10th New Art Film Festival cancelled in 2019

Posted by By at 15 November, at 13 : 06 PM Print

Friends in self-made cinema,

We were taken by surprise and ultimately saddened just like you by the abrupt closing of the Art Theater in downtown Champaign, Illinois. That they ceased to do business after Thursday, October 31, is odd timing that still should send a fright through the ranks of those who value cultural venues and community-driven spaces. We only know the fewest of details as do you. The Art Film Foundation, the not-for-profit entity that assumed operations of the Art in 2017, has yet to clarify their reasoning for shuttering the doors. Property owner David Kraft has only provided bluster to the local news media about losing money and seeking a new tenant. As the Art’s long history has already taught us, we should not ultimately count it down and out. We may only be waiting a few months before the next group of idealistic and opportunistic individuals set up shop at 126 West Church Street to see what they can accomplish with the Art.

At the same time, we are a bit floored and highly disappointed as we had something more immediate at stake with the Art then our fellow citizens of Champaign-Urbana. We should have presented the tenth New Art Film Festival in their auditorium last Sunday, November 10, yet received no advance warning from the board that we would have to relocate our event. The closest interaction your humble program director had with the Art on Sunday was walking up to its facade and witnessing the “Closed” and “Thanks for the Memories” messages placed on the marquee by former staff. Personally, I feel the twangs of frustration but the so-called “feels” have yet to hit. The unavailability of the Art does not halt the quest for promoting local film culture and engaging our friends and neighbors.

We obviously have decisions to make if the NAFF we had been organizing for you is still to take place. The headline on this post is an absolute fact and also a misnomer. We will not move ahead with the NAFF in the remainder of 2019 due to the upcoming holidays, the imminent end of the fall semester at the University of Illinois, and my recent bout of sickness that came on because of stomach flu and not what befell the Art. We have begun researching potential options for salvaging the NAFF in early 2020 and simply ask our faithful filmmakers and audience members to show us patience and courtesy as we decide what’s best to do. Of course, we are open to suggestions and helpful volunteers; write us today at newartfilmfestivalcu [at] gmail [dot] com if the future of the NAFF or a successor event is important to you in the Champaign-Urbana community.

Until we announce further news about our business, we encourage you to make plans to attend similar film-centric events in our immediate region. We are lucky to have like-minded citizens and custodians of the cinema arts doing fine work just a short drive away. Please support their efforts and tell them the New Art Film Festival sent you with good tidings. Below we have provided a linked list of comparable showcases and venues that you should champion in the upcoming months.

Honestly wondering what comes next,

Jason Pankoke
Program Director
New Art Film Festival


11/24/19: Route 66 Film Festival, Springfield
12/7/19: Krampusnacht Freeky Film Festival, Champaign
2/24/20: Big Muddy Film Festival, Carbondale
2/29/20: Insect Fear Film Festival, Urbana
4/15/20: Roger Ebert’s Film Festival, Champaign
The Virginia Theatre, Champaign
The Avon Theater, Decatur
The Normal Theater, Normal



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The New Art Film Festival is an annual festival showcasing local filmmakers from Champaign-Urbana, IL, and other downstate Illinois cities.

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