C-U cinema tumbles hard into fall


We hope you have enjoyed the sudden outburst of headline shares over at our Facebook account, dearest readers, because there is no way we could otherwise keep up with the news arising from the movies of Champaign, Urbana, and the cities beyond! Ach! Today, we’d like to narrow the focus and sort out a few notes about specialized movie exhibition in our immediate area.

In other corners than our own, the Dead in Decatur International Film Festival brought a menagerie of indie horror to downtown Decatur’s Madden Arts Center this past Friday and Saturday, November 12, while the next Route 66 Film Festival is ready to introduce a new program of wide-ranging cinema from around the world to the Route 66 Hotel & Conference Center of Springfield on an upcoming Friday and Saturday, November 2223. Looking to the near future, festival passes went on sale for Roger Ebert’s Film Festival last week Friday, November 1, at the box office of the Virginia Theatre in Champaign; a cool $150 gives bearers plenty of access during the 22nd iteration of “Ebertfest” that will take place April 15-18 at the Virginia. Also, the first-time Krampusnacht Freeky Film Festival will bear gifts of mayhem and mirth for the brave souls who attend their show on the evening of Saturday, December 7, at SoDo Theatre in downtown Champaign; expect a tactile screening environment that reaches well beyond the screen in the spirit of the former Freeky Creek Short Film Festival, per producer Thomas Nicol.

Thank goodness we have this and much more to look forward to in the coming months as we now address the cultural elephant (and caught-in-the-trap mouse) in the room. WCIA-TV of Champaign offered an update during yesterday’s newscast about the ongoing discontent over the sudden closure of the Art Theater last Thursday, October 31, which reveals little more than what we already know. Art building owner David Kraft has expressed that he wants possession of the space and all physical assets so he can attempt to attract a new tenant, while the Art Film Foundation refrains from commenting publicly or in detail. Practically lost in all this hubbub is the poor New Art Film Festival that your humble editor had been working on and should have hosted at the Art this Sunday, November 10. He received no advance notice from the Art board of directors about the aborted NAFF booking due to the closure and, frankly, has seen next to no outward support from the people of Champaign-Urbana about the 10th annual edition or its future. “That will be taken into account,” he says in between coffee sips.

We’ll provide you with advance notice on what will become of the NAFF before University of Illinois final exams and the holiday stretch manage to commandeer everyone’s attention span. Until then, Ye Ed may finally offer a few of his own thoughts on the current Art debacle right here if he feels up to it. He will be visiting the C-U tonight through Saturday to scout alternate locations for the NAFF and look after personal business while checking in on Ma JaPan from afar as she continues her physical rehabilitation. You might just run into him at tomorrow’s 7 p.m. screening of Yasujiro Ozu’s classic meditation on generational difference and aging, TOKYO STORY (1953), at Armory 101. Timely scheduling, this.

~ Jason Pankoke


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