C-U Biz-en-scène: 10.07.2010

“C-U Biz-en-scène” appears every Thursday/Friday 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!


What Comes Around, Sits Around … Until Further Notice

In last week’s column, we mentioned your humble editor’s good friend A.j. Michel and her ‘zine Syndicate Product, to which he has contributed in the past. Having now received Michel’s newest issue, a solo 24-hour edition about California subtitled “Golden State,” we’re suddenly whisked back to an older issue, “Coming Clean,” in which the clutter problem which plagues the Secret MICRO-FILM Headquarters is addressed. Nostalgia did not sway us to dig out SyndProd 15 from our hidden ‘zine stash; we’re just irked to see first-hand that history repeats itself as we acknowledge the current creep threatening to overtake MFHQ. Our peripheral vision can see unwrapped DVD copies of Universal’s THE MUMMY and THE WOLF MAN, unread programs from the Indianapolis Famous Monsters convention, a once-read paperback of Ben Bova’s corporate murder tale Cyberbooks which prophesized electronic readers back in 1989, a flipped-through News-Gazette Sunday edition with material we want to clip and save, a tossed-around pile of papers and junk mail that we want to tear up and not save, envelopes, blank discs, plastic bags, a camera case, and the new issue of Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine which subscriber Pappy JaPan will never get to read. That does not include what lies in wait on top of the filing cabinet, the recycle hamper, the computer desks, the spare office chairs, or even in the other rooms. How does the title “MFHQ Material Archivist” grab you? Hit us up to volunteer and we may take you seriously…


Since we’ve run short on time, we’re saving our dialogue with local documentary filmmaker Jay Rosenstein about his brand-new project, THE LORD IS NOT ON TRIAL HERE TODAY, for the next CUBiz. You should still check out this hour-long examination of the issues which inspired the late Vashti McCollum, a Champaign-Urbana mother of three, to ask our court system to enforce the separation of church and state in the classroom – a ballsy stance for one to take in the Forties. The public debut of TRIAL will take place tonight, Thursday, October 7, 7 p.m., at the Art Theater, 126 W. Church St., Champaign, to be followed by a discussion session with Rosenstein and Dan McCollum, a local historian, former Champaign mayor, and Vashti’s son. Part of the ticket price will be donated to the C-U chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union.

Two days later, the Art will host an LGBT Film Festival on Saturday, October 9. The schedule will feature OUT IN THE SILENCE (12:40 p.m.), RIOT ACTS (2:15 p.m.), the previous long-form Rosenstein documentary THE AMASONG CHORUS: SINGING OUT (4 p.m.), a “talk-back” with Amasong founder Kristina Boerger (5 p.m.), and the well-known indies MILK (7:15 p.m.) and BOYS DON’T CRY (10 p.m.). The itinerary kicks off at 12:30 p.m. with a welcome from members of primary sponsor, The UP Center of Champaign County, which arranged the festival to help mark National LGBT Month and National Coming Out Day, which is Monday, October 11.


We haven’t seen much in the Webosphere relevant to our milieu lately except for this brief thumbs up (without the thumbs, of course, because that would be copyright infringement) for THE LORD IS NOT ON TRIAL HERE TODAY by Rob McColley of SmilePolitely.com. Chances are good that a more in-depth article will appear in The News-Gazette about it this week, sure to be followed by hasty commentaries and/or letters to the editor that miss the point to varying degrees, but your best bet for succinct written thoughts on the matter (at least until CUBlog gets its act together) might come from Dan McCollum’s essay in the August 2007 issue of the public I. Finally, all the movie exhibition industry types who have access to the trade magazine Boxoffice can seek out the October issue’s profile of Skip Huston and his beloved Avon Theater in Decatur, which is haunted as we all well know. “Would you like some reaaaaal BOOh-tah with that gourmet popcorn?”


@ The Art Theater, Champaign, IL: THE LORD IS NOT ON TRIAL HERE TODAY (10/7, 7 p.m., w/filmmaker), THE EVIL DEAD (10/7, 10 p.m.), WINTER’S BONE (10/8 on), THE DESCENT (10/8, 10/13, 10/14, 10 p.m.), LGBT Film Festival incl. THE AMASONG CHORUS: SINGING OUT (10/9, 12:30 p.m.–12 a.m.)

@ Independent Media Center, Urbana, IL: RIOT ACTS (10/10, 9 p.m., w/filmmakers)

@ Spurlock Museum, University of Illinois, Urbana, IL: “Chinese Cinema from the Fifth Generation to the d-Generation” lecture (10/7, 3:30 p.m.)

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


@ The Normal Theater, Normal, IL: HOWL (10/7, 7 p.m.), LEADING LADIES (10/8, 7 p.m., w/filmmakers), PATRIK, AGE 1.5 (10/9, 7 p.m.), WERE THE WORLD MINE (10/10, 7 p.m.)

@ The Lorraine Theatre, Hoopeston, IL: EASY A, WALL STREET: MONEY NEVER SLEEPS (10/8 on)

@ That’s Rentertainment, Champaign, IL: THE KARATE KID, THE SECRET OF KELLS, SPLICE, MY SON, MY SON, WHAT HAVE YE DONE?, more! (10/5 on)

@ AMC River East 21, Chicago, IL: Chicago International Film Festival (10/7-10/21)


@ The Canopy Club, Urbana, IL: Pizza + Pitcher and Movie – returns 10/17

@ Harvest Moon Drive-In, Gibson City, IL – closed for season

@ Route 66 Drive-In, Springfield, IL – closed for season


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.

10/16: Home Movie Day 8
@ Urbana Free Library, Urbana, IL, 1 p.m.

@ The Art Theater, Champaign, IL, 7 p.m.

@ The Normal Theater, Normal, IL, 1 p.m.

@ Hoogland Center for the Arts, Springfield, IL, 7 p.m.

10/19: Champaign Movie Makers meeting
@ Class Act Interactive, Champaign, IL, 7 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

11/4-11/13: Reeling 29: Chicago Gay & Lesbian Film Festival, Chicago, IL

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

@ Landmark Century Center Cinema, Chicago, IL, 9:30 p.m. (@ Reeling 29)

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

@ TBA (@ St. Louis International Film Festival)

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.


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

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.

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.



After the late show presentation of local comedy REVOLTING at the Art Theater two weeks ago, your humble editor hung out with several principals involved with making the movie. One cast member divulged that a friend had promised to attend but bailed for unknown reasons, other than remarking that she could “see it later on DVD.” It’s convenient and lazy thinking, more than likely based on the notion that a movie will provide exactly the same experience whether projected on a big screen or channeled through a small screen. Since the advent of the cinema, however, half the experience is characterized by the real live people sitting around the screen as well as the venue in which they are seated. Also, comedies simply work better when a mass of laughter accompanies the humor. Do friends of theater folks skip out on a run, promising to watch the token camcorder rehearsal tape later just because they have an “in”? Do fans of musicians become last-minute flakes, pledging in absentia to listen to sound-board recordings or studio albums as a consolation even though stage performance is a completely different animal? In general, we don’t think so on either count, so what makes the public showing of a movie – especially a locally-made one that will not get that much public exposure until formally distributed, which may take one or more years to arrange – that expendable? (We still haven’t recovered from the lethargy greeting the New Art Film Festival, by the way; more on that topic soon.) If you claim to support the local arts, please don’t forget to include the cinema. Your friendly neighborhood filmmakers are counting on you just like the painters, the actors, the sculptors, the storytellers, the singers, and everyone else who makes something creative from nothing for the community to enjoy.

That’s it for the Special Surly Edition of the “business of our scene” this week!


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. 11 © 2010 Jason Pankoke/C-U Blogfidential.

8 Responses to C-U Biz-en-scène: 10.07.2010

  1. Linda McElroy :

    You are so right about attending the screening of films on the big screen. There is nothing like attending a film festival with directors, actors and other crew in the audience. The opportunity to meet and talk with filmmakers is something that cannot be experienced on DVD, even those with interviews included as special features. I urge anyone who is interested in film to take advantage of the film festivals in their area. The excitement of seeing films with their creators is something you won’t soon forget.

  2. Paul :

    Regarding feedback for the column…I love having all the updates and information available. It is an exceptional job you do in keeping up to date on everything.

    As for the upcoming web changes, has it been discussed to potentially have different pages for the different content (i.e. a page for news; a page for calendar events, etc.)? I know for me it is easier to see everything (especially what is new) even though it may be divided up.

  3. Paul :

    With movies, there seems to be an ingrained sense that “I can catch it later.” Which is an unfortunate challenge.

    Case in point — I was one of the people that didn’t make it out to see Revolting. I had hoped to, but when I wasn’t able to, the first thought that popped into my head was, “I’ll be able to see it later.” Even though I knew that wasn’t the case (or rather, there would be less opportunities to see it), it’s what was streaming through my head…

  4. Administrator :

    It is kind of an overt double-edged sword when discussing the effects that the secondary market has on first-run showings of any stripe, especially in our wonderful economy. Such a vast amount of material is made available on DVD, VOD, Netflix, the Internet, etc., which is certainly a boon in terms of exposure, preservation, and research, but the prevailing habit of the average consumer/movie goer seems to be that anything but the blockbusters and the current “it” films can be set on the mental backburner until it’s convenient to investigate … a second chance that may never arise.

    In terms of what we cover here, it hurts both the local impresarios (revenue, legitimacy, prestige) as well as the producers (motivation, feedback, recruitment) if their immediate audiences – the locals, their neighbors – “wait until next time” to watch a film. It’s a missed opportunity when it comes to theatrical screenings, and a potential slap in the face when it comes to local movies and their makers. Of course, reason and logic dictate that not everyone who wants to attend can do so every time out, and procrastination or full plates have not stopped recent showings of LEADING LADIES and THE LORD IS NOT ON TRIAL HERE TODAY from being SRO, not to mention the majority of Ebertest screenings in the past 3-4 years.

    However, there seems to be this underlying reluctance to take chances – a multi-track broken record when it comes to the subject of supporting (or even making) independent art – and I’m sure when the average arts consumer is faced with several choices at any given time, what looks on the surface to be the experience most likely to translate well in a different time and place – e.g., a movie in a home theater or on the laptop – is what gets dropped to the bottom of the list of out-and-about priorities.

    Whereas my original example, REVOLTING, drew decent crowds in Danville (the producers’ home front), it struggled in C-U (although Art owner Sanford Hess told me he was satisfied with its turnout when it played there last month) despite certain cast and crew members’ ties to the area and a modest amount of press and advertising. My other examples had sizable benefits going in – star power, academic backing, and dedicated long-term staff (Ebertfest), solid track record and even more solid reputation (Jay Rosenstein of TRIAL), and long-building anticipation channeled through a fan base and more than 100 cast and crew members – many of whom live locally – who happily talked it up (LEADING LADIES).

    Paul, what you apparently felt was a very natural impulse and not something to apologize for. We the people “in the know” realize that you, for one, have your hands full with – drum roll, please – your own impending documentary film. That said, now is the time for the usual suspects in the C-U and beyond to do a lot better job of supporting each other through presence, word of mouth, and constructive production help. Even on the base level, are we not simply curious about what the other is cooking up? I think we are. The bigger challenge, though, is regularly convincing the other 99.9999% of our friends and neighbors that they’d be wise to throw their support behind local film culture as well.

    Ten years ago, Rosenstein asked me the infamous question, “Do you think there can be a film scene in Champaign-Urbana?” As recently as a couple of years ago, a lot of honest doubt had been building inside me as to whether that could ever happen. Right now, we’re the closest we’ve been in a long time (and that includes the troops in Decatur, Danville, Bloomington-Normal, and Springfield like Linda) but there’s a long way to go to not only build upon what is here, but to make the damn thing stick by taking root.

  5. JB :

    Here’s my advice…

    Get yourself as big a cast as you can! Joking. But it did work for me.

    One stray observation. I was not in CU for the recent shows mentioned above. But during past movie presentations there, I rarely saw any significant flyering or postering going on. Nor have I seen much in the way of local press (present company many times excluded) giving any heads-ups of much besides Ebertfest. Obviously many things in that realm are out of our hands. But maybe a little extra effort can make a movie show seem like THE thing to be doing that night.

    People love an Event. A film premiere, or a run of a locally-made film should be an Event. Especially if it’s smack-dab Downtown on a nice screen at a place where you can get a beer, and support local business at the same time.

    Filmmaking is hard work, but we know that going in. Promotion is also hard work, and it’s maybe even harder when you feel the local audience should be primed and ready without any extra impetus, and maybe that’s a nasty surprise when you just want to get some frigging sleep finally and enjoy the premiere. But it’s still gotta get done because there’s some kind of momentum that has to build and some kind of critical mass to reach before you bridge the gap between lackluster show and SRO.

    I heard plenty about the shows of Leading Ladies and Revolting, and I’m 2000 miles away. I’m not saying they had a problem with their promotion. But I can’t figure out why a show of a locally made, well-publicized movie isn’t a capital-E Event, when so many other (and more common) occasions in our dear CU are. I guess it starts with momentum though, and our Dear Editor, regardless how thinly he spreads himself, can’t do it all himself.

    Seems like the theater crowd in CU is pretty loyal to those local stages; have they been courted towards the silver-screen versions of local stories locally made? Have the N-G reporters/reviewers actually seen screeners of upcoming films? How much contact is there between producers in, say, B-N and their IFV counterparts? That might all be a lot of extra work, but do we do this for leisure, or to get people to see the movie we worked so hard on?

    Just for the record, I’m pretty sure I’m preaching to the choir. Full disclosure, I haven’t tried any of these methods, I never hung up hardly any posters and I don’t have a website. But a cast of hundreds does help.

  6. Paul :

    Enjoyed your response, as well as the perspective on the film scene taking root.

    The show of support, especially in the arts, is something really important to me. To share a story, a close friend of mine who is a musician up in Chicago has engaged himself in the music scene up there for the past few years, always going out and supporting others. It was then tough to see that when he released his album this past August and had the release party concert, many of the people he had supported for years never turned out. It was a mystery

  7. Administrator :

    Paul, I’m sure the phenomenon is hardly unique in your friend’s case with perceiving a lack of give-and-take support. I’ve never played in a band but, for instance, you know how many times I’ve been bothered when seeing a group early in a bill finish their set and then clear out with their better halves, groupies and/or roadies to never return for the evening? Plenty.

    To answer your earlier question about the site revamp – it’s still in the cards. I think some of your organizational suggestions are interesting but will not work the most efficiently unless I set up a full-blown HTML or Flash Web site, the coding for which will be a mystery to myself or costly for me to have implemented by hiring someone else. My current Webmaster basically oversees its operation but does not have the facility to switch gears when I’m ready and build an upgrade from scratch.

    What I’ve intended to do as a step up is to install a new theme that looks nicer than the current one. The one I’ve picked out has a wider column for posts (and thereby allows for bigger pictures), flexible banner placement, spaces for display ads (gulp), and visibly lists tags. Also, this current theme is old enough that it simply cannot handle recent plug-ins, so once the new look is installed many whiz-bang doors will be opened.

    The short-term down side – and why I’ve been putting off the switch for some time – is that some of the posts and all of the images have been formatted or sized to work in the pixel width on *this* theme, whereas some old material will look screwy on the new theme which is at least 150 pixels wider in the main column where you read the posts. I have a lot of time-consuming grunt work ahead of me fixing all that once the new theme is installed or it will look like crap. Or, I will have to fix it all in advance as best as possible and risk having some elements look like crap in the current theme. Not nearly as simple as flicking the switch…

    As for content placement, the one portion of the CUBiz column I have considered setting as its own Page is the Calendar. That involves a simple cut-and-paste every week once the Biz is posted. However, pasting the entirety of the Biz across several spaces defeats the purpose of launching the Biz, which was to create a single, dependable news column once a week. Readers can easily scroll past that which doesn’t interest them and any other CUBlog postings throughout the week are gravy.

    Part of my original attraction to the Weblog format was the Pages feature. In the context of CUBlog, it has always been my intent to highlight all things current in the main stream of posts and to build a series of informative and archival Pages that would lend background and credence to the whole thing. I did fine on setting up the information from the get-go (including loading up the Blogroll, which will move to its own Page in the revamp) but it’s certainly the archival material – meaning, the history – that has never been developed properly.

    Considering what I’m learning right now as far as the time needed to compile the Biz – several hours per week – the old business may have to keep taking a back seat to the new business unless I prioritize differently what I write and post every week on CUBlog. God forbid one or more steady volunteers step in and draft the history of the movies of Champaign, Urbana, and the cities beyond for lil’ ol’ CUBlog.

    Some day, soon, I would actually love to see the work flow swing the other way – other writers would handle the new business while I step back from that to chronicle the old business. Even though I’ve had a few weak overtures from others during the past year that led nowhere, the dream isn’t dead yet.

  8. Paul :

    Thanks for sharing and greatly enjoyed hearing your intent and vision for CUBlog, though am sorry to hear of the challenges it faces.

    The changes to come for the design sound great…but I don’t envy the work it will take to transition the current content 🙂