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The South Carolina Underground Film Festival returned to the Midlands to celebrate the art of independent films with a weekend-long event.
The Nickelodeon Theatre hosted the seventh-annual film festival, where filmmakers from all over the globe competed for the honors of taking home a SCUFFY trophy.
South Carolina Underground Film Festival Awards
Nuts! The Musical
Director Benjamin Dean Wilson took home the honors of best overall project (the Jury Award). The twisted musical is laced with satire and garnered Wilson with his first award, at his first-ever festival. Wilson stated that the musical took a lot of inspiration from cult-classic Monty Python and Emmy-winning show South Park.
Nuts! The Musical is a dark-musical comedy that follows two brothers, who have to manage their dying father’s pest control company. The two stumble into a crazy conspiracy, which causes the demand for their newly invented pest control chemical to skyrocket.
Christopher Bickel’s film Bad Girls was accredited with the ‘Best Feature’ award at SCUFF. Bickel highlighted the film festival’s communication as the reason it’s one of his favorites.
“[SCUFF]’s communication is some of the best communication I’ve experienced. As far as him just reaching, making sure that everybody knows when and where they're supposed to be, everybody gets a chance to do a Q&A after the movies,” said Bickel.
Bad Girls follows the story of three desperate teenage girls who robbed a strip club. The girls are then locked into a cross-country pursuit, featuring a misogynistic federal agent and a crew of kidnappers.
Giant: The World of Filmmaker Jeff Leroy
This documentary short follows the story of one-of-a-kind filmmaker Jeff Leroy, witnesses a giant woman and a monster get into a huge kaiju fight. The fight takes place in a miniature city made from discarded trash.
Best South Carolina Filmmaker:
Brock is a local filmmaker who directed a horror short titled Womb. Womb follows a soon-to-be mother in her third trimester, who is forced to face her anxiety and fears in her own personal hot pink hellscape. Brock has been participating in SCUFF for the last three years and appreciates the festival for being so risky with the films they show.
“I don’t have a lot of opportunities as a horror filmmaker to screen at traditional film festivals, outside of a horror block, so [SCUFF] really caters to me,” Brock said. “You get the most genuine reactions and as a filmmaker that’s exactly what you want.”
The Fuzzies is a horror short where a man wakes up in a strange bathroom and is terrified to find out that there is something lurking behind the walls.
Best South Carolina Film:
Unblocked is a comedy short that depicts two aliens bargaining with a human after a malfunction in their cloaking devices.
Best Foreign Film:
Can’t Go Home Again
Temporal Enforcement Agent Elliot Young breaks protocol and returns to her own past.
Best Animation Short:
The Dark Odyssey
Best Un-produced Screenplay – Feature:
Best Un-produced Screenplay – Short:
The Big Break
Zach Van Fleet, the screenwriter of The Big Break, opened up about why he decided to not only submit his project but to drive down from Chattanooga to experience the film festival.
“The first thing I noticed was how great the Nickelodeon Theatre is and how dedicated they seem to be to the enjoyment of movies. I think that that spirit extends into the festival,” Van Fleet stated.
Aside from marketing and showcasing some of the best independent films across the world, SCUFF makes sure to promote local filmmaking within the state.
The film festival was created with the idea that the event is about the creators; Founder Tom Faircloth said he strives to put the spotlight on the filmmakers and directors.
The SC Underground Film Festival looks to continue to grow as a respected independent film festival, Faircloth alluded to a more extensive festival in years to come.
“As we grow, it would be nice to be able to have more workshops and even extend the fest to include more films,” he said.
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