Best of KC 2020: KC Underground Film Festival keeps experimentation alive
This month, we published The Pitch’s annual Best of Kansas City issue. You can browse the results of the readers’ poll here. The issue also included a list, compiled and written by our editorial staff, of some of our current favorite things about Kansas City in 2020. We’ll be publishing these items online throughout November.
This past March, Willy Evans and Kari Bingham-Gutierrez were all set to kick off the inaugural Kansas City Underground Film Festival (KCUFF) to a packed audience at the Westport Coffeehouse. Then, as became the case for so many events this year, COVID-19 struck.
“We had the first night, and that same night when the first case of community spread hit,” Evans, the festival’s co-founder, says. Fortunately, with the support of KC’s film community, Evans and Bingham-Gutierrez were able to try things again in October, running outdoor screenings at the Film Row Art Screen in Westport. “The audience has been great,” Evans says. “There are people here who love movies as much as we do.”
KCUFF is part of a growing community of filmmakers and film enthusiasts in KC working to create spaces for unique, experimental and unexpected cinema. There are no set guidelines for the films KCUFF selects to screen—movies can be any genre, any length, any budget. “Our focal point is always creativity and not necessarily originality, but something that’s different and unique and if we can amplify a voice that’s unique,” Evans says. “I love movies that are made because someone has a story to tell, and they’re just going to make it.” Evans says the festival’s long-term goals are still in development, but he wants Kansas City to become known as a place that welcomes unique filmmaking.
“The goal is going to be I think more than even notoriety or community in KC, being known as a place that encourages and supports independent and creative filmmakers,” Evans says. “I want us to become known as a film festival that cultivates relationships with artists who are pushing themselves and what they’re doing.”
KC Underground Film Festival kcundergroundfilmfest.com/