They came from underground

Obscure filmmakers flock to MCAD for fest.

Greg Yolen runs through the technical screening of film entries at MCAD Wednesday evening. The films will be shown at this weekends Underground Film Festival that Yolen organized.

Erin Westover

Greg Yolen runs through the technical screening of film entries at MCAD Wednesday evening. The films will be shown at this weekends Underground Film Festival that Yolen organized.

Grace Gouker

What: 2010 Underground Film Festival

Where:Minneapolis College of Art and Design

When:Dec. 3-5

There are plenty of attempts at integrating localized cinema into larger film festival productions. Minnesota Film Arts puts on the MSP Film Fest and the Asian Film Festival. Mizna puts on the Arab Film Festival, and Sound Unseen started a whole genre of films on music âÄî all of which include a few local flicks. More festivals come out of the woodwork every year, and there is an endless stream of well-produced films that their makers can afford to send worldwide to be seen.

There is, however, an empty space where local, lower-budget films have a venue theyâÄôre featured in. The Underground Film Festival at Minneapolis College of Art and Design looks to fill that gap.

âÄúWeâÄôre very inclusive. We like to give everybody a chance,âÄù Greg Yolen, director of the UFF, said. âÄúWe donâÄôt really judge the films, the audience members and the community judge the films.âÄù

The Underground Film Festival serves as an outlet for these underrated or ignored productions, with many of the films on the big screen for the first time.

âÄúA lot of the films we show are world premieres. So what happens is that [the festival] serves as a springboard for local and emerging filmmakers,âÄù Yolen said.

To help these artists even further, the festival is offering a filmmakerâÄôs dream prize. Ten-thousand dollars worth of sound stage time âÄî which ends up being a week or so âÄî will be given to the film staff whose film is voted the best of the festival by the audience and a small panel of judges.

Yolen himself, in the spirit of the festival, created a short film, called âÄúMacumba.âÄù The film follows a young couple and their new life in Costa Rica, which quickly degrades into brushes with local black magic.

Mark Green, based in Minneapolis, has produced the much-anticipated, âÄúAbide,âÄù for the festival. The film, which centers on generational abuse and heartbreakingly realistic reactions to it, includes many local actors and musicians.

More than half the films at the festival are local, including one showcasing gorgeously-shot vignettes of the 612. âÄúThe Minneapolis ProjectâÄù incorporated 24 local filmmakers to produce a film that infiltrated the nooks and crannies of a city with innumerable stories to tell.

The UFF gives opportunities to some surprisingly young and experimental filmmakers, as well. Last yearâÄôs festival included a film made by a 13-year-old whiz kid.

âÄúThe film wasnâÄôt exactly something that would be picked up for distribution,âÄù Yolen said, âÄúbut it was still great that he was working on it and could have it shown at the festival.âÄù

âÄúMy Art School Summer,âÄù will be closing the festival, which, given the UFFâÄôs location, is entirely appropriate. The hand-drawn animated flick pulls it all together for a truly intimate and communal finale.

ThereâÄôs a current of untapped local talent streaming right under that distracting veil of imported films. The 2010 Underground Film Festival will aggregate a film community you will rarely see in such a setting, providing one helluva show.