C-U Biz-en-scène: 09.25.2010

“C-U Biz-en-scène” appears every Wednesday/Thursday on C-U Blogfidential to give our readers a succinct snapshot of the cinema activity in and near Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, USA. Please support the artists and their work, attend screenings and events, and otherwise become active in our esoteric little world!


A Banner Decision Has Been Made

Pay attention during the next few months and you will see some tinkering here on C-U Blogfidential in preparation for the switch to a brand-new look at winter’s end. Most early adjustments will involve writing and re-writing as well as relocating our massive Blog roll to its own Page – pretty dry tasks, to be honest – although you might have noticed the one visual item we did update this week. (Hint: Look up.) Enveloped in an industrial weave of monochrome faux New Wave is model Maggie Gottlieb as she haunts the back alleys of downtown Urbana, shot as part of preliminary work for yet another unrealized MICRO-FILM imprint which would have involved a year-long run of digests to celebrate the 10th anniversary that never really was. Natural light location shoots featured then-UI students Annelise Morris, Eryka Waggoner, and Ms. Gottlieb – who also appears in full color as the avatar for the C-U Confidential Revue – in the classic micro-femme style from the original magazine. Look for the lovely trio to appear unexpectedly as we work with on-line design schemes; we’ll eventually tell you more about them and the reason behind their filmin’.


Six weeks after the last 2010 influx of new movie madness, our patience will be rewarded with yet another plethora of first looks here in MICRO-FILM Country! We’re beyond happy to see the fruits of many creative group efforts emerge in droves to show our community that the making of creative media is a force to be reckoned with right … about … now!

We’ve already discussed Roselawn Productions’ REVOLTING in CUBiz and plan to follow up with further coverage soon, so we’ll simply encourage you to attend the first public Champaign showings of the Danville/C-U farce at the Art Theater on Saturday, September 25, 3 and 10 p.m., and Sunday, September 26, 12 p.m. “Regular Art ticket prices” will apply.

Semi-alternating time slots with REVOLTING is another anticipated feature, the elaborate “showbiz family” dance dramedy LEADING LADIES, a My Pet Piranha, LLC production that will finally be seen in C-U after playing the film festival circuit for several months and winning fans across America during that time. “So many people in this community helped to make the film possible and I think that the investment of time, energy, resources, et cetera, helped to build a real buzz for the film in C-U,” says screenplay co-writer Jennifer Bechtel, who chatted with CUBlog via e-mail right before the festivities. “In many ways, it feels like [we’re] finally getting to show it to anxious family members.” Urbana resident Bechtel has worked with LADIES co-director Erika Randall Beahm for several years to bring alive the rambunctious story of the Campari family, made up of brassy stage mother Sheri (played by Melanie LaPatin), gifted older daughter Tasi (UI graduate Shannon Lea Smith), and wallflower younger daughter Toni (Laurel Vail) who comes to the fore once Tasi becomes pregnant and Shari must save face for herself by entering somebody in an upcoming regional ballroom dancing competition.

“It is bigger, fancier, and more sparkly than I ever imagined, though I believe that Erika always saw it this way,” continues Bechtel, a theater veteran, youth mentor, mother of two, and idea machine who originally shared the plan with CUBlog while running downtown Champaign novelty shop Hot Diggity! with husband Dan. “The heart of it, though, is exactly what we imagined. To their credit, the actors do an amazing job of bringing these characters, which we lived with for years of writing, to life. It’s a hard task and they blow me away every time I see them on screen.” In the film, as family friend and scene stealer Cedric (television dance competition champ Benji Schwimmer) attempts to train Toni in time to compete, she begins a metamorphosis into a self-assured go-getter once a romance ignites with night spot regular Mona (Nicole Dionne), who ultimately becomes Toni’s partner on and off the dance floor. Although LADIES’ heart is truly in fulfilling the promise of its “Let Love Lead” tagline, Beahm and producing partner/spouse Daniel Beahm ensure that dance and music punctuate the positives numerous times throughout the story.

In this manner, LADIES melds contemporary characterization and topical threads with old-fashioned razzle-dazzle to create a joyous fantasia that has created waves within alternative circles but has yet to hit a home run with the mainstream, which would certainly enjoy its panache and emphasize with its lessons of tolerance. “This non-mainstream/mainstream dynamic has been both a blessing and a curse from a distribution standpoint,” reasons Bechtel. “The movie is too big to be small and too small to be big; too mainstream to be indie and too unconventional to be mainstream. Many people who are in-the-know on the festival circuit have, however, commented about the film’s crossover potential.” CUBlog wishes the cast and crew of LEADING LADIES, starting with Colorado-based “Team Beahm,” the best of luck in helping their unique entertainment find its penultimate calling. Concludes Bechtel, who is currently shopping around her next (and first solo) screenplay, “It has always been our hope that the movie would be the kind of thing that reaches out to people, changes hearts and minds. I think that it definitely has the potential to do just that.”

LEADING LADIES will screen at the Art on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2:30, 5, and 7:30 p.m. (A previously announced 5 p.m. Saturday show is closed to the general public.) Current Facebook posts on their movie Page say all showings will conclude with Q&A sessions featuring the filmmakers while added attractions will accompany the Saturday premiere including live dance performance. Tickets for both LADIES and REVOLTING can be purchased at the Art box office, and an umbrella event called the King Head Festival of Film – basically a promotional vehicle launched by Team Beahm backer and local paramedic David Ward – is pre-selling LADIES tickets. Cost is $10 for these and, as of this writing, the Saturday show is almost sold out.

We can also mention that the Art will host yet another local movie premiere in a couple of weeks! (Can you take it, dearest C-U?) We’ll talk more about it in a future CUBiz, but pencil in Thursday, October 7, for the first theatrical showing of Jay Rosenstein’s new documentary, THE LORD IS NOT ON TRIAL HERE TODAY, which chronicles the landmark court ruling which solidified the separation of church and state in the classroom made possible by the efforts of the late C-U resident Vashti McCollum in the mid-Forties. Although WILL-TV 12 air dates will follow that next week, you should make an effort to be social and attend the communal presentation (time TBA) because if any local filmmaker produces movies to talk about, it’s our man Rosenstein. Be one of the first to see, heed, and discuss.

Finally, we’d like to point out the Midwest premiere of a super-low budget indie that your humble editor first learned about at a recent Champaign Movie Makers meeting called FARM, which looks like a minimalist character drama-slash-living dead opus as depicted in the trailer at the official Web site. Directed by Hank Bausch and Andrew M. Jackson, written by Paul Farrell, and starring Michael Hotop, Ashley Salazar, and Freddie Meyer, FARM will play this weekend’s Chicago Horror Film Festival on Saturday, September 25, 5 p.m., at the Portage Theater, 4050 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago. Look to CUBlog for more about this project soon including production history, first photos, and exclusive quotes from editor Andrew Gleason, a UI graduate. (You knew there had to be a direct connection, didn’t you?) According to Gleason, the production team shot FARM on a remote location in Ava, Illinois – near the southern tip of the Land of Lincoln and even nearer to SIU-Carbondale, alma mater of Bausch, Jackson, and Farrell – in early 2009; since completed, the film begins its festival play and distributor search with CHFF and a Halloween date at the Hi-Pointe Theatre in St. Louis.


Another super-low budget indie originating much closer to MICRO-FILM Country wrapped on Sunday, August 29, nearly a year after its makers nailed most of the principal photography. Producer Gale Murrin of Austin, Texas, alerts CUBlog that co-directors/co-writers Matt Mclain of Chicago and Jon Legg of Lansing, Michigan, brought together cast and crew in Bloomington-Normal one last time to shoot a “tea scene” and pick-ups for RAGSTONE AVENUE, a whimsical ode to the B-N neighborhoods in which the trio grew up. Rito Balducci plays the lead character, Alex, who spends three days one summer attempting to solve the mysteries of a vulgar female ghost hanging around an abandoned house, a neighborhood bully named Bobby Kennedy, and an ex who still shares his car. “It is a first feature for us,” Legg told CUBlog right before filming commenced in June 2009, “modeled partially after the films of the mumblecore movement popular at SXSW in recent years … we are filming RAGSTONE AVENUE with the intention of taking it on the festival circuit.” A spare Web site and a rough trailer will give you an idea of what to expect from the project, which also features Melissa Marie Watson, Catelyn Shaw, Josh Razavi, Bret Swanson, Steve Christopher, Caitlin Flessner, and Monica Brown. We’ll bring you more RAGSTONE coverage once the head honchos – operating as TwoPint Productions, a name we can all raise a glass to – completes the editing/sound/music and begins unveiling the film to audiences.

Hot on the heels of invoking THE INFORMANT! last week, we learned the next Steven Soderberg/Matt Damon collaboration CONTAGION will shoot on location in the Windy City! Our tip came from an advertisement placed in the Chicago Tribune announcing casting calls for background extras. The first session will take place this Saturday, September 25, 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., at the Lincoln Park Cultural Center, 2045 N. Lincoln Park West, Chicago, while on Sunday, September 26, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., casting will continue at The Annoyance Theatre, 4830 N. Broadway, Chicago. According to organizer Rich King Casting of Los Angeles, this is an open call for talent ages 18+ and applicants should bring along pens and a small head shot; you can dial (312) 283-1061 with questions. Ruth Ratny’s Reel Chicago revealed a few more details on the shoot, which begins Monday, October 19, and will last for two months. Like INFORMANT!, CONTAGION was scripted by Scott Z. Burns and will be released domestically by Warner Bros.; Damon’s co-stars include Kate Winslet, Jude Law, Gwyneth Paltrow, Laurence Fishburne, and Marion Cotillard.


The doozy will have to wait again since A. we already had so much to talk about this outing, and B. your humble editor has been dogged by flu and sinus ills all week and can only stand to look at a computer screen for so long. That said, we’ll direct you to topical reporting elsewhere, one to read and one to hear. Over at SmilePolitely.com, a lengthy LEADING LADIES interview piece by Tracy Nectoux went live September 22 and features the Beahms, Jennifer Bechtel, and David Ward. Meanwhile, REVOLTING director Mike Boedicker has posted MP3 files of his discussion with “Live and Local” host Kevin Kelly aired on WILL-FM 90.9 last week; actors Eric Sizemore and Bill Kephart also chime in with comments and merriment. Enjoy!


@ The Art Theater, Champaign, IL: REVOLTING, LEADING LADIES (9/25-9/26), the Complete METROPOLIS (9/27-9/30)

@ The Canopy Club, Urbana, IL: Pizza + Pitcher and Movie – THE 40-YEAR-OLD VIRGIN, VAN WILDER, ANCHORMAN (9/26, 6 p.m.)

@ KAM Auditorium, Krannert Art Museum, UIUC, Champaign, IL: MISS NAVAJO (9/27, 7 p.m.)


@ The Normal Theater, Normal, IL: THE SECRET IN THEIR EYES (9/23-9/26)

@ The Lorraine Theatre, Hoopeston, IL: LEGEND OF THE GUARDIANS (9/24-9/26)

@ Harvest Moon Drive-In, Gibson City, IL: CATS & DOGS: THE REVENGE OF KITTY GALORE, EAT PRAY LOVE (9/24-9/26)


@ That’s Rentertainment, Champaign, IL: THE SECRET IN THEIR EYES, ROBIN HOOD, THE EXPERIMENT, ONDINE, TRASH HUMPERS, more! (9/21 on)

@ Portage Theater, Chicago, IL: Chicago Horror Film Festival

@ Skyline Drive-In/Artcraft Theatre/Canary Creek Cinemas, Franklin, IN: 2010 B Movie Celebration


9/30-11/18: “Americana at the Movies, pt.4” film class
@ The Avon Theater, Decatur, IL, 6:30 p.m. (8 wks, Thurs only)

NEW! 10/6: Wild & Scenic Environmental Film Festival, Chicago, IL

@ The Art Theater, Champaign, IL, Time TBA

10/7-10/21: Chicago International Film Festival, Chicago, IL

@ Independent Media Center, Urbana, IL, 8 p.m.

10/12: THE LORD IS NOT ON TRIAL HERE TODAY local broadcast
@ WILL-TV 12, Urbana, IL, 7 p.m.

10/14-10/23: Heartland Film Festival, Indianapolis, IN

10/15: THE LORD IS NOT ON TRIAL HERE TODAY local broadcast
@ WILL-TV 12, Urbana, IL, 7:30 p.m.

@ The Avon Theater, Decatur, IL, Midnight

@ Sleepy Creek Vineyards, Fairmount, IL, 8 p.m.

10/29-10/31: Freeky Creek Short Film Festival
@ Sleepy Creek Vineyards, Fairmount, IL

11/5-11/7: Illinois International Film Festival, Chicago, IL

11/11-11/13: Embarras Valley Film Festival
@ EIU campus/Will Rogers Theater/Charleston Public Library, Charleston, IL

11/11-11/21: St. Louis International Film Festival, St. Louis, MO

11/19-11/21: Dark Carnival Film Festival, Bloomington, IN

2/18-2/27, 2011: Big Muddy Film Festival
@ Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, IL

3/22-3/27, 2011: Ann Arbor Film Festival, Ann Arbor, MI

3/30-4/1, 2011: Wisconsin Film Festival, Madison, WI

4/27-5/1, 2011: Roger Ebert’s Film Festival
@ Virginia Theatre, Champaign, IL


AsiaLENS: AEMS Documentary/Film Series
@ Knight Auditorium, Spurlock Museum, University of Illinois, Urbana, IL, 7 p.m.

10/5: 1428; 11/2: UNMISTAKEN CHILD; 12/7: BURMA VJ

Global Lens 2010: International Films
@ Main Lounge, Allen Hall/Unit One, University of Illinois, Urbana, IL, 7 p.m.

10/13: LEO’S ROOM, Uruguay; 10/27: MASQUERADES, Algeria; 11/3: MY TEHRAN FOR SALE, Iran; 11/10: OCEAN OF AN OLD MAN, India; 11/17: ORDINARY PEOPLE, Serbia; 12/1: THE SHAFT, China; 12/8: SHIRLEY ADAMS, South Africa

Global Lens 2010: International Films
@ Latzer Hall, University YMCA, University of Illinois, Urbana, IL, 5:30 p.m.

9/30: ADRIFT, Vietnam; 10/7: BECLOUD, Mexico; 10/14: GODS, Peru; 10/21: LEO’S ROOM, Uruguay; 10/28: MASQUERADES, Algeria; 11/4: MY TEHRAN FOR SALE, Iran; 11/11: OCEAN OF AN OLD MAN, India; 11/18: ORDINARY PEOPLE, Serbia; 12/2: THE SHAFT, China; 12/9: SHIRLEY ADAMS, South Africa

IPRH Film Series
@ Room 62, Krannert Art Museum, University of Illinois, Champaign, IL, 5:30 p.m.


Israeli Movie Club
@ The Cohen Center, University of Illinois, Champaign, IL, 7:30 p.m.



We thank David “The King Head” Ward for giving your humble editor – and by proxy, the C-U Confidential semi-empire – a shout while discussing all things LEADING LADIES with SmilePolitely, although we feel that dozens of other individuals probably deserved the shout more than us for directly contributing to the film’s success. Right after, he makes an interesting comment about people – which people, we’re not clear – having a “set idea of what a local film looks like” that apparently is working against their perception of LADIES. Jen Bechtel chips in to clarify that LADIES goes above and beyond an archetypal low-budget indie film in its overall scope and “should not be able to be made in this context” – meaning, achieving what it did despite relying on mostly regional resources (regardless of how skilled or green) and a meager budget. Without pitting projects or case studies against one another, I’d simply like to think that there is room for indies of all shapes and sizes and that nothing is wrong with giving props to a project’s roots. I also believe that in the hearts and minds of nearly all filmmakers, save auteurs a la Brakhage in the personal/experimental vein or the legion of home-movie mavericks glutting YouTube with point-and-shoot wonders, nearly every film is intended to be regarded as more than a “local film.” Why put in the effort and not try to usher the final product in front of as many audience members as possible? Ward is most likely reacting to word on the C-U street in anticipation of LADIES playing the Art and, considering the low-tier status locally-made creative media maintains in these towns when compared to such things as sports or music, it is an understandable reservation on his part.

Everyone involved with LADIES has little to worry about; the movie will blow people away on its own terms. All other local filmmakers should take Ward’s comments during this section of the interview with a grain of salt only because, truth be told, LADIES is more elaborate than other area productions and certainly designed for mass appeal. But, that does not mean your own efforts aren’t worthy. It’s the general C-U public that has to finally turn the corner and play catch-up, making up their collective minds to have an open mind and approach locally made films with optimism and a curious eye. We can already thank LEADING LADIES for redefining what is possible in Champaign, Urbana, and the cities beyond, but rest assured that it is not necessary for anyone else to make “another LEADING LADIES” in order to offer worthwhile film art to the world. Now, stop reading and start making.

That’s it for the “business of our scene” this week! Whew! Don’t be surprised if we keep next week’s column short and sweet so we can catch our breath!


If you have relevant news, opportunities, dates, or promotions that you would like included in CUBiz, please forward the who, what, where, when, and how much to cuconfidential [at] gmail [dot] com.

Compiled by Jason Pankoke


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“C-U Biz-en-scène” no. 9 © 2010 Jason Pankoke/C-U Blogfidential.

4 Responses to C-U Biz-en-scène: 09.25.2010

  1. Eric Tucker :

    Hey Jason! Love the site. Although Tricia and I have enjoyed our time in Eugene, Ore., we miss C-U terribly, and it’s great to get updates about the independent film scene in and around my favorite twin cities. Please keep them coming!

  2. Paul :

    Looking forward to seeing the changes! Nice banner pic 🙂

  3. Administrator :

    Eric! Holy cow, nice to hear from you. Hope that both of you are doing well and thanks for the kind words, brother! Paul, I’m also looking forward to seeing the changes because that’ll mean they’re done and over with, LOL. And, indeed, if you look in the right C-U corners you can find provocative settings for original images, and here they would just be background without Ms. Gottlieb striking her pose with poise. She does look like she’s on an important mission, doesn’t she?

  4. Paul :

    Yeah, it’s a perfect shot!