The Last Hurrah!

Convening for its fifteenth and final year, the New York Underground Film Festival (NYUFF) kicks off on April 2nd and will run through April 8th. Throughout its history, the NYUFF has maintained an important role in New York City as a forum for the exhibition of new and independent documentary, narrative feature and short film/ video work. An annual community gathering and a vital launching pad, the festival has long-supported filmmakers and artists, who operate between the film industry proper and the contemporary art world. Significantly, its programmatic focus has evolved over the years, in tandem with the trajectory of avant-garde moving image work, from viably underground cinema to more experimental fare. This year's program kicks off with a documentary entitled Heavy Metal Baghdad, focused on "Iraq's only heavy metal band," Tube-time, the festival's annual Youtube competition, a screening by the internet-surfing club Nasty Nets and a presentation by the microcinema Robert Beck Memorial Cinema. Through the programming strand "NYUFF is Enough," the staff will look back at various stages in the NYUFF's history, from its beginnings as "the most dangerous festival in America" to its tenure as a platform for experimental film and media art, and will include the festival's signature combination of the outrageous, bizarre, poetic, and subversive. Directors and artists such as Jeff Krulik, Jon Moritsugu, Martha Colburn, and Seth Price are included in this segment of the festival. Attendees should also be sure to check out the experimental short film programs slated for this year, which are especially strong. Where's the Love? explores human relationships as they are filtered through new technologies through a collection of diverse works. Cao Fei's documentary on Second Life, i.Mirror (2007), poignantly reveals the romantic yearnings expressed through this virtual world. Every (Text, Image, Sound, Movie) on My Cell Phone by Darrin Martin is a collection of all the files sent and received on Martin's cell phone, presenting a larger picture of Martin's life through disparate communications. The insightful and humorous bill for Market Sentiments surveys capitalism's imprint on visual forms. Armored Cars: Protect Yourself from Ballistic Attacks by Angie Waller assembles corporate online marketing materials from car manufacturers' into an exciting thriller. Joe Nanashe's Internet Alphabet, described as "poetry in perversion," is a lexicon of categories used in internet pornography. While the festival comes to a close, two of its current directors Nellie Killian and Kevin McGarry will commence a new organization, Migrating Forms, which will also produce a festival, as well as year-round events. For readers outside of the New York area, be sure to check out the inventive and hilarious series of trailers commissioned for the festival --and also available online-- by Michael Bell-Smith, Peggy Ahwesh, Jim Finn, Ben Coonley, and Ewa Einhorn. -- Lauren Cornell and Ceci Moss