Don’t look NAFF in anger, JaPan


Do you hear a giant sucking sound, dearest readers? That’s the audible sensation of time passing by overhead with a vengeance. It’s pretty amplified in your humble editor’s ear holes as of late, given how his situation has entered a no-win phase that simply must play out to its end before he can ever regain control of what comes next in his life. This period also reinforces a truism that has long dogged Ye Ed once he acknowledged it in his late twenties, for better or worse: Pankoke family doings will run parallel with the Champaign-Urbana experience, and rarely are they fated to cross paths.

Confirmation of this continues in 2022, as it apparently is an internal struggle for me to make the effort to reconnect with my peoples in the flesh. I don’t know why I can’t simply get in the car parked out front at the house on the edge of an American small town and drive downstate with purpose or just on a whim. I do have theories on what’s acting as a block, some of it not necessarily of my own doing, but what’s more important to this post on this day is how I’m also slowly losing an attachment to all that is Confidential.

C-U Blogfidential hasn’t run an article since August, and I’m seemingly not able to engineer a head of steam to research, write, code, or promote new posts. C-U Confidential hasn’t published since 2019 and, while there is plenty jotted down as guides for potential issues, I have little incentive to return to the press. Also, tonight is the third anniversary of when the former Art Theater in downtown Champaign should have hosted the tenth New Art Film Festival. Ergo, it’s been more than four years since the NAFF actually presented a program of locally-made movies in our Twin Cities. What a fucking bummer. All of it.



Of course, I see the film culture surging forward in the C-U via social media, news outlets, random celebrity connections, and invites to events I don’t attend. I may be one part green with envy (if not necessarily horny) over what’s going on in the present, yet it hasn’t led to renewed involvement or presence in the scene. I could also be feeling green as I witness creation and togetherness almost exclusively through a computer screen. I do believe the signs are mounting, though, and change is imminent. One part of that may have to result in … walking away. From our cinema, if not more.

I have nothing specific to announce. I’ve been transparent this entire run about what and whom the weblog, digest, and festival are for. But, as I finally begin serious work in fits and starts to clean up Momkoke Manor after what has been a sobering five-plus years removed from hands-on Champaign County living, the mind wanders about, and chews through, and clamps down, and makes decisions, and reconsiders with depth, and makes new decisions, and repeats, and never lets up. Fun, right?

I am always your Mr. JaPan, just not quite the one who set out to corral the film culture du C-U in 2006 for all to see who care to look. In order to clear this hurdle compromising my being and laying well outside the peripheral vision of practically all my friends and previous neighbors, I may have to respect a newer truism to get me through the roughage with very little support at my disposal from day to day: “It is a new era at MFHQ Deux, and this is how I’ll do things in the country to work with it.” Keep tabs. Be well.

~ Jason Pankoke

Top: Julia Megan Sullivan and Bill Kephart ooze with entomological zest in GREEN AND HORNY, the last film shown at the last New Art Film Festival in October 2018. (Screen image: courtesy Joe Taylor/Studio Extraño)

Above: Andy Due trips the green fantastic and doesn’t know why in THE GRASS IS ALWAYS GREENER, shown at the seventh New Art Film Festival in October 2016. (Screen image: courtesy Andy Due/Rubber Chicken Films)

Below: Colonel J.D. Wilkes of Legendary Shack Shakers walks proud in SEVEN SIGNS: MUSIC, MYTH & THE AMERICAN SOUTH, which played the inaugural New Art Film Festival in April 2010 in part due to co-producer Todd Tue of Milk Products Media being from Chicago. (Artwork: courtesy J.D. Wilkes)


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