IMC unveils first film festival

By Missy Smith

Aspiring filmmakers and independent movie buffs unite for the Independent Movie Center’s first film fest this Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Featured in this weekend-long fest are over 30 short films made by local talents, as well as directors from St. Paul, Minn., Iowa City, Iowa and the Chicagoland area. These films will be spread throughout the weekend and accompanied by receptions in which the audience is encouraged to speak with the directors about their films.

Stephen Fonzo, a media training advisor for the IMC, said the company is looking to become a bigger presence in the Champaign-Urbana community.

“We’ve been working on making this a better space for live entertainment – concerts, film showings, poetry readings, theater and other social events,” Fonzo said. “We’ve done some film nights that didn’t quite have the focus that setting aside a whole weekend does. We want to support local artists and bring them together afterward.”

The film festival seeks to highlight local talent, which festival participant Luke Boyce, 26, of Champaign, said he most appreciates.

“There is a lot of talent in this area that needs to be showcased,” Boyce said. “It’s good to see a lot of things in the last few years have popped up to give the local film scene much-deserved credit.”

Boyce, along with his production company, Shatterglass Studios, have submitted two works to show this weekend, a 35-minute drama called “Prelude” and a 7-minute short called “Sugar.”

“Prelude,” Boyce said, is just as it sounds, a prelude to a film he will be shooting later this year. The movie’s supernatural edge introduces a mythology that his later movie will address from a more in-depth perspective.

Just as Boyce’s creation is not a typical film, Fonzo said not all films can be judged by a set criteria that would allow for awards to be given.

“Different films are going to have different strengths and different attitudes,” Fonzo said.

Still, the IMC is offering the opportunity for feedback in the form of a comment box that will later be posted on the Web site for review.

Nicole Pion, the outreach and development coordinator for the IMC, said the diversity of the films is part of the appeal for community members.

“It doesn’t necessarily mean a lot of what we are showing are about personal experience,” Pion said. “It is varied; some are purely fictitious and interesting. There is one about a vampire Lincoln, but I won’t give it away. We are showing a broad spectrum of movies that make it hard to compare.”

Another aspiring filmmaker and 2008 graduate, Roshan Murthy, adds more diversity to the mix by having a sci-fi short film and a “mockumentary” short film in the style of “The Office” as well. After years of trial and error, Murthy said he finally began to find his path at the University by making films and paying close attention to class. It took almost six years for Murthy to finally get it right, and now, in addition to participating in the film festival, he is applying to graduate school.

Murthy said he appreciates the IMC’s effort to recognize the local film scene. Although this is his first time working with them, he plans to participate as long as he is a member of the Champaign-Urbana community.

“It’s nice that there is a local film scene and that it is active,” Murthy said. “The resources are at the University; it’s just a matter of going there and using them.”

If students are interested in being a part of this festival or an upcoming film night, Pion insists it is not too late, and it is a fun and free way to spend the weekend.

“It is a great chance to see something different, meet some interesting people who you would otherwise not meet and see some different shows for free,” Pion said. “You can’t beat that.”

Check out the schedule of films for the festival at the IMC’s Web site,