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Summer Film Series - The Dead Filmmakers Society 2017

June 9, 2017

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MACOMB, IL - The summer film favorite, "The Dead Filmmakers Society," returns this year with showings scheduled on Wednesday nights in Western Illinois University's Sandburg Theater, in the University Union.

All films begin at 5:30 p.m., and all showings are open free to the public. Many of the films will be preceded by selected short subjects.

Each film is from the private collection of WIU Film Professor Richard Ness, who will serve as host of each screening.

This year's showings include:

• June 14 – "To Live" (China, 1994): Gong Li stars in this epic account of the turbulent relationship of a married couple presented against the backdrop of the sweeping changes in China from the 1940s to the 1970s. Directed by Zhang Yimou ("Raise the Red Lantern," "House of Flying Daggers"). In Mandarin with English subtitles.

• June 21 – "Let No Man Write My Epitaph" (1960): It may take a village to raise a child, but the village in this case is a Chicago slum and the residents trying to keep a young aspiring musician on the straight and narrow include his drug-addicted mother (Shelley Winters) and an alcoholic judge (Burl Ives). Also featured in the amazing cast are James Darren, Ricardo Montalban, Jean Seberg and Ella Fitzgerald, in a rare acting role as a singer in search of a fix.

• June 28 – "Local Hero" (Great Britain, 1983): One of the best films of the 1980s, this offbeat comedy from director Bill Forsyth set records in art house theaters when it was first released. Oil company worker Peter Riegert is sent by CEO Burt Lancaster to negotiate the purchase of a Scottish town as the site of a refinery, but discovers the locals have ideas of their own. Featuring an evocative score by Dire Straits front man Mark Knopfler.

• July 5 – "The Hazing" (1977): The main reason for showing this bit of vintage 70s drive-in fare is that Ness once worked for one of its producers. A fraternity hazing goes dangerously wrong for would-be pledges Jeff East (the teenage Clark Kent in the 1978 "Superman") and Charlie Martin Smith ("American Graffiti").

• July 12 – "Why Rock the Boat?" (Canada, 1974): A cub reporter at the worst paper in Montreal tries to win over a female journalist at a rival paper by pretending to be interested in her plan to form a union in this wry comedy that faithfully captures the atmosphere of newspaper work in the Canada of the 1940s.

• July 19 – "Rip Van Wyk" (aka Rip Van Winkle, South Africa, 1960): Where else but the Dead Filmmakers Society could you see a South African time travel fantasy that is a variation on a Washington Irving story and stars the future director of "The Gods Must Be Crazy" (Jamie Uys)? When the hero is transported to 1959, 100 years into the future, he must contend with modern technology, officials who think he is insane, and the great-granddaughter of the woman he loves.

• July 26 – "Ladies and Gentlemen, Mr. Leonard Cohen" (Canada, 1966) and shorts from the 1960s: As a tribute to Leonard Cohen, who died last fall, this 45-minute documentary captures the legendary poet shortly before he launched a career as a singer that would bring him to a much wider audience. Rounding out the program are Brian De Palma's op-art documentary "The Responsive Eye; Lonely Boy," a personal look at teen idol Paul Anka; and a rare sit-com episode featuring one of the best singers of the 1960s.

The film series is sponsored by WIU's Film Studies program and the WIU Department of English.

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