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Moviate's underground film fest returns to Harrisburg

The 50-plus films showing in Harrisburg on Memorial Day weekend originated in locations all over the world, and the subjects are as diverse as the settings: a scrap metal musician, an animation artist and an art punk band, to name a few.

They're all featured at the 17th Annual Moviate Underground Film Festival during Artsfest in Harrisburg, May 22-26. The festival is free and open to the public.

"Most of the time people check out more things because it's free," said Caleb Smith, one of the founders of Moviate, which he started with a friend in 1997. They started hosting their festival along with Artsfest in 1999.

Smith works with five other volunteers to make the film festival happen each year: Tara Chickey, Josh Drake, Jeremy Moss, Michael Robinson and James Hollenbaugh, who will have a film in this year's festival called "Self Portrait Portrait."

Hollenbaugh's film examines the process of performance artist and poet Bryan Lewis Saunders' self-portraits, which he does daily to capture a range of emotions. Saunders, who is known for his spoken word rants, is also the subject of a documentary at the festival, "Art of Darkness." He will be present for a question and answer session as well as a spoken word performance, performed to the famous punk percussions of scrap metal musician Z'EV.

Z'EV is also the subject of the documentary "Heart Beat Ear Drum," by Ellen Zweig.

"It's really an amazing collaboration," said Smith, who is excited to be bringing well-known artists from all mediums to the festival. With both the subjects of the films and the filmmakers present, viewers will get an extraordinary experience.

During the day, the films will be played at the Civic Club, which is along the river on Front Street where Artsfest takes place. At night, films will show at Midtown Cinema on Reily Street downtown.

"Night stuff is a little bit more edgy," Smith said. "We're showing a restored version of the 'Texas Chainsaw Massacre.'" A high-resolution restoration, called 2K, was done to the original film, which is almost the highest quality of video. This will be projected on a machine built for showing 2k films.

Another special guest this year will be Dana Sink, a local animator who does hand drawn animations; one was selected for a film festival in Japan. He has curated an hour of underground animations called "Animation Chunk."

Canadian filmmaker Guy Maddin will kick-start the event by showing clips of his upcoming film "The Forbidden Room," and he'll do an introduction to his first feature film called "Tales from the Gimli Hospital," which was made in the '80s and will be played on 16mm film.

The festival will conclude with a live version of the web comedy series, "The Big Baby Show," with David Fair, of indie rock band Half Japanese, and Chad Mellendick.

In between these notable events, there will be almost 50 other short films from all over the world, including many genres.

"We try to show things that you wouldn't normally see," Smith said.

More information can be found here.

Also check out:

Artsfest livens up Harrisburg's Front Street with 250 artists