One year ago, Smile Politely honored the New Art Film Festival as the “Best Local Film Festival Other than Ebertfest” as part of their annual “Best of Champaign-Urbana” compilation essays. Contributor and film fan Jeremiah Stanley has surprised us again in this year’s “Best” series, not by giving NAFF repeat props but for bestowing kudos upon individual achievements. This is intriguing to us at C-U Blogfidential since our reporting acumen typically avoids the critical assessment of films in our own film culture – we do our best to love ‘em all, big or small – and it is uncommon for a writer in other Champaign-Urbana media to express value judgment in our milieu, even with a deliberately positive bent. Therefore, dearest readers, this is what it looks like when someone appreciates the art of local filmmaking.
In the “Best Arts” 2013 posting, Stanley singles out the “Ebertfest” and community contributions of Shatterglass Studios while Matthew Green gives props to the Art Theater Co-op for their (currently on-hold) live theater and opera programming. And then, Stanley awards “Best Short Film” to the dark comedy ALWAYS, co-directed by University of Illinois research scientist Robin Berthier, “Best Performance in a Film” to Karen Vaccaro, the actress/narrator in the documentary hybrid THE ACTUAL, AUTHENTIC VERSION OF WHO YOU SAY I AM directed by Mark Ring and UI professor Robert Anderson, and “Best Supporting Performance in a Film” to April Cleveland as “Danielle” in Jennifer Bechtel’s C-U feature SCARY NORMAL. Congratulations to all, we say!
We also applaud Stanley and SP for taking baby steps to better incorporate our movie mavens and their merits into the cultural coverage of “Champaign-Urbana’s Online Magazine” … outside the blanket overviews disguised as interviews with your humble editor. (Although, according to this praise of Stanley’s own work by SP editor-in-chief Tracy Nectoux, he did indeed interview a local filmmaker named Jason Pankoke. Well, maybe.) Of course, we’re kidding; anything Smile Politely can contribute to the cinema conversation of Champaign, Urbana, and the cities beyond is most welcome, and Jeremiah Stanley is a good man and great anchor around which to build this discourse. CUBlog is only happy to help.
~ Jason Pankoke