C-U Biz-en-scène: 11.05.2011

“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!


Stayin’ Alive, Part 4: It’s the Festivals by the Rest of Us

The New Art Film Festival, co-produced by C-U Blogfidential and the Art Theater, unexpectedly attracted a massive crowd back in April. Given the skimpy attendance levels during the first NAFF a year prior, we were fortunate and grateful for this turn of events, particularly since the fest is designed to showcase homegrown filmmaking during an arts-centric umbrella event, the Boneyard Arts Festival of Champaign County. This fall, CUBlog has continued to do its part by calling attention to and appearing at other area presentations of independent cinema and, unfortunately, we don’t like what we’re seeing.

It’s not the quality of the films; stretching back to the earliest days of MICRO-FILM, we’ve given the pep talk several times about how the trade-off for experiencing variety in a festival setting is that one may need to endure the iffy to discover the essential, according to one’s personal tastes. It’s also not the overall presentation of the films; operating on modest means, the respective organizers clearly installed or gained access to agreeable projection and sound equipment while arranging their spaces to allow a maximum number of viewers comfortably. It’s not even the non-CUBlog press the events garnered; each camp did make an effort to keep fans updated on film selections, guests, and special events through Facebook and the like, while area newspapers, radio stations, television channels, and Web pages provided a fair amount of visibility if not the most comprehensive coverage one might wish for.

However, CUBlog hardly anticipated sitting in with tiny audiences numbering roughly between five and 25 individuals every time we managed to show up. These instances included the first and last evenings of the IMC Film Festival, opening night of the Freeky Creek Short Film Festival, the concluding “Best of Fest” block and awards ceremony at the Route 66 International Film Festival, and several B-movie outings organized by Psychic Joker Entertainment at SoDo Theatre. Folks behind the various shows confirmed with CUBlog that heftier crowds did materialize during other segments, such as the politically charged second night of IMCFF and the final evening of Freeky Creek attended by Chris Landreth, Nina Paley, and a giant evil Easter Bunny cake, which makes us feel a little bit better but not nearly good enough about it.

What caused this paltry showing in the proverbial aisle seats, exactly? The lack of marquee name value, an underlying attitude of “we can rent or stream it later,” the growing resistance in our culture to experience the unknown, host venues that don’t readily serve booze, too much esoteric movie madness taking place in rapid succession, insufficient marketing, overall bad timing, all or none of the above? We haven’t even mentioned the most obvious equalizer – ticket prices – yet admittance to these events was either free or cheaper than the average first-run prime time Hollywood film at the multiplex. Augh!

Here’s a bit of advice for the people of Champaign, Urbana, and the cities beyond who might claim to love movies and support local movie-makers – you need to watch it or you’ll botch it. CUBlog realizes that most audience members will not have the time, patience, or stamina to take in every single second of every piece of cinema, but a lot of you could make the concentrated effort to seek out a handful of titles per festival or screening that sound interesting or entertaining. Your presence and hopeful enjoyment of these experiences will go a long way towards encouraging your neighbors to keep fighting the good fight and enriching our communities through film, for nothing forces movie shows to evaporate faster than the lack of peepers taking in their offerings.

Speaking of, your next opportunities are right around the corner! We hope to see you there, especially since you now know we’ll be looking for you. Read on, MacDuffs …


Other than embarking on a kamikaze road trip later today, Saturday, November 5, to attend the second and final day of the Drunken Zombie Film Festival in Peoria, we’d like you to consider checking out the annual Embarras Valley Film Festival held at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston. This year’s event, which takes place Thursday, November 10, through Saturday, November 12, “will focus on films by and about children and young adults with a connection to filmmakers and personnel from the Central Illinois area” according to the Embarras Web site. Lectures will involve Rankin-Bass (the studio responsible for stop-motion television specials like RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER) and “Uncle Remus” (the ex-slave storyteller at the heart of Disney’s out-of-circulation feature, SONG OF THE SOUTH), while screenings will include MARTIAN CHILD starring John Cusack, NORTH directed by Rob Reiner, and HACHI: A DOG’S TALE featuring Richard Gere and EIU alumna Joan AllenIllini Film & Video is sponsoring their annual 49 Hour Film Festival challenge this weekend, and everyone can watch the resulting entries on Monday, November 7, 7:30 p.m., in Room 223 of Gregory Hall on the University of Illinois Main QuadVia Facebook, Joe Taylor of Sleepy Creek Vineyards revealed the award winners from last week’s Freeky Creek Short Film Festival: DUCKED AND COVERED directed by Nathaniel Lindsay (Best Comedy), THE WINDOW INTO TIME directed by Thomas Nicol of Urbana (Best Cinematography), GREEN VIAL directed by Michael Gabriele (Best Acting), MONSTERS directed by Robert Morgan (Best Horror), BINGO by UI alumnus Chris Landreth (Best Animation), and SOMETHING LEFT, SOMETHING TAKEN directed by Max Porter and Ru Kuwahata a.k.a. Tiny Inventions (Best of the Fest) … Also via Facebook, the Route 66 International Film Festival announced that long-time director Linda McElroy would step down, in anticipation of her move to Missouri, and be succeeded by current festival graphic designer and photographer Tom Szyprka … Finally, we’ll reiterate that festival passes for the 2012 Roger Ebert’s Film Festival went on sale this past Tuesday, November 1. They get snapped up quickly, don’t cha know!


Sidney micro-filmmaker Sasan Shabrou has posted the first two installments of his new Web series GEN Y on the hosting site Unleash Video; starring Shabrou as an Internet blogger, the show also features Nicole Bowman Shabrou, Stephanie Swearingen, Ian Brandon, and Mattheus Knoop … An e-mail blast from Vimeo promotes the all-new Vimeo Music Store, “your one-stop-shop for finding, discovering, and licensing high quality music for your videos” … Last week, avid C-U music fan Nathan Schwalm made his debut as a reviewer for the MICRO-FILM News Blog by writing up THE SWEET LIFE, a New York indie directed by Rocco Simonelli and featuring rocker Joan Jett in a supporting role; Marty McKee also chimed in on the Blu-ray re-release of William Lustig’s action packed opus MANIAC COP starring Tom Atkins, Bruce Campbell, and Robert Z’Dar!


THE TRANSIENT*: Saturday, 11/5, 5:46 p.m., Drunken Zombie Film Festival, Peoria, IL

@ The Art Theater, Champaign, IL: THE WAY (11/4 on), GIORGIO MORODER’S METROPOLIS (11/4, 11/5, 11/10, 10 p.m.), The Kitchen by Arnold Wesker (11/5, 11/6, 12 p.m., theater), RA.ONE (11/5, 3:30 p.m., Bollywood), THE WHITE MEADOWS (11/8, 5:30 p.m., free), closed for private rental (11/10, 7:30 p.m.)

@ The Virginia Theatre, Champaign, IL: THE GODFATHER (11/5, 1 & 7 p.m.)

@ Knight Auditorium, Spurlock Museum, UIUC, Champaign, IL: WHO KILLED CHEA VICHEA? (11/8, 7 p.m.)

@ Room 223, Gregory Hall, UIUC, Urbana, IL: 49 Hour film Festival sponsored by Illini Film & Video (11/7, 7:30 p.m., free)

@ Lecture Hall, Doudna Fine Arts Center, EIU, Charleston, IL: WHO TOOK THE BOMP? LE TIGRE ON TOUR (11/9, 7 p.m.)

@ The Avon Theater, Decatur, IL: TOWER HEIST, PUSS IN BOOTS, PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 3 (11/4 on)

@ The Normal Theater, Normal, IL: THE GUARD (11/3-11/6)

@ Landmark Cinemas, Peoria, IL: Drunken Zombie Film Festival* (11/4-11/5)

@ The Lorraine Theatre, Hoopeston, IL: PUSS IN BOOTS, PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 3 (11/4 on)

@ The Onarga Theatre, Onarga, IL: PUSS IN BOOTS (11/4-11/6, 11/9)

@ The Princess Theatre, LeRoy, IL: THE IDES OF MARCH (11/4-11/6)


@ Centerbrook Drive-In, Martinsville, IN: REAL STEEL, PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 3 (11/4-11/5)

@ Landmark Century Centre Cinema, Chicago Filmmakers, etc., Chicago, IL: Reeling Lesbian & Gay International Film Festival (through 11/12)

@ Harvest Moon Twin Drive-In, Gibson City, IL: Closed for the season!

@ Route 66 Twin Drive-In, Springfield, IL: Closed for the season!


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


11/10-11/12: Embarras Valley Film Festival
@ EIU campus, Charleston, IL

11/10-11/20: St. Louis International Film Festival, St. Louis, MO

11/11-11/13: HorrorHound Weekend (Horror culture), Cincinnati, OH

NEW! 11/12: CUFS “Intro to DSLR Filmmaking” workshop
@ M2, Champaign, IL, 1 p.m.

11/12: “John Waters: This Filthy World,” Indianapolis, IN

NEW! 11/16: Champaign Movie Makers meeting
@ SoDo Theatre, Champaign, IL, 7 p.m.

11/18-11/20: Illinois International Film Festival*, Chicago, IL

@ The Virginia Theatre, Champaign, IL

NEW! 11/29, 12/1: THE HELP
@ The Virginia Theatre, Champaign, IL

@ The Virginia Theatre, Champaign, IL

1/20, 2012: Issue release: C-U Confidential ‘99
+ Paper Opteryx, Champaign, IL

4/15, 2012: Buttered Corn on the Cob Film Festival
@ 88 Broadway, Urbana, IL

4/18-4/22, 2012: Wisconsin Film Festival, Madison, WI

4/25-4/29, 2012: Roger Ebert’s Film Festival
@ The Virginia Theater, Champaign, IL


The New Classics: Great Books to Great Films from the Past 50 Years
@ Danville Public Library, Danville, IL, 6:30 p.m.
11/14: ORDINARY PEOPLE; 12/12: FAIL SAFE (1964); 1/9/12: NEVER CRY WOLF; 2/13/12: AWAKENINGS; 3/12/12: ADAPTATION; 4/9/12: UP IN THE AIR

UPDATE! The News-Gazette Film Series 2011
@ The Virginia Theater, Champaign, IL, 1 & 7 p.m.


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

UPDATE! Global Lens 2011: International Films
@ The Art Theater, Champaign, IL


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.67 © 2011 Jason Pankoke/C-U Blogfidential.

One Response to C-U Biz-en-scène: 11.05.2011

  1. Linda McElroy :

    Thanks for your support for local film festivals. In order to try to avoid conflicts with other events, the Route 66 International Film Festival will be moving to the last weekend of August in 2012 and to another theater: The Legacy Theater, 101 E. Lawrence in Springfield. Hope to see you all there. Keep up to date with the latest on our Facebook page.