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Thursday, Nov. 2, 2017 12:09 am

Film festival promises plenty of kicks

Animated short film Tokri The Basket is one of the highlights of this year’s Route 66 International Film Festival.


It may come as a surprise, even to self-professed area movie buffs, that since 2002 Springfield has played host to its very own international film festival, featuring screenings of a juried selection of features and shorts from around the country, the world and the region, complete with an award ceremony and special appearances by filmmakers and actors. This year’s Route 66 International Film Festival takes place Friday and Saturday, Nov. 3 and 4, at Capital City Bar and Grill.

While the Route 66 festival has so far failed to transform Springfield into a Cannes-style hub of red carpet glamour, the annual event has provided a consistently entertaining and enlightening window into independent cinema. This weekend’s offerings will range from harrowing dramas to funny animated romps to topical documentaries and many points in between.

The event itself lasts only two days, but preparing for it is a year-round endeavor, according to Thea Chesley, director of marketing and communications for the festival. Thanks to the advent of streaming technology, the process of picking which films make the cut is easier than it was in the days of VHS entries being sent through the mail. “Films are submitted online so judges can watch at home in their pajamas,” she said. Judges’ ratings are tabulated and the top-scoring movies make it into the festival.

Some highlights of this year’s cinematic offerings include Pirate Cruncher, an elaborate and charming computer-animated student short about, in Chesley’s words, “a fiddler who lures some greedy pirates to their doom – with a great sea monster in it. And Tokri (The Basket), “a heartwarming story of a little girl who breaks her father’s watch and tries to sell baskets to fix it.” A particular favorite of Chesley’s is the short documentary Behind the Woods and Across the Sea. “It’s about an immigrant coming to this country and it’s really nice – it reminded me of stories of my grandmother.”

Every year an effort is made to include local and regional filmmakers. This weekend’s festival will feature seven films by Illinois filmmakers, notably The Sheriff’s Children, adapted from a 19th-century short story by Danville filmmaker Michael Boedicker. Chesley characterized the film as thought-provoking and potentially controversial. “It raises a lot of questions about race,” she said. Other entrants from Illinois include The Goldfish, an animated short by Champaign’s Thomas Nicol (screening on Friday), and My Country, by Giancarlo Iannotta of Chicago, who will be in attendance for the screening of his feature – described by Chesley as “part road trip and part ‘bro’ comedy, set in both Chicago and in Italy” – on Saturday afternoon.
Each of the festival’s four sessions – one on Friday evening, then three spread between 11 a.m. and 10 p.m. Saturday – consist of one feature film preceded by several shorts. Saturday will feature a Skype session with A Pact Among Angels director Richard Angers as well as the awards ceremony, which will feature an “audience favorite” category. Free hors d’oeuvres will be available at both evening sessions and popcorn will be available gratis throughout the festival, with an after-party for attendees immediately following the awards ceremony.


Session One:
Fri. Nov. 3, 7 p.m. - 10 p.m.
(screening order tba)
- Behind the Woods and Across the Sea
- The Goldfish*
- Good Hands
- I Got You, Babe
- Lesser Cousin*
- Mother Road
- The Naked Truth*
- Streaker

Session Two:
Sat. Nov. 4, 11a.m. - 2 p.m.
- Adventures of Lucy
- Catfish
- Please Don’t Call the Cops
- A Summer’s Day
- Tokri (The Basket)
- The Tree
- Waiting for Harold

Session Three:
Sat., Nov. 4, 3 p.m. - 5:30 PM
- Don’t Sell My Guitars
- Home Cooked
- My Country*
- The Pirate Cruncher
- The Sheriff’s Children*

Session 4
Sat., Nov. 4, 6:30 p.m. - 10 p.m.
- Alfred J. Hemlock
- Crows of the Desert, 61
- A Pact Among Angels
- Self-Made Man / Rainbow-Sunshine Woman
- 2 by 2 

*indicates that film was made in Illinois

Scott Faingold can be reached at sfaingold@illinoistimes.com.


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Sunday Aug. 18th