney Moritz
16mm, B&W, optical sound, 5.5 min
Darkly comedic amateur anti-smoking film made by members of the Society of Amateur Cinematographers.
6. Hey Girls
1990, Half-Class Produktshuns with Heather McAdams & Tom Palazzolo
16mm, color, optical sound, 4 min
Made by documentarian Tom Palazzolo’s film production class at SAIC, this ridiculously fun film stars local legend Heather McAdams in a live-action version of a comic she drew for the Chicago Reader. Students included Jim Dempsey, Cindy Loftin, Toby Allen, Jason Wade, and Melora Kuhn.
7. The Switch
1961, Margaret Conneely
16mm, color, magnetic sound, 6 min
In this domestic comedy by Chicago’s Metro Movie Club, housewives use 16mm film to outwit their horny husbands.
8. The Big Green House on the Corner
1982, Mike & Bill Armstrong
Super 8mm, color, silent, 3.5 min
Delightfully chaotic Super 8 horror film made by teenage brothers in Wheaton, Illinois with some real low-budget ingenuity. Originally silent, CFA’s Justin Dean recorded music to accompany the film in 2020.
1972, Arthur Hirsch
16mm, B&W, optical sound, 13.5 min
Made for a class project at Columbia College Chicago, Matinee gained a cult following within magician circles and was used as a teaching tool about misogyny and the mistreatment of women in the magic community.
10. Close to You
1971, David Strutzel
Super 8mm printed to 16mm, color, optical sound, 4.5 min
Stop-motion ceramic piggies dance to The Carpenters’ hit in this film made by a Chicago high school student as a hobby. It went on to win an award from the Young Chicago Filmmakers Festival in 1971. A beloved CFA classic.