• Two images of Graves’s father, Bill

A Body Without Organs, my favorite thing I’ve seen so far at this year’s Chicago Underground Film Festival, is something of a challenge to the spectator’s empathy. Stephen Graves’s experimental documentary about his parents introduces the subjects in discomforting ways, forcing audiences to accept them at their most vulnerable before coming to admire their strengths. Graves’s father, Bill, is a former doctor who needed to have his colon and parts of his intestines removed in 1997 as the result of a rare medical condition. Since then, he’s had an ostomy bag connected to his abdomen that he must frequently drain of waste. He’s also been on a heavy regimen of painkillers to battle his constant physical discomfort, which has resulted, alternately, in periods of insomnia and narcolepsy. The movie presents the worst of his condition (including the strain it’s had on his marriage), then gradually introduces us to the man he was before. There are numerous surprises along the way, many of them formal. Graves employs a number of interesting devices to establish intimacy with his parents—the images inspire fascination that outweighs the revulsion. The movie screens at the Logan Theatre tomorrow night at 6:30 PM; my interview with Graves follows the jump.