Warped film opens festival

By Chris Kaltenbach
Sun Film Critic
Originally published Nov 1 2000, The Baltimore Sun

"God Made Man" is a warped, Altmanesque comedy featuring a doughnut delivery boy with a deep-fried hand, a glue-maker who is into rodents and a diaper-clad, blaxploitation superhero known as "The Baby."

What better way to start off the five-day MicroCineFest, Baltimore's annual celebration of underground film, than with this world premiere by Peter Nelson at 9 p.m. tonight? (With the exception of a free outdoor shorts program set for 5 p.m. Friday at The Coffee Mill, 3549 Chestnut Ave., all films and other events will unspool at The G-Spot, 2980 Falls Road in Hampden. )

MicroCineFest, says festival founder and chief programmer Skizz Cyzyk, showcases "offbeat subject matter made with questionable production values. The multiplex crowd would hate what we show."

So "God Made Man" is the perfect tone-setter.

"It's extremely weird and lowbrow," Cyzyk says, adding only half-jokingly, "it'll offend the right people right from the start, so that they don't come back."

Then again, some of that weeding-out may be accomplished by the shorts program that precedes "God Made Man."

Beginning at 7 p.m., festivalgoers will be introduced to "Hate," the story of a guy being stalked by a homicidal chicken; "Scalp!" about a woman who attacks a rock singer with a chainsaw; "Limboscape," the animated quest of two characters trying to escape from a land called Limbo; "The Chromium Hook," in which the Nimrod townspeople try to solve a grisly crime; the animated "Moving Illustrations of Machines," set in a mechanical world where human eggs are genetically reprogrammed; and "Rejected," a set of cartoons by Don Hertzfeldt, who was commissioned to devise promotional spots for cable's Family Learning Channel. None of the spots ever aired.

Opening night concludes with a party featuring music by the Swingin' Swamis. Admission is $6, free with a ticket stub or festival pass.

Ninety short and feature-length films will be screened during MicroCineFest, says Cyzyk, out of 260 submissions.

"It was a lot easier to determine when we saw something we didn't want in the festival," he says. "Because of all the digital technology that's in people's homes these days, just about everybody is making films. And everybody shouldn't."

Other scheduled features include "The Accountant" (6 p.m. tomorrow), the cautionary tale of a vigilante who protests uncivilized behavior in New York City by handcuffing litterers to trashcans; "Doomed Planet" (4 p.m. Saturday), an Armageddon comedy; "Radio Free Steve" (6 p.m. Saturday), in which the fate of post-apocalypse America rests with the last radio pirate; "Superstarlet A.D." (12 a.m. Sunday), in which the apocalypse leaves men as Neanderthals and women separated into gangs according to their hair color; and "The Girls from H.A.R.M." (4 p.m. Sunday), three sexy kung-fu experts in skin-tight black outfits protecting the world from evil.

Shorts programs also run throughout the festival, which culminates at 6 p.m. Sunday with "Dropping Out," the story of a lovelorn TV addict who decides to videotape his suicide, only to discover there's quite a market for that kind of film.

Tickets for individual features and/or shorts programs are $3 and can be bought at the door; festival passes can be purchased for $63.

For the complete MicroCineFest schedule, check the Web site at www.microcinefest.com.


Film festival continues with shorts

By Chris Kaltenbach
Sun Film Critic
Originally published Nov 3, 2000, The Baltimore Sun

MicroCineFest 2000, Baltimore's annual celebration of underground cinema, continues tonight with a pair of shorts programs and a midnight sci-fi feature about teens with seriously bad cases of acne.

At 8 p.m., a program entitled "That's Psychotronic!" includes "Hot Broads," in which bands of tough gals battle for the Earth's few surviving men; "Harry Knuckles and the Treasure of the Aztec Mummy," with Special Agent Spanish Fly battling everyone from Beatniks to zombies to save his daughter's life; "Santiago vs. Wigface," the further adventures of our favorite superhero, Santiago, and his girlfriend, Cutthroat; and "Gas Huffin' Bad Gals," which sounds pretty self-explanatory.

At 10, "What the...?!" shorts includes "Nitwit Predelick," in which a randy couple embarks on a "nitwit licking fit"; "I Want to Be Like Roy Rogers," featuring Kamchik the Singing Cowboy; "Where's Jim Kim?" starring a live squirrel and a dead ant; "P-13," in which only oatmeal can save our hero; "Not Everyone Cares About Football," the sad tale of a man who loses his picnic table; and "The Simpletons," who sound as though they live up to the name.

The evening concludes at midnight with director Rusty Nails' "Acne," chronicling a group of teens who are victimized by a town's poisoned water supply and turned into acne-headed mutants who eat by rubbing junk food directly onto their brains. Sounds yummy.

MicroCineFest 2000 unspools through Sunday at the G-Spot, 2980 Falls Road in ampden. Tickets are $3 and can be bought at the door. For a complete schedule, check out www.microcinefest.com.