CUFF visits HOOPESTON Oct. 30

Not long after we first learned about the documentary HOOPESTON, New York City filmmaker Thomas Bender kindly floated a screener to the Secret MICRO-FILM Headquarters. This portrait of the small Illinois community which the Lorraine Theatre calls home juxtaposes footage of a rustic America with stories of an ailing economy, conflicting values, and the emergence of a local “witch school.” Told with an understated hand, HOOPESTON doesn’t provide any resolution to the struggles of these townsolk but addresses their conundrum with bittersweet hope and good humor.

Next month, Bender’s production company SYNYDYNE will release a DVD for HOOPESTON after the film plays the Chicago Underground Film Festival this Thursday, October 30, 10:30 p.m., at the Viaduct Theatre, 3111 N. Western Ave., Chicago, IL. Further information can be found after the jump, and don’t forget to check C-U Blogfidential in the coming weeks for an exclusive interview with Bender.

Also, an official page for HOOPESTON resides here while the curious can learn about the paganism praticed by the aforementioned Witch School. Incidentally, the institution relocated during the summer to Rossville, a small town near Danville, not long after the film made its debut at the final New York Underground Film Festival.

~ Jason Pankoke


From October 13, 2008:


Witches in the Midwest
Feature-length documentary HOOPESTON to enjoy Midwest premiere at Chicago Underground Film Festival, DVD release

Witches will come out a day early this year. HOOPESTON, a feature-length documentary about an Illinois town and its Witch School, will play in the Chicago Underground Film Festival on October 30, the night before Halloween.

Produced by SYNYDYNE, HOOPESTON tells the story of the former “Sweet Corn Capital of the World” through the lives of its residents. A laborer struggles to find work, a young entrepreneur buys the only motel in town, the police chief battles a drug epidemic, and the Correllian Chancellor lays plans for a vast Crystal Web. The film balances the stark beauty of rural Illinois with candid and moving interviews from a variety of subjects. It features an original score by composer Todd Mazierski.

“People haven’t seen a movie like this before,” says Jake Bakkila, the film’s interviewer and producer. “It’s a story of upheaval, futility, and crystal magic – all set against the twilight of small-town America.”

HOOPESTON premiered to sold-out theaters at the New York Underground Film Festival in April. Its screening at Chicago Underground is the film’s Midwest premiere, just two hours north of the eponymous Hoopeston, IL. After its run in Chicago, the documentary will be available for purchase on DVD.

“Since NYUFF, so many people have gotten in touch with me asking how they can see HOOPESTON. It’s great that we can finally bring it to a Midwestern audience,” says director Thomas Bender.

HOOPESTON received finishing funds from the newly-formed Milwaukee Tourism Commission (MTC), a privately-funded bureau that aims to promote Midwestern growth and rebuilding.

“If we want the Midwest to recover, people need to hear Midwestern stories,” said MTC President and CEO Larose Burton. “I saw HOOPESTON at the New York Underground [Film Festival] – and I had SYNYDYNE on the phone before the credits started rolling.”

HOOPESTON plays in the Chicago Underground Film Festival on Thursday, October 30, 2008, at 10:30 p.m. The showing is at the Viaduct Theatre (Screen #1), located at 3111 N. Western Ave., Chicago, IL. Tickets are available in advance through


Thomas Bender, Director
bender [at] synydyne [dot] com
Jake Bakkila, Producer
bakkila [at] synydyne [dot] com


[Yipee! This is post #250 on CUBlog. Here’s to 250 more!]

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