Events we RIYL DIY filmmaking

Work weeks shortened by holidays often compromise what we’re able to cook up for your timely C-U Blogfidential reading pleasure, so we were not able to pull together a preview of the Champaign-Urbana Film Society’s Pens to Lens Awards Gala that took place at the Art Theater Co-op last night, Wednesday, May 29. Its wide appeal – starting with the involvement of K-12 aged school children living in Champaign County – guaranteed coverage in other local media such as The News-Gazette and Smile Politely, so please hit those links to learn about the screening and its nine film shorts made by Champaign-Urbana filmmakers from student-written scripts. Lucky for you, cinema endeavors have clustered together once again on the C-U calendar, so let’s look to our immediate future for things to come!

Joel Gillespie of SP reports that later tonight, Thursday, May 30, Portland alternative culture warriors will stop by the University YMCA, 1001 S. Wright St., Urbana, IL, to present “Dinner and Bikes.” Starting at 6:30 p.m., chef Joshua Ploeg will serve up a full-course vegan meal with ingredients purchased locally, after which Everyday Bicycling author Elly Blue will discuss how to integrate two-wheelers into one’s daily transit while Microcosm Publishing and Cantankerous Titles guru Joe Biel shows footage from his new documentary on Portland bike activism, AFTERMASS. Chicago indie journalist Aaron Cynic also joins the D&B tour as scheduler and roadie. Cost for the evening will be $15 and attendees are encouraged to give them an advance shout so Ploeg can purchase the proper amount of food for his feast!

Interested in engaging the rock instead of the roll this evening? Lofty Champaign venue, The Velvet Elvis, will be hosting a C-U alt-rock all-star gig featuring Grandkids, Santah, and Elsinore, with the purpose of raising Web hosting and digital storage funds for Urbana Basement Sessions, founded by Jake Metz to archive the faces and sounds of our current music scene. You can sample early examples of their work here, recorded in the Basement proper, and heretofore unseen footage will be projected in between sets at the Elvis, also to be recorded for posterity and to show off Metz and videographer Jack Maples’ skills. Doors open at 7 p.m. and bands go on at 8 p.m., while refreshments will be offered by local chef and part-time werewolf Mark “Shades” Harstein. It would be smart to land tickets ($7 advance/$10 door) through the Facebook links above, particularly if you want to find out where this secretive Elvis lies. BYOB, FYI.

As for P2L, we spent a little time over at the Art yesterday prior to its standing-room-only 7 p.m. show, complete with awards and swag bags and Matt Metcalf introductions and Zoo Improv interludes and Pekara-baked Oscar cookies (oh my!), eventually returning for the film-only 9:30 p.m. encore. Many participating filmmakers populated the late show, including tuxedo-clad CUFS founders Brett Hays and Luke Boyce, and a palpable buzz drifted throughout the auditorium and into the streets. Our favorite entries included THE DEVIL USES PURELL, directed by Joe Taylor and Bill Kephart and written by Ella G. of Stratton Elementary School, Champaign; FLUFFYSTEIN, directed by Thomas Nicol and written by Maya K., Madelyn C., and Taqia H. of Next Generation School, Champaign; and SUPER DUPER LOW directed by Mike Trippiedi and written by Quinn F. of South Side Elementary School, Champaign.

Honorable mention goes to SUSAN AND DAISY’S ADVENTURE: EPISODE I, directed by Tim Meyers and written by Beatrice, Catherine, David, Dennis, Jonathan, Reuben, and Saewoong of the UIUC College of Education’s University Primary School, a fun fit of “surrealism lite” that is, of all things, a remake! Imagine our surprise this past weekend when, sitting down in the “movie theater” room of the UPS Art Show at the Krannert Art Museum, a video loop treated your humble editor’s family to a shaky camcorder rendition of SUSAN AND DAISY’S ADVENTURE starring the entire pint-sized screenwriting team! We’re still debating which iteration features the better eel – the carcass (!) animated by Nicol for P2L or the cardboard-and-soda-bottle mask with cape attachment worn by one of the UPS kids.

Seeing the disembodied head of Mr. Eel sitting there in the art gallery only made us yearn for the return of Industrial Tape & Cardboard. Remember those good ol’ days, Shades?

~ Jason Pankoke

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