C-U Biz-en-scène: 07.31.2011

“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!


Even Ill-Funded Independent Film Writer/Publisher/Champion/Gofer Types Need a Break Today, or, How ‘Bout Us?

Egads, this information took a long time to distill and compose for your wondering eyes! We hope you appreciate what probably marks the longest “new look” CUBiz to date; believe it when we claim that not everything made it into this installment, although some tidbits will appear as color commentary in the “short form” Biz columns that will follow during the next six weeks. (Right now, we’d love to consider dragging out the downlow for a longer time, but activity will be ‘sploding around the C-U come mid-September and we’ll have no choice but to pipe up about it!) Also never underestimate the self-reflexive power of coincidental timing. Just before starting this exercise in lingual unsupervised recess, we had sent our trusty Webmaster Eric Pankoke links to a pair of IndieWIRE Spout articles discussing CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER and the oft-maligned CAPTAIN AMERICA from two decades ago. He remarked these reviews contained “too much blabity blabity blah” for his tastes and, frankly, we’d agree that many writers regularly fall victim to the so-called “length is no object” freedom of these here Internets. So, we sheepishly submit the following to you:

  • Jim Conover, the Springfield-area novelist who wrote and directed the low-budget Western THE SHOWDOWN, has announced on his Facebook Page that progress is underway on a sequel called BLOOD BOUNTY. “It will be shot in Wyoming and Illinois,” he wrote, “Illinois this fall and winter and Wyoming in the spring. We are gathering a production crew and trying to put the financing in place at this time.”
  • Local CBS affiliate WCIA-TV Channel 3 has announced a Casting Call to help them find a charismatic talent that would host a new afternoon program set to debut this fall. Visit this Web page for instructions on applying as well as the 30-second pitch that WCIA has been airing in recent weeks. Our impression is their hire would anchor a magazine style local-interest program;
  • Abigail Graham of Urbana let CUBlog know that she now has a Facebook page for her Graham City Productions group to go along with its formal Web site. She also invited everyone to “Like” the former and watch her new “kracked up comedy” videos on the latter;
  • Once again, it has taken a mysterious flier posted in public to alert CUBlog about a happening that we think is relevant to our dearest readers! Current case in point is “The Biz of Show Biz,” a single evening seminar geared towards Hollywood talent hopefuls that is scheduled for Monday, August 15, 6 to 9 p.m., at Faith United Methodist Church in Champaign. Hosting the session will be actresses Bridgett Newton (BEHIND THE MASK: THE RISE OF LESLIE VERNON) and Mahomet native Melanie Paxson (HAPPY FAMILY, NOTES FROM THE UNDERBELLY). More information on the ladies and their event can be found here or write info [at] www.bizofthebizla [dot] com with direct queries;
  • It’s mere coincidence the last three plays we’ve seen and thoroughly enjoyed at Urbana’s Station TheaterThe Light in the Piazza directed by Michael John Foster, Hairspray directed by Dallas Street, and The 39 Steps directed by Matthew Green, all productions of the Celebration Company – have been based on motion pictures or the movie versions of particular stories. Therefore we’re amused and relieved the one recent stage production we missed the first time ‘round that incorporates the act of filmmaking as subject matter will return for one performance only when the Brothers Nicol perform the “tragicomedy” Stones in His Pockets by Marie Jones at the Heartland Gallery in downtown Urbana on Saturday, August 13, starting at 8 p.m. Heartland owner Jan Chandler writes in her e-newsletter that seating must be reserved due to limited space, so call (217) 337-4767 during daytime business hours (except today, Sunday) as soon as possible should you wish to see siblings Thomas and Galen depict what happens when Hollywood descends upon a rural Irish town!
  • The Independent Media Center has finally announced a Call for Submissions for its third annual IMC Film Festival, which will take place September 15-17 in downtown Urbana. Chris Lukeman of Railsplitter Media accepted the role of Festival Director and will be assisted by IMC Development Advisor Austin McCann, returning co-organizer Brian Dolinar, and your very own humble editor. Final deadline to enter your work is Thursday, August 25, 5 p.m. CST; further details will hit CUBlog on Tuesday or write imcfilmfest [at] gmail [dot] com if you simply can’t wait;
  • Congratulatory e-mails shot ‘round the virtual grapevine earlier this week when the area makers of the short film IN VINO VERITAS and features REVOLTING and AMBER ROSE learned their work had been accepted to play the 10th annual Route 66 International Film Festival in Springfield this September! CUBlog will have more details about this for you on Thursday, while the curious can jump the gun and read through the entire Route 66 itinerary posted on the “Info” tab at their Facebook page;
  • Finalist entries in the Land of Lincoln Credit Union’s “21 Film Project” will be shown at the Avon Theater in downtown Decatur on Friday, August 5, as part of the weekend-long Decatur Celebration. After a 6:15 p.m. red carpet ceremony – guarded closely by these scary fellows that the kids will love – and brief performance by Celebration headliner Tiffany – yes, Eighties pop star chanteuse and Deborah Gibson B-movie sparring partner – the top 20 entries will be shown and the winners publicly announced;
  • Concluding our film festival news run (at least until Monday, hint) is a late-inning reminder that the suburban Elgin (IL) Short Film Festival will accept material running 20 minutes or less until Wednesday, August 17. At the event to be held Saturday, September 17, a new “People’s Choice” award will be given out along with “top three” trophies and cash awards up to $1,000;
  • C-U natives who grew up as “company members” of Sine Fine Films (née Eidolon Entertainment), the banner under which videographer Eleanore Stasheff has produced numerous low-budget fantasy/medieval serials and shorts, are featured prominently in short clip-fests and outtake reels assembled recently by Stasheff to honor the group’s 15th anniversary;
  • In last Sunday’s News-Gazette, arts writer Melissa Merli pointed out that Betsy Del Valley of Urbana contributed the video footage which closes the National Geographic Films theatrical release LIFE IN A DAY, a YouTube-sourced compilation documentary overseen by Ridley Scott (AMERICAN GANGSTER) and Kevin Macdonald (TOUCHING THE VOID) which began limited engagements in seven cities on Friday, July 29, including Chicago at the Music Box Theater. The completed project premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January after producers culled material from some 80,000 videos shot worldwide on July 24, 2010, per Merli;
  • MICRO-FILM friend John Borowski, a Chicago independent filmmaker specializing in true-crime documentaries, is utilizing IndieGoGo to raise funds to complete his newest work about the serial killer Carl Panzram, completing a somewhat gruesome trilogy that includes his prior films H.H. HOLMES (reviewed in MF 7) and ALBERT FISH;
  • To end this marathon of Midwest movie madness mentions, we look no farther than your humble editor’s alma mater, Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington, to provide inspiration and insight from working professionals in the (real) biz this fall during the college’s Homecoming activities with the theme, “Lights, Camera, Action.” At some point during the weekend of October 21-23, several IWU alums will speak including: Bill Damaschke, chief creative officer of DreamWorks Animation; Eric Snowden, vice president of “direct-to-fan creative and technology” at Atlantic Records; Marjorie Ocho Kouns, voiceover artist on commercials and television; and Patrick McGrath, an expert in anxiety disorders who appears on the Learning Channel series, HOARDING: BURIED ALIVE. Damaschke will reportedly preview an upcoming DreamWorks feature which we’ll guess is the SHREK spin-off PUSS IN BOOTS, scheduled for a November nationwide release.

During the last few weeks, we’ve taken in an unusual amount of theatrical movies at our lovely Art Theater, the lot of which we might have fallen over backwards to incorporate in our flagship mag MICRO-FILM were it active today. (We may finally be having “the talk” with you about ye olde MF in the fall, by the way, so stay tuned.) It makes little sense to incorporate discussion of them on CUBlog considering our peculiar niche – especially to blabity blabity blah lengths – but maybe we could indulge briefly in the not-necessarily-local for old time’s sake? The Art sacrificed multiple late-night slights to Magnolia Pictures’ Magnet branded cult films such as HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN, which reveled in Rutger Hauer blowing the scumbags away but underwhelmed as anything more than a grindhouse throwback. Next, 13 ASSASSINS demonstrated unusual discipline by prolific auteur Takashi Miike, emulating both the slow build-up and brutal heroism of period Japanese samurai cinema. American West-set meta horror RUBBER rolled in afterwards, playing acerbically with art-film conventions but taking too laggard a route to reach its point. Yet, RUBBER displayed efficient mileage compared to Fox Searchlight’s THE TREE OF LIFE, the divisive Terrence Malick drama starring Brad Pitt and Sean Penn which enjoyed a several-week Art run simultaneous with the scrappy Magnet series. Still worth a watch if one is in a soul-searching frame of mind, TREE seemed like a very compelling 100-minute meditation floating around the body of a meandering 2 ½ hour mantra. We received more satisfaction from the twisty “virtual reconstruction” thriller SOURCE CODE with Jake Gyllenhaal and Michelle Monaghan, which played loose with the sci-fi details but held together due to character empathy and taut staging led by MOON director Duncan Jones on a mid-level Summit Entertainment budget. We did feel unceremoniously beaned by those final five minutes, displacing all remaining logic with saccharine as they did, when a marquee producing team would have held the studio suits at bay and pulled the plug right after the correct ending which was present and accounted for. Ugh.


Anybody up for a free-for-all this outing before we pull back the reins for a little while? Why, glad we could oblige! We’re happy to launch our link attack by noting the slick upgrades to the Web sites of both the Normal Theater in Normal and the Route 66 Twin Drive-in in Springfield, which doubles as your cue to check out and support the non-multiplexes near you, movie-going pardners. Illinois State University’s student newspaper, The Daily Vidette, filed one of their perennial reports last week on the movie lovers’ society Beyond Normal Films, which has a hand-picked slate of art cinema headlining the Normal Theater throughout September and just before the group’s 15th anniversary. The Daily Illini chimed in two days later with a brief rumination about the effect Netflix’s rate hikes will have on consumer decision-making, particularly the student body; expected answers come from spokespeople at the Urbana Free Library, the Virginia Theater, and the University of Illinois Undergraduate Library. Speaking of movie availability, the Associated Press spread the news last week that retail gargantuan Wal-Mart has begun offering video streaming to compete with Netflix, Hulu, iTunes, and all the rest. (We’ll bet that their catalog will be, um, conservative at best.) For Stan “the Man” followers and collegiate sports fanatics, we present this Pantagraph column by Randy Kindred about Monmouth (IL) College star quarterback Alex Tanney, who will have his passing accuracy put to the test on the History Channel series, STAN LEE’S SUPERHUMANS. (A sign of the times, the show’s producers discovered Tanney through a much-viewed YouTube “trick shot” video that has earned the Division-III player much press; you can also watch what his classmates came up with for this recent on-campus video contest sponsored by Monmouth’s marketing department.) To complete this collection of conversation-worthy copy, we can always trust industry-savvy IndieWIRE to glean passages of independent film wisdom from the heavy hitters in that world, such as these recent discussions quoting the venerable Christine Vachon (POISON, I SHOT ANDY WARHOL, HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH) of Killer Films and James Schamus (SAFE, HAPPINESS, BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN) of Focus Features. Read, heed, and be fruitful, our friends.


@ The Art Theater, Champaign, IL: BEGINNERS (7/29 on), ZINDAGI NA MILEGI DOBARA (7/29, 10 p.m., Bollywood), TRAINSPOTTING (7/30, 8/4, 10 p.m.)


@ The Normal Theater, Normal, IL: THE GREATEST MOVIE EVER SOLD (7/28-7/31, 7 p.m.)

@ The Lorraine Theatre, Hoopeston, IL: COWBOYS & ALIENS (7/29 on)

@ Gemini Cinemas, Villa Grove, IL: THE SMURFS, HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS PART 2 (7/29 on)

@ The Onarga Theatre, Onarga, IL: ZOOKEEPER (7/29-7/31)

@ Princess Theatre, LeRoy, IL: MR. POPPER’S PENGUINS (7/29-7/31)

@ Harvest Moon Drive-In, Gibson City, IL: COWBOYS & ALIENS, CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER (7/29 on)


@ That’s Rentertainment, Champaign, IL: SOURCE CODE, TRUST, DYLAN DOG: DEAD OF NIGHT, LIFE DURING WARTIME (Criterion), BURN NOTICE: THE FALL OF SAM AXE, more! (7/26 on)

@ Centerbrook Drive-In, Martinsville, IN: COWBOYS & ALIENS, HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS PART 2 (7/22-7/28)

@ Indiana Convention Center, Indianapolis, IN: Gen Con 2011 (8/4-8/7)



Locally produced movies and events featuring locally produced movies are marked with an asterisk (*). Go see ‘em!


NEW! 8/5: 21 Film Project Awards Show* feat. Tiffany
@ The Avon Theater, Decatur, IL, 6:15 p.m.

“Pre-Fest” Show w/filmmaker – Route 66 International Film Festival
@ Capital City Bar & Grill, Springfield, IL, 7 p.m., free

8/9, 8/11: X-MEN: FIRST CLASS
@ The Virginia Theater, Champaign, IL, 7 p.m.

8/11-8/14: Wizard World Chicago (Comics & entertainment), Rosemont, IL

NEW! 8/13: Stones in His Pockets by Marie Jones
@ Heartland Gallery, Urbana, IL, 8 p.m.

NEW! 8/15: “The Biz of Show Biz” talent seminar
Hosted by Melanie Paxson and Bridgett Newton
@ Faith United Methodist Church, Champaign, IL, 6 p.m.

9/9: COPS and THE KID w/live accompaniment
@ Ellnora: the Guitar Festival, Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, UIUC, Urbana, IL, 6:30 p.m.

9/10: THE GREAT FLOOD w/live accompaniment
@ Ellnora: the Guitar Festival, Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, UIUC, Urbana, IL, 1:30 p.m.

9/13: DVD release: LEADING LADIES*
+ Wolfe Video, New Almaden, CA

9/15-9/17: IMC Film Festival
@ Independent Media Center, Urbana, IL

9/16-9/18: Route 66 International Film Festival
@ Hoogland Center for the Arts, Springfield, IL

NEW! 9/23-9/25: Chicago Horror Film Festival, Chicago, IL

9/23-9/25: B Movie Celebration, Franklin, IN

10/6-10/20: Chicago International Film Festival, Chicago, IL

10/13-10/22: Heartland Film Festival, Indianapolis, IN

10/21-10/23: CHICAGO 8: Small Gauge Film Festival, Chicago, IL

10/21-10/23: Dark Carnival Film Festival, Bloomington, IN

10/28-10/30: Freeky Creek Short Film Festival
@ Sleepy Creek Vineyards, Fairmount, IL

11/3-11/12: Reeling Lesbian & Gay International Film Festival, Chicago, IL

11/4-11/5: Drunken Zombie Film Festival
@ Peoria Theater, Peoria, IL

11/10-11/12: Embarras Valley Film Festival
@ EIU campus/Will Rogers Theater/etc., Charleston, IL

11/11-11/13: HorrorHound Weekend (Horror culture), Cincinnati, OH

11/10-11/20: St. Louis International Film Festival, St. Louis, MO

4/18-4/22, 2012: Wisconsin Film Festival, Madison, WI

4/25-4/29, 2012: Roger Ebert’s Film Festival
@ The Virginia Theater, Champaign, IL


The New Classics: Great Books to Great Films from the Past 50 Years
@ Danville Public Library, Danville, IL, 6:30 p.m.

8/8: INTO THE WILD; 9/12: TRUE GRIT (2010); 10/10: THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS; 11/14: ORDINARY PEOPLE; 12/12: FAIL SAFE 1964); 1/9/12: NEVER CRY WOLF; 2/13/12: AWAKENINGS; 3/12/12: ADAPTATION; 4/9/12: UP IN THE AIR

The News-Gazette Film Series 2011
@ The Virginia Theater, Champaign, IL, 1 & 7 p.m.



Global Lens 2011: International Films
@ The Art Theater, Champaign, IL

8/18: STREET DAYS, Georgia; 9/15: THE TENANTS, Brazil; 10/20: A USEFUL LIFE, Uruguay; 11/17: WHITE MEADOWS, Iran


That’s it for 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.53 © 2011 Jason Pankoke/C-U Blogfidential.

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