Feeling a little bit MICRO, are we?


Less than a week ago, we heralded the arrival of a new book on Quentin Tarantino’s unreleased proto-feature film, MY BEST FRIEND’S BIRTHDAY, which includes an essay by your humble editor that attributes a sense of worth to all those well-intended projects in the universe that didn’t quite make it to the finish line. As an example, it revisits a student film I worked on in 1998 that remains AWOL to this day. No one may ever see it, yet it at least provided a valuable experience to its makers in the moment.

Presently, I’m thinking back to another life moment from the era. On this date in 1999, a much younger me tamed the stomach butterflies and introduced the first issue of MICRO-FILM to the rapt audience of the Freaky Film Festival at the Art Theater in Champaign. I briefly recalled that watershed moment here on C-U Blogfidential a while ago and affect it above with a more recent photograph. Sadly, I can only seem to muster a muted “how ‘bout that” in acknowledgment of the anniversary.

It becomes harder with passing time to look at the seven issues and miscellanea we scratched out at the Secret MICRO-FILM Headquarters and still feel a sense of excitement or fulfillment. I’m proud that M-F managed to complement the rise of independent cinema and self-published alternative media during its run, even though it did not really help define the movements or their legacy in any significant way. In my fatigued heart and mind as of late, M-F is primarily a fossilizing bedrock on which both C-U Confidential and the New Art Film Festival were built. The nutrients and DNA still provide but they’re running low.

Given the news that punched community members and cinema goers of the C-U in the gut last week, the NAFF has suddenly found itself on the endangered culture list with the imminent shuttering of its forever home. Where will the NAFF go once the Art ceases to do business after this Thursday, October 31? How will CUZine continue to prop up the local film arts if its resources keep dissipating? Why should we even wax about MICRO-FILM when its successors are faltering in an increasingly jumbled and agitated world of media and entertainment caught in the squeeze between corporate behemoths and a completely glutted marketplace? Yikes. Then again, I can only afford to save my breath when I’m dead.

This is not a good moment to engage in celebration. We did begin tinkering with a small-scale M-F surprise for you, even going so far as to solicit guest writers for the cause, but it and most of the other NAFF functions are suspended until we know better what we’re doing about a date, time, and location. No combination of us will be sitting together at the Art on Sunday, November 10, to watch a new cluster of area-made cinema, that’s for damn sure. We have our work cut out for us and decisions to make.

I want to believe that better times and sunnier prospects await us in the future for everything on the Confidential docket. I have to believe that, otherwise, none of this would continue with any sense of agency or integrity. No matter how small a reach our efforts have attained over the years, especially in recent times when we’ve elected to “go local,” I can still attribute a sense of worth to our well-intended projects dedicated to the C-Universe and its motion picture arts. This message is essentially a 20th anniversary marker pumped with that old school MICRO-FILM moxie, reminding us all about where we’ve come from and what we’re still capable of doing.

We won’t promise or self-impose 20 more years of peculiar creation within the walls of MFHQ, dearest readers, but we will pledge in earnest to deliver the best indie culture we can while we’re at it.

~ Jason Pankoke

p.s. We know the representative cover below is not the first issue. Despite our belated distaste for the multiple appearances of guns on the covers of MICRO-FILM, we decided to illustrate our post with the “Illinois” issue 5 since we have been prone to red-and-black graphics over the past two weeks.

p.s.2 M-F will receive a much-belated “permanent” presence soon on CUBlog. Stay tuned!


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