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Embarras Valley Film Festival

Movie screenings, more to honor Gene Hackman's east-central Illinois roots

Gene Hackman is just one of a surprising number of east-central Illinois natives who went on to achieve success in Hollywood, and this year, it's his turn to be honored in the Embarras Valley Film Festival.

Five films featuring Hackman -- an Academy Award-winning actor who grew up in Danville -- will be showcased in the film festival, which is held annually to pay tribute to movie stars with connections to the region.

The 2012 festival, themed "The Versatile Gene Hackman," is set for Oct. 27 and Nov. 1-3. All events are free and open to the public.

Each film will be introduced by a guest speaker. It's only fitting that "Hoosiers," regarded by many as the best sports film of all time, will be prefaced by remarks from new EIU men's basketball coach Jay Spoonhour. Spoonhour's reputation as a basketball expert is well-established, but many will be surprised to learn that he is also a self-described "movie junkie" who co-hosted the "Movie Show" on KFNS radio in St. Louis in the late 1990s.

Other speakers will be Dann Gire, a Charleston High School and EIU graduate who is president and founding director of the Chicago Film Critics Association; Chuck Koplinski, who been reviewing films for 20 years for central Illinois media; and Robin Murray, who teaches in the EIU English department and serves as the coordinator for the College of Arts and Humanities’ film studies minor.

Five Hackman movies will be shown:

  • In "Bonnie and Clyde" (R, 1967), a bored small-town girl and a small-time bank robber leave in their wake a string of violent robberies and newspaper headlines that catch the imagination of the Depression-struck Midwest in this take on the legendary crime spree of these archetypal lovers on the run. Hackman plays Buck Barrow, older brother of Clyde and member of the Barrow gang.

  • "Unforgiven" (R, 1992) blurs lines between heroism and villainy, and man and myth, when prostitutes unsatisfied by the justice served by Sheriff "Little Bill" (Hackman) in the death of one of their friends put a bounty on her cowboy killers. The bounty attracts a young gun billing himself as “The Schofield Kid” (Jaimz Woolvett), as well as aging and reformed killer William Munny (Clint Eastwood) and his partner Ned (Morgan Freeman), complicating conflicts between law and lawlessness in the West.

  • In "The Royal Tenenbaums" (R, 2001), an estranged family of former child prodigies reunites when their father, Royal (Hackman), announces he has a terminal illness.

  • Based on a true story, "Hoosiers" (PG, 1986) highlights Norman Dale (Hackman), a coach with a checkered past, and Shooter (Dennis Hopper), a local drunk, who train a small-town high school basketball team to become a top contender for the state championship.

  • William Friedkin's gritty police drama "The French Connection" (R, 1972) portrays two tough New York City cops trying to intercept a huge heroin shipment coming from France. An interesting contrast is established between "Popeye" Doyle (Hackman), a short-tempered alcoholic bigot who is nevertheless a hardworking and dedicated police officer, and his nemesis, Alain Charnier (Fernando Rey), a suave and urbane gentleman who is nevertheless a criminal and one of the largest drug suppliers of pure heroin to North America.

Before any of the films are screened, a colloquium will also be held Thursday to discuss Hackman's body of work.

The 2012 EVFF is sponsored by the College of Arts and Humanities, Tarble Arts Center, Doudna Fine Arts Center and Booth Library, as well as the Coles County Arts Council and Charleston Carnegie Public Library. The EVFF also receives support from City of Charleston Tourism Funds.

For more information, please visit the EVFF website.

EVFF Schedule

Saturday, Oct. 27

  • 10 a.m. - 1 p.m.: Stop Motion Film Workshop for middle-school-age students, led by School of Technology graduate student Gabe Przygoda. Classroom, Tarble Arts Center

Thursday, Nov. 1

  • 2 p.m.: Colloquium: The Films of Gene Hackman. 3290 Coleman Hall.
  • 3:30 p.m.: "Bonnie and Clyde." Lecture Hall, Doudna Fine Arts Center.

Friday, Nov. 2

  • 7 p.m.: "Unforgiven." The Theatre, Doudna Fine Arts Center.
  • 10 p.m.: "The Royal Tenenbaums." The Theatre, Doudna Fine Arts Center.

Saturday, Nov. 3

  • 10:30 a.m. - noon: "Heroes or Villains" art workshop for children ages 6-12, led by EIU librarian Jeanne Goble and Charleston artist Karen Reed. Register by Oct. 29 by calling 217-345-1514. Sponsored by the Coles County Arts Council. Charleston Carnegie Public Library, 712 Sixth St.
  • 1:30 p.m.: Student Stop Motion Film Premiere, featuring films created in the Oct. 27 workshop. Atrium, Tarble Arts Center.
  • 2 p.m.: "Hoosiers." Atrium, Tarble Arts Center.
  • 7 p.m.: "The French Connection." The Theatre, Doudna Fine Arts Center.

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