C-U Biz-en-scène: 10.15.2010

“C-U Biz-en-scène” appears every Thursday/Friday on C-U Blogfidential to give our readers a succinct snapshot of the cinema activity in and near Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, USA. Please support the artists and their work, attend screenings and events, and otherwise become active in our esoteric little world!


All in All, It’s Not Just Another Pic on the Wall

If we’ve realized one thing since last week’s CUBiz, it’s that we should be grateful to possess the type of clutter that we have here at the Secret MICRO-FILM Headquarters. Maybe most important, as our peripheral vision takes in the environs once again, are the artifacts which inform the historic backbone behind all things C-U Confidential. An 8mm Sears movie camera from the Sixties and 8mm Bell & Howell projector from the Forties sit just inside the front door, cast-offs from area residents that became presents to your humble editor. One shelf in the library is packed with videos containing material that have been referenced on C-U Blogfidential along with other material that we have yet to discuss. In the heart of MFHQ, posters and fliers for several near-forgotten events don the walls. The one grabbing our attention lately due to the dates – October 27-November 2, 2000 – is the mannequin graphic by the Incredible Teddy Veatch used to promote the final Freaky Film Festival from 10 fall seasons ago. Open closet doors reveal shelves filled with miscellanea; we can see many envelopes filled with unseen photos from local film shoots. We also know intuitively that relevant ephemera can be found wedged between this, that, and the other in nearly every square foot that isn’t mere floor space. Still, we could stand to have that “MFHQ Material Archivist” storm the castle and whip everything into shape, although s/he probably would give pause when facing the one corner packed solid with cartons of unsold and undistributed MICRO-FILM and CUZine. We love ‘em, otherwise we wouldn’t have done ‘em, but we also desperately need to find homes for ‘em so we can make some room and pay bills. More soon on that one…


Last Thursday, October 7, Champaign documentary filmmaker Jay Rosenstein witnessed a “sold out show at the Art, a total zoo” in anticipation of the local public premiere of his new work, THE LORD IS NOT ON TRIAL HERE TODAY, which also made its local broadcast debut Tuesday, October 12, on WILL-TV 12, the PBS affiliate headquartered at the University of Illinois which acted as sponsoring station for the production. “It was awesome,” Rosenstein tells CUBlog about the reception afforded his first major unveiling in several years. “We had to start the film 30 minutes late because of the huge line of people trying to get in.” The curious get an immediate reprieve when WILL 12 rebroadcasts TRIAL tonight, Friday, October 15, 7:30 p.m., after which Rosenstein and Dan McCollum, son of the doc’s primary subject, Vashti McCollum, will take questions live on the air with moderator David Inge at the WILL studios in Urbana.

“My initial interest was simply that there was a local case that made it to the Supreme Court. That in itself is pretty unusual, and the only time that has happened,” says the filmmaker, whose prior long-form films, IN WHOSE HONOR? and THE AMASONG CHORUS: SPEAKING OUT, present strong C-U stories about overcoming adversity that also reflect much greater issues in American society. “Once I learned about the case, I was floored by how incredibly historically significant this case is and virtually no one knows or understands the significance … this case is the very first time that the Supreme Court forbid a religious activity by a governmental body in this nation’s history. Ever.” The oversight will hopefully be righted when PBS offers the program to all its affiliates beginning in March 2011.

Five years in the making, TRIAL recounts how Vashti McCollum sued the Champaign Board of Education upon discovering that her son Jim suffered neglect from faculty and harassment by fellow students in his grade school once he elected to not participate in a voluntary Protestant religion class. After losing the decision in the lower courts, McCollum’s case moved up to the United States Supreme Court and she won by an 8-1 vote, setting the stage for establishing separation of church and state in the public schools and, in theory, removing the chance of religious favoritism in a common setting shared by children of many creeds.

“Dan [McCollum] was basically my liaison to the rest of the McCollum family. Of course, everyone in Champaign-Urbana knows Dan a little bit,” explains Rosenstein about the well-regarded local historian and former Champaign mayor, who also lent one-of-a-kind photos of the trial that have not been seen for decades. “I learned everything about the case and the McCollums during production, because I knew nothing before. So, now I feel like a bit of an expert on the religion clauses of the First Amendment including the court’s history with them … I think my film explains how the phrase ‘separation of church and state’ became part of the nation’s laws better than I’ve ever seen it done for a general audience.”

Taking place in the mid-Forties, McCollum’s actions incited “three years of headlines, headaches, and hatred” during which she weathered broken friendships, death threats, and much more, a sorry state borne from the deeply entrenched religious conservatism of C-U and elsewhere. These experiences are recalled vividly by McCollum herself, interviewed by Rosenstein for TRIAL shortly before her death in 2006 at age 93. Today, the struggle remains to uphold the neutrality she fought for, such as with several recent instances across the nation in which school boards have considered or allowed Creationism to be taught alongside evolution – even if the efforts are short-lived once public scrutiny sets in.

“As far as [the decision’s] impact on classrooms today,” offers Rosenstein, “the best description I can think of is this – the McCollum case is the first brick in the wall of separation between church and state in public schools. Before McCollum, there was no wall. Since then, many other bricks have been added, but fewer than you might think!” Private schools and home schooling are options which can offer families education which freely intersperses religion of choice, but a major trade-off is that their children will most likely not have nearly as many opportunities in terms of hands-on experience and breadth of curriculum – let alone learning how to co-exist with and respect other children from different backgrounds and faiths.

Rosenstein’s long-time distributor, New Day Films, will offer THE LORD IS NOT ON TRIAL HERE TODAY to educational markets although no plan is set for offering individual sales; let Rosenstein know if you’re interested in the latter by writing jayrosenstein [at] hotmail [dot] com. He also intends to schedule screenings at law schools, ACLU chapters, and other relevant places in the coming months. To wit, the documentary is narrated by Illinois native and one-time Urbana High School student David Ogden Stiers, most famous for his role of cultured surgeon Major Charles Winchester III on the M*A*S*H television series.


Two weeks ago, we mentioned a casting call for the next Kill Vampire Lincoln Productions project, ONCE UPON A TIME IN 1972. Chris and Anne Lukeman posted to the Champaign Movie Makers Yahoo! Group on Sunday that the search is on for folks to crew this “action/science-fairy tale,” which begins production at sundown on Saturday, October 23. Three all-night shoots on October 23-25 will be followed by further shooting the third weekend of November. Available roles include “grip, production management, production assistant, art department, [and] camera,” according to the Lukemans, whom you can write at chrislukeman [at] gmail [dot] com for more information. One can also find the scoop about old KVLP business here and a new Facebook page for 1972 right here.


Believe it or not, MICRO-FILM friends Linda McElroy, Paul Holze, and Jason Butler have engaged your humble editor in an actual conversation right here on CUBlog picking up from where last week’s CUBiz left off. It would be fantastic if at least a small percentage of our dear readers elected to join us and get a taste of what it means to actively converse with your independent local press for independent local film and, more importantly, each other. As for the three wary souls who reacted to the same column – or was it simply due to the surly – by unsubscribing from our Mailing List, we wish thee well. That said, we have no interest in encouraging such a trend. You may engage when ready!


While we love to dote all over October (and by extension, the autumn) for its eccentric pleasures, this month has also been embraced as a time for numerous movements to place their messages in the public eye as we’ve seen in the past week regarding LGBT rights and acceptance. Another prevalent effort has adopted October as National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, bringing concentrated information and hope to the general public about resources and scientific advances meant to curb or eventually thwart this often-fatal health issue. Please support organizations that contribute to aid, research, and education such as the American Cancer Society, which is sponsoring a series of walks as fundraising events. The Champaign-Urbana edition will take place tomorrow, Saturday, October 16, at Carle Park in Urbana, while the Springfield edition will happen the same day at the Illinois State Fairgrounds. We are reminded because one of our own, filmmaker and breast cancer survivor Kimberly Conner, is participating in the Springfield walk with her group, “Mary’s Girls,” to which you can donate and support. This is clearly important to her as a fighter, survivor, and artist who is willing to talk about human ailments in her work as the protagonist of her short film THIS LIFE AIN’T PRETTY must come to terms with contracting AIDS. If it’s important to you as well, consider contacting your nearest local organizer and signing up. Walk the walk!


We at MFHQ are big supporters of media preservation. Therefore, we encourage you to embrace the amateur and the ephemeral by attending the local edition of Home Movie Day 8 this Saturday, October 16, starting at 1 p.m. in the Lewis Auditorium of the Urbana Free Library, 210 W. Green St., Urbana. You can attend simply to watch your neighbor’s films and rarities from the UIUC archives, or you can also take along your cinematic family heirlooms to have cleaned and then projected on the big screen. Staff from the sponsoring organizations, the Preservation Working Group at the University of Illinois and the Champaign County Historical Archives, will be on hand to answer questions about the best methods you can use to safely store your film reels, analog tapes, and digital media for future generations to enjoy. Kids’ activities and free popcorn will also be provided! For more information about Home Movie Day around the world, visit this Web page.


Keep in mind that on Tuesday, October 19, 7 p.m., Champaign Movie Makers will meet at Class Act Interactive, 114 S. Neil St., Champaign, to afford area filmmakers and talent an opportunity to discuss and join forces in the making of independent cinema in the area. This month’s presentation and additional topics are TBA. Feel free to contact Johnny Robinson at johnny [at] johnnyrobinson [dot] com for further information!


WILL-TV Channel 12 production crew member David Noreen has been spreading the good news that Jay Rosenstein and THE LORD IS NOT ON TRIAL HERE TODAY picked up a pair of Midwest Emmys during a ceremony hosted by the Mid-America Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences this past Saturday, October 9, in St. Louis. The brand-new production received nods in the “Documentary: Historical” and “Writer: Program/Program Feature” categories. As well, once and future C-U filmmaking madman Chris Lukeman played a part in the SIU-Carbondale based show, alt.news 26:46, for which producers John Elder and Kevin Hill accepted the “Magazine Program” award. We tip our hats to you both!


Noreen also shared with the CU-Movies Digest group this interesting Illinois Times article by Scott Faingold, published on September 9, about the final nails in the coffin of the Kerasotes theater chain, started in 1909 and based in Springfield until the late Nineties. The AMC goliath now owns most of their former movie houses although current Kerasotes descendents still independently run three palaces, of which two have been turned into upscale, reserved-seating destinations in Chicago and Minneapolis. We also put two-and-two together – the likes of which can only be mated here at MFHQ – when seeing the indie feature BLOOMINGTON listed in the line-up of the upcoming Chicago gay and lesbian film extravaganza, Reeling 29. Some of you may have heard rumblings (e.g., call for extras) in the spring of 2009 when director Fernanda Cardoso and crew shot this teacher-student campus romance in and near Indianapolis; according to their Web site, no scenes were actually staged in downstate college town Bloomington, IN, despite the title. BLOOMINGTON stars Allison McAtte, Sarah Stouffer, Katherine Ann McGregor, Ray Zupp, and J. Blakemore, and will show at Reeling on Sunday, November 7, 9:30 p.m.


@ The Art Theater, Champaign, IL: THE EXTRA MAN (10/15 on), DRAG ME TO HELL (10/15, 10/16, 10/21, 10 p.m.), WINTER’S BONE (10/16-10/17), LIVING DOWNSTREAM (10/16, 7 p.m., w/filmmakers)

@ The Canopy Club, Urbana, IL: Pizza + Pitcher and Movie – KNOCKED UP, OLD SCHOOL, BRÜNO (10/17, 6 p.m.)

@ WILL-TV 12, Urbana, IL: THE LORD IS NOT ON TRIAL HERE TODAY broadcast (10/15, 7:30 p.m., w/filmmaker discussion)

@ The Avon Theater, Decatur, IL: NEVER LET ME GO, LIFE AS WE KNOW IT, THE TOWN (10/15 on)

@ The Normal Theater, Normal, IL: DIMINISHED CAPACITY (10/14, 7 p.m.), OFFICE SPACE (10/15, 7 p.m.), PIRATES OF THE CARRIBBEAN: AT WORLD’S END (10/16, 7 p.m.), LIVING DOWNSTREAM (10/17, 1 p.m., w/filmmakers), BEING JOHN MALKOVICH (10/17, 7 p.m.)

@ The Lorraine Theatre, Hoopeston, IL: JACKASS 3D (10/15 on)

@ Hoogland Center for the Arts, Springfield, IL: LIVING DOWNSTREAM (10/17, 7 p.m., w/filmmakers)

@ That’s Rentertainment, Champaign, IL: JONAH HEX, I AM LOVE, LEAVES OF GRASS, more (10/12 on), HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON (10/15 on)

@ AMC Castleton Square/AMC Showplace/Indianapolis Museum of Art, etc., Indianapolis, IN: Heartland Film Festival (10/14-10/23)


@ The Avon Theater, Decatur, IL, Midnight

@ Sleepy Creek Vineyards, Fairmount, IL, 8 p.m.

10/29-10/31: Freeky Creek Short Film Festival
@ Sleepy Creek Vineyards, Fairmount, IL

@ The Avon Theater, Decatur, IL, 10:30 p.m., hosted by Troy Taylor

NEW! 10/30: TRICK ‘R TREAT – free!
@ The Avon Theater, Decatur, IL, 10:30 p.m., hosted by Troy Taylor

11/4-11/13: Reeling 29: Chicago Gay & Lesbian Film Festival, Chicago, IL

11/5-11/7: Illinois International Film Festival, Chicago, IL

@ The Viaduct Theater, Chicago, IL, 8 p.m. (@ Illinois Int. Film Festival)

@ Landmark Century Center Cinema, Chicago, IL, 9:30 p.m. (@ Reeling 29)

11/11-11/13: Embarras Valley Film Festival
@ EIU campus/Will Rogers Theater/Charleston Public Library, Charleston, IL

11/11-11/21: St. Louis International Film Festival, St. Louis, MO

11/19-11/21: Dark Carnival Film Festival, Bloomington, IN

@ TBA (@ St. Louis International Film Festival)

2/18-2/27, 2011: Big Muddy Film Festival
@ Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, IL

3/22-3/27, 2011: Ann Arbor Film Festival, Ann Arbor, MI

3/30-4/1, 2011: Wisconsin Film Festival, Madison, WI

4/27-5/1, 2011: Roger Ebert’s Film Festival
@ Virginia Theatre, Champaign, IL


AsiaLENS: AEMS Documentary/Film Series
@ Knight Auditorium, Spurlock Museum, University of Illinois, Urbana, IL, 7 p.m.


Global Lens 2010: International Films
@ Main Lounge, Allen Hall/Unit One, University of Illinois, Urbana, IL, 7 p.m.

10/27: MASQUERADES, Algeria; 11/3: MY TEHRAN FOR SALE, Iran; 11/10: OCEAN OF AN OLD MAN, India; 11/17: ORDINARY PEOPLE, Serbia; 12/1: THE SHAFT, China; 12/8: SHIRLEY ADAMS, South Africa

Global Lens 2010: International Films
@ Latzer Hall, University YMCA, University of Illinois, Urbana, IL, 5:30 p.m.

10/14: GODS, Peru; 10/21: LEO’S ROOM, Uruguay; 10/28: MASQUERADES, Algeria; 11/4: MY TEHRAN FOR SALE, Iran; 11/11: OCEAN OF AN OLD MAN, India; 11/18: ORDINARY PEOPLE, Serbia; 12/2: THE SHAFT, China; 12/9: SHIRLEY ADAMS, South Africa

IPRH Film Series
@ Room 62, Krannert Art Museum, University of Illinois, Champaign, IL, 5:30 p.m.


Israeli Movie Club
@ The Cohen Center, University of Illinois, Champaign, IL, 7:30 p.m.



Splitting time this week drafting CUBiz between MFHQ and Café Kopi, your humble editor is currently taking up counter space at the latter and can easily see the extended façade of the Esquire Lounge which has only been in place for the past few years. Before that, what is now the north half of the venerable watering hole had been a long-dormant photography business called Gleismann Studios. With Gleismann and his clientele both long gone, the property sat for some time leading up to 2003 when a steward sold the valuable floor space – and everything in it – to the Esquire partners. People on the street with the right words or secret handshake were granted access to peruse and purchase whichever goods were listed for sale. One could easily smell the analog in the air as the studio offered a step back in time to what commercial photography – and, as several of us soon found out, the production of commercials and industrials – used to be like. Whereas the University of Illinois librarians zeroed in on Gleismann’s body of still photography immediately, they mostly passed over the dozens of 16mm film elements long stored in eerily rusty canisters in the basement. Thanks to wünderkind Colleen Cook, who stashed many of those reels at home despite their nasty vinegar smell, it seems that the UI archivists have finally taken in some of her rescues for safe keeping. If you’re curious as to what might be captured on those film elements, Gleismann footage will be projected during the Home Movie Day event at the Urbana Free Library on Saturday. Even now, the man is an enigma to us and, once light shines through those celluloid frames again, a new light will hopefully be cast upon the studio that graced Walnut Street in downtown Champaign.

That’s it for the “business of our scene” this week!


If you have relevant news, opportunities, dates, or promotions that you would like included in CUBiz, please forward the who, what, where, when, and how much to cuconfidential [at] gmail [dot] com.

Compiled by Jason Pankoke


Prior “CUBiz” | Next “CUBiz”


“C-U Biz-en-scène” no. 12 © 2010 Jason Pankoke/C-U Blogfidential.

One Response to C-U Biz-en-scène: 10.15.2010

  1. Paul :

    A week or so ago, I was wondering what Colleen was doing borrowing gloves and masks to do some clean-up work, ha

    Looking forward to Revolting on the 23rd!