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Route 66 International Film Festival

Fall is in the air! As days get shorter and nights get colder, movies and popcorn become the typical pastime. The Route 66 International Film Festival, held on Saturday, Sept. 23, seemed like a fitting way to bid adieu to summer and welcome to the autumn equinox. From 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., community members buzzed about the Hoogland Center for the Arts, refreshing their popcorn bags before the start of each film, taking pictures in front of the red-carpet photo area or with the array of cosplayers on the scene, and perusing local artists’ booths. This year, the Hoogland partnered with the International Route 66 Mother Road Festival, a traditional classic car event.

All movies were free for the public to view. The beauty of an all-day movie marathon is the ability to pick and choose from a multitude of movies to watch throughout the day. The movie marathon started at 10:30 a.m., beginning with some short films. Session One began with “Cold Start,” a short film about overcoming a tragedy; “Launch,” a true story about an astronaut and his wife; “The Sherriff’s Children,” a drama about conflict between duty and family; and “Chemistry Read,” about an actor and a rapper. Session Two featured more short films: “Covid Room,” “Age of Bryce,” “Duality Derby,” “Waiting for Harold,” “Family” and “Texans in the Land of Lincoln.”

The next three sessions contained the longer features. Session Three was a 90-minute documentary, called American Road. As the movie schedule states, American Road is “[A] documentary [that] explores the artistic, musical, and literary resonances of the mystique of the road – and especially of going off the beaten track – in American lore. The Westward expansion, the Dust Bowl era, hobos, post-war suburbanization and the Beat critique of it, hitchhiking, the upheavals of the 1960s and early 1970s and the current generation of backpackers clutching their Lonely Planet and Rough Guides. American Road ultimately probes the meaning of what it is to be an American, not just a wayfarer.” The film related governmental suppression of the ‘50s and ‘60s (with the demonization of the beatniks, as Edgar Hoover declared them “the most dangerous threat to America,” the oppression of minorities and women) to the Republican controversies of today (with their attempted threats to democracy and women’s rights along with escalation of racial conflicts). It is truly a movie worth checking out and will leave younger generations relating to the boomer era. Session Four was an 80-minute movie called Afterlife that discussed the ultimate question of “what happens when we die.” The movie centers around the assumption of life after death and is more for believers of all religions or spiritualties. The fifth and last session, was a mockumentary, described as “surpassing the Blair Witch Project, centering around an alien abduction.”

In between film showings, attendees purchased souvenirs, posed for pictures in the red carpet photo area, browsed art on the walls, networked with local film crews, and had books signed by local author and UIS alumnus, Eric Woods. Eric’s line includes a wonderful array of horror tales and Pummeled, a story about the trials and tribulations of a young female MMA fighter. Attendees were also welcome to take pictures with the hoard of cosplayers. Popular names included Wednesday Addams, Ghostbusters, The Corpse Bride, and Wonder Woman, among others. Those interested are welcome to review the films that have been selected for this year’s film festival online via Film Festival Flix from Nov. 3-13, 2023. For those wishing to attend, the Route 66 Film Festival Awards Ceremony will be held Nov. 11, 2023 at the Hoogland Center for the Arts.

Photo Credit: Stephanie Rutherford | Ghostbusters Cosplayers
Photo Credit: Stephanie Rutherford | Author Eric Woods

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