Calendar: February 16-22, 2018

February 16th, 2018

Our movie and media Calendar appears every Friday/Saturday on C-U Blogfidential and caters to the downstate region anchored by Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, USA.

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MILESTONES | Happy Birthday to You!

2/21: Eric Benson (coauthor, Design to Renourish)


PASSINGS | You Will Be Missed

10/25/17: Sheldon Eater, 67 (former owner, Village Green Records, Champaign)


DEADLINES, ETC. | Participate in Cinema Activity

@ The Art Theater, Champaign, IL
Shocktober Film Festival call for entries | Full Information
Early: 3/1; Regular: 6/30; Late: 7/16; Extended: 8/1

@ Capital City Bar & Grill, Springfield, IL
Route 66 Film Festival call for entries | Full Information
Early: 4/1; Regular: 6/30; Late: 7/31; Extended: 8/15

@ Gregory Hall, UIUC, Urbana, IL
Illinifest Student Film Festival call for entries | Full Information
Regular: 3/10; Late: 3/20

@ Independent Media Center, Urbana, IL
ChamPain Indie Horror Festival call for entries | Full Information
Early: 3/16; Regular: 6/4; Late: 7/6; Extended: 8/3

@ Savoy Recreation Center, Savoy, IL
Dark History & Horror Convention call for entries | Full Information
Early: 3/31; Regular: 5/31; Late: 6/30; Extended: 7/31

@ Shatterglass Studios, Champaign, IL
STAND UP* film short – call for extras on 2/25 | Full Information


LOCAL FILMS, ETC. | Support Your Media Storytellers

@ Champaign Public Library, Champaign, IL
Champaign Movie Makers meeting, “48 Hr Screening”*, Robeson Pavilion Room A (2/20, 7 p.m., free)

@ Independent Media Center, Urbana, IL
IN WHOSE HONOR?* screening/discussion (2/17, 7 p.m., free)


NOW PLAYING | Champaign-Urbana Area

@ The Art Theater, Champaign, IL
THE WOUND (2/16 on), THE SHAPE OF WATER (2/16-2/18, 2/20, 2/22), Cinema Noir: GET OUT (2/16-2/17, 10 p.m.) and GIRLHOOD (2/21, 7:30 p.m., w/discussion), Science on Screen: EX MACHINA (2/19, 7:30 p.m., w/speaker)

@ AMC Champaign 13, Champaign, IL
BLACK PANTHER, DETECTIVE CHINATOWN 2, EARLY MAN, MONSTER HUNT 2, THE 15:17 TO PARIS, FIFTY SHADES FREED, THE GREATEST SHOWMAN, JUMANJI: WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE, THE MAZE RUNNER: THE DEATH CURE, PETER RABBIT, THE POST, WINCHESTER (2/16 on), GAME NIGHT (2/22 on)

@ English Building, UIUC, Urbana, IL
Illini Film & Video meeting, Room 106 (2/20, 7 p.m.)

@ Family Video, Champaign-Urbana, IL
WONDER, ROMAN J. ISRAEL ESQ., THE BALLAD OF LEFTY BROWN, LBJ, DO IT LIKE AN HOMBRE, BROTHERHOOD OF BLADES II, HELLRAISER: JUDGMENT, THE LIBRARIANS (s3), THE DEUCE (s1), THE SINNER (s1), more! (2/13 on)

@ Goodrich Savoy 16, Savoy, IL
BLACK PANTHER, DETECTIVE CHINATOWN 2, EARLY MAN, MONSTER HUNT 2, SAMSON, THE 15:17 TO PARIS, FIFTY SHADES FREED, THE GREATEST SHOWMAN, JUMANJI: WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE, PETER RABBIT, THE POST, THE SHAPE OF WATER, WINCHESTER (2/16 on), THE WIZARD OF OZ (2/18, 2/21), IS GENESIS HISTORY? (2/22, 7 p.m.), National Theatre Live: Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (2/22, 7 p.m., simulcast)

@ Illini Union, UIUC, Urbana, IL
Illini Union Board presents “Weekend Films at the Union” feat. THOR: RAGNAROK, Pine Lounge (2/16-2/17, 7 p.m., free w/i-card)

Events featuring locally produced movies are marked with an asterisk (*). Additional “Now Playing” and “Coming Soon” listings appear after the jump!

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Calendar: February 9-15, 2018

February 9th, 2018

Our movie and media Calendar appears every Friday/Saturday on C-U Blogfidential and caters to the downstate region anchored by Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, USA.

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MILESTONES | Happy Birthday to You!

2/13: Steven Bentz (director, The Virginia Theatre)


DEADLINES, ETC. | Participate in Cinema Activity

@ The Art Theater, Champaign, IL
Shocktober Film Festival call for entries | Full Information
Early: 3/1; Regular: 6/30; Late: 7/16; Extended: 8/1

@ Gregory Hall, UIUC, Urbana, IL
Illinifest Student Film Festival call for entries | Full Information
Regular: 3/10; Late: 3/20

@ Independent Media Center, Urbana, IL
ChamPain Indie Horror Festival call for entries | Full Information
Early: 3/16; Regular: 6/4; Late: 7/6; Extended: 8/3


LOCAL FILMS, ETC. | Support Your Media Storytellers

@ Heroic Age Art Center, Mt. Zion, IL
FREIGHT TRAIN: SLAYER OF INNOCENCE* screening/discussion (2/10, 2 p.m., free)


NOW PLAYING | Champaign-Urbana Area

@ The Art Theater, Champaign, IL
THE SHAPE OF WATER (2/9 on), Science on Screen: GATTACA (2/12, 7:30 p.m., w/speaker), CASABLANCA (2/14, 7:30 p.m.), “Versus” series: TOMMY (2/9, 10 p.m.) vs. ROLLERBALL (1975; 2/10, 10 p.m.)

@ AMC Champaign 13, Champaign, IL
THE 15:17 TO PARIS, FIFTY SHADES FREED, PETER RABBIT, 12 STRONG, FOREVER MY GIRL, THE GREATEST SHOWMAN, I, TONYA, JUMANJI: WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE, LADY BIRD, THE MAZE RUNNER: THE DEATH CURE, PADDINGTON 2, PADMAAVAT, THE POST, THE SHAPE OF WATER, WINCHESTER (2/9 on), BLACK PANTHER, EARLY MAN (2/15 on)

@ English Building, UIUC, Urbana, IL
Illini Film & Video meeting, Room 106 (2/13, 7 p.m.)

@ Family Video, Champaign-Urbana, IL
A BAD MOMS CHRISTMAS, SUBURBICON, ALL I SEE IS YOU, VICTOR CROWLEY, MADTOWN, 24 HOURS TO LIVE, BATMAN: GOTHAM BY GASLIGHT, HOMELAND (s6), more! (2/6 on)

@ Goodrich Savoy 16, Savoy, IL
THE 15:17 TO PARIS, FIFTY SHADES FREED, PETER RABBIT, 12 STRONG, DARKEST HOUR, DEN OF THIEVES, FOREVER MY GIRL, THE GREATEST SHOWMAN, HOSTILES, I, TONYA, JUMANJI: WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE, THE MAZE RUNNER: THE DEATH CURE, THE POST, THE SHAPE OF WATER, THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING MISSOURI, WINCHESTER (2/9 on), The Metropolitan Opera: L’Elisir D’Amore (2/10, 11 a.m., simulcast; 2/14, 1 & 6:30 p.m., recorded), CASABLANCA (2/11, 2/14), MAZINGER Z: INFINITY (2/12, 7 p.m.), BLACK PANTHER (2/15 on)

@ Illini Union, UIUC, Urbana, IL
Illini Union Board presents “Weekend Films at the Union” feat. THE FLORIDA PROJECT, Pine Lounge (2/9-2/10, 7 p.m., free w/i-card)

@ Independent Media Center, Urbana, IL
SIGHTLINES screening/discussion (2/10, 7 p.m.)

@ Spurlock Museum, UIUC, Urbana, IL
AEMS presents AsiaLENS Documentary/Film Series feat. PATHS OF THE SOUL (2/13, 7 p.m., free)

Events featuring locally produced movies are marked with an asterisk (*). Additional “Now Playing” and “Coming Soon” listings appear after the jump!

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Shocktober Fest a lock for Oct. 3

February 8th, 2018

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Coming on the heels of our last report, which talked about a talented downstate Illinois woman who is making waves in independent cinema, we have a surprise announcement from another female film creator on the move! Every October for the past five years, the Art Theater in Champaign has been inundated with fright thanks to their popular “Shocktober” screenings. While previous runs feasted heavily on well-known classics, their unorthodox 2017 selections seemed to challenge fans to try out films not often seen in repertory. An experimental thriller called DEVOTION, directed and written by Art Theater special events coordinator Jessie Seitz, received its theatrical bow on a double bill with THE RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD (1985) during that sequence, complete with a personal appearance by the films’ shared on-screen talent, Linnea Quigley. The success of this particular attraction must have inspired Seitz and her coworkers to take a stab at expanding the Shocktober concept by looking outside the well-worn crypt for exciting work from up-and-coming genre storytellers. Hence, promotion began in earnest on Wednesday, January 24, for the new Shocktober Film Festival, a shorts showcase that is positioned to kick off the 2018 itinerary on Wednesday, October 3, and we can think of no better hands for this to be placed in than Seitz’s. Creep along with their Facebook for updates and shamble over to their FilmFreeway for entry stipulations; the final deadline to submit is Wednesday, August 1, for starters. Although the Art is casting their net wide for material to play this coming fall, we’ll cross our fingers that producers across MICRO-FILM Country will represent in some fashion at the promised “day-long event.” Until details emerge, you should gaze longingly upon the charming “beauties and beasts” poster from last year, rendered with love by Urbana artist Sophie McMahan. Her retro-styled portfolio and offbeat comics will delight you.

~ Jason Pankoke

p.s. Like many working outside the system, Seitz focuses on self-distribution and unique cross-promotion for her films. DEVOTION arrives soon on DVD through her own Capricorn Rising Films banner, while Magnetic Magic Rentals of Kansas City, MO, is about to issue a licensed VHS collector’s edition. Nifty!

p.s.2 When we posted about the projects of Jarrod Finn, we did not realize he was about to launch his own call for entries to the second ChamPain Indie Horror Fest, which is also set for October. Here’s the FilmFreeway account for ChamPain if you are so inclined. The more horror du C-U, we say, the better!

p.s.3 For thematic kicks, we checked up on the long-running Drunken Zombie Film Festival of Peoria and found much of their on-line collateral AWOL. A proclamation offered by the final episode of their sister podcast tells us plenty, however. The eighth annual show in March 2016 was their last. R.I.P. DZFF

Calendar: February 2-8, 2018

February 4th, 2018

Our movie and media Calendar appears every Friday/Saturday on C-U Blogfidential and caters to the downstate region anchored by Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, USA.

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MILESTONES | Happy Birthday to You!

2/8: Robin Christian (owner, Fresh Angle Film Studios)
2/8: Dann Tincher (visual art director, Our Fair City audio drama)


PASSINGS | You Will Be Missed

1/25: Leonard Doyle, 89 (usher/historian, The Virginia Theatre)


LOCAL FILMS, ETC. | Support Your Media Storytellers

@ Unitarian-Universalist Church of Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL
IN WHOSE HONOR?* screening/discussion (2/4, 2:30 p.m., free)


NOW PLAYING | Champaign-Urbana Area

@ The Art Theater, Champaign, IL
THE SHAPE OF WATER (2/2 on), “Versus” series: INDIANA JONES AND THE LAST CRUSADE (2/2, 10 p.m.) vs. MONTY PYTHON AND THE HOLY GRAIL (2/3-2/4)

@ AMC Champaign 13, Champaign, IL
WINCHESTER, 12 STRONG, COCO, DEN OF THIEVES, FOREVER MY GIRL, THE GREATEST SHOWMAN, HOSTILES, JUMANJI: WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE, LADY BIRD, THE MAZE RUNNER: THE DEATH CURE, MOLLY’S GAME, PADDINGTON 2, PADMAAVAT, PITCH PERFECT 3, THE POST, THE SHAPE OF WATER, STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI (2/2 on), FIFTY SHADES FREED (2/8 on)

@ Family Video, Champaign-Urbana, IL
BOO 2! A MADEA HALLOWEEN, THE SQUARE, LAST FLAG FLYING, LEGEND OF THE NAGA PEARLS, THE PIRATES OF SOMALIA, RAY DONOVAN (s5), more! (1/30 on)

@ Goodrich Savoy 16, Savoy, IL
WINCHESTER, 12 STRONG, CALL ME BY YOUR NAME, COCO, DARKEST HOUR, DEN OF THIEVES, FOREVER MY GIRL, THE GREATEST SHOWMAN, HOSTILES, I, TONYA, JUMANJI: WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE, THE MAZE RUNNER: THE DEATH CURE, PITCH PERFECT 3, THE POST, THE SHAPE OF WATER, STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI, THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING MISSOURI (2/2 on), GIGI (2/4, 2/7), A SILENT VOICE (2/5), FIFTY SHADES FREED (2/8 on)

@ Illini Union, UIUC, Urbana, IL
Illini Union Board presents “Weekend Films at the Union” feat. MARSHALL, Pine Lounge (2/2-2/3, 7 p.m., free w/i-card)

@ Lincoln Hall, UIUC, Urbana, IL
Illini Film & Video meeting, Room 1022 (2/6, 7 p.m.)

@ The Virginia Theatre, Champaign, IL
The News-Gazette Film Series: DOCTOR ZHIVAGO (2/3), HIDDEN FIGURES (2/6, 7 p.m.)

Events featuring locally produced movies are marked with an asterisk (*). Additional “Now Playing” and “Coming Soon” listings appear after the jump!

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Calendar: Jan. 26-Feb. 1, 2018

January 26th, 2018

Our movie and media Calendar appears every Friday/Saturday on C-U Blogfidential and caters to the downstate region anchored by Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, USA.

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MILESTONES | Happy Birthday to You!

1/30: Eric Watkins (music composer, THE SHERIFF’S CHILDREN)
1/31: Paul Scrabo (video technician, NBC Universal, retired)


NOW PLAYING | Champaign-Urbana Area

@ The Art Theater, Champaign, IL
PHANTOM THREAD (1/26 on), MARY AND THE WITCH’S FLOWER (1/26-1/28, 1/30), ON THE BEACH AT NIGHT ALONE (1/28-1/29, 1/31, 7:30 p.m.)

@ AMC Champaign 13, Champaign, IL
HOSTILES, LADY BIRD, THE MAZE RUNNER: THE DEATH CURE, PADMAAVAT, THE SHAPE OF WATER, 12 STRONG, DEN OF THIEVES, FOREVER MY GIRL, THE GREATEST SHOWMAN, INSIDIOUS: THE LAST KEY, JUMANJI: WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE, PADDINGTON 2, THE POST, STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI (1/26 on)

@ Family Video, Champaign-Urbana, IL
JIGSAW, THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE, GEOSTORM, LUCKY, THE KILLING OF A SACRED DEER, BITCH, CHASING THE DRAGON, THE HOUSES OCTOBER BUILT 2, THE LOST TREE, more! (1/23 on)

@ Goodrich Savoy 16, Savoy, IL
FOREVER MY GIRL, HOSTILES, THE MAZE RUNNER: THE DEATH CURE, THE SHAPE OF WATER, 12 STRONG, CALL ME BY YOUR NAME, THE COMMUTER, DARKEST HOUR, DEN OF THIEVES, THE GREATEST SHOWMAN, I, TONYA, JUMANJI: WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE, LADY BIRD, PADDINGTON 2, PHANTOM THREAD, THE POST, STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI, THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING MISSOURI (1/26 on), The Metropolitan Opera: Tosca (1/27, 11:55 a.m., simulcast; 1/31, 1 & 6:30 p.m., recorded), GONE WITH THE WIND (1/28, 1/31), ’85: THE GREATEST TEAM IN FOOTBALL HISTORY (1/29, 7:30 p.m.), STEP UP: HIGH WATER special event (1/30, 7 p.m.), DIGIMON ADVENTURE TRI. Part 4: Loss (2/1, 7:30 p.m.)

@ Illini Union, UIUC, Urbana, IL
Illini Union Board presents “Weekend Films at the Union” feat. HAPPY DEATH DAY, Pine Lounge (1/26-1/27, 7 p.m., free w/i-card)

@ Lincoln Hall, UIUC, Urbana, IL
Illini Film & Video meeting, Room 1022 (1/29, 7 p.m.)

Events featuring locally produced movies are marked with an asterisk (*). Additional “Now Playing” and “Coming Soon” listings appear after the jump!

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Maverick dispatches ‘I DO’ to DVD

January 25th, 2018

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Two weeks ago, one of the hardest-working indie filmmakers living and creating in MICRO-FILM Country, Kimberly Conner of Predestined Arts & Entertainment in Springfield, announced on Facebook that her second feature film BEFORE ‘I DO’ would be released in multiple territories on Tuesday, March 6, including the United States. Maverick Entertainment Group will distribute it domestically on DVD and streaming platforms as they did with Conner’s full-length debut, JUMP IN, which you can watch via Amazon right now. The DVD product listing on the same site tells us little about what we’ll find on the disc although certain omissions – no mention of a Blu-ray edition or extras – are par for the course with movies du C-U that swing a commercial release. We should still be happy for this outcome and cross our fingers that ‘I DO,’ a well-attended New Art Film Festival selection in 2016, will find an even wider audience than the one it has received after nearly two years of festival play. We’ve discussed ‘I DO’ both here and here, so we won’t rehash the details at this time other than to say its acting, writing, production values, and music score all improve on JUMP IN, which is exactly what we’d like to see from a budding writer/producer/director honing her craft. At the least we’ll share the Maverick DVD art, featuring lead actors Jensen Atwood and Omar Gooding, to help fire you up for its appearance in stores and on merchant sites in a few weeks. We’ll be awaiting word on which of Conner’s screenplays in development, including the previously announced thriller LIPSTICK and horror story MACABRE, will become her next project to be greenlit. Hopefully, Illinois location shooting continues to play a part in her process.

~ Jason Pankoke

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Calendar: January 19-25, 2018

January 20th, 2018

Our movie and media Calendar appears every Friday/Saturday on C-U Blogfidential and caters to the downstate region anchored by Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, USA.

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MILESTONES | Happy Birthday to You!

1/20: Thomas Polk (director, GNARLED ALLIANCE, Pens to Lens 2017)


NOW PLAYING | Champaign-Urbana Area

@ The Art Theater, Champaign, IL
PHANTOM THREAD (1/19 on), TAXI DRIVER (1/19, 1/20, 10 p.m.), WENDY AND LUCY (1/23, 7 p.m.)

@ AMC Champaign 13, Champaign, IL
12 STRONG, DEN OF THIEVES, FOREVER MY GIRL, THE COMMUTER, FERDINAND, THE GREATEST SHOWMAN, INSIDIOUS: THE LAST KEY, JUMANJI: WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE, PADDINGTON 2, PITCH PERFECT 3, THE POST, PROUD MARY, STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI, THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING MISSOURI (1/19 on), THE MAZE RUNNER: THE DEATH CURE (1/25 on)

@ Family Video, Champaign-Urbana, IL
BLADE RUNNER 2049, HAPPY DEATH DAY, THE SNOWMAN, HOLLOW IN THE LAND, BEYOND SKYLINE, LOVE BEATS RHYMES, ALMOST FRIENDS, BETTER CALL SAUL (s3), more! (1/16 on)

@ Goodrich Savoy 16, Savoy, IL
12 STRONG, CALL ME BY YOUR NAME, DEN OF THIEVES, PHANTOM THREAD, THE COMMUTER, DARKEST HOUR, FERDINAND, THE GREATEST SHOWMAN, INSIDIOUS: THE LAST KEY, I, TONYA, JUMANJI: WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE, LADY BIRD, MOLLY’S GAME, PADDINGTON 2, THE POST, PROUD MARY, STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI, THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING MISSOURI (1/19 on), ALIEN (1/21, 1/24), THE MAZE RUNNER: THE DEATH CURE (1/25 on)

@ Illini Union, UIUC, Urbana, IL
Illini Union Board presents “Weekend Films at the Union” feat. WONDER, Pine Lounge (1/19-1/20, 7 p.m., free w/i-card)

@ Lincoln Hall, UIUC, Urbana, IL
Illini Film & Video meeting, Room 1022 (1/22, 7 p.m.)

@ The Virginia Theatre, Champaign, IL
SLUMDOG MILLIONARE (1/23, 1/25, 7 p.m.)

Events featuring locally produced movies are marked with an asterisk (*). Additional “Now Playing” and “Coming Soon” listings appear after the jump!

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Calendar: January 12-18, 2018

January 14th, 2018

Our movie and media Calendar appears every Friday/Saturday on C-U Blogfidential and caters to the downstate region anchored by Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, USA.

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MILESTONES | Happy Birthday to You!

1/12: Damian Duffy (cohost, Damian Duffy After Dark podcast)
1/18: Michelle Kaffko Ebner (photographer, Organic Headshots)


LOCAL FILMS, ETC. | Support Your Media Storytellers

@ Champaign Public Library, Champaign, IL
Champaign Movie Makers meeting, “Champaign Screenwriters Presents”*, Robeson Pavilion Room A (1/16, 7 p.m., free)

@ The New Lafayette Club, Bloomington, IL
Informational meeting for upcoming production CHRISTMAS CRASHERS (1/14, 2:30 p.m., free) Contact


NOW PLAYING | Champaign-Urbana Area

@ The Art Theater, Champaign, IL
TOM OF FINLAND (1/12 on), SELMA (1/15, 7:15 p.m.)

@ AMC Champaign 13, Champaign, IL
THE COMMUTER, PADDINGTON 2, THE POST, PROUD MARY, ALL THE MONEY IN THE WORLD, COCO, THE DISASTER ARTIST, FERDINAND, THE GREATEST SHOWMAN, INSIDIOUS: THE LAST KEY, JUMANJI: WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE, MARSHALL, PITCH PERFECT 3, STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI, MOLLY’S GAME, THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING MISSOURI, WONDER (1/12 on), 12 STRONG, DEN OF THIEVES (1/18 on)

@ Family Video, Champaign-Urbana, IL
IT, MARSHALL, THE FOREIGNER, FRIEND REQUEST, MY LITTLE PONY: THE MOVIE, MARK FELT: THE MAN WHO BROUGHT DOWN THE WHITE HOUSE, NOVEMBER CRIMINALS, BULLET HEAD, more! (1/9 on)

@ Goodrich Savoy 16, Savoy, IL
THE COMMUTER, I, TONYA, PADDINGTON 2, THE POST, PROUD MARY, COCO, DARKEST HOUR, FERDINAND, THE GREATEST SHOWMAN, INSIDIOUS: THE LAST KEY, JUMANJI: WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE, LADY BIRD, MOLLY’S GAME, PITCH PERFECT 3, STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI, THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING MISSOURI (1/12 on), The Metropolitan Opera: OPERA HOUSE (1/13, 1/17), HARRY POTTER AND THE CHAMBER OF SECRETS (1/14, 1/17), MARY AND THE WITCH’S FLOWER premiere event (1/18, 7 p.m. dubbed, 8 p.m. subtitled)

@ The Virginia Theatre, Champaign, IL
The News-Gazette Film Series: ARSENIC AND OLD LACE (1/13, 1 & 7 p.m.), CHINATOWN (1/16, 1/18, 7 p.m.)

Events featuring locally produced movies are marked with an asterisk (*). Additional “Now Playing” and “Coming Soon” listings appear after the jump!

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Suede Chain to art-rock C-U anew

January 6th, 2018

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Directly following the lead of our last post, in which we talked about the inherent joy we feel in seeing the past of Champaign-Urbana creative media dovetail into the present, we revisit a curiosity evoked in the pages of C-U Confidential #9 last year. Although we used the VHS promotional tape of DREAM WHEEL CIRCUS more as a vehicle to illustrate points about exploration and discovery in our local culture, we want to fully address (and picture) it today since it is related to a rare event that your humble editor has been pining for since, well, the sextet in question split up two decades ago.

Collinsville, IL, and St. Louis, MO, natives Matt Docter (vocals/lead guitar), Jason Docter (drums/vocals), Brian Krumm (guitar/vocals), Brian Hunt (bass), Mary Weingartner (violin/vocals), and Jake Brookman (cello) previously made up The Suede Chain, one of Ye Ed’s favorite local bands from the Nineties when he finally stopped worrying and learned to love live music. We suddenly have the privilege to hear what seasoned performers can do with the aggressively muscular art-rock of their C-U college years, given the demands of personal lives and professional careers that have thwarted prior attempts to reunite. After playing their first gig since 1997 in St. Louis last night, The Suede Chain will finish what they’ve started later tonight, Saturday, January 6, at Cowboy Monkey, 6 Taylor St., Champaign, beginning at 8:30 p.m. Opening solo is Chicago musician and studio engineer Brian Leach, a friend of the band who also plays in the brawny blues-rock combo The Great Crusades with Krumm and Hunt. Tickets are $15 at the door and we know the experience will be worth the extra bones.

Fans in the same age bracket as the musicians should hit that bonus sweet spot of nostalgia when enjoying the show from the same stage where many of them would have heard the band for the first time, back during the venue’s iteration as Chris Knight’s original Blind Pig Company. We recall the live sound of The Suede Chain adding heft to the rich melodies and arrangements found on their albums ripplemark (1994) and Piloted by Ghosts (1996), released by Mud Records of Urbana and not impossible to find at nearby shops like Exile on Main Street and Record Swap. You can learn more about their story from recent interviews in Troy Michael’s long-running Webzine Innocent Words as well as the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. We imagine the crowd will be thoroughly enthralled by the experience in the best ways.

So, we arrive at contributing to a Suede Chain legacy that isn’t well defined since their departure coincided with the dawn of Internet everything. The second of two conceptual public performances by them after “Rust,” “Dream Wheel Circus” took place multiple times between April 22 and April 24, 1994, in a vacated Champaign storefront that would soon house Radio Maria. As shown in DREAM WHEEL CIRCUS, attendees walked through a ground floor maze to reach an art gallery and refreshments, after which they went upstairs to sit before a large canvas stretched across the loft. Apart from the opening number, The Suede Chain mostly performed from behind said canvas as actors and dancers mimed a series of vignettes to the music; occasionally, the live component would break for an interlude provided by an impressionistic film short. Band members and friends designed and choreographed the entire show.

Much of the “track listing” of “Dream Wheel Circus” is sourced from ripplemark and earlier release Dry Gulch with the notable absence of their breakout college radio hit, “Daisy Dawn.” In succession, The Suede Chain performed “Show,” “Hold Me in the Trees,” “Cycles,” “Mississippi,” “Lampland,” “Radiance,” “Oli Oli Oxen Free,” “Wine, Flowers, Photograph, Kisses,” “Esophagus,” and “Church House Moan.” Todd Dare recorded audio while Paul Summers and Ian Mitchell lit the space and videotaped the proceedings. Other participants in myriad roles included Nathali Rottier, Nathan Storm, Christian Moder, Thomas Spanos, George Van Dyke, and Mark Saric.

We obtained our copy of DREAM WHEEL CIRCUS from That’s Rentertainment when they closed their satellite location on Lincoln Avenue in Urbana. Were they sold by the band at concerts or solely stocked in a handful of places for customer rental? We don’t know but we’re certain it is equally as scarce as an actual Suede Chain sighting. While the video itself is not otherwise available in any form and it hardly replicates “being there,” we can at least share a facsimile of the cover artwork that we put together just for you! Click on the image below to view the entire design. Maybe if a video master surfaces, some day…

~ Jason Pankoke

p.s. “I awoke the next morning and it was all a dream,” states the back page of the “Dream Wheel Circus” program unearthed by Mud Records’ parent, the Parasol Label Group. In some uncanny way, the act of watching a camcorder recording like DREAM WHEEL CIRCUS on fuzzy VHS tape can replicate a dreamlike sensation in real time. Appropriate, yes?

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Calendar: January 5-11, 2018

January 5th, 2018

Our movie and media Calendar appears every Friday/Saturday on C-U Blogfidential and caters to the downstate region anchored by Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, USA.

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MILESTONES | Happy Birthday to You!

1/8: Michael Stone (cofounder, Illini Film & Video, UIUC)
1/9: Janjay Knowlden (producer, Protagonist Pizza Productions)


NOW PLAYING | Champaign-Urbana Area

@ The Art Theater, Champaign, IL
TOM OF FINLAND (1/5 on)

@ AMC Champaign 13, Champaign, IL
INSIDIOUS: THE LAST KEY, MOLLY’S GAME, THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING MISSOURI, ALL THE MONEY IN THE WORLD, COCO, DOWNSIZING, FERDINAND, THE GREATEST SHOWMAN, JUMANJI: WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE, PITCH PERFECT 3, STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI, WONDER (1/5 on)

@ Family Video, Champaign-Urbana, IL
AMERICAN MADE, BATTLE OF THE SEXES, A QUESTION OF FAITH, BRAD’S STATUS, 68 KILL, BREATHE, UNA, THE STOLEN, more! (1/2 on)

@ Goodrich Savoy 16, Savoy, IL
HANSON AND THE BEAST, INSIDIOUS: THE LAST KEY, MOLLY’S GAME, ALL THE MONEY IN THE WORLD, COCO, DARKEST HOUR, THE DISASTER ARTIST, DOWNSIZING, FATHER FIGURES, FERDINAND, THE GREATEST SHOWMAN, JUMANJI: WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE, PITCH PERFECT 3, STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI (1/5 on), SABRINA (1954; 1/7, 1/10), THE ROOM (1/10, 8 p.m.), ALIEN INTRUSION: UNMASKNG A DECEPTION (1/11, 7 p.m.)

@ The Virginia Theatre, Champaign, IL
FINDING NEMO (1/6, 1 p.m.), FINDING DORY (1/6, 7 p.m.), BRAVEHEART (1/9, 1/11, 7 p.m.)

Events featuring locally produced movies are marked with an asterisk (*). Additional “Now Playing” and “Coming Soon” listings appear after the jump!

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CA 2017 crosses 2018 threshold

December 31st, 2017

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Truth be told, we have moments when we contemplate why the New Art Film Festival and Champaign-Urbana film culture of 2017 does not outwardly resemble or inwardly feel like that which originally stoked our fire in, say, 1997. Times change, people grow, the Twin Cities evolve, and local media tends to reflect its community’s needs, yet we can’t escape the possibility that our own interest level flags. In the thick of NAFF action between mid-summer and the fall, we’re fine; during our down time through the rest of the calendar year, we inevitably self-criticize and question the place or need for our reporting, aggregation, and outreach.

Strangely, it is when we dig deep to bring forth the past that we often feel the most engaged in the present, for we better than most understand the historic groundwork that is the basis for the movies of Champaign, Urbana, and the cities beyond. If nothing else, recalling the early years can only help to reset perspective when our compass du C-U is out of whack. We hope our overall investment is apparent to you, dearest readers, whether we post about the old or the new.

A few months back, we happened to catch a Facebook share by our friend Johnnie May of an early film short he finally digitized and uploaded to stream. Known alternately as CA 1997, CA 1999, and now CA 2017, the stop-motion Super 8 phantasmagoria CASTLE ASSHOLE was designed, animated, and photographed by May and Brian Robertson (MONSTER, NAFF ’17) in the former’s Urbana basement using a mix of art supplies, found objects, discarded toys, mechanical parts, and recyclables. Modest Mussorgsky’s famous composition “Night on Bald Mountain” accompanies a high-seas adventure as pipe cleaner rogues brave a raging storm to make land and cause mischief in the title structure.

The primitive technique is at once charming in its handmade quality and hallucinatory in its leisurely gait, allowing the viewer to study in real time its clever low-budget camera tricks. We don’t remember if CA 1997/1999 surfaced at the Freaky Film Festival after it was first finished – other Tabletop Studios inventions like ISOLATION and COMPLETELY DRESDEN did make the Freaky cut – but it embodies the freewheeling, rough-and-ready underground film aesthetic that once ran rampant in America.

We miss the unpredictable and often anarchic nature of Freaky-style filmmaking that became a sort of hipster-resistance subgenre in the Nineties and Aughts, but what may have populated the B-list indie film circuit then simply does not materialize now in the annual lot of NAFF submissions. This is completely acceptable because the NAFF is designed to primarily represent the local movie projects of today. However, we thank the cinema gods when they bless us with an opportunity to fuse the old guard with the current zeitgeist.

Case in point, May contacted the NAFF after a long break from his own work and we eventually accepted from him a vintage music video (SHOT ON SIGHT, NAFF ’14) and a brand-new dimensional animation (THE CROSSING, NAFF ’15) that improves greatly on his frame-by-frame craft. For comparison, we have paired THE CROSSING and CASTLE ASSHOLE 2017 below so you can see how a distinctive artist can progress and also retain a visual identity. May has made Madison, Wisconsin, his home since 1999 although we still consider him “one of us” and could not have been happier to include him with our usual suspects at the NAFF. Enjoy his flights of fantasy, C-U. We do.

This concludes our run of last-minute NAFF VIII writings in 2017 as we head into the 2018 fray. Have a hearty New Year’s celebration and join us safely on the other side!

~ Jason Pankoke

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Sins of SHERIFF reflect history

December 30th, 2017

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Other times, the act of preparing the New Art Film Festival runs parallel with an anticipation of “what might be” in our program, especially in terms of area-made projects that have already caught our attention. Will we receive a chance to play them? Are they committed to debut elsewhere? Can they even be ready to submit by deadline? Fortunately, Mike Boedicker of Roselawn Productions Ltd. sent our way his Reconstruction-era tale, THE SHERIFF’S CHILDREN, which we accepted for the show without a second thought. Since the 22-minute film is still being entered in other festivals across the United States, we only have general details and a teaser to pass along to our dearest viewers; Boedicker will more than likely release it online and possibly on disc as with his previous central Illinois output like HOUSE OF THADDEUS and REVOLTING, providing an opportunity for you to check out his latest work.

Based on the 1889 short story of the same title by Charles W. Chesnutt (1858-1932), a lawyer and prolific author of mixed-race ancestry who dealt with the complexities of African-American life in the South after the Civil War in a portion of his writing, SHERIFF depicts the dynamic between a former slave (William Anthony Sebastian Rose II) and a small-town lawman (William L. Kephart) who guards him from a growing mob led by Slade (Matt Hester). While daughter Polly (Ellen E.K. Magee) holds down the homestead for her Pa, the sheriff finds himself trapped in a county jail with his prisoner as the lynch-starved locals congregate outside. Both men – a middle-aged white with status and an armed rifle, a young black covered in grime and accused of murder – soon reveal in their conversation that not all the crimes in question are of common knowledge or even against the law…

Featuring contributions by Champaign-Urbana regulars including Thomas Nicol as effects artist and cinematographer, Johnny Robinson as sound recordist, Julia Megan Sullivan as script supervisor and dialect coach, Malia Andrus as costume designer, and Eric Watkins as music composer, SHERIFF is a solid example of how comfortable Boedicker is with balancing the dramatic and intellectual needs of his storytelling. The script hits its beats but does not telegraph its reveals, the performances serve the material without upstaging it, and the locations found in Illinois and Indiana sell the period illusion on a meager budget. Indeed, we heard NAFF chatter praising the short as people exited the Art Theater auditorium on October 29 and conclude it will have a healthy festival life.

As to what Roselawn may produce next, it will not spring forth from Danville as usual. Mike and his wife and collaborator, Leslie Boedicker, resigned from their positions at the Danville Public Library at the beginning of fall and relocated to the Parma, New York, region where they both have family and prior history. C-U Blogfidential will miss their friendship and presence as well as contributions to our film culture, so we wish them good fortune and happiness in the move! We also send Mike a long-distance dedication on his birthday today, Saturday, December 30, which he shares with a certain other cinema someone typing these very words. Enjoy the day, both of you!

~ Jason Pankoke

p.s. Mike offers his thoughts on the making of THE SHERIFF’S CHILDREN in this 2017 NAFF article run by Smile Politely and written by Jarrod Finn.

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Calendar: Dec. 29 ‘17-Jan. 4 ‘17

December 29th, 2017

Our movie and media Calendar appears every Friday/Saturday on C-U Blogfidential and caters to the downstate region anchored by Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, USA.

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MILESTONES | Happy Birthday to You!

12/29: Patricia Pankoke Pellow (matron saint to our arts, C-U Confidential)
12/30: Mike Boedicker (filmmaker, THE SHERIFF’S CHILDREN)
12/30: Jason Pankoke (reluctant part-time resident, Champaign, Illinois)


NOW PLAYING | Champaign-Urbana Area

@ The Art Theater, Champaign, IL
DARKEST HOUR (12/29 on), Secret Screenings: Staff Picks (12/29, 12/30, 1/3, 10 p.m.)

@ AMC Champaign 13, Champaign, IL
ALL THE MONEY IN THE WORLD, COCO, DOWNSIZING, FATHER FIGURES, FERDINAND, THE GREATEST SHOWMAN, JUMANJI: WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE, PITCH PERFECT 3, STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI, TIGER ZINDA HAI, WONDER (12/29 on)

@ Family Video, Champaign-Urbana, IL
THE MOUNTAIN BETWEEN US, FLATLINERS, BRAWL IN CELL BLOCK 99, MAYHEM, JEEPERS CREEPERS 3, KILLING GUNTHER, BETTER WATCH OUT, GUARDIANS, more! (12/26 on)

@ Goodrich Savoy 16, Savoy, IL
ALL THE MONEY IN THE WORLD, COCO, DARKEST HOUR, THE DISASTER ARTIST, DOWNSIZING, FATHER FIGURES, FERDINAND, THE GREATEST SHOWMAN, JUMANJI: WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE, PITCH PERFECT 3, STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI, THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING MISSOURI (12/29 on), DIE HARD (12/31, 1/3)

@ Parasol Label Group, Urbana, IL
That’s Rentertainment pop-up shop in the “Rec Room” (10/11 on; Mon.-Tues., Wed. 9 a.m.-8 p.m., Thurs.-Fri. 9 a.m.-1 p.m., Sat. 9 a.m.-1 p.m.)

@ The Virginia Theatre, Champaign, IL
ROCKY (1/2, 1/4, 7 p.m.)

Events featuring locally produced movies are marked with an asterisk (*). Additional “Now Playing” and “Coming Soon” listings appear after the jump!

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WORDS hurt, heal in debut short

December 27th, 2017

Sometimes, the act of preparing the New Art Film Festival results in a circumstance that ultimately does not allow us to play a piece that would have been right at home in our program. The last-minute inclusion of a teaser for the dramatic short WORDS, as an example, gave us a way to help spread the word for its creator, Jarrod Finn of Malachi Entertainment in Urbana, even though the NAFF submission period had long been closed. With his first effort as director, writer, and producer now completed and streaming online, C-U Blogfidential encourages our dearest viewers to take a look. WORDS examines “a young writer’s battle with depression and anxiety disorder,” per the official logline, “and how her writing and community help guide her out of her darkness,” apparently drawing from Finn’s own personal struggles along these lines. Days are filled with internal and irrational upheaval for lead character Jordan (Kimmy Schofield), toggling between solitary moments of unease, votes of confidence and support from her mother (Cara Maurizi) and friends (Dominique Allen, William Anthony Sebastian Rose II), and abstract nightmare moments staged like a theatrical play. Luckily, the light at the end of the dark tunnel Jordan regularly finds herself in can shine brightly with the proper positives in place…

The Malachi team also has present, past, and future projects in various stages of fruition. Shooting this month is NOTES OF RASPBERRY, Finn’s first comedic outing that is written by Thomas Nicol (WRITER’S BLOCK, NAFF ’17) and stars Evan Seggebruch and Jace Jamison. Restored to the schedule is a pilot for EMPOWERED, a proposed Web series to be directed by Kris Wilcox (RISE, NAFF ’16) about young women with superhero identities; auditions for open roles will take place at Collider CoWork, 123 W. Main St., Suite 220, Urbana, on Saturday, January 6, 10:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. with callbacks the next day. In addition, Finn has begun drafting a script for a WORDS follow-up. Away from the camera, Malachi hosted a pair of short film presentations at the Urbana Independent Media Center in recent weeks including the ChamPain Indie Horror Fest on October 28. This outpouring of activity has come on the heels of Finn reestablishing himself in the C-U arts after spending several years in Atlanta, Georgia, for higher education; involvement with Champaign Movie Makers, Pens to Lens, Parkland Theatre, the Virtual Chameleon Internet show HELPETHAN.COM, and classroom teaching has certainly lit the fire for this fellow and his friends to pursue their low budget, high concept ambitions. More power to them!

~ Jason Pankoke