C-U At the Movies!

Champaign-Urbana may not be Hollywood, but the twin cities has a bustling film scene. From filming independent films to hosting Ebertfest each April, C-U has quite a story to tell about its contributions to the film industry.

Several graduates of the University of Illinois have gone on to win Academy Awards and nominations, including Ang Lee, class of 1980 and Chris Landreth, class of 1984. Others have found fame on the small screen, such as Nick Offerman, class of 1993, Barbara Bain, and Roger E. Young.

Roger Ebert, an Urbana native, was a renowned film critic who wrote for the Chicago Sun-Times and was the first film critic to win a Pulitzer Prize in Criticism in 1975.

Over the years, Champaign-Urbana has been home to over twenty five theaters. The popular and newly restored Virginia Theater hosts Ebertfest every April.

In addition, the very first sound on film was recorded at the University of Illinois by Joseph Tykociner in 1922, one year before the presentation of Phonofilm in 1923 – the direct predecessor to sound films today.

Take a stroll through the feature players of Champaign-Urbana in C-U At the Movies!

Roger Ebert: From Urbana to a Household Name

Roger Ebert has said that he was born in a town that was the center of the universe (Ebert 2011). In his blog and memoir he spoke lovingly of Urbana and Champaign, and of all the good fortune that he was afforded in his lifetime. Ebert was a small…

Ebertfest

In April each year, a film festival is held at the Virginia Theater in Champaign that is dedicated to lesser-known and under-appreciated films. Organized by the University of Illinois’ College of Media, the festival began in 1998 and was…

MICRO-FILM Magazine and C-U Confidential

MICRO-FILM is an independent press magazine for independent cinema. It printed one self-printed issue and seven full glossy issues between March 1999 and October 2005. These issues focused on information for all independent filmmakers, including…

Urbana's First Hollywood Actress: Virginia Sale

Born in Urbana in 1899 to Dr. and Mrs. F.O. Sale, Virginia Sale was the younger sister to Charles “Chic” Sale, a famous comedian. Her exact date of birth is unknown, as it was not required in Champaign County during this time to record a birth…

The City Beyond: A News-Gazette and Virginia Theater Film

In the summer of 1923 the Twin-Cities were buzzing with movie fever, as the News-Gazette and the Virginia Theater were producing a film to showcase Champaign and Urbana. While the film was to be used as publicity and promotion, the News-Gazette…

Joseph Tykociner and the "Talking Film"

Reproduced with permission from the University of Illinois Archives Blog (archives.illinois.edu/blog) When Joseph Tykosinki-Tykociner arrived at the University of Illinois in 1921, little did the itinerant electrical engineer know that his dream of…

Insect Fear Film Festival

“When we began, Ronald Reagan was in office, materialism was rampant, and insect movies were terrible; today, there's a democratic president in Washington, environmental awareness and volunteerism are more fashionable, and insect movies are…

Ang Lee

Many film enthusiasts are familiar with the work of award winning director Ang Lee, but many may not know that Lee studied at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in the early stages of his career. The Taiwanese born director graduated with a…