Calendar: July 12-18, 2024

July 14th, 2024

Our movie and media Calendar appears every Friday/Saturday on and caters to the downstate region anchored by Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, USA.

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MILESTONES | Happy Birthday to You!

7/9: Ben Harroun (co-owner, Harvest Moon Twin Drive-in, Gibson City, IL)
7/15: Jill Van Voorst (owner, LIX, Savoy, IL)
7/17: Derek Huey (cinematographer, TIN ROOF, Subfolders Studios, Indianapolis, IN)

 

FIELD REPORT DU HQ | From Wherever It May Be Said

The Report is on hiatus until August or September. Thank you for your readership, CUvians and Agents!

 

IMAGERY DU C-U | Picturing Our Scene on the Screen

TBD

 

CONFIDENTIAL ALMANAC | Dates in Film Culture History

15 Years AgoWeekend of Friday, June 5, 2009: Hairy monsters and human combatants tear up the neighborhood at both Meadowbrook Park and Caffe Paradiso in Urbana during the final round of location shooting for WEREWOLF CEMETERY Episode 4. Since relocating to Portland, Oregon, with his life partner Ann Fitzgerald, co-creator Jason Butler has flied back periodically to the area in order to film the remaining scenes for the sprawling comedy-horror series with familiar locations and friendly faces at his disposal. This included an informal residence at the former Orpheum Theatre in downtown Champaign last fall to stage a giant battle in the partly gutted auditorium, redressed to stand in for the werewolves’ lair, during off hours when the adjacent Orpheum Children’s Science Museum was closed. Returning regulars such as Steve Ucherek, Bob Henne, Bill Turner, Lacie Ucherek, Barney Joyce, Aaron Davidson, Owen Anderson, Mark Peaslee, Devin Atkins, Frank Peters, Jodi Hahn, Fitzgerald, and Butler could be seen filing in and out of the Orpheum’s rear entrance throughout September and October, while several of them are involved in the current activity. C-U Blogfidential editor Jason Pankoke has served as a set photographer and extra during this penultimate stretch. Other than random effects shots and an explanatory scene involving Butler’s character “Dixon,” the producer will turn his attentions to editing together the finale in what promises to upstage Episode 3 by far. A debut is planned for next year at Mike ‘n Molly’s as well as a homemade DVD release to be entrusted to close friends of the cause. As reported on 5/26/09, 6/5/09 at CUBlog. [R]

 

NOW PLAYING | Champaign-Urbana Area

@ AMC Champaign 13, Champaign, IL
FLY ME TO THE MOON, INDIAN 2 (in Tamil, Hindi, or Telegu with English sub), THE LION KING (animation) (re-release), LONGLEGS, BAD BOYS: RIDE OR DIE, DESPICABLE ME 4 (animation), HORIZON: AN AMERICAN SAGA – CHAPTER 1, INSIDE OUT 2 (animation), KINGDOM OF THE PLANET OF THE APES*, MAXXXINE, A QUIET PLACE: DAY ONE (7/5 on), SOUND OF HOPE: THE STORY OF POSSUM TROT (faith film) (7/12 on), ROBOT DREAMS (animation) (7/14, 2 p.m.; 7/17, 7 p.m.), Studio Ghibli Fest: PRINCESS MONONOKE (7/14, 7/16, 3 & 7 p.m., English sub; 7/15, 7/17, 7 p.m., in Japanese with English sub), AMC “Screen Unseen” (mystery movie) (7/15, 7 p.m.), DISCIPLES IN THE MOONLIGHT (faith film) (7/17 on), NATIONAL ANTHEM, TWISTERS (7/18 on) *single screenings daily

@ Phoenix Savoy 16 + IMAX, Savoy, IL
FLY ME TO THE MOON, THE LION KING (animation) (re-release), LONGLEGS, BAD BOYS: RIDE OR DIE, DESPICABLE ME 4 (animation), HORIZON: AN AMERICAN SAGA – CHAPTER 1, INSIDE OUT 2 (animation), KINDS OF KINDNESS, MAXXXINE, A QUIET PLACE: DAY ONE (7/5 on), SOUND OF HOPE: THE STORY OF POSSUM TROT (faith film) (7/12 on), THE BIKERIDERS (7/12-7/17, 12:15 p.m.), Studio Ghibli Fest: PRINCESS MONONOKE (7/14, 3 & 7 p.m., English sub; 7/15-7/17, 7 p.m., in Japanese with English sub), THE GOONIES (7/14, 3 & 7 p.m.; 7/17, 7 p.m.), DISCIPLES IN THE MOONLIGHT (faith film) (7/17 on), TWISTERS (7/18 on)

@ Main Quad, Illini Union, UIUC, Urbana, IL
Illini Union Board presents “Summer Films on the Quad” feat. CIVIL WAR (7/18, 9 p.m., free)

@ The Virginia Theatre, Champaign, IL
The News-Gazette Film Series presents ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN (7/13, 1 & 7 p.m.)

Events featuring locally produced movies are marked with an asterisk (*). Additional “Now Playing” and “Coming Soon” listings appear after the jump!

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Calendar: July 5-11, 2024

July 5th, 2024

Our movie and media Calendar appears every Friday/Saturday on C-U Blogfidential and caters to the downstate region anchored by Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, USA.

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MILESTONES | Happy Birthday to You!

7/7: Keenan Dailey (CEO, Visage Entertainment, Champaign-Urbana, IL)
7/9: Jessie Seitz (director, MONSTER GIRLS, Capricorn Rising, Decatur, IL)

 

FIELD REPORT DU HQ | From Wherever It May Be Said

The Report is on hiatus until August or September. Thank you for your readership, CUvians and Agents!

 

IMAGERY DU C-U | Picturing Our Scene on the Screen

Activity is exploding over at Camp Nostalgic Studios, “The Home of Independent Storytelling,” and what better time is there to feature their upcoming online releases than Independence Day weekend? Dave Rediger, Gela Rediger, and Alex Duquette of CNS go through it all in this update video shared both to YouTube as well as their official website, which organizes everything in bright and bold décor if you’d prefer the non-sterile approach. Over the next several weeks beginning this Saturday, July 6, they will debut new episodes of the skit program “Saturday Morning,” which features Duquette and Dave Rediger as hosts and a revolving cast in comedy segments (such as Randy Phillips and Em Garner, below, in a purported preview for “Chesapeake Valley: Ranger Wives” in the best/worst tradition of reality shows) and commercial spoofs, to be followed later in the day with “Late Night Urge,” a secretive affair that will star Chicago comedienne Ariel Julie (captured candidly, with bubbly). Also coming soon or recently added are new episodes of the animated “Stupie & Fran-Fran,” on-location video of stand-up comedy in “Funny Ass Road Show” (including local talent, like George Cruickshank), and one-off specials such as “Pat’s Spooky Night,” filled to the gills with an all-star CNS roster. An inevitable pairing occurs this season as Camp Nostalgic welcomes Andy and Zoe Due from Rubber Chicken Films into the fold; you’ll see them below in character on “Saturday Morning” and can watch the brand-new Episode 25 of “The Andy Due Show,” which is a cacophony of Anglo and Yankee wartime humor for the occasion, right here. Pip, pip!

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NOW PLAYING | Champaign-Urbana Area

@ AMC Champaign 13, Champaign, IL
DESPICABLE ME 4 (animation), KILL (in Hindi with English sub), MAXXXINE, SOUND OF HOPE: THE STORY OF POSSUM TROT (faith film), BAD BOYS: RIDE OR DIE, THE BIKERIDERS*, BLUE LOCK THE MOVIE: EPISODE NAGI* (animé) (in Japanese w/English sub), HORIZON: AN AMERICAN SAGA – CHAPTER 1, INSIDE OUT 2 (animation), KALKI 2898 AD (in Telugu w/English sub), A QUIET PLACE: DAY ONE (7/5 on), CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND (7/7, 7/10, 7 p.m.), FLY ME TO THE MOON (7/11 on) *single screenings daily

@ Phoenix Savoy 16 + IMAX, Savoy, IL
DESPICABLE ME 4 (animation), KILL (in Hindi with English sub), KINDS OF KINDNESS, MAXXXINE, SOUND OF HOPE: THE STORY OF POSSUM TROT (faith film), BAD BOYS: RIDE OR DIE, THE BIKERIDERS, THE FALL GUY, HORIZON: AN AMERICAN SAGA – CHAPTER 1, IF, INSIDE OUT 2 (animation), A QUIET PLACE: DAY ONE (7/5 on), CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND (7/7, 3 & 7 p.m.; 7/10, 7 p.m.), THE MASK (1994) (7/7, 3 & 7 p.m.; 7/10, 7 p.m.)

@ Main Quad, Illini Union, UIUC, Urbana, IL
Illini Union Board presents “Summer Films on the Quad” feat. GODZILLA X KONG: THE NEW EMPIRE (7/11, 9 p.m., free)

@ The Virginia Theatre, Champaign, IL
Illinois Public Media presents “The Arthouse Experience Film Series” feat. STOP MAKING SENSE (concert film) (7/5, 7 p.m.), Illini Radio Group presents “Rewind 92.5 Movie Series” feat. GREASE “sing-a-long” edition (7/11, 7 p.m.)

Events featuring locally produced movies are marked with an asterisk (*). Additional “Now Playing” and “Coming Soon” listings appear after the jump!

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Calendar: June 28-July 4, 2024

June 28th, 2024

Our movie and media Calendar appears every Friday/Saturday on C-U Blogfidential and caters to the downstate region anchored by Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, USA.

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MILESTONES | Happy Birthday to You!

6/30: Drea Aarons (disk jockey, WPCD 88.7 FM, Parkland College, Champaign, IL)
7/1: Michael Juvinall (editor, Horror Patch website, Channahon, IL)

 

FIELD REPORT DU HQ | From Wherever It May Be Said

The Report is on hiatus until August or September. Thank you for your readership, CUvians and Agents!

 

IMAGERY DU C-U | Picturing Our Scene on the Screen

We introduced you to the Chambana Film Festival in the spring, and Nat Dykeman’s program returns to the Phoenix Savoy 16 + IMAX this Sunday, June 30, 4 p.m., with a compilation called “funny strange & funny haha: Comedic Short Films” that culls from his behind-the-scenes viewing and curating for the suburban Lake County Film Festival. Dykeman has also added some local flavor to the mix, such as a new short from Thomas Nicol of Champaign Movie Makers that is called THE VENUS GAMBIT, and will announce his upcoming screenings at the end of the 90-minute show. You can follow CFF on Facebook and sign up for the monthly newsletter. In the meantime, here’s a cinematic banana. You’re welcome.

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LOCAL FILMS & EVENTS | Support Your Media Storytellers

@ Phoenix Savoy 16 + IMAX, Savoy, IL
Chambana Film Festival* presents “funny strange & funny haha: Comedic Short Films” (6/30, 4 p.m.)

 

NOW PLAYING | Champaign-Urbana Area

@ AMC Champaign 13, Champaign, IL
BLUE LOCK THE MOVIE: EPISODE NAGI (animé) (in Japanese w/English sub), DADDIO, HORIZON: AN AMERICAN SAGA – CHAPTER 1, A QUIET PLACE: DAY ONE, BAD BOYS: RIDE OR DIE, THE BIKERIDERS, THE EXORCISM, INSIDE OUT 2 (animation), KALKI 2898 AD (in Telugu w/English sub) (6/28 on), AMC “Screen Unseen” (mystery movie) (7/1, 7 p.m.), MAXXXINE preview (7/3, 7 p.m.), DESPICABLE ME 4 (animation), KILL (in Hindi with English sub), SOUND OF HOPE: THE STORY OF POSSUM TROT (faith film) (7/3 on)

@ Phoenix Savoy 16 + IMAX, Savoy, IL
HORIZON: AN AMERICAN SAGA – CHAPTER 1, A QUIET PLACE: DAY ONE, BAD BOYS: RIDE OR DIE, THE BIKERIDERS, THE EXORCISM, THE FALL GUY, FURIOSA: A MAD MAX SAGA, THE GARFIELD MOVIE (animation), IF, INSIDE OUT 2 (animation), KINGDOM OF THE PLANET OF THE APES (6/28 on), SOMETHING TO STAND FOR with Mike Rowe (documentary) (daily, 7 p.m.), UFC 303: Alex Pereira vs. Jiří Procházka, more (mixed martial arts) (6/29, 9 p.m., simulcast), JAWS (6/29-6/30, 3 & 7 p.m.; 7/3, 7 p.m.), summer family films: THE CAT IN THE HAT (2003) (7/2-7/4, 10 a.m.), DESPICABLE ME 4 (animation), KINDS OF KINDNESS, SOUND OF HOPE: THE STORY OF POSSUM TROT (faith film) (7/3 on)

@ Main Quad, Illini Union, UIUC, Urbana, IL
No movie this week!

@ The Virginia Theatre, Champaign, IL
No movies this week!

Events featuring locally produced movies are marked with an asterisk (*). Additional “Now Playing” and “Coming Soon” listings appear after the jump!

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Calendar: June 21-27, 2024

June 21st, 2024

Our movie and media Calendar appears every Friday/Saturday on C-U Blogfidential and caters to the downstate region anchored by Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, USA.

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MILESTONES | Happy Birthday to You!

6/27: Joe Sherlock (writer/director, STRANGE THINGS HAPPEN AT THE WEIRD HOUSE, Skullface Astronaut, Corvallis, OR)
6/27: Eric Spudic (actor, NIGHT OF THE BASTARD, Dark Sky Films, Orland Park, IL)

 

FIELD REPORT DU HQ | From Wherever It May Be Said

The Report is on hiatus until August or September. Thank you for your readership, CUvians and Agents!

 

IMAGERY DU C-U | Picturing Our Scene on the Screen

In a week where we have the novelty of two features opening wide in American theaters that were set and filmed in Chicagoland, THE BIKERIDERS from Focus Features and GHOSTLIGHT from IFC Films, as well as the welcome return of a durable Windy City classic, THE BLUES BROTHERS, at the Normal Theater on Thursday, June 27, we also have the trailer debut for HOLIDAY HOLD-UP, a co-production of Chicago’s The Line Film Company and Darkly Entertainment of Los Angeles. A caper that pits disgruntled restaurant employees against their boss’ gambling racket, HOLIDAY was filmed largely in early 2023 at Champaign-Urbana locations like the former Blind Pig pub, seen below, and stars Agnes Albright and Jeremy Holm from Line and Shatterglass FilmsBLACK MOLD along with John Pirruccello, Emma Jo Boyden, Matty Ryan, and James Houton. Directors are Kyko Claudio, Michele B. McGraw, Michael Moreci, and Robert Patrick Stern, according to IMDB.com, while the credits crawl is dotted with familiar names, some of whom surely had a hand in dressing Church Street with Christmas bling for the show. Office bets will be placed as to whether HOLIDAY can secure a commercial theatrical release unlike so many prior pictures du C-U. Thanks to the film’s camera operator, John Isberg, for sharing on the socials!

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NOW PLAYING | Champaign-Urbana Area

@ AMC Champaign 13, Champaign, IL
THE BIKERIDERS, CRISIS NEGOTIATORS (in Cantonese w/English sub), THE EXORCISM, GHOSTLIGHT, BAD BOYS: RIDE OR DIE, THE FALL GUY, THE GARFIELD MOVIE (animation), IF, INSIDE OUT 2 (animation), KINGDOM OF THE PLANET OF THE APES, THE WATCHERS (6/21 on), JESUS: A Deaf Missions Film (in ASL) (6/23, 2:30 p.m.), KALKI 2898 AD (in Telugu w/English sub) (6/26 on), SOMETHING TO STAND FOR with Mike Rowe (documentary) (6/27, 7 p.m.), BLUE LOCK THE MOVIE: EPISODE NAGI (animé) (in Japanese w/English sub), HORIZON: AN AMERICAN SAGA – CHAPTER 1, A QUIET PLACE: DAY ONE (6/27 on)

@ Phoenix Savoy 16 + IMAX, Savoy, IL
THE BIKERIDERS, THE EXORCISM, BAD BOYS: RIDE OR DIE, THE FALL GUY, FURIOSA: A MAD MAX SAGA, THE GARFIELD MOVIE (animation), IF, INSIDE OUT 2 (animation), KINGDOM OF THE PLANET OF THE APES, THE STRANGERS: CHAPTER 1*, TREASURE*, THE WATCHERS (6/21 on), HARRY POTTER AND THE HALF-BLOOD PRINCE (6/22, 3 & 7 p.m.; 6/26, 7 p.m.), SOUTH PARK: BIGGER, LONGER & UNCUT 25th anniversary (animation) (6/23, 4 & 7 p.m.; 6/26, 7 p.m.), summer family films: BEETHOVEN’S 2ND, THE LAND BEFORE TIME (animation) (6/25-6/27, 10 a.m.), SOMETHING TO STAND FOR with Mike Rowe (documentary) (6/27, 7 p.m.), HORIZON: AN AMERICAN SAGA – CHAPTER 1, A QUIET PLACE: DAY ONE (6/27 on) *single screenings daily

@ Main Quad, Illini Union, UIUC, Urbana, IL
Illini Union Board presents “Summer Films on the Quad” feat. THE MINISTRY OF UNGENTLEMANLY WARFARE (6/27, 9 p.m., free)

@ The Virginia Theatre, Champaign, IL
Illinois Public Media presents “The Arthouse Experience Film Series” feat. WON’T YOU BE MY NEIGHBOR? (documentary) (6/21, 7 p.m.), “Animation Vacation Film Series” feat. SHREK (6/24, 1 & 6:30 p.m., free), Illini Radio Group presents “Mix 94.5 Throwback Thursdays” feat. HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER’S STONE (6/27, 7 p.m.)

Events featuring locally produced movies are marked with an asterisk (*). Additional “Now Playing” and “Coming Soon” listings appear after the jump!

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Calendar: June 14-20, 2024

June 14th, 2024

Our movie and media Calendar appears every Friday/Saturday on C-U Blogfidential and caters to the downstate region anchored by Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, USA.

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MILESTONES | Happy Birthday to You!

6/18: Perry C. Morris (editor/publisher, Champaign Urbana Theater History)

 

FIELD REPORT DU HQ | From Wherever It May Be Said

The Report is on hiatus until August or September. Thank you for your readership, CUvians and Agents!

 

LOCAL FILMS & EVENTS | Support Your Media Storytellers

@ Esquire Lounge, Champaign, IL
Champaign Movie Makers* meeting (6/17, 7 p.m.)


NOW PLAYING | Champaign-Urbana Area

@ AMC Champaign 13, Champaign, IL
INSIDE OUT 2 (animation), THE RELENTLESS PATRIOT (documentary), TREASURE, BAD BOYS: RIDE OR DIE, THE FALL GUY, FURIOSA: A MAD MAX SAGA, THE GARFIELD MOVIE (animation), HAIKYU!! THE DUMPSTER BATTLE (animé), IF, KINGDOM OF THE PLANET OF THE APES, THE WATCHERS (6/14 on), AMC “Screen Unseen” (mystery movie) (6/17, 7 p.m.), SOUND OF HOPE: THE STORY OF POSSUM TROT preview (faith film) (6/19, 6 p.m.), JESUS: A Deaf Missions Film (in ASL) (6/20, 6:30 p.m.), THE BIKERIDERS, THE EXORCISM (6/20 on)

@ Phoenix Savoy 16 + IMAX, Savoy, IL
INSIDE OUT 2 (animation), TREASURE, BAD BOYS: RIDE OR DIE, THE FALL GUY, FURIOSA: A MAD MAX SAGA, THE GARFIELD MOVIE (animation), IF, IN A VIOLENT NATURE*, KINGDOM OF THE PLANET OF THE APES, THE STRANGERS: CHAPTER 1, THE WATCHERS (6/14 on), THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING (extended cut) (6/15, 4 p.m.), RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK (6/15-6/16, 3 & 7 p.m.; 6/19, 7 p.m.), THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE TWO TOWERS (extended cut) (6/16, 4 p.m.), THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE RETURN OF THE KING (extended cut) (6/17, 7 p.m.), summer family films: SPIDER-MAN: ACROSS THE SPIDER-VERSE (animation), THE EMOJI MOVIE (animation) (6/18-6/20, 10 a.m.), JESUS THIRSTS: THE MIRACLE OF THE EUCHARIST (religious documentary) (6/18-6/19, 7 p.m.) *single screenings daily

@ Main Quad, Illini Union, UIUC, Urbana, IL
Illini Union Board presents “Summer Films on the Quad” feat. THE AMERICAN SOCIETY OF MAGICAL NEGROES (6/20, 9 p.m., free)

@ The Virginia Theatre, Champaign, IL
The News-Gazette Film Series presents HARVEY (6/15, 1 & 7 p.m.)

Events featuring locally produced movies are marked with an asterisk (*). Additional “Now Playing” and “Coming Soon” listings appear after the jump!

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Read the rest of this entry »

Calendar: June 7-13, 2024

June 7th, 2024

Our movie and media Calendar appears every Friday/Saturday on C-U Blogfidential and caters to the downstate region anchored by Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, USA.

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MILESTONES | Happy Birthday to You!

6/10: Allen Richards (publisher, B-Independent.com)

 

FIELD REPORT DU HQ | From Wherever It May Be Said

We’ve noticed a few things in recent weeks that we saved for our last Report until August or September. They fall in the camp of “old business is new business,” so let’s get down to business. N’est-ce pas?

First up, we shared with you recently about Ye Ed’s dalliances in shopping for non-US physical media of US (and as close to C-U as possible) productions and, right after he ordered STRANGE INVADERS and LET’S GET HARRY from Australia’s Imprint Films, parent company Via Vision Entertainment announced they would also be re-releasing GRANDVIEW, U.S.A. on Blu-ray and DVD. Sadly, it looks to be a movie-only edition just like the Kino Lorber Blu from a decade ago and the Paramount/CBS DVD from before that, never mind the C. Thomas Howell-Jamie Lee Curtis-Patrick Swayze vehicle will be reaching its 40th anniversary of theatrical release in August. This Hollywood flick is “the one filmed in Pontiac,” of course.

And then, the folks behind the scenes at the Fischer Theatre in downtown Danville have finally found a good opportunity to book THE BABE, a Universal Pictures biography of Babe Ruth as played by the great John Goodman. The Fischer will show the 1992 release tomorrow, Saturday, June 8, starting at 2 p.m. as a tie-in with that evening’s contest between the Danville Dans baseball club and the Champion City Kings of Springfield, Ohio, at Danville Stadium; Prospect League action will kick off at 6:30 p.m. Organizers are encouraging those who were present at the stadium as extras in 1991 – yes, this Hollywood flick is “the one partly filmed in Danville” – to attend and have their pictures taken for olde tyme’s sake. Play ball!

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On home turf, our friend Mike Trippiedi of Champaign recently worked with his long-time partner in video, Bill Yauch, to prepare and upload his second indie feature, AMBER ROSE, to YouTube for free viewing. Filmed in the late 2000s in the C-U, the movie – an adaptation of an original Trippiedi play that several stage troupes apparently passed on due to its touchy subject matter – appeared in film festivals in 2011-12 and briefly on Amazon Prime before being quietly pulled from public viewing. Written and directed by Trippiedi, the piece involves a young girl (Zöe Capps) who befriends an older neighbor (Steven Keen) and doesn’t realize his behavioral tendencies could put her at risk; Joe Dempsey, Carolyn Kodes, and Amy Stoch also appear in “the best thing I’ve ever written,” per Trippiedi on a recent Facebook post. During the last decade, he’s funneled his creative energy into writing fiction and his short story, “The Telemarketer,” appears in a brand-new anthology, Final Passenger (Above the Rain Collective).

Finally, out in the ether of distant memories made concrete, CUBlog friend Robert Cagle shared a vintage segment that aired on French television and featured the late University of Illinois professor and cinema scholar Edwin Jahiel. In the stream hosted online by L’INA, which unfortunately does not have subtitles, Jahiel appears in conversation with the film critic, author, and documentary producer Anne Andreu (ROMY SCHNEIDER, ÉTRANGE ÉTRANGÈRE) about the selections of the May 1978 edition of the Directors’ Fortnight, an event held parallel to the Cannes Film Festival. A long-time resident of Urbana, well past his retirement as the director of the former Unit for Cinema Studies at UIUC and until his death in 2010, Jahiel’s later writing can be enjoyed at this archive, much of it first published by the News-Gazette, while his legacy can be found in unlikely places such as student films and journals.

That’s what we have for you today, dearest readers. The Calendar listing will appear weekly over the next few months, maybe even on time, and Mr. JaPan has plans to update this and that on the site and socials. Also look for a handful of overdue articles and interviews to appear here on CUBlog if he can tear himself away from yard work, housework, and work-work. Be good and be productive, CUvians.

 

NOW PLAYING | Champaign-Urbana Area

@ AMC Champaign 13, Champaign, IL
BAD BOYS: RIDE OR DIE, HOVERING BLADE (in Mandarin with English sub), THE WATCHERS, BABES, EZRA, THE FALL GUY, FURIOSA: A MAD MAX SAGA, THE GARFIELD MOVIE (animation), HAIKYU!! THE DUMPSTER BATTLE (animé), IF, KINGDOM OF THE PLANET OF THE APES, THE STRANGERS: CHAPTER 1 (6/7 on), THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING (extended cut) (6/8, 4 & 7 p.m.), Studio Ghibli Fest: THE SECRET WORLD OF ARRIETTY (animé) (6/9, 3 & 7 p.m., English dub; 6/11, 7 p.m., in Japanese with English sub) and WHEN MARNIE WAS THERE 10th anniversary (animé) (6/10, 7 p.m., English dub; 6/12, 7 p.m., in Japanese with English sub), THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE TWO TOWERS (extended cut) (6/9, 4 & 6 p.m.), AMC “Screen Unseen” (mystery movie) (6/10, 7 p.m.), THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE RETURN OF THE KING (extended cut) (6/10, 7 p.m.), THE RELENTLESS PATRIOT (documentary) (6/13, 8 p.m.), INSIDE OUT 2 (animation), TREASURE (6/13 on)

@ Phoenix Savoy 16 + IMAX, Savoy, IL
BAD BOYS: RIDE OR DIE, THE WATCHERS, CHALLENGERS, CIVIL WAR, THE DEAD DON’T HURT, EZRA, THE FALL GUY, FURIOSA: A MAD MAX SAGA, THE GARFIELD MOVIE (animation), IF, IN A VIOLENT NATURE, KINGDOM OF THE PLANET OF THE APES, SIGHT (faith film), THE STRANGERS: CHAPTER 1, SUMMER CAMP (6/7 on), THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING (extended cut) (6/8, 4 p.m.), FERRIS BUELLER’S DAY OFF (6/9, 3 & 7 p.m.; 6/12, 7 p.m.), Studio Ghibli Fest: THE SECRET WORLD OF ARRIETTY (animé) (6/9, 3 & 7 p.m., English dub; 6/11, 7 p.m., in Japanese with English sub) ) and WHEN MARNIE WAS THERE 10th anniversary (animé) (6/10, 7 p.m., English dub; 6/12, 7 p.m., in Japanese with English sub), THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE TWO TOWERS (extended cut) (6/9, 4 p.m.), THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE RETURN OF THE KING (extended cut) (6/10, 7 p.m.), summer family films: PETER RABBIT 2: THE RUNAWAY, SMURFS: THE LOST VILLAGE (animation) (6/11-6/13, 10 a.m.), INSIDE OUT 2 (animation) (6/13 on)

@ Main Quad, Illini Union, UIUC, Urbana, IL
Illini Union Board presents “Summer Films on the Quad” feat. KUNG FU PANDA 4 (6/13, 9 p.m., free)

@ The Virginia Theatre, Champaign, IL
No movies this week!

Events featuring locally produced movies are marked with an asterisk (*). Additional “Now Playing” and “Coming Soon” listings appear after the jump!

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Read the rest of this entry »

Calendar: May 31-June 6, 2024

May 31st, 2024

Our movie and media Calendar appears every Friday/Saturday on C-U Blogfidential and caters to the downstate region anchored by Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, USA.

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MILESTONES | Happy Birthday to You!

6/1: Bill Yauch (producer/cinematographer, AMBER ROSE, Shut Up and Do It Productions, Champaign, IL)
6/1: William Pace (faculty associate of digital media production, Seton Hall University, South Orange, NJ)
6/2: DeShawn Hill (producer, HD Productions Media, Los Angeles, CA)
6/3: Amanda Baker (videographer/editor, Five Foot Productions, Champaign-Urbana, IL)

 

FIELD REPORT DU HQ | From Wherever It May Be Said

Now is the time in the program where we alert our dearest cultural custodians as to what is on deck in the local cinema. Not unlike a few weeks ago when it seemed the horror stories of our creation were oozing from every crack and pore, a fair amount of movie action has come to light and a Report-ing we will go!

On May 17, University of Illinois alumnus Keenan Dailey, the Peoria native who continues to live in Champaign-Urbana and provide freelance multi-media services as Visage Entertainment, wrapped photography for his first independent feature, BRIM, also known as HEAR NO EVIL and a partner piece to the short subject SEE NO EVIL. Developed in partnership with writer/producer Trude Namara, data researcher Paris Adkins-Jackson, PhD, the Marvin Grey Matter Family research group, and Columbia University in New York, the films use dramatic scenes to personalize how incarceration and systemic racism encoded in the law impacts the health of aging Black and Latin adults. More on SEE NO EVIL and the philosophy behind their storytelling can be learned about at this website; both were filmed in Chicago and central Illinois with regional talent, while their screening availability has yet to be announced.

On May 18, a world premiere soirée and screening were held at the Rooftop Cinema Club atop the Emily Hotel in downtown Chicago for AMERICAN CRIMINALS, a long-gestating period piece filmed all throughout Chicagoland the last two years by writer/director Aaron Warr for Great Uncles and Our Gang Productions, LLC. Based on a sensational true story that unfolded 100 years ago in the well-off Kenwood neighborhood, CRIMINALS dramatizes the unprovoked kidnapping and murder of a prep school student, Bobby Franks (Jace Chastain), by a pair of scholarly and affluent teens, Nathan Leopold (Bing Brazeau) and Richard Loeb (Jake Schory), for the alleged thrill. Once Leopold and Loeb are arrested after a ransom scheme falls apart, celebrated defense attorney Clarence Darrow (Robert Donovan) represents them in court and spares the co-conspirators from execution but not a media-fueled infamy. Peoria native Warr and producer Joshua Zilm previously worked together more than a decade ago on the comedy picture COLLEGE DEBTS and will be seeking out national distribution for the new production.

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On May 20, John Isberg of Swede Films confirmed the launch of a new podcast about making horror and cult films, Shudder to Think. Four episodes have already been uploaded to a Spotify account, the first two with Isberg monologuing about the appeal of horror and the realistic needs on a horror set, the second two where Isberg converses with cinematographer and producer Robert Patrick Stern (BLACK MOLD, BROOKLYN 45) and Jacob Allen (TOOLBOX MURDERS 2, Wreak Havoc Horror Film Festival) on their experiences in the milieu. The proverbial Facebook page will alert you about upcoming shows.

On May 22, West Coast filmmaker, arts management specialist, and Champaign native Peter McDowell revealed in an e-mail blast that his award-winning documentary about the abbreviated life and lost love of his late brother, JIMMY IN SAIGON, has been picked up for distribution in North America by Dark Star Pictures and will receive a limited theatrical release before streaming and home video berths. It also will be offered in Spain by the indie-favoring label Filmin. After appearing at more than forty festivals and showcases worldwide, JIMMY can next be seen publicly on Thursday, June 6, 6:30 p.m., at the Figge Art Museum in Davenport, Iowa – much closer to MFHQ Deux than the C-U, alas – as the first in a weekly and free film series to celebrate Pride Month. You can still donate to outreach funding right here.

Also on May 22, Northend Empire Films, LLC, and Map Productions, the groups behind the indie family comedy IRRESPONSIBULL that premiered last fall at the Virginia Theatre and was filmed in the area, posted feelers to Facebook for casting a follow-up that may be shooting as early as next week, L.A.F KIDS. They say at least one more project will be filmed later in 2024 and another, SCARE BUSTERS, has already gone before the cameras in Peoria. Those wanting to be informed about future opportunities on their sets can contact the director, Nate Morris, at nate [at] northendempire [dot] com, and those who’d like to watch IRRESPONSIBULL, which stars comedians Chris Hightower and Deandre Burns in a high-energy lark about earning trust and redemption, can stream it for $4.99 through the official website.

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And then come the horror morsels, watch out! Starting a few days ago, suburban Acrostar Productions has been promoting the next outing, RETURN OF THE CORN ZOMBIES, by announcing their players and raising production funds with equal intensity; they presumably will descend upon the rural central Illinois region where they made ATTACK OF… in the coming months, under the direction of S. J. Herman and Mia Katz. Already wrapped as of March is SMILE MAKER, a low-budget thriller conceived by actor and producer Aric Diamani of AMERICAN CRIMINALS and Mikey Tiffany of the “Time Girl” steampunk universe we’ve talked about previously; filmed in Tiffany’s hometown of Jacksonville, it stars Jeremy London, Nea Dune, and Diamani in the first of what Tiffany promises are many collaborations to come.

No relation to SMILE MAKER is GRINNERS, an even lower-budget fit of mayhem to be directed by Jarod Hussey of Refinery Films in Mt. Carroll, based in northwest Illinois; according to his fundraising campaign, the story will pit a “horror cooking show host” (Magdalena Conway, star of several Acrostar pictures) against animal-masked killers (Natanna Jacobs, Andrew Byard) in a grungy game of cat and mouse (and possum). To close, finished films in this bloody vein can now be submitted for consideration to the Screaming Mad Film Festival, a popular sidebar of the annual Dark History & Horror Convention in the C-U; the early deadline is right around the corner on Saturday, June 15, and FilmFreeway will tell you about the rest. Dark History’s tenth-anniversary show is set for late August at the Orpheum Champaign.

A few more items are lingering on our radar, yes sir and ma’am, but we need to cap Ye Ed’s eyestrain for the moment and call it a Report. New business will be followed in next week’s Calendar by a few bits of old business, and then we’ll be concentrating mainly on personal business for the summer months.

 

LOCAL FILMS & EVENTS | Support Your Media Storytellers

@ Ace Sign Co. Museum, Springfield, IL
Central Illinois Film Commission* meeting (6/6, 7 p.m.)

 

NOW PLAYING | Champaign-Urbana Area

@ AMC Champaign 13, Champaign, IL
BABES, THE DEAD DON’T HURT, EZRA, HAIKYU!! THE DUMPSTER BATTLE (animé), IN A VIOLENT NATURE, SUMMER CAMP, THE FALL GUY, FURIOSA: A MAD MAX SAGA, THE GARFIELD MOVIE (animation), IF, KINGDOM OF THE PLANET OF THE APES, SIGHT (faith film), THE STRANGERS: CHAPTER 1 (5/31 on), JESUS THIRSTS: THE MIRACLE OF THE EUCHARIST (religious documentary) (6/4-6/6, 4 & 7 p.m.), LATE NIGHT WITH THE DEVIL feat. David Dastmalchian & Kevin Smith talk (6/6, 7:30 p.m.), BAD BOYS: RIDE OR DIE, THE WATCHERS (6/6 on)

@ Phoenix Savoy 16 + IMAX, Savoy, IL
THE DEAD DON’T HURT, EZRA, IN A VIOLENT NATURE, SUMMER CAMP, BABES, BACK TO BLACK, CHALLENGERS, CIVIL WAR, THE FALL GUY, FURIOSA: A MAD MAX SAGA, THE GARFIELD MOVIE (animation), IF, KINGDOM OF THE PLANET OF THE APES, SIGHT (faith film), THE STRANGERS: CHAPTER 1 (5/31 on), UFC 302: Islam Makhachev vs. Dustin Porier, more (mixed martial arts) (6/1, 9 p.m., simulcast), THE MUPPET MOVIE 45th anniversary (6/2, 1 & 7 p.m.; 6/3, 7 p.m.), SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD (6/2, 3 & 7 p.m.; 6/5, 7 p.m.), JESUS THIRSTS: THE MIRACLE OF THE EUCHARIST (religious documentary) (6/4, 4 & 7 p.m.; 6/5, 7 p.m.), summer family films: THE ANGRY BIRDS MOVIE 2 (animation), HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA 3: SUMMER VACATION (animation) (6/4-6/6, 10 a.m.), BAD BOYS: RIDE OR DIE, THE WATCHERS (6/6 on)

@ Main Quad, Illini Union, UIUC, Urbana, IL
Illini Union Board presents “Summer Films on the Quad” feat. ARTHUR THE KING (6/6, 9 p.m., free)

@ The Virginia Theatre, Champaign, IL
No movies this week!

Events featuring locally produced movies are marked with an asterisk (*). Additional “Now Playing” and “Coming Soon” listings appear after the jump!

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Calendar: May 24-30, 2024

May 24th, 2024

Our movie and media Calendar appears every Friday/Saturday on C-U Blogfidential and caters to the downstate region anchored by Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, USA.

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MILESTONES | Happy Birthday to You!

5/25: David Gracon, Ph.D. (assistant professor of integrated media, Gonzaga University, Spokane, WA)
5/26: Lana Hinshaw-Klann (photojournalist, WBBM Channel 2 (CBS), Chicago, IL)

 

FIELD REPORT DU HQ | From Wherever It May Be Said

Bawk. Quoth the Jason, “No Report.” Sorry. Time got away. Ye Ed is prepping for a medical procedure next Friday and has to compensate and compromise. We’re still operating on the “two more Reports and done for the summer” principle. Therefore, watch this space, dearest readers. Danke. Bawk.

 

LOCAL FILMS & EVENTS | Support Your Media Storytellers

@ Phoenix Savoy 16 + IMAX, Savoy, IL
Chambana Film Festival presents BIKE VESSEL (documentary) w/guests (5/26, 4 p.m.)

 

NOW PLAYING | Champaign-Urbana Area

@ AMC Champaign 13, Champaign, IL
THE BLUE ANGELS (documentary), FURIOSA: A MAD MAX SAGA, THE GARFIELD MOVIE (animation), I LOVE YOU TO THE MOON AND BACK (in Mandarin with English sub), SIGHT (faith film), THREE OLD BOYS (in Mandarin with English sub), BACK TO BLACK, CHALLENGERS, THE FALL GUY, IF, KINGDOM OF THE PLANET OF THE APES, THE STRANGERS: CHAPTER 1 (5/24 on), BABES, HAIKYU!! THE DUMPSTER BATTLE (animé) (5/30 on)

@ Phoenix Savoy 16 + IMAX, Savoy, IL
BABES, FURIOSA: A MAD MAX SAGA, THE GARFIELD MOVIE (animation), SIGHT (faith film), BACK TO BLACK, CHALLENGERS, CIVIL WAR, THE FALL GUY, IF, KINGDOM OF THE PLANET OF THE APES, THE STRANGERS: CHAPTER 1, TAROT* (5/24 on), BACK TO THE FUTURE (5/26-5/27, 3 & 7 p.m.; 5/29, 7 p.m.), summer family films: LYLE LYLE CROCODILE, SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE (animation) (5/28-5/30, 10 a.m.), THE COMMANDANT’S SHADOW (Holocaust documentary) (5/29-5/30, 4 & 7 p.m.) *single screenings daily

@ Main Quad, Illini Union, UIUC, Urbana, IL
Illini Union Board presents “Summer Films on the Quad” feat. DUNE: PART TWO (5/30, 9 p.m., free)

@ Redbox (streaming), Champaign-Urbana, IL
Follow the link to view the hottest new releases! (5/21 on) Online rentals

@ The Virginia Theatre, Champaign, IL
Illinois Public Media presents “The Arthouse Experience Film Series” feat. FREE SOLO (documentary) (5/24, 7 p.m.), The News-Gazette Film Series presents THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME (1923) with accompaniment by organist Jay Warren (5/25, 1 & 7 p.m.)

Events featuring locally produced movies are marked with an asterisk (*). Additional “Now Playing” and “Coming Soon” listings appear after the jump!

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Calendar: May 17-23, 2024

May 17th, 2024

Our movie and media Calendar appears every Friday/Saturday on C-U Blogfidential and caters to the downstate region anchored by Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, USA.

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MILESTONES | Happy Birthday to You!

5/17: Nat Dykeman (founder, Lake County Film Festival, Grayslake, IL)
5/19: Gerry Kissell (co-host, Pop Culture Minefield vidcast, Dangerous Nerds Media, Springfield, MO)
5/21: Katherine Bokenkamp (actress, THE BATON ROUGE SERIAL KILLER, Meet Me at the Movies Productions, Springfield, IL)

 

FIELD REPORT DU HQ | From Wherever It May Be Said

Our new Report will be the next-to-last one for the academic recess, dearest readers, although the Calendar will continue. Your humble editor has a ton to do at MFHQ Deux now that Momkoke’s estate is just about settled and work-for-hire needs to be restored to pre-pandemic, pre-weekly road trip levels. (If you don’t know what I’m referencing at this point, you haven’t been picking up on all the hints and asides I’ve been laying down on C-U Blogfidential over the last seven years and that’s just fine. Somewhat.) For the moment, we’d like to share a few stories that really didn’t go with the windfall o’ indie horror we dropped in your laps last week. And yet, they’re still kind of horrific in ways. There truly is no escape.

We recently caught wind of a sideline taken up by the fellows behind the HorrorFix website, Ash Hamilton and James G. Chandler, and that is providing commentary tracks for the home video releases of Kino Lorber. (Chairman Richard Lorber talked to The Hollywood Reporter this week about their philosophy and durability in an ever-fickle marketplace filled with theatrical, streaming, and physical media product.) The title catching the eye of Ye Ed is DEATH MACHINE, an early Nineties sci-fi effort directed by Stephen Norrington (BLADE) with Brad Dourif and Ely Pouget that is receiving a little two-disc Blu-ray love from the company. It will be available as of Tuesday, June 4, and the central Illinois duo can also be heard on the just-announced Blu of UNDERGROUND ACES (1981) starring Dirk Benedict and Melanie Griffith, which is scheduled to street on Tuesday, July 23, and the exploitation action fests of PRISON GIRLS (1972) and SAVAGE SISTERS (1974), which Kino has uncaged in the last couple of years. Hamilton recently voiced on Facebook a desire to staff up Horror-Fix.com; hit them up right here if interested!

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Speaking of “movies” and “revivals,” we are seemingly at the beginning of the strongest push in recent memory to establish filmmaking not only as a viable activity in Champaign-Urbana, but also – we’ll see to what effect in the near future – a viable business and money-making strategy in the milieu of Champaign County commerce and tourism. Following a call for local talent to be extras in upcoming shoots that was held on May 2, a pair of follow-up events will be held this weekend and hosted by Rantoul’s Flyover Film Studios and Bokeh Background Casting, an offshoot of the Chicago-based Compass Casting. Sessions will take place on Saturday, May 18, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., at the Hampton Inn of Champaign, and Sunday, May 19, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., at the Rantoul Business Center in Rantoul. Directions on how to prepare and what to otherwise do are available on the Bokeh website. Shatterglass Films and The Line Film Co. are also partnering with Film Champaign-Urbana, the rebranded Champaign County film office, to host an informational workshop for local businesses who trade in services and hospitality at Analog Wine Library in Urbana on Thursday, May 23, 5-6 p.m., to learn how to be involved in upcoming movie shoots.

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Weirdly enough, our remaining updates have to do with locally-based folks plying their trades elsewhere and, of course, it’s for horror-themed material. Deadline and other news sites reported last week that REVIVAL, a pet project of Flyover and Shatterglass’ Luke Boyce, was ordered to series by SyFy and expected to air in 2025. Life and creative partner Keri Boyce shared on Facebook that her husband and a production team that includes Aaron B. Koontz, a producer on Shatterglass’ REVEALER and other Shudder titles, will be stationed in Canada for five months to bring this “anti-zombie” serial to life; the duo serves as executive producers, showrunners, and writers on REVIVAL, adapted from the hit Image Comics title by writer Tim Seeley (REVEALER, Hack/Slash) and artist Mike Norton (Shazam!, Battlepug). Closer to home, Midwest filmmaker Nathan Dalton shared with his Indiegogo patrons last week a teaser trailer for his low-budget and crowd-funded culinary tale of terror, HAUNTED HOUSE OF PANCAKES, which features cinematography by our own John Isberg (FINAL SUMMER); co-written by Niki McElroy with Dalton and filmed in Ohio this February, the silly-as-it-sounds dish looks to be loaded with jokes, monsters, and practical effects. At some point, Mr. JaPan will serve up his very minor contribution to the mayhem.

We’ll conclude by voicing our perennial plea for you to do your part in supporting efforts in the cinema du C-U. Despite the focus by local media on developments with Flyover Film Studios, a film culture is not solely dependent on or defined by the folks who choose to go big or go home. You can get familiar with our neighbors in film by attending events apart from the first-run multiplex dates and Disney/Marvel/CGI warm weather reruns for families, such as the monthly Champaign Movie Makers mixer. They return on Monday, May 20, 7 p.m., to the Esquire Lounge in downtown Champaign where you can learn about the revitalized Pens to Lens program and other interesting projects. Be there and contribute if you can.

 

LOCAL FILMS & EVENTS | Support Your Media Storytellers

@ Esquire Lounge, Champaign, IL
Champaign Movie Makers* mixer (5/20, 7 p.m.)

 

NOW PLAYING | Champaign-Urbana Area

@ AMC Champaign 13, Champaign, IL
BACK TO BLACK, IF, THE LAST FRENZY (in Mandarin with English sub), THE STRANGERS: CHAPTER 1, CHALLENGERS, THE FALL GUY, GODZILLA X KONG: THE NEW EMPIRE, KINGDOM OF THE PLANET OF THE APES, KUNG FU PANDA 4 (animation), TAROT, UNSUNG HERO (faith film) (5/17 on), “Transformers 40th Anniversary Event” feat. TRANSFORMERS S1 Ep. 1-4 (5/18-5/19, 12 p.m.), Studio Ghibli Fest 2024: NAUSICAÄ OF THE VALLEY OF THE WIND 40th anniversary (animé) (5/19, 2 & 7 p.m., English dub; 5/21, 7 p.m., in Japanese with English sub), CASTLE IN THE SKY (animé) (5/20, 7 p.m., English dub; 5/22, 7 p.m., in Japanese with English sub), AMC “Screen Unseen” (mystery movie) (5/20, 7 p.m.), FURIOSA: A MAD MAX SAGA, THE GARFIELD MOVIE (animation), SIGHT (5/23 on)

@ Phoenix Savoy 16 + IMAX, Savoy, IL
BACK TO BLACK, IF, THE STRANGERS: CHAPTER 1, CHALLENGERS, CIVIL WAR, THE FALL GUY, GHOSTBUSTERS: FROZEN EMPIRE, GODZILLA X KONG: THE NEW EMPIRE, KINGDOM OF THE PLANET OF THE APES, KUNG FU PANDA 4 (animation), TAROT, UNSUNG HERO (faith film) (5/17 on), NOT ANOTHER CHURCH MOVIE (5/18-5/20, 5/23, 11 a.m.), HARRY POTTER AND THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIX (5/18, 7 p.m.; 5/19, 3 & 7 p.m.; 5/22, 7 p.m.), NORTH BY NORTHWEST 65th anniversary (5/19, 1 & 7 p.m.; 5/22, 7 p.m.), Studio Ghibli Fest 2024: NAUSICAÄ OF THE VALLEY OF THE WIND 40th anniversary (animé) (5/19, 3 & 7 p.m., English dub; 5/21, 7 p.m., in Japanese with English sub), CASTLE IN THE SKY (animé) (5/20, 7 p.m., English dub; 5/22, 7 p.m., in Japanese with English sub), FURIOSA: A MAD MAX SAGA, THE GARFIELD MOVIE (animation) (5/23 on)

@ Main Quad, Illini Union, UIUC, Urbana, IL
Illini Union Board presents “Summer Films on the Quad” feat. BOB MARLEY: ONE LOVE (5/23, 9 p.m., free)

@ Redbox (streaming), Champaign-Urbana, IL
Follow the link to view the hottest new releases! (5/14 on) Online rentals

@ The Virginia Theatre, Champaign, IL
Illini Radio Group presents “Rewind 92.5 Movie Series” feat. FAME (1980) (5/23, 7 p.m.)

Events featuring locally produced movies are marked with an asterisk (*). Additional “Now Playing” and “Coming Soon” listings appear after the jump!

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Read the rest of this entry »

Calendar: May 10-16, 2024

May 11th, 2024

Our movie and media Calendar appears every Friday/Saturday on C-U Blogfidential and caters to the downstate region anchored by Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, USA.

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MILESTONES | Happy Birthday to You!

5/9: Chuck Russell (director, WITCHBOARD, Gala Films/Gala Games, Jackson, WY/actor, SHOT, Cinemaguild, UIUC, Urbana, IL)

 

FIELD REPORT DU HQ | From Wherever It May Be Said

Today’s Report should really be a full-blown post like we’ve run in the past but, horror of horrors, we’re going to condense this update on the locally-made terror films that have all decided to burst forth at the same time like yesterday’s cicadas. To be accurate, we’re talking about previews for said films and not the real deals, but at least it’s a definite sign these productions are on the way to weird us out of our wits!

On April 17, HorrorFix Films of Springfield unleashed the official trailer for the anthology feature F’D: TALES FROM THE END TIMES we’ve told you about previously, and it looks to be a mix of found footage affects and lo-fi gruesomeness for those in the mood for edgy mayhem. Project coordinator Ash Hamilton shares on Facebook that F’D has begun playing festivals and earning laurels, such as the “Best Ensemble” and “Best Sci-Fi” nods from the Miami International Gold Awards a week ago.

On April 20, Predestined Arts & Entertainment of Springfield provided their Facebook followers a first look at LIPSTICK, the long-in-the-works feature follow-up to BEFORE ‘I DO’ from writer/director Kimberly D. Conner. Starring Camille Winbush (THE BERNIE MAC SHOW) as a criminal defense attorney who moonlights as a self-described “Lady Justice,” operating on the streets and outside the law, LIPSTICK was filmed in 2022 in Los Angeles and just selected to play the Roxbury International Film Festival in Boston this June. Both the new trailer and a previous teaser can be watched on YouTube.

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On April 23, Acrostar Productions of Chicago launched yet another fundraising and perks (a-hem) campaign for the full-length version of their campy “sisters vs. witches” tale, NIGHT OF THE DEAD SORORITY BABES, which includes a 50-second teaser with new footage from the crew’s return to the lake house setting in Decatur. The S. J. Herman production features much of the cast from the proof-of-concept edition we talked about previously – director Angel Bradford, producer Ann Myrna, cult icon Lynn Lowry, Mia Katz, Kelsey Livengood, Ashleigh Amberlynn, Jessa Flux, Samantha Hupp – and two new faces, Anna Clary (THE WOODMEN) and Mel Heflin (TALES FROM THE GRAVEYARD). Acrostar promises to have both BABES and the tense psychodrama DISREMEMBERED out later in the summer.

On April 24, Swede Films of Champaign-Urbana shared on Facebook a specially-made teaser for their sequel FINAL SUMMER PART II, now subtitled PROWLER as a nod to the vintage 1981 slasher film directed by Joseph Zito; this time, the killer (whomever they are, given how the original ended) is literally out of the woods and hitting town to wreak havoc during the fall of 1993 as a bunch of grunge rockers bop the night away. Directed and produced by John Isberg, PART II will go into production soon.

Also on April 24, Heroic Age Studios of Mt. Zion revealed that, at long last, a preview for their fantasy-horror biker bar opus TRICK AND TREATS had been added to the project’s Internet Movie Database profile; a heartfelt update from Heroic duo Eric Hector and Tim Lynn appeared on Facebook to thank everyone for their efforts and patience – principal photography was done in 2018 – as well as confirm that several distributors have been taking interest in their reinvention of the “Peter, Peter, Pumpkin Eater” nursery rhyme. Given Hector’s background, it is visually drenched in comic book hues and design.

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On May 3, co-writer and star Bishop Stevens announced on his Facebook profile on behalf of Meet Me at the Movies Productions that the filming of THE BATON ROUGE SERIAL KILLER: DERRICK TODD LEE had wrapped it the Decatur area. He also shared that all footage had been turned over to Heroic Age’s Lynn to begin post-production. A previous teaser made up of material shot during last year’s visit to the Soy Capital, originally posted with a now-closed Indiegogo campaign, can still be viewed here to give you an idea of their docudrama aims; it will likely be replaced soon with a more complete look at the film.

We probably should call back to the other recent genre films made in our neck of the woods (and cornfields, and college towns, and…) that are now playing near you. BLACK MOLD, an unofficial “test run feature” made in what was recently christened the Flyover Film Studios of Rantoul, has been showing exclusively on Tubi since December 7. PROJECT DOROTHY, the “lost” AI thriller that was filmed at the Rivian plant in Normal by Los Angeles filmmakers a few years ago, began its VOD run on January 16. AFTERLIFE, from Ben Harl and Silver Compass Studios of Decatur, has been available to rent on several services since February 27. HUNTING FOR THE HAG, from Paul A. Brooks and Into the Night Motion Pictures of Normal, began streaming on multiple platforms on April 2. And, let’s congratulate Chase & Shep on their big-screen debut as part of the Chicago Horror Film Festival on May 5, where THE EXORCISM OF CHASE & SHEP was included in a closing night block. Whew. Got all that?

This compounding of creepy is surely a coincidence, and we can bet the movies of Champaign, Urbana, and the cities beyond will branch back out into more breadth as we move along into the future. Even if grue isn’t your game, try to give our movie creatives support when you get a chance to check out their wares or step into a role on either side of the camera. Who knows? They might even be watching you. Wait a sec … is thatthat damned yellow raincoat? Passing by, again? Get off our MFHQ lawn!

 

NOW PLAYING | Champaign-Urbana Area

@ AMC Champaign 13, Champaign, IL
KINGDOM OF THE PLANET OF THE APES, NOT ANOTHER CHURCH MOVIE, WICKED LITTLE LETTERS, ABIGAIL*, CHALLENGERS, CIVIL WAR, THE FALL GUY, GODZILLA X KONG: THE NEW EMPIRE, KUNG FU PANDA 4 (animation), THE MINISTRY OF UNGENTLEMANLY WARFARE, STAR WARS EPISODE I: THE PHANTOM MENACE (re-release), TAROT, UNSUNG HERO (faith film) (5/10 on), AMC “Screen Unseen” (mystery movie) (5/13, 7 p.m.), “Transformers 40th Anniversary Event” feat. TRANSFORMERS S1 Ep. 1-4 (5/15, 7 p.m.), BACK TO BLACK, IF, THE STRANGERS: CHAPTER 1 (5/16 on) *single screenings daily

@ Phoenix Savoy 16 + IMAX, Savoy, IL
KINGDOM OF THE PLANET OF THE APES, NOT ANOTHER CHURCH MOVIE, ABIGAIL, CHALLENGERS, CIVIL WAR, DUNE: PART TWO, THE FALL GUY, GHOSTBUSTERS: FROZEN EMPIRE, GODZILLA X KONG: THE NEW EMPIRE, KUNG FU PANDA 4 (animation), THE MINISTRY OF UNGENTLEMANLY WARFARE, STAR WARS EPISODE I: THE PHANTOM MENACE (re-release), TAROT, UNSUNG HERO (faith film) (5/10 on), The Metropolitan Opera: Madama Butterfly (5/11, 11:55 a.m., simulcast; 5/15, 1 & 6:30 p.m., recorded), THE WIZARD OF OZ (5/11, 7 p.m.; 5/12, 3 & 7 p.m.; 5/15, 7 p.m.), BACK TO BLACK, IF, THE STRANGERS: CHAPTER 1 (5/16 on)

@ Redbox (streaming), Champaign-Urbana, IL
Follow the link to view the hottest new releases! (5/7 on) Online rentals

@ The Virginia Theatre, Champaign, IL
No movies this week!

Events featuring locally produced movies are marked with an asterisk (*). Additional “Now Playing” and “Coming Soon” listings appear after the jump!

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Read the rest of this entry »

Calendar: May 3-9, 2024

May 3rd, 2024

Our movie and media Calendar appears every Friday/Saturday on C-U Blogfidential and caters to the downstate region anchored by Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, USA.

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MILESTONES | Happy Birthday to You!

5/4: Andrew J. Rausch (contributor, Screem Magazine, Wilkes Barre, PA)

 

FIELD REPORT DU HQ | From Wherever It May Be Said

Starting out, we’ll be adding to our roll call of end-of-semester showcases that promote the filmmaking efforts of our students; would you believe we didn’t find out about two more of them until after we filed the previous Report? One is already done and in the books; following the large-scale Foxtail Film Festival, the School of Theatre and Dance at Illinois State University presented “The Big Screen” program at the Normal Theater on Thursday, May 2, a compilation of collaborations between students who are studying performance disciplines and their peers enrolled in the school’s film and digital media classes.

The other takes place this coming Wednesday, May 8, and Thursday, May 9, also at the Normal and featuring even more work by the young people of Bloomington-Normal; the annual Heartland Hawk Film Festival, sponsored by Heartland Community College of Normal, will present pieces by current students and alumni on the Thursday date and the farming documentary GREENER PASTURES, directed by Samuel-Ali Mirpoorian and recently aired by PBS as a selection of INDEPENDENT LENS, on Wednesday. Both evenings begin at 6 p.m. and are free entry for the public. So, does this finally normalize the short subject as a legitimate activity for the underclassmen across our local campuses?

And, as higher learning makes the segue from classes to finals and graduation ceremonies, we’d like to share a few prompts about how students of all ages can learn from and learn to make media thanks to the educators who aren’t in the most likely of places. An article published by the Pantagraph in March tells of the route taken by Bloomington resident Mel Campbell to turn his love for performing and puppetry into a viable career; he recently joined the cast of PBS KidsDONKEY HODIE as “Cousin Hodie” and works on the set at WTTW in Chicago for Spiffy Pictures and Fred Rogers Productions. Clips from the official site make it clear the show is designed to teach values and lessons to small children in the PBS tradition established by SESAME STREET, MR. ROGERS’ NEIGHBORHOOD, and many others.

A Facebook share in the early spring let us know that AJ Christensen, a contributor to Pens to Lens films with a creative eye, is front and center in his role at the Advanced Visualization Lab of the National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois. In recent activity, Christensen co-hosts with Kalina Borkiewicz a four-week video course, “3-D Data Visualization,” that instructs the viewer on how the translation of research into cinematic visuals can help give literal shape to the fruits of extensive research as well as engage the public in better picturing scientific concepts and theories. NCSA has been a leader in generating CGI renderings for documentaries, feature films, and television for some time now.

Promotional posts on the same remind us that area native Mark Roberts has been going to town with The Bad Mule Rag, an ongoing collection of wry and satiric poems that has so far inspired two print issues, two album recordings – the second release features contributions from Gina Schock of The Go-Go’s and actress Cathy Moriarty (NEIGHBORS) – and more than 10 short films he’s co-created with visual artists from across the United States; at least one video Rag is released every month on YouTube and they all incorporate a mix of handmade animation styles and puppetry as well as original music. Roberts is clearly taking a mentorship role in guiding along this film series and the overall project is flourishing.

To close, we’d like to appreciate the gift to the world that was our friend Mark Rubel, who passed away in his adopted home of Nashville a few weeks ago. The producers of PRAIRIE FIRE, the resurrected magazine show of downstate Illinois arts and culture that airs on WILL-TV of Urbana, posted a tribute to Rubel in which he touches on his long career as a recordist and educator at places like Pogo Studios in Champaign, Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, and The Blackbird Academy audio engineering school in the Music City via archive footage. Rubel’s guidance and gentle wisdom will be missed. Adieu.

p.s. This Calendar features the 10th anniversary appearance of the Confidential Almanac. We actually had no intention of sounding short about the box office performance of WITH HONORS. That’s just the writing style we adopted to start out with, not knowing how involved some of the eventual Almanacs would become. Unfortunately, we’ve written only a few original Almanac entries in the last few years, so we’re working through our crib notes to see what historical highlights might be worth encapsulating in the near future. We’ll be updating our Almanac compilation, the “Plot Points du C-U” page, very soon.

p.s.2 This also means it’s the 30th anniversary of the first (and last?) time Champaign-Urbana would be pictured to any extent in a wide-release Hollywood film that was playing in a theater near you.

 

CONFIDENTIAL ALMANAC | Dates in Film Culture History

30 Years AgoSunday, May 8, 1994: Feature drama WITH HONORS, partly filmed on University of Illinois campus, ends 2nd weekend of wide release through Warner Bros. as top-grossing movie in North America with $3.7 million. Fellow college-set comedy, PCU, takes 11th slot on box-office chart with just under $1 million gross, also in 2nd week wide through 20th Century Fox; co-producer is UIUC alum and American Film Institute faculty Barry Sabath. Box Office Mojo [R]

 

LOCAL FILMS & EVENTS | Support Your Media Storytellers

@ Normal Theater, Normal, IL
Heartland Community College presents the Heartland Hawk Film Festival* (5/8-5/9, 6 p.m.)

 

NOW PLAYING | Champaign-Urbana Area

@ AMC Champaign 13, Champaign, IL
DRAGONKEEPER (animation), THE FALL GUY, STAR WARS EPISODE I: THE PHANTOM MENACE (re-release), TAROT, ABIGAIL, BOY KILLS WORLD, CHALLENGERS, CIVIL WAR, GODZILLA X KONG: THE NEW EMPIRE, KUNG FU PANDA 4 (animation), THE MINISTRY OF UNGENTLEMANLY WARFARE, MONKEY MAN*, UNSUNG HERO (faith film) (5/3 on), MOBILE SUIT GUNDAM: SEED FREEDOM (animé) (5/7, 7 p.m., in Japanese with English sub; 5/8, 7 p.m., English dub), KINGDOM OF THE PLANET OF THE APES, NOT ANOTHER CHURCH MOVIE (5/9 on) *single screenings daily

@ Phoenix Savoy 16 + IMAX, Savoy, IL
THE FALL GUY, STAR WARS EPISODE I: THE PHANTOM MENACE (re-release), TAROT, ABIGAIL, BOY KILLS WORLD, CHALLENGERS, CIVIL WAR, DUNE: PART TWO, GHOSTBUSTERS: FROZEN EMPIRE, GODZILLA X KONG: THE NEW EMPIRE, KUNG FU PANDA 4 (animation), THE MINISTRY OF UNGENTLEMANLY WARFARE, MONKEY MAN, UNSUNG HERO (faith film) (5/3 on), JEANNE DU BARRY* (5/3-5/7), Canelo Alvarez vs. Jaime Munguia, more (boxing) (5/4, 7 p.m., simulcast), UFC 301: Alexandre Pantoja vs. Steve Erceg, more (mixed martial arts) (5/4, 9 p.m., simulcast), STEEL MAGNOLIAS 35th anniversary (5/5, 3 & 7 p.m.; 5/8, 7 p.m.), DIAL ‘M’ FOR MURDER (5/5, 3 & 7 p.m.; 5/8, 7 p.m.), MOBILE SUIT GUNDAM: SEED FREEDOM (animé) (5/7, 7 p.m., in Japanese with English sub; 5/8, 7 p.m., English dub), KINGDOM OF THE PLANET OF THE APES (5/9 on) *single screenings daily

@ Illini Union, UIUC, Urbana, IL
Illini Union Board presents “Spring 2024 Weekend Films” feat. THE IRON CLAW, Pine Lounge, 1st floor (5/3-5/4, 7 p.m.; free w/i-card)

@ Redbox (streaming), Champaign-Urbana, IL
AMELIA’S CHILDREN, PHANTOM WARRIOR, RED RIGHT HAND, more! (4/30 on) Online rentals

@ The Virginia Theatre, Champaign, IL
No movies this week!

Events featuring locally produced movies are marked with an asterisk (*). Additional “Now Playing” and “Coming Soon” listings appear after the jump!

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Calendar: April 26-May 2, 2024

April 27th, 2024

Our movie and media Calendar appears every Friday/Saturday on C-U Blogfidential and caters to the downstate region anchored by Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, USA.

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MILESTONES | Happy Birthday to You!

4/28: John Isberg (director/producer, FINAL SUMMER PART II, Swede Films, Champaign-Urbana, IL)
4/29: Sophie McMahan Berkley (artist, Sophie McMahan, Urbana, IL)

 

FIELD REPORT DU HQ | From Wherever It May Be Said

This weekend will be a good weekend to stay indoors and keep active, which is what the continual chorus of drips and splatters coming from outside of MFHQ Deux are signaling to us, so we’d like to Report on the deluge of student body film showcases at our doorstep. That said, let’s be careful out there en route to the events as we navigate cicadas, storms, protestors, marathoners, and pre-finals revelers.

The larger opportunities are afoot in both pairs of Twin Cities, yet we’ll be damned if we can share much of anything about them, and we encourage you to take the chance by attending so you can see what tomorrow’s potential media storytellers are saying today. The Illinois State University-based Foxtail Film Festival continues its sophomore run at the Normal Theater in downtown Normal today, Friday, April 26, and tomorrow, Saturday, April 27, with 7 p.m. presentations; you can glean from the official website an itinerary of film titles and their youthful directors, as well as the promise of juried and audience honors, but there is little else across all their social media platforms. The featured (adult) filmmaker and workshop presenter is Danielle Beverly of Northwestern University, who introduced her recent documentary QATAR STARS at the kickoff event for Foxtail last night. Presumably, highlights and a recap will be forthcoming.

A similar sense of reservation could be noted with the UIUC Student Film Festival, now fully integrated under the College of Media and following closely on the heels of “Ebertfest,” which also takes place tonight, April 26, at 7 p.m. in the Knight Auditorium of the Spurlock Museum of World Cultures in Urbana. All the previous online presence that was designed for prior iterations of this event seems to be outdated or simply gone, and we’re left with a Facebook account that teases little except for a program with names and entries as well as a token post at Media with a show poster and livestream feed. We realize that both are the sum results of classwork team efforts – COM 334 at ISU and MACS 366 at Illinois, respectively – with the expected learning curves and corners cut due to time and resources. It just feels like the students themselves are all but expelled from the public face of the programs. Presumably, faculty has reasons.

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We wonder if a smaller scale with less pomp and circumstance would be a better approach for these kinds of end-of-the-school-year capstones and, indeed, a scaled-back emphasis on the “feather in my cap” aspects for the professionals involved. There are ready examples scheduled for right around the corner, now that our area’s liberal arts colleges have been able to establish their own media production tracks, and you can go judge for yourselves while showing attentiveness and support for these kids. The fourth annual Phenom Film Festival at Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington, organized by associate professor of theater arts Thomas Quinn, will take place on Monday, April 29, 7 p.m., at the Hansen Student Center, while the Images in Motion Film Festival at Millikin University in Decatur, overseen by Eric Hector, associate professor in the School of Art & Creative Media, is scheduled for Sunday, April 28, 6 p.m., at the Perkinson Music Center’s Kaeuper Hall; the latter will also entertain a visit from Peter Hawley, director of the Illinois Film Office. Both are free to attend and open to the general public.

All told, we should be making a fuss about these formalized opportunities for young people to get a solid taste of the trades from our institutions that factor into filmmaking and film presentation. Ten years ago, we only had a precursor to the Illinois student showcase, called “Movies to the MACS,” and it was staged as an in-class final project with no intention of attempting to draw an audience outside of those enrolled in the course. (One year, it did draw a couple of guest judges: then-Art Theater operator Sanford Hess and your humble editor.) Instruction for credit on how to create media was also rare to find. Let’s value the not-far-from-home options of today for our students in higher education, as it’s not just them who can benefit in positive ways from what they accomplish. Keep up the growth, academic cinema folks du C-U.

p.s. The coincidence of today’s Almanac entry is not lost on us. It only took the colleges of downstate Illinois nearly a century to figure out how to not rely on camera-toting travelers to teach our children well.

p.s.2 Thirty years ago, Ye Ed was one year out of IWU and Ye Webmaster was about to graduate from Millikin. We attempted a couple of side projects at the time and, trust us, there was nothing doing with video on either campus. Therefore, we didn’t know what the hell we were getting into. True story.

 

CONFIDENTIAL ALMANAC | Dates in Film Culture History

105 Years AgoMonday, April 28, 1919: A lighthearted moving picture called LOVE’S YOUNG DREAM premieres at the New Orpheum Theatre in downtown Champaign, IL, the result of a unique collaboration that has kept the Twin Cities buzzing. According to several reports published by the Daily Illini in the past month, promoter Joseph Maddern and Orpheum manager R.V. Mallory set the intrigue in motion when they announced a casting call for a film comedy – “You may become a famous star!” the advertising boasted – to be made primarily at the Orpheum itself with local talent. Maddern, a former Broadway actor and producer for the Keystone and Pathé film companies, took up residence aside the Orpheum’s regular program of vaudeville acts to present “Making Movies,” during which audiences had the opportunity to watch the creation of LOVE’S YOUNG DREAM. Tom Ward, the director of the project, led his crew to use the Orpheum’s traditional stage as if it were a movie stage in Hollywood, completing one or two scenes per “performance” for a full week beginning on Monday, April 14. Panoramic views of the auditorium filled with curiosity seekers were taken at each show and figure in the final reel, just like the images these impresarios captured two weeks ago at the University of Illinois with students busying themselves on the quadrangle and in Lincoln Hall. The completed version of LOVE’S YOUNG DREAM will play the Orpheum through Saturday, May 3, sharing the bill with comedians, singers, dramatists, xylophonists, a jazz quintet, and Wanda, “the seal with a human brain.” Ward and Maddern would keep their demonstration on the road for at least several years, appearing as late as December 1923 in the Englewood neighborhood of Chicago. The former is forgotten today except for this line of hucksterism and brief appearances on the silent silver screen; the latter is noted as a contract director on the Mack Sennett/Keystone comedy short, TWENTY MINUTES OF LOVE, regarded by some scholars as the first film where upcoming star Charlie Chaplin exerted his creative influence over the final product. [R]

 

LOCAL FILMS & EVENTS | Support Your Media Storytellers

@ Golden Corral, Springfield, IL
Central Illinois Film Commission* meeting (5/2, 6 p.m. dinner, 7 p.m. meeting)

@ Hansen Student Center, Illinois Wesleyan University, Bloomington, IL
IWU presents the fourth annual Phenom Film Festival* (4/29, 7 p.m., Hansen Student Center, free)

@ Normal Theater, Normal, IL
Schools of Communications, Theatre and Dance, and Art and COM 334, ISU, present the second annual Foxtail Film Festival* (Workshop, 4/26, 3 p.m.; Regional Showcase, 4/26, 7 p.m.; Competitive Showcase, 4/27, 7 p.m.)

@ Perkinson Music Center, Millikin University, Decatur, IL
MU presents the Images in Motion Film Festival* (4/28, 6 p.m., Kaeuper Hall)

@ Phoenix Savoy 16 + IMAX, Savoy, IL
Chambana Film Festival presents TRAPPED BALLOON (4/28, 4 p.m.)

@ Spurlock Museum for World Cultures, UIUC, Urbana, IL
Department of Media and Cinema Studies and MACS 366, College of Media, UIUC, and the Jonathan Laxamana Endowment Fund present the UIUC Student Film Festival* 2024 (4/26, 7 p.m., Knight Auditorium, free)

 

NOW PLAYING | Champaign-Urbana Area

@ AMC Champaign 13, Champaign, IL
ALIEN (re-release), BOY KILLS WORLD, CHALLENGERS, THE MUMMY (1999) (re-release), UNSUNG HERO (faith film), WE GROWN NOW, ABIGAIL, CIVIL WAR, GHOSTBUSTERS: FROZEN EMPIRE, GODZILLA X KONG: THE NEW EMPIRE, KUNG FU PANDA 4 (animation), THE MINISTRY OF UNGENTLEMANLY WARFARE, MONKEY MAN*, SASQUATCH SUNSET*, SPY X FAMILY – CODE: WHITE (animé) (English dub or in Japanese with English sub) (4/26 on), Studio Ghibli Fest: SPIRITED AWAY (animé) (4/27, 3 p.m., 4/29, 7 p.m., 5/1, 7 p.m., in Japanese with English sub; 4/28, 3:15 & 7:15 p.m., 4/30, 7 p.m., English dub), THE FALL GUY, TAROT (5/2 on) *single screenings daily

@ Phoenix Savoy 16 + IMAX, Savoy, IL
ALIEN (re-release), BOY KILLS WORLD, CHALLENGERS, THE MUMMY (1999) (re-release), UNSUNG HERO (faith film), ABIGAIL, CIVIL WAR, DUNE: PART TWO, THE FIRST OMEN, GHOSTBUSTERS: FROZEN EMPIRE, GODZILLA X KONG: THE NEW EMPIRE, KUNG FU PANDA 4 (animation), THE MINISTRY OF UNGENTLEMANLY WARFARE, MONKEY MAN, SOMEONE LIKE YOU, SPY X FAMILY – CODE: WHITE (animé) (English dub or in Japanese with English sub) (4/26 on), SASQUATCH SUNSET (4/26-4/27), Studio Ghibli Fest: SPIRITED AWAY (animé) (4/27, 3 p.m., 4/29, 7 p.m., 5/1, 7 p.m., in Japanese with English sub; 4/28, 3 & 7 p.m., 4/30, 7 p.m., English dub), THE MATRIX (4/28, 3 & 7 p.m.; 5/1, 7 p.m.), THE FALL GUY, JEANNE DU BARRY, TAROT (5/2 on)

@ Illini Union, UIUC, Urbana, IL
Illini Union Board presents “Spring 2024 Weekend Films” feat. THE BOOK OF CLARENCE, Pine Lounge, 1st floor (4/26-4/27, 7 p.m.; free w/i-card)

@ Redbox (streaming), Champaign-Urbana, IL
THE ANIMAL KINGDOM, THE HEART STAYS, LOUSY CARTER, YOSHIKI UNDER THE SKY, more! (4/23 on) Online rentals

@ The Virginia Theatre, Champaign, IL
Illinois Public Media presents “The Arthouse Experience Film Series” feat. AMÉLIE (4/26, 7 p.m.)

Events featuring locally produced movies are marked with an asterisk (*). Additional “Now Playing” and “Coming Soon” listings appear after the jump!

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Calendar: April 19-25, 2024

April 19th, 2024

Our movie and media Calendar appears every Friday/Saturday on C-U Blogfidential and caters to the downstate region anchored by Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, USA.

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MILESTONES | Happy Birthday to You!

4/21: Brian Paris (multimedia producer, City of Champaign administration department, Champaign, IL)
4/21: William Kephart (scene shop chief clerk, Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, UIUC, Urbana, IL)
4/24: Ron Bonk (producer/distributor, SRS Cinema, Syracuse, NY)
4/25: Marty McKee (writer, Johnny LaRue’s Crane Shot, Champaign-Urbana, IL)

 

FIELD REPORT DU HQ | From Wherever It May Be Said

Even though this makes for a mostly disappointing Report, we’re going for a dose of current news today given its timeliness. First, alleged details came to light via The New York Times that many Netflix projects in development had been shelved or turned down recently by the streamer under the watch of incoming film division head Dan Lin such as AURORA, an adaptation of the eponymous novel by veteran screenwriter David Koepp (JURASSIC PARK, KIMI) we told you about a few weeks ago; IndieWire turned to Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos for clarification in a piece run yesterday, Thursday, April 18, in which he denied much of what was claimed by the Times. So, who knows what is the true status of the global climate thriller, partly set in upstate Aurora, Illinois, that Kathryn Bigelow (THE HURT LOCKER, STRANGE DAYS) had previously been attached to as director. For now, sit tight and read the book.

And then, Variety broke the story on Tuesday, April 16, that Participant Media, the high-profile production firm that regularly put its weight behind narrative and documentary works with a socially conscious bent, would be shutting down after two decades in business; among its more than 100 features and five series is THE INFORMANT!, starring Matt Damon as the real-life corporate executive with Don Quixote tendencies who infiltrated the agriculture powerhouse Archer Daniels Midland for the FBI, which was largely filmed in Decatur and downstate Illinois in 2008 and released 15 years ago by Warner Brothers.

And, to finish on a level much closer to all of us in scope and budget, we belatedly confirm the shuttering of the genre streaming experiment ScarePlex that we introduced to you last fall; founded by Ash Hamilton and friends in 2023, the start-up only lasted a few months but its ambitious steward, also the editor of Horror-Fix.com and director of the new found footage favorite HOLES IN THE SKY: THE SEAN MILLER STORY, has already rebounded with the completion of an apocalyptic horror anthology, F’D: TALES FROM THE END TIMES. It has apparently started festival play, landing a few early laurels in a continuation of HOLES IN THE SKY’s success, and a trailer finally dropped for it yesterday; the other segment directors with Hamilton, who works out of the Springfield area, are local talents John Isberg (FINAL SUMMER), Joshua Brucker (THE WOODMEN), and Ben Harl (AFTERLIFE) as well as Dillon Brown (TAJOE JOE 2) from Nevada. The C-U and beyond has spawned enough horror films recently that a homebrewed “Scare-a-Thon” is not out of the question during a future Halloween season. Sayin’…

 

CONFIDENTIAL ALMANAC | Dates in Film Culture History

25 Years Ago April 21-25, 1999: The famed Pulitzer Prize-winning film critic and television personality, Roger Ebert, hosts the inaugural Overlooked Film Festival at the Virginia Theatre in Champaign, IL, sponsored by the College of Communications at the University of Illinois. Ten films selected by Ebert, a native of neighboring Urbana and UI graduate in journalism, are shown between Thursday, April 22, and Saturday, April 24, to respectably-sized crowds at the 1,400-seat Virginia, which will receive a portion of the “Ebertfest” proceeds for its renovation needs. “There are countless festivals devoted to the premieres of new films,” writes Ebert in a welcome address that appears in the program, “but none dedicated to taking a second look at wonderful films that for one reason or another haven’t yet found the audiences they deserve.” For instance, the first movie shown is DANCE ME TO MY SONG, a recent Australian production with no American distributor that is being lauded for the uplifting and complex role played by Heather Rose, who wrote the screenplay with director Rolf de Heer and does not shy away from working her real-life cerebral palsy into the unconventional love triangle at its heart. Other picks in succession are AUTUMN TALE, SURRENDER DOROTHY, HAMSUN, MOBOROSI, HOUSEHOLD SAINTS, SHILOH, and THIRTEEN, while two well-known pieces represent forms as well as function: Sergei Eisenstein’s landmark epic BATTLESHIP POTEMKIN, a silent film and a progenitor of modern editing techniques, and Steven Lisberger’s science fantasy TRON, the de facto debut of extensive computer graphics in a Hollywood feature to be shown in the uncommon 70mm format, although it has been replaced by a crisp 35mm print at the last moment. Panels on campus, discussions after each screening, casual access to guests including Ebert himself, and private parties round out this novel experience for local residents and visiting film fans alike. “Eberfest” is directed by fellow UI alum Nate Kohn, produced by Nancy Casey, and dedicated to Ebert’s longtime friend and contemporary in the Chicago media, Gene Siskel, who passed away two months ago at age 53. The on-line movie critic James Berardinelli, another Ebert colleague and “Ebertfest” guest, predicts this show will go on for years to come. [R]

 

LOCAL FILMS & EVENTS | Support Your Media Storytellers

@ Normal Theater, etc., Normal, IL
Illinois State University Schools of Communication, Theater and Dance, and Wonsook Kim School of Art present the 2nd annual Foxtail Film Festival* (4/25-4/27)

 

NOW PLAYING | Champaign-Urbana Area

@ AMC Champaign 13, Champaign, IL
ABIGAIL, THE MINISTRY OF UNGENTLEMANLY WARFARE, SASQUATCH SUNSET, SPY X FAMILY – CODE: WHITE (animé) (English dub or in Japanese with English sub), BADE MIYAN CHOTE MIYAN (in Hindi with English sub), CIVIL WAR, DUNE: PART TWO, THE FIRST OMEN, GHOSTBUSTERS: FROZEN EMPIRE, GODZILLA X KONG: THE NEW EMPIRE, KUNG FU PANDA 4 (animation), MONKEY MAN (4/19 on), BOB MARLEY: ONE LOVE (4/20, 4:20 & 8 p.m.), AMC “Screen Unseen” (mystery movie) (4/22, 7 p.m.), CHALLENGERS preview (4/22, 7 p.m.),

@ Phoenix Savoy 16 + IMAX, Savoy, IL
ABIGAIL, THE MINISTRY OF UNGENTLEMANLY WARFARE, SASQUATCH SUNSET, SPY X FAMILY – CODE: WHITE (animé) (English dub or in Japanese with English sub), CIVIL WAR, DUNE: PART TWO, THE FIRST OMEN, GHOSTBUSTERS: FROZEN EMPIRE, GODZILLA X KONG: THE NEW EMPIRE, KUNG FU PANDA 4 (animation), MONKEY MAN, SOMEONE LIKE YOU (4/19 on), BOB MARLEY: ONE LOVE (4/19, 9:30 p.m.; 4/20, 4:20 & 9:45 p.m.; 4/22, 7 p.m.), The Metropolitan Opera: La Rondine (4/20, 11:55 a.m., simulcast; 4/24, 1 & 6:30 p.m.), HARRY POTTER AND THE GOBLET OF FIRE (4/21, 3 & 7 p.m.; 4/24, 7 p.m.), “Miracles at the Movies” feat. COME OUT IN JESUS NAME/THE DOMINO REVIVAL (religious documentaries) (4/23 7 p.m.), UNSUNG HERO (faith film) (4/24, 6 p.m.; 4/25, 6 & 8:30 p.m.), CHALLENGERS (4/25 on)

@ Illini Union, UIUC, Urbana, IL
Illini Union Board presents “Spring 2024 Weekend Films” feat. WONKA, Pine Lounge, 1st floor (4/19-4/20, 7 p.m.; free w/i-card)

@ Redbox (streaming), Champaign-Urbana, IL
Follow the link to view the hottest new releases! (4/16 on) Online rentals

@ Spurlock Museum of World Cultures, UIUC, Urbana, IL
PLAN C (reproductive rights documentary) (4/23, 7 p.m.)

@ The Virginia Theatre, Champaign, IL
College of Media at Illinois and Chaz Ebert present the 25th anniversary Roger Ebert’s Film Festival (through 4/20), Illini Radio Group presents “Mix 94.5 Throwback Thursdays” feat. PITCH PERFECT (4/25, 7 p.m.)

Events featuring locally produced movies are marked with an asterisk (*). Additional “Now Playing” and “Coming Soon” listings appear after the jump!

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25 years later, it’s ‘Ebertfest’ ‘24

April 17th, 2024

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One would like to wax philosophic about the concentrated happenings of the year 1999, in which the populace of Champaign-Urbana was treated to a key avalanche of film developments brought on by our friends and neighbors as well as those with long-standing ties to our fair Twin Cities, but we’ll have to save those “remember when” ruminations for a later article. Right now, we’d like to pay our respects to the highest-profile example of cinema culture that emerged locally before the start of the new millennium, for it returns this week with all the bells and whistles that should greet an institution when reaching its 25th anniversary.

The Virginia Theatre in downtown Champaign will host the silver jubilee edition of Roger Ebert’s Film Festival, presented by the College of Media at the University of Illinois and Chaz Ebert, beginning later tonight, Wednesday, April 17, with a screening of Bob Fosse’s STAR 80 and its own stars, Mariel Hemingway and Eric Roberts, in attendance. The entire schedule for 2024, including the newer Ebert Symposium organized in tandem with the Roger Ebert Center for Film Studies at UIUC, is shared with you below. Individual show tickets and festival passes are still available through the Virginia’s box office during business hours at (217) 356-9063 as well as on their website, while detailed information about Ebertfest” events can be found here.

Celebrate the milestone with the festival community on Park Avenue between now and Saturday, April 20, and be sure to spread the word on the films that affect you the most; boutique presentations are rare these days in the C-U and your curiosity and patronage matter.

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2024 Chaz and Roger Ebert Symposium schedule

Tuesday, April 16
@ Knight Auditorium, Spurlock Museum of World Cultures, UIUC, Urbana, IL
7:00 p.m. “Representations and Their Critics (part 1)”

Wednesday, April 19
@ Starlight Room, Seibel Center for Design, UIUC, Champaign, IL
9:30 a.m. “Representations and Their Critics (part 2)”

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‘Ebertfest’ schedule
@ The Virginia Theatre, 203 W. Park Ave., Champaign, IL

Wednesday, April 17
6:30 p.m. STAR 80 (1983, 103 min., Dir. Bob Fosse)

Thursday, April 18
9:30 a.m. “Little Indian Girl Collective” panel w/Gingger Shankar, Tara Houska (free admission)
11:00 a.m. CONDUCTING LIFE (2022, 31 min., Dir. Diane Moore) and THE LIGHT OF TRUTH: RICHARD HUNT’S MONUMENT TO IDA B. WELLS (2024, 60 min., Dir. Rana Segal)
3:00 p.m. STONY ISLAND (1978, 95 min., Dir. Andrew Davis)
8:00 p.m. THE TEACHERS’ LOUNGE (2023, 98 min., İlker Çatak)

Friday, April 19
9:00 a.m. COOKIE’S FORTUNE (1999, 118 min., Dir. Robert Altman)
1:30 p.m. ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND (2004, 108 min., Dir. Michel Gondry)
4:30 p.m. LITTLE RICHARD: I AM EVERYTHING (2023, 98 min., Dir. Lisa Cortés)
9:30 p.m. THE BEST MAN (1999, 121 min., Dir. Malcolm D. Lee)

Saturday, April 20
9:30 a.m. BLACKMAIL (1929, 85 min., Dir. Alfred Hitchcock) Accompanied by the Anvil Orchestra
1:00 p.m. OMOIYARI: A SONG FILM BY KISHI BASHI (2023, 74 min., Dir. Kaoru Ishibashi)
4:00 p.m. ALBANY ROAD (2024, 120 min., Dir. Christine Swanson)
8:30 p.m. MAN ON THE MOON (1999, 119 min., Dir. Milos Forman)

The Virginia Theatre, which first opened in December 1921, is directed by Steven Bentz and operated by the Champaign Park District.

~ Jason Pankoke

Publicity still from THE TEACHERS’ LOUNGE is courtesy Sony Pictures Classics. | Publicity still from OMOIYARI is courtesy IMDb.com. | Poster artwork from THE LIGHT OF TRUTH is courtesy AMonumentForIdaBFilm.com.

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Calendar: April 12-18, 2024

April 13th, 2024

Our movie and media Calendar appears every Friday/Saturday on C-U Blogfidential and caters to the downstate region anchored by Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, USA.

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MILESTONES | Happy Birthday to You!

4/13: Damon Foster (filmmaker, OF MUMMIES AND MARTIANS, Damon A. Foster, Sacramento, CA)
4/18: Mike Trippiedi (author, Not Very Famous … but should be and When Voices Were Silent blogs, Champaign, IL)

 

FIELD REPORT DU HQ | From Wherever It May Be Said

Enjoy your “Ebertfest,” C-U. We’ll talk again shortly.

 

CONFIDENTIAL ALMANAC | Dates in Film Culture History

15 Years AgoFriday, April 17, 2009: Participating in the annual Boneyard Arts Festival for the first time, C-U Confidential sponsors an event at Caffe Paradiso on the University of Illinois campus to share films by area filmmakers. “Local Cinema @ Paradiso,” or the “C-U Confidential Local Movie Show,” compiles more than 20 trailers, shorts, and Webisodes that pique the interest of a steady crowd. Luke Boyce of Shatterglass Studios provides the sound and projection, the UI student creators of ONE FINE DAY and A CERTAIN POINT OF VIEW make an appearance to discuss their projects with host Jason Pankoke, and composer Todd Mazierski’s cuts from the soundtrack of the documentary HOOPESTON set the mood during intermissions. Attendee Sanford Hess would soon convince Pankoke that a similar event of larger scope made perfect programming sense for a venue he was looking to purchase, the Art Theater in Champaign. One year later, the New Art Film Festival era began. As reported on 4/16/09 at CUBlog. [R]

 

LOCAL FILMS & EVENTS | Support Your Media Storytellers

@ The Esquire Lounge, Champaign, IL
Champaign Movie Makers* mixer (4/15, 7 p.m.)

 

NOW PLAYING | Champaign-Urbana Area

@ AMC Champaign 13, Champaign, IL
ARCADIAN, BADE MIYAN CHOTE MIYAN (in Hindi with English sub), CIVIL WAR, LA CHIMERA (in Italian with English sub), MAIDAAN (in Hindi with English sub), STING, DUNE: PART TWO, THE FIRST OMEN, GHOSTBUSTERS: FROZEN EMPIRE, GODZILLA X KONG: THE NEW EMPIRE, KUNG FU PANDA 4 (animation), MONKEY MAN, SOMEONE LIKE YOU*, SHREK 2 (animation) (re-release), WICKED LITTLE LETTERS, IRENA’S VOW (4/15-4/16, 7 p.m.), AMC “Screen Unseen” (mystery movie) (4/15, 7 p.m.), SELENA (4/16, 4 & 7 p.m.), ABIGAIL, SASQUATCH SUNSET, SPY X FAMILY – CODE: WHITE (animé) (in Japanese with English sub) (4/18 on) *single screenings daily

@ Phoenix Savoy 16 + IMAX, Savoy, IL
CIVIL WAR, ARTHUR THE KING, DUNE: PART TWO, THE FIRST OMEN, GHOSTBUSTERS: FROZEN EMPIRE, GODZILLA X KONG: THE NEW EMPIRE, IMAGINARY*, IMMACULATE, KUNG FU PANDA 4 (animation), MONKEY MAN, SHREK 2 (animation) (re-release), SOMEONE LIKE YOU (4/12 on), UFC 300: Alex Pereira vs. Jamahal Hill, more (mixed martial arts) (4/13, 9 p.m., simulcast), SUGA | Agust D Tour – “D-Day the Movie” (concert film) (4/13, 2 p.m., IMAX), THE DARK KNIGHT (4/14, 3 & 7 p.m.; 4/17, p.m.), IRENA’S VOW (4/15-4/16, 7 p.m.), THE HOPEFUL (faith film) (4/17-4/18, 7 p.m.) *single screenings daily

@ Illini Union, UIUC, Urbana, IL
Illini Union Board presents “Spring 2024 Weekend Films” feat. THE BOYS IN THE BOAT, Pine Lounge, 1st floor (4/12-4/13, 7 p.m.; free w/i-card)

@ Redbox (streaming), Champaign-Urbana, IL
Follow the link to view the hottest new releases! (4/9 on) Online rentals

@ Spurlock Museum of World Cultures, UIUC, Urbana, IL
UI European Union Center presents GOOD BYE LENIN! (4/16, 3 p.m.), College of Media at Illinois and the Roger Ebert Center for Film Studies present the 2024 Chaz and Roger Ebert Symposium*, “Representations and Their Critics (part 1)” (4/16, 7-9 p.m.)

@ Seibel Center for Design, UIUC, Champaign, IL
College of Media at Illinois and the Roger Ebert Center for Film Studies present the 2024 Chaz and Roger Ebert Symposium*, “Representations and Their Critics (part 2)” (4/17, 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.)

@ The Virginia Theatre, Champaign, IL
The News-Gazette Film Series presents THE THIRD MAN (4/13, 1 & 7 p.m.), College of Media at Illinois and Chaz Ebert present the 25th anniversary Roger Ebert’s Film Festival (4/17-4/20)

Events featuring locally produced movies are marked with an asterisk (*). Additional “Now Playing” and “Coming Soon” listings appear after the jump!

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