C-U Biz-en-scène: 11.18.2010

“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!


Good Things Come to Those Who Break

Given that the University of Illinois will allow its student body to collectively escape for a week to visit home/friends/wherever and individually observe Thanksgiving if they so choose, thereby dialing down the Champaign-Urbana energy level by a few notches, we might just do the same here at the Secret MICRO-FILM Headquarters. Unless we spring for a bare-bones column next week, expect CUBiz to return at the latest on Thursday, December 2, with more craziness sure to follow. Until then, enjoy this here column and Sunday’s “Images of the Week” which will conclude our unofficial “local festival hopes and dreams” trilogy with discussion about the future facing a little something you probably haven’t thought about since it took place last April – the New Art Film Festival. It’s all good. We love you anyway.


We ask that you consider purchasing back issues of MICRO-FILM and C-U Confidential to help erase our outstanding print bill before we return to the printer with files for not only CUZine no.5 but our delayed special issues, C-U Confidential ’99 and MICRO-FILM 2000. You can order by using the “Donate” PayPal button here or sending cash/check/money order/cashier’s check to: Jason Pankoke, Editor, MICRO-FILM, 401 N. Prairie, Suite 3D, Champaign, IL, 61820. Documents should be made payable to “Jason Pankoke” and personal/business checks will have to sit 4-6 weeks to clear. The sale is good for MICRO-FILM issues 1-7 (do not use the old PayPal buttons if you want sale prices) and C-U Confidential issues 1-4 until further notice. For any single order: 1st copy MF, $5 ppd; 2nd copy MF, $4 ppd, 3rd copy MF, $3 ppd; 4th+ copy MF, $2 ppd each; 1st copy CUZine, $4 ppd; 2nd copy CUZine, $3 ppd, 3rd+ copy CUZine, $1 ppd each. If you have trouble figuring out a total price, simply write us at cuconfidential [at] gmail [dot] com for help. We need to nail this by the end of February 2011 or nefarious decisions will have to be made in the bowels of the Secret MICRO-FILM Headquarters. Thanks in advance for your support!


Good old-fashioned snooping has turned up the news that Dark Maze Studios will release PRESS START 2 CONTINUE on Friday, February 11, 2011! Champaign low-budget movie maven Ed Glaser promises in this Weblog post that fans and noobs everywhere will be rewarded for their patience. Glaser and his comrades unleashed the first PRESS START in October 2007 followed by an onslaught of PRESS START ADVENTURES Webtoons and the live action short PRESS START: BIO HAPHAZARD, amongst other ventures, so we can hardly fault them for juggling a consistently full plate since they actually get the job done. Give them extra props for not, er, Mickey Mousing around and waiting a generation to pump some fresh quarters into their videogame franchise. Et tu, TRON 2?

This past Tuesday, your humble editor sat in on the weekly Illini Film & Video meeting with the main topic of conversation being a “club film project” cooked up by IFV president Beanz Ramirez, tentatively called SNOWBOUND. We can’t give too much away by default since the story and script are still in development, but influences cited by Ramirez and Adam Dreyfuss include LORD OF THE FLIES and the classic 1960 episode of THE TWILIGHT ZONE, “The Monsters are Due on Maple Street,” while the plot involves a group of college students holing up in a creepy campus building during a massive snowstorm. You can follow its progress at the IFV Web site and get involved by contacting illinifilmandvideo [at] gmail [dot] com or attending the next meeting, which will hit Tuesday, November 30, 6 p.m., in Room 259 of the English Building after semester resumes at the University of Illinois.


Skip Huston of the Avon Theater in Decatur has announced his next “Richland-at-the-Avon” class, “Bogart Movies – Part Two,” which will begin on Thursday, January 13, 2011, and last through Thursday, March 3, 2011. The Head Honcho educational sessions are offered through Richland Community College and enrollment will cost $80. Interested in watching the iconic Humphrey Bogart conduct business on the big screen where he belongs? Contact Huston right now at skip [at] theavon [dot] com if you’re in!


Don’t forget that tonight, Thursday, November 18, 7 p.m., the Central Illinois Film Commission will meet at Di Piero’s Sicilian Cucina, 2690 S. Dirksen Parkway, Springfield, to discuss member activities and area opportunities. CIFC head Cameron Counts states in his e-mail message that David H. Lowery, billed as “The Paranormal Highwayman,” will talk about his travels and related projects (including a Webisode series) during the meeting; you can contact Counts at nmdcone [at] yahoo [dot] com or visit their Web site for more information!

And then keep in mind that on Tuesday, November 23, 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 will cover special effects including “green screen, set extension, and other digital effects that we as low budget independent filmmakers can do to get maximum effect out of our resources,” says group founder Johnny Robinson. Additional topics are TBA. Feel free to contact Robinson at johnny [at] johnnyrobinson [dot] com for further information!


With Roger Ebert defying all logic and permeating the public consciousness more than ever as film critic crown prince and populist blogger extraordinaire, it may be no wonder that the media paid skimpy lip service to fellow University of Illinois alum and Daily Illini reporter emeritus Gene Shalit, who formally concluded his impressive 40-year run on NBC’s THE TODAY SHOW as of last Thursday, November 11. You can read about it in one of the only notices we could find with actual meat on its bones and then glean more of the 84-year-old Shalit’s accomplishments in this cheeky biography on the TODAY Web site. In a different vein of “all good things must pass,” the News-Gazette revealed on Tuesday (after a seemingly endless run of progress reports) that the Champaign Park District elected to remove instead of repair the classic neon marquee of the Virginia Theater; it will be replaced with a replica of the Virginia’s original 1921 flat-front marquee, presumably by the next “Ebertfest” if not sooner. Next, CUBlog contributor Michelle Kaffko of “A Knife in a Gun Fight” is flexing her muscles as indie movie publicist on the upcoming documentary sequel REVENGE OF THE ELECTRIC CAR, encouraging fans of the original WHO KILLED THE ELECTRIC CAR? – and people who give a shit about conserving resource consumption in the 21st century – to like their new Facebook Page, which will debut the REVENGE trailer once 10,000 folks click its Ebert-esque thumb’s up button. Finally, CUBlog friend Laura Zinger pointed out via the FB an interview with her posted Tuesday on a Web site new to us, Chicago DIY Film, through which we discovered another Web site new to us, CINE-FILE Chicago. Curiously, the former offers up regional news/reviews/etc. a la CUBlog while the latter serves a similar weekly function as CUBiz. Even stranger, we have no other Ebert allusions to toss into the mix today. Sorry.


LEADING LADIES*: Saturday, 11/20, 3:30 p.m., Landmark Tivoli Theatre, St. Louis, MO

@ The Art Theater, Champaign, IL: TAMARA DREWE (11/19 on), HOT FUZZ (11/19, 11/20, 11/25, 10 p.m.)


@ The Normal Theater, Normal, IL: WAITING FOR SUPERMAN (11/18-11/21, 11/23-11/24, 7 p.m.)

@ The Lorraine Theatre, Hoopeston, IL: HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS PART 1 (11/19 on), MEGAMIND (11/19-11/23), TANGLED (11/24 on)

@ That’s Rentertainment, Champaign, IL: THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT, THE LAST AIRBENDER, A CHRISTMAS CAROL (2009), METROPOLIS (1926), more! (11/16 on)

NEW! @ Various venues, Chicago/Niles/Park Ridge, IL: Polish Film Festival in America (11/18-11/21)

@ Hi-Pointe Theatre/Tivoli Theatre/Webster University & other venues, St. Louis, MO: St. Louis International Film Festival (11/18-11/21)

@ Buskirk-Chumley Theater & other venues, Bloomington, IN: Dark Carnival Film Festival (11/19-11/21)


@ The Canopy Club, Urbana, IL: Pizza + Pitcher and Movie – returns 12/5

Locally produced movies and events featuring locally produced movies are marked with an asterisk (*). Go see ‘em!


NEW! 12/3-12/5: Minneapolis Underground Film Festival, Minneapolis, MN

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


“Real Vs. Reel” Movie Series
@ Danville Public Library, Danville, IL, 6:30 p.m.

12/13: ROCKY; 1/10/11: SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS; 2/14/11: HOOSIERS; 3/14/11: A PLACE IN THE SUN; 4/11/11: THE FUGITIVE


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

12/7: BURMA VJ

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

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.

11/18: ORDINARY PEOPLE, Serbia; 12/2: THE SHAFT, China; 12/9: SHIRLEY ADAMS, South Africa

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



Not unlike a few weeks ago, your humble editor’s temporary encampment in Café Kopi while writing CUBiz has indirectly triggered ghosts of local filmmaking past, this time not by a glance out the window but a “drop” of coincidental music overhead. One evening after baristas pumped a relative head-scratcher (Black Sabbath?) a different staff countered with some not unwelcome Beastie Boys, inevitably arriving at their spacey late Nineties anthem “Intergalactic” which not only inspired flashes of the famous Giant Robot vs. Squid Monster video but also a more definitive flashback to the summer of 1998 when said video stomped all over MTV. I saw it for the first time while relaxing in the bar area of the former Ned Kelly’s Steakhouse on north Cunningham Avenue in Urbana, but not while dining with friends or enjoying after hours beers. The lone television glowing in the dead of night served as a convenient distraction for cast and crew members taking a break from being in the restaurant’s kitchen, prep, refrigeration, or office areas and helping make a student thesis film called OPEN TO CLOSE. Except for a handful of short daytime scenes set behind the building, everything would be filmed while Ned Kelly’s was closed to the public and not occupied by staff – meaning, between approximately 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. – during four intense, consecutive weekends. My volunteer work as OTC set photographer and gofer qualified as my first time working a shoot from beginning to end and, despite the inevitable challenges and stress, I wouldn’t have traded it for the world. However, the film itself – which I presume director/writer and then-Columbia College student Melissa Schmitt finished and turned in to satisfy requirements for earning her degree – remains lost to me. I keep telling myself to seek her out and ask to see the film, which may or may not be difficult since it was filmed on 16mm stock and possibly never transferred to video. Maybe that doesn’t matter and I shouldn’t let it drop any longer. Stay tuned.

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


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“C-U Biz-en-scène” no. 17 © 2010 Jason Pankoke/C-U Blogfidential.

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