Selections play to NAFF strength


Although we’re tardy with post-event tidings, dearest readers, C-U Blogfidential would still like to offer a few words about the New Art Film Festival a few weeks removed from the wide-ranging viewing had by our audiences and filmmaker guests at the Art Theater Co-op on Sunday, October 30, in Champaign, Illinois. Each film block attracted a solid-sized crowd, despite the seasonal distractions taking place elsewhere and that historic Chicago Cubs postseason run airing on television, making us happy to learn our calendar shift to the fall has not been a deterrent for fans. Let’s give thanks to everyone who stuck with our program of 21 shorts and the feature BEFORE ‘I DO’ as well as our friendly neighborhood sponsors at ThirdSide, Shatterglass Studios, and the Art Theater for effortlessly reprising their respective duties from prior years. We also raise a glass to Radio Maria for accommodating our filmmaker meet-and-greet prior to show time and University of Illinois student Di Ye for capturing the occasion in photographs. So, with the NAFF slowly fading in our collective rear-view mirror, feel free to refresh yourselves on the diverse and sometimes challenging 2016 line-up by referring to the schedule and video pages at the official Web site. In addition, we wish to share two of the film shorts from the first half of “Film Block 03″ that do not appear on the NAFF Web. Originally made to satisfy a class assignment under the tutelage of Eric Benson at UIUC, LABYRINTH mates together monologue and stock news footage to address a rift within David Stykes, the screen persona of creator and graphic design major Keenan Dailey, who considers himself an African-American activist enraged by current events yet unclear as to how he can put that conviction to good and honest use. Also devised at school but produced independently for the ALT-TV student club at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, RISE is simultaneously blunt (using voiceover and tactful staging) and metaphoric (using clever editing and a “forest of the mind” mise-en-scène) in recounting the sexual assault and then self-empowerment of its female protagonist, essayed by director Kris M. Wilcox. Both films project the concerns of their makers in interesting and passionate ways, even if production values are understandably rough on both counts, and pose uneasy questions with no certain answers. They suggest a much wider swath to be explored through the New Art Film Festival and, by proxy, the Champaign-Urbana cinema than we have been typically propositioned to program in years past. Now is a vital time to not just watch the creative media of our fellow citizens du C-U but also listen to what it has to tell us.

Until we NAFF again…

~ Jason Pankoke


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