C-U Film Leader: 2.17.2016

The C-U Film Leader appears sporadically on C-U Blogfidential to point our readers towards interesting cinema activity relevant to Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, and the surrounding area. Please support the artists and their work, attend screenings and events, and otherwise become active in our wondrous little world!



Featuring: Ebertfest hits ‘Peak’ with del Toro,
UI misses Lee by symbolic degree,
Lorraine restoration continues,
immediate ‘Tour’ comes to end, & more!

With a roll of the editorial dice, we offer up a jam-packed “link dump” edition of the C-U Film Leader that we hope will tickle your fancy. Pertinent people, places, and (p)things await you, dearest Leaders!


Several entertainment celebrities have received overtures to visit our decidedly non-Hollywood prairie oasis as of latePer Variety, organizers at Roger Ebert’s Film Festival announced their first guest for the event’s 18th edition will be fantasy filmmaker Guillermo del Toro, who will discuss his most recent theatrical release CRIMSON PEAK after it plays opening night on April 13 … A prior “Ebertfest” guest, acclaimed director Ang Lee (LIFE OF PI), will not attend a campus ceremony in May at which he was to receive an honorary degree from the University of Illinois alongside professors Ron Adrian (engineering, Arizona State U.), Edward Taylor (chemistry, Princeton U.), and Jagdish Sheth (marketing, Emory U.); a News-Gazette article implies Lee, who earned a bachelor’s degree at UIUC in 1980, could be awarded down the line after missing this opportunity due to a film shoot … Earlier this month, the N-G also reported on the efforts in Danville to restore the childhood home of comedy actors Dick Van Dyke (MARY POPPINS) and Jerry Van Dyke (COACH); a representative is quoted about plans to turn the formerly condemned property into a “foundation for the performing arts” for youth, with both a national fundraising campaign and personal appearance by Dick Van Dyke being planned to help attract support … While not a celebrity or veteran in the business, young Disney animator and USC graduate Ryan Gillis Lizama will visit Urbana to talk about his Sundance Film Festival selection PALM ROT on February 27 when the thesis short will open the annual UIUC Insect Fear Film Festival at Foellinger Auditorium.


It is a literal case of one door closing (again), another door opening (again), and a third blown ajar by market forces … In December, proprietor Jim Whitmore began posting on-line the sad news that his Star Theatre in Villa Grove had closed; after operating it for less than two years as a live entertainment venue, Whitmore is apparently selling the space even though we can’t find any formal announcement, article, or realtor listing to verify. Previously known as the Gemini Cinema, Twin Cinema, and Gem Theatre, the Star first opened under that name in the 1920s to show movies and had served the same function for much of its existence … Conversely, the Danville Commercial-News ran a piece in early January about the long-planned renovation of Hoopeston’s Lorraine Theatre, alternately a first- and second-run venue that has been dormant since 2012. Members of the Save the Lorraine Foundation, who have been raising funds via grants, special events, and a temporary “Little Lorraine” in their downtown, say it could resume operation by late 2016 to host plays, concerts, and films … Our columnist Tyler Tharpe is running an Indiegogo drive to drum up supplemental funds for the installation of digital projection at the 65-year-old Centerbrook Drive-in, located just south of Indianapolis, of which he is owner and operator. We’re pretty sure that Tharpe would appreciate a few long-distance clicks at the “Going Digital!” campaign page even if he’s relying mainly on his regular audience to help foot this inevitable expense; the Centerbrook is scheduled to open for the season with BATMAN V SUPERMAN on March 25. Pitch in for a CUBlog pal!


A random addendum brings spice to the movie life of Champaign, Urbana, and the cities beyond … Having generated little theatrical steam last summer, bowed quietly on home formats in November, and failed to receive any nominations at this month’s Academy Awards, Ebertfest 2015 selection THE END OF THE TOUR and its much-debated personification of the late David Foster Wallace will most likely have the book closed on it shortly. Visit this IndieWIRE post to download and read a draft of Donald Marguiles’ screenplay while it is still available … Men of C-U film Thomas Nicol and Andrew Stengele appeared on the recent Episode 87 of the Show & Tell CI podcast, produced by Mix 94.5 FM, during which they discussed with an unnamed host (!) this weekend’s “48 hour film challenge” sponsored by Champaign Movie Makers as well as the next Pens to Lens Screenwriting Competition; the submission window for the latter is now open to area students … Speaking of C-U film, you will find no personalities or projects featured regularly at CUBlog on this list of viewing suggestions offered by the UIUC news bureau at Christmastime; “Illinois-related films [and television] shows” refers to those involving university employees and alumni with only incidental nods to anything made in Illinois. It is still worth a look to identify the non-famous working in the industry today … Your humble editor’s personal pick does not have to do with CUBlog territory but, then again, it might: Kodak announced last month it will manufacture its first Super 8 camera in decades. Happy! Joy!

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That’s it for today, friends. The Leader has spoken!

If you have news, opportunities, dates, or promotions that you would like included in CULead, please forward the relevant details to cuconfidential [at] gmail [dot] com.

Compiled by Jason Pankoke


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“The C-U Film Leader” no.87
© 2016 Jason Pankoke/C-U Blogfidential.

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