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Thursday, Sept. 10, 2009 10:12 pm

A world of indie film comes to Springfield

The capital city’s own Route 66 International Film Festival is next weekend at Hoogland Center for the Arts

Named one of the 25 festivals worth the fee in 2008 by Moviemaker Magazine, the eighth annual Route 66 International Film Festival gathering will surely be cited for that same honor again this year. The roster of films on tap this year is one of the most eclectic put together yet and features some of the strongest filmmaking to be screened at the festival to date. From innovative animated features, experimental shorts, feature-length dramas and moving documentaries, the fest truly has something for all tastes and more than its share of welcome surprises.

How much has the Route 66 International Film Festival grown since its inception eight years ago? Consider that fewer than 50 films were submitted to its selection committee its first year but the same group had to sift through approximately 300 entries to select its roster of 58 movies for the 2009 fest. This is quite an accomplishment for a film festival less than 10 years old that has featured movies from every continent except Antarctica.

Sporting movies from 10 countries, with entries from as far away as Australia, one of the more unique things about this year’s festival is the number of filmmakers who will be present. Thirty-five filmmakers representing 26 of the fest’s films will be in town for the event. “One of the most surprising things to me was the fact that filmmakers were willing to make the trip at their own expense to attend the festival,” says Linda McElroy, the director of the festival. “We have had filmmakers who came from New York, California, Texas, Florida and Mexico, as well as many midwestern states and throughout Illinois. I’m excited this year that we have nearly half of our 60 filmmakers planning to attend.”

While the growing reputation of the festival is one reason for the high rate of attendance where the filmmakers are concerned, another important element is at play. “Another factor in receiving more submissions is word of mouth from the filmmakers who have attended in the past,” says McElroy. “Many of them have said that they had so much fun at our festival, have recommended our festival to others, and sent us their new projects for the next year’s consideration.”

What follows is a brief overview of the fest as well as descriptions of some of the entries that will be shown. A complete schedule begins on page 14 and at www.route66filmfestival.net as is information on how to purchase tickets, which are $10 for each session, $25 for a one-day pass or $50 for a festival pass. Without question, each of these options is a bargain for filmgoers as the Route 66 International Film Festival not only delivers a greater number of movies for the viewer’s dollars but a rare eye-opening variety of cinema.

Chuck Koplinski got interested in movies at age 8.
He studied film at Chicago's Columbia College and has served as Illinois Times’ film critic since 1999.