James Kellogg
James Kellogg

MUNICH — (MunichNOW Culture) — We recently caught up with James Kellogg, the man behind the curtain at the recently launched Munich Underground FilmFest. We had a few questions and James was more than generous with his answers. He clearly loves this project and it did not take much prompting to get him going.

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MunichNOW: What is the Underground FilmFest all about?

JK: Underground FilmFest is a grass-roots, “pop-up” event festival for filmmakers by filmmakers. While we explore the showing of all films submitted, the Underground Film aspect encourages the submission of thought provoking, subversive, experimental, and visual stimulation.

The aim of the festival is to renew community interest in independent and alternative film in cities and cultures around the world.  In our first two events, we made an appetizer sampler platter of various genres – animation, documentary, fiction, experimental, music video –  from different countries including Germany, Italy, Mexico, Chile, Cyprus, Belgium, France, Greece, USA, Argentina and Iran by both first time and experienced filmmakers.

It is Undergroundish in this nature…we build our community by word of mouth, we explore interesting but affordable venues that are sometimes unorthodox for a film festival…for example, we are working with some artists and theater professionals to do an experimental film and art event, perhaps in a warehouse…we don’t currently have corporate sponsors so in some ways right now filmmakers enjoy our rebel spirit as an “anti-commercial festival” film festival.

We want to show the films that perhaps the bigger festivals will not, for commercial or popularity reasons…we want to showcase the vision and voices of emerging filmmakers from countries not getting much attention…to be seen and heard….we started this festival from a dream that arose from the ashes of some prior disappointments some filmmakers had.

MN: How long have you been around?

James fills us in....
James fills us in….

JK: This is our first year. We launched in Munich, Germany with our first two events in March and May and next one June 19 at the Museum Lichtspiele kino…we are using our social media connections to filmmakers to virally expand to other cities in Germany and other countries. We have had over 250 films submitted so far for consideration from about 15 different countries.

MN: How are you trying to make your festival different here in Munich?

JK: Well first of all, it started here in Munich, but it is not just a Munich festival..and that is what makes this festival very unique…almost all festivals are based just in one city. We are basing ours wherever there is an underground spirit in filmmaking, a spirit of freedom to tell one’s story…a collaborative festival.  Of course, we would love to have Munich-based volunteers, cinemas, and residents to help make it a real tradition here as the birthplace of the Fest.  And instead of doing a week of films, we spread it out over the year with small mini events of evenings and weekends.

MN: You have no corporate funding but you want to spread all over the world..that seems a bit ambitious….

JK: Hopefully this article will attract some companies out there to help us out J  There was an ancient sage who said “Without a vision, the people perish.”   It has already spread and we are doing it through the filmmakers involved with our festival, because they share this dream.  Because of those connections, we are in talks right now with other organizers and small kinos in Hamburg, Los Angeles (my home) and countries as far away as Thailand.  We accepted an invitation from the Beeston Film Festival in the UK to do a Beeston-Underground Mashup event, which will take place in November to showcase the best of our German film entries.

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The next FilmFestival event is a Museum Lichtspiele on Friday night, June 19th with an after party at Scala on the Innere Wienerstraße. The organizers describe the evening this way…

“Each event, we showcase interesting shorts and longer films from around the world (English subtitles), all genres, every event has special surprises! Q&A and other surprises! After Party includes DJ, experimental films and live performance. House / techno / top charts etc
Films to be played will include :

1. “HAZOR, a journey in the experience of coma” by Czech-Italian filmmaker Miro Mastropasqua. A young man trapped in a state of coma gets involved in a conspiracy; a girl is manipulating his shadow in order to take her revenge and kill him. The filmmaker plans to attend for Q&A with the audience.

2. “ZANATE” by Mexican filmmaker, David Torres. A wrestler from the old school is at the verge of losing his license. An old friend decides to help him out, but his intentions are ambiguous. Zanate must learn who to trust, in order to recuperate his honor, and his mask. A short film about betrayal and redemption, set in the dark and violent world of Mexican lucha libre.

3. “London, Non Permanent Home” by Chilean filmmaker Andrés Roccatagliata, shares the experiences of a group of young people living on the edge of the system, living in houses that have been abandoned and forgotten by their owners and fed with food that others have thrown away. These characters, mostly immigrants from
different countries build their lives through coexistence and psychedelic exploration. In this film, we explore what aspirations and life expectations do they have? What
are their dreams and frustrations? What are their survival skills?

4. Music Video “Time Is Now” by German band “Blues Pills”.

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