Come & Gone: March 2007

Every now and then, C-U Blogfidential will highlight limited-run screenings in the area which often receive little to no press in traditional news outlets. Please support this diverse film programming in our community by attending and spreading the word. Multiplexes and television sets are no substitute for a true cinema experience!

Looks like we’ll need to take a few steps back before moving forward again with those movie events “Coming Soon!” Several University of Illinois happenings almost zoomed right past CUBlog in the past week after your editor fought with a minor flu bug, but a quick recovery and can-do vigor resulted in this first-ever, first-hand scene report!

Let’s start one week ago, Monday, March 5, approximately 8 p.m., when about 20 members of Illini Film & Video finally gave a “lost” UIUC student magnum opus its unofficial revival at the English Building. Projected in glorious late-Eighties VHS and accompanied by complementary pizza and drinks, the 1973 action-comedy DEATH SHOT a.k.a. SHOT (see item: 10/6/06), enveloped the audience with its relentless Seventies slang, overstated sound effects, unbelieveable hairstyles and threads, copious car-chase footage, time-warped glimpses of familiar and long-gone landmarks, and uproarious bad jokes involving “pigs.” In other words, “They dug it, man.” Several viewers easily picked out recent campus visitor Fred Rubin (see item: 3/12/06) as the first character to bite the bullet in the movie, while the debate currently rages on what a theoretical sequel would be called. My vote: SHOT AGAIN: DEATH SHOT II.

Twenty-four hours later, on Tuesday, March 6, the spacious Courtyard Cafe at the Illini Union played host to the second annual Monumental Film Festival, a student-movie competition co-sponsored by University Housing and Apple, Inc. Beginning at 7 p.m., 18 shorts created with Apple consumer gear screened and competed for prizes. As the judges deliberated their choices, the sizeable undergraduate audience also watched two out-of-competition pieces – UNTITLED by Sam Copeland and Roshan Murthy (whose STAGE GAME took the top prize during last year’s MFF) and INTERROGATION by Anne Shivers (who also had HENCH U in the running this year) – while the infamous “Quad Musical” number from THE UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS VS. A MUMMY closed the show. Winners included: SKULLBLASTER – 3rd Place (team leader: Christopher Greene), MAKE UP YOUR MIND – 2nd Place (team leader: Chris Gregory), and SLINK (THE MOVIE) – 1st Place (team leader: John Thompson). Curiously, SLINK team member Greg Jenkins is nephew to none other than the Head Honcho himself, Skip Huston of the Avon Theatre!

Opposite all this student-cinema fervor, Unit One/Allen Hall guest-in-residence Allyson Mitchell, a self-described “maximalist artist” from Toronto, had been hosting workshops from Sunday, March 4, through Thursday, March 8, when yours truly attended her last presentation, “What’s Up with Canada? Show and Tell of Recent Film and Video Work.” According to a press release issued by Unit One Program Coordinator Laura Haber, Mitchell teaches feminist activism and popular culture at Toronto’s York University as she finishes up her dissertation on “fat women, power, and space.” She also creates short films, animations, music, sculptures, and installations, often incorporating “fun fur, found objects, and abandoned crafts” as evidenced in her own works shown during “What’s Up.”

It was refreshing to sit through a program full of lo-fi cinema that exuded high concentrations of whimsy and honesty, with most originating on 16mm and Super 8 film. Often, Mitchell broke the flow to discuss the techniques in some works and the general difficulties artists have making a living in Canada. As detailed in Haber’s release, the artist’s other presentations touched upon kitsch culture, body image politics, craft-making circles, filmmaking, and animation, stressing the importance of empowerment through creativity.

Thanks to CUBlog agent “Diamond” Dave Noreen for directing our attention to Mitchell’s residency!

~ Jason Pankoke

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