The weekend of April 26th, we held the 13th (mostly) annual Chicago Anarchist Film Festival (CAFF) at Metzli Gallery in Pilsen. It was three days of radical cinema from all over the world including animation, shorts, documentaries, and feature length films. To celebrate our lucky 13th year, we adopted the black cat as our logo and mascot. This kitty (associated with superstition, wildcat strikes, and industrial sabotage) is referred to endearingly as “Sabo” by many anarchists. Each day of films was themed around this anti-authoritarian icon — ‘Sabotage’, ‘Wild Cat Strikes Again’, and ‘Nine Lives’.
Friday evening was all about ‘Sabotage’. It began with a few solemn films on state repression and how the State sabotages radical moments – from COINTELPRO and the arrest of Martin Sostre to the current imprisonment of the Pacific Northwest grand jury resisters. Following these films, members of Four Star facilitated a discussion with the attendees on issues of security culture, agent provocateurs, snitching, and ways to keep organizing while facing repression. Following the discussion, the tone of the evening took a turn for the positive with films on fighting back or “sabotage as direct action.” The feature film this evening was Just Do It!: A Tale of Modern Day Outlaws, a full length documentary about “professional domestic extremists” in England.
Saturday was all about ‘Wild Cat Strikes Again!’, paying homage to the wildcat strike tactic where workers take direct action by going on strike without the official authorization of their trade union. We watched a series of short films, including Kawomms! The Workers Crown, a 14 minute pencil drawn animated film about workers and industrialism, which was particularly interesting and is available on both Youtube and Vimeo. This evening’s feature film was Greening the Revolution. It shared a detailed vision of how capitalism affects farming across the globe and what workers in the agricultural industry are doing to fight back. Both Friday and Saturday evenings saw a full house with standing room only.
Sunday was my favorite day of the festival. The theme of the afternoon matinee was ‘Nine Lives: The Future is Still Unwritten,’ with the feature film being Ghosts with Shit Jobs in its Chicago debut. This film gives us insight into what would happen if China and North America switched places in the future and what that would look like for workers in both countries. We follow workers in the digital janitor, baby making, human spam, and silk gathering industries to see what it’s like in North America in 2040. The filmmaker, Jim Munroe, was in attendance and led a very interesting discussion and Q&A after the movie. After this lively talk, everyone headed to Township in Logan Square for the CAFF fundraiser of Punk Rock Karaoke. The bar was packed, the energy was great, money was raised, and it was the perfect way to end this amazing Chicago weekend.
We had awesome raffle prizes from local businesses and organizations such as Revolution Brewery, Handlebar, the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), PM press, and many more. Several local organizations also came out to table CAFF. We had Four Star Anarchist Organization, South Side Anti-Racist Action, IWW, NATO 3 Defense Committee, & the Blair Pathways Music Project. All in all, between CAFF & Punk Rock Karaoke, we raised enough money to not only cover all the costs of this year’s event, but to actually get us ahead in planning for next year. All of this was done on a sliding scale donation with no one turned away for lack of funds. Anarchy is the best.
Report provided by Wren, a creative and hard-working member of Four Star and a CAFF 2013 organizer.