SDAC, IMC team up for film fest

It has been nearly three years since the Urbana-Champaign Independent Media Center last held its IMC Film Festival. Unlike their first two outings, balanced nicely between topical, local, and eclectic programs, the most recent in September 2011 seemed uneasily split between social issue documentary and non-political narratives. Highly charged audiences packed the former, not surprising given the activist leanings of the IMC, while spotty attendance dulled the latter. Your humble editor volunteered or advised during its short run but is not quite sure why the event ultimately stalled. Certainly, the gradual dissolution of its original planning team due to relocating across the country, stating a family, tending to other film festivals, and so forth did not help in terms of consistency or stability for the event.

Many could argue the Art Theater Co-op, Illinois Public Media/WILL-TV, Parkland College, and several University of Illinois departments easily make up the difference in presenting social issue media year-round to our community, yet a successor in spirit to the IMC Film Festival has felt inevitable no matter who led the charge. Significantly, an event like the latter is geared towards encouraging its audience to learn the tools and strive to affect change by using them. It seems this is what Susan Parenti, a writer and co-founder of the progressive School for Designing a Society (SDAC) in Urbana, and Rachel Lauren Storm, the programming chair for the IMC and assistant director of the UIUC Women’s Resources Center, had in mind when developing a new initiative that will debut this week

The Interdependent Film Festival, with a first-year theme of “Women Make Movies,” launches later tonight, Thursday, July 31, and lasts through Saturday, August 2, at the IMC, 202 S. Broadway, Urbana. Eight documentary and experimental pieces, created by female filmmakers living in or with ties to the C-U, will be screened and discussed across four sessions with a fifth devoted to media production basics. Keep reading for an annotated film schedule cribbed from the SDAC Web site; additional details may be found there or in this News-Gazette arts round-up. Smile Politely performing arts contributor Matthew Green briefly interviewed Parenti, Storm, and Carol Huang (FREE TRADE REFUGEES) about their work and festival participation for a feature posted yesterday, Wednesday, July 30.

Ticket prices are $15 per screening ($7 for low-income individuals), $35 for a festival pass, and $25 for the workshop only. The Interdependent Film Festival is sponsored by SDAC, the UIUC Women’s Resources Center, the Department of Gender and Women’s Studies at UIUC, and the UIUC Center for South Asian and Middle Eastern Studies.

~ Jason Pankoke


Interdependent Film Festival – Schedule
@ Independent Media Center, Urbana, IL
July 31-August 2, 2014

Thursday, July 31
6 p.m. – Gala Red Carpet Opening + Q&A

Directed by Roberta Bennett
This haunting and austere film documents the neglect and impact of an abandoned toxic waste cite in central Illinois.

Directed by Sarah Kanouse & Sarah Lewison
This film depicts citizen engagements with the GMO giant Monsanto.

Friday, August 1
7 p.m. – Screening + Q&A

Directed by Catherine Murphy
This film pays tribute to the thousands of young, teenage girls in Cuba in the 1960s who volunteered to combat illiteracy across their country, with astonishing results.

Directed by Susan Parenti
This experimental narrative film explores what happens when different social discourses encounter the discourse of health care.

Saturday, August 2
12 p.m. – Screening + Q&A

Directed by Meadow Jones
This is a lyrical film about construction of memory, troubled identity, gender, growing up, isolation, and comfort.

Directed by Nina Paley
Roger Ebert described this multiple award-winning animated feature as a “greater miracle.”

3 p.m. – Workshop

“Citizen Film-Making: A Do-It-Yourself Empowerment Workshop”

7 p.m. – Screening + Q&A + Closing Ceremonies

Directed by Kate DeCiccio
This short film documents the work of celebrated street artist Kate DeCiccio that offers expressions of freedom in difficult and urban conditions.

Directed by Carol Huang
This film intimately follows the lives of people who come to the United States hoping to make a better life for themselves, their children, and their families.


Notes: Parenti’s own film, the low-budget “tragi-comedy” HEALTH CARE IN ALL THE WRONG PLACES, features numerous C-U performers, activists, and the Gesundheit! Institute’s legendary Dr. Patch Adams; you can watch the trailer below or listen to a radio interview with Parenti and Adams from the WILL-AM 580 program, Focus … Storm also programs the annual UIUC student Feminist Film Festival in the spring; you can read our recap of the 2014 edition by Lauren Laws right here … By far, the best-known piece in the Interdependent program is Nina Paley’s sublime animation, SITA SINGS THE BLUES, which has been shown in the C-U several times since its 2009 inclusion in Roger Ebert’s Film Festival.

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