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By Film Threat Staff | August 24, 2008

The New Haven Underground Film Festival is returning to Connecticut on Saturday, September 27, with a full-day slate of provocative, entertaining and just plain odd movies. The festival, which claims “it is so underground that’s in not in New Haven,” will be held at the Wilson Wilde Auditorium at The Gray Conference Center at the University of Hartford in West Hartford, CT.

“This year’s festival offers a rich mix of dramatic, comic, non-fiction and surreal offerings,” says Phil Hall, festival director, and Film Threat contributing editor. “We are bringing in the finest new talent in underground cinema, including a pair of student filmmakers enjoying their first major exposure. Plus, we have major underground talent such as Michael Legge, Jeremiah Kipp and E.B. Hughes represented here. The festival literally offers something for everyone.”

The 2008 New Haven Underground Festival Schedule

Films that question how we see each other and ourselves.

“The Pod” (Directed by Jeremiah Kipp). A young couple find their relationship severely tested when they are introduced to a dangerous new drug. A disturbing psychological drama, starring cult filmmaker Larry Fessenden (“Habit,” “Wendigo”) as the unsavory drug dealer.

“Icons” (Directed by Neal Thomassen). A distraught Santa Claus, financially strapped due to “outsourcing,” tries to make ends meet by bringing in a pair of new roommates: the Easter Bunny and Cupid. A wickedly funny satire of cultural symbols, with unlikely guest appearances by various fairy tale, cartoon and comic book legends.

“Dark Room” (Directed by Ryan Davis, Danvers). A young would-be Romeo discovers that his latest conquest forgot to mention something important…she has a jealous husband! Student filmmaker Ryan Davis creates a taut, jolting mini-thriller.

“The Dungeon of Dr. Dreck” (Directed by Michael Legge). Veteran underground filmmaker Michael Legge’s latest feature finds a mad scientist and his zombie sidekick in a new line of work: hosting a TV horror movie program. The film also includes an eye-popping 3-D sequence (special 3-D glasses will be provided for the screening).

Films that discover how people and places take on new identities.

“Gloria Mundi” (Directed by Sarah Lasley). Student filmmaker Sarah Lasley helmed this bold, audacious experimental short about a group of college students whose communication skills redefine the concept of person-to-person interactions.

“Greetings from Havre de Grace” (Directed by Mark Scalese). In this charming documentary, an unusual town name on an I-95 exit sign in Maryland leads filmmaker Mark Scalese to discover an enchanting seaside location that has repeatedly reinvented itself over the years.

“Exposed” (Directed by Noah Cooper). A journalist who authored a harsh expose on corrupt cops suddenly finds himself running from the very, very long arm of the law. This compelling short film is fraught with stylish paranoia (and just who is that sexy lady in the sports car?).

“Plan 9 from Syracuse” (Directed by Ryan Dacko). How far would you go to get a Hollywood contract? Indie filmmaker Ryan Dacko took the long way – running from Syracuse, NY, to Hollywood in a bold attempt to gain the attention of a prominent producer. Along the cross-country route, he discovered an America he never knew existed – and an inner strength that he never tapped before.

A celebration of the finest in underground cinema.

“Harsh Light” (Directed by E.B. Hughes). One of the best short films of the past decade returns for a rare public screening. This gritty, award-winning 1997 production follows a washed-up boxer who finds himself in the middle of a drug ring turf battle. Harsh black-and-white cinematography and Stan Hunter’s haunting jazz score beautifully frame this notable work of art.

“London Betty” (Directed by Thomas Edward Seymour). Thomas Edward Seymour, whose “Land of College Prophets” won the Best Picture Award at the 2005 New Haven Underground Film Festival, returns with the world premiere of this enchanting comedy-adventure. Broadway actress Nicole Lewis (“Rent,” “Hair”) makes her feature film debut as a plucky British journalist whose first American assignment involves the investigation of a corrupt, perverted small town mayor. Daniel von Bargen (“Super Troopers,” “Malcolm in the Middle”) plays Betty’s reclusive publisher, while Seymour co-stars as her petty thief boyfriend.

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