Sight Unseen presents CHI-BAL

67 minutes

CHI-BAL presents a recent survey of experimental shorts from Chicagoland, which bears witness to the breadth of craft and camaraderie brewing within the filmmaking community there. A special thanks goes to The Nightingale, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago Underground Film Festival, Chicago Filmmakers, filmfront and Chicago Film Archives for supporting Chicago cinema.

Programmed by Lorenzo Gattorna

TRT: 67.5 minutes



Deborah Stratman, 2016, Digital, color, 15.5 minutes

The Greek island of Syros is visited by a series of unexpected guests. Immutable forms, outside of time, aloof observants to human conditions. The visitors include five regular, convex polyhedrons: the tetrahedron, cube, octahedron, dodecahedron and icosahedron. These resonant mathematical forms appear as early as Neolithic Scotland, but are widely known as Platonic Solids after the Greek philosopher who wrote about them in his dialogue Timeaus. The sites ‘visited’ in the video are Armeos beach, Pherecydes’ Cave, hillside yapia, Ano Syros spring,
Ermoupolis, Kastri, the Apollo Theater and Anemogennitries hilltop. Pherecydes of Syros (580-520 BC) was the author of the Pentemychos, a pre-Socratic cosmogony, and is commonly held to be the teacher of Pythagoras. Yapia is the plural of yapi, the informal Greek term for an unfinished, abandoned building, especially prevalent around Greece since the development of the
economic crisis. Ermoupolis is a port town and capital of the South Aegean region. Kastri (2800-2300BC), is an early Cycladic fortified settlement, located on the north side of the island.

Amusement Park Home Movies Inspire the Algorithm

Caleb Foss, 2017, Digital, color, 7 minutes

Experimental machine learning, a form of artificial intelligence, generated the sound and images in this video. Typically machine learning algorithms are used for commercial and political objectives and trained on massive datasets from resources such as Facebook, Google, and YouTube. For this project the algorithms trained on short, fuzzy, old home videos of amusement parks.


Emily Esperanza, 2016, S8mm to digital, color, 2.5 minutes

An analog meditation in a haunted house, Massillon is a part of Esperanza’s Wretched Woman series.


Karen Johannessen, 2015, S8mm to digital, color, 5 minutes

Color saturated images of flowers forcefully create a sensory and optical phenomenon.

All the Witches

Nellie Kluz, 2016, Digital, color, 4.5 minutes

Witches, cinematographers and other members of the crew pass a night together in the woods.

Shades of Shadows

Amir George, 2016, 16mm to digital, color, 6 minutes

Commissioned by Chicago Film Archives. Shades of Shadows is a collaboration with psychedelic soul band The O’Mys, that delves into spiritual mysticism and ritual sacrifice. Created with all archival footage, the characters in the film seek to manifest a better self.

Benji Sayed, 2017, Digital, color, 5 minutes​

A visual remix of various pop cultural icons, with a failed dominos advertising campaign

Self-Titled (Rough Cut)

Jesse Malmed, 2015 -, Digital, color, 7 minutes

“The final structural film. Finally!” -David Manning, Saugatuck Sentinel

Rocking Horses

Jimmy Schaus, 2016, Digital, color, 9 minutes

Changes in light and field recordings from various locales compress and inter-modulate into one frame over 9 some-odd minutes.

Sky Room

Marianna Milhorat, 2017, 16mm to digital, color, 6 minutes

Someone is missing. Plants grow, but at what cost? Technology threatens and seduces as humans attempt to solve a mystery through telepathy and mirrors. Stainless steel and broken glass strewn about an intergalactic discotheque. Commissioned by the Chicago Film Archives and made in collaboration with sound artist Brian Kirkbride, with footage and sound from the archive chopped, manipulated and arpeggiated into a fertile mix of anthem and narrative.