October 01, 2009

SIUC graduates returning to screen their films

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Two prominent independent Chicago filmmakers and Southern Illinois University Carbondale alums return to campus next week to screen and discuss their latest films.

Joe and Kris Swanberg will each screen their latest projects and answer questions at Morris Library’s John C. Guyon Auditorium on Monday, Oct. 5, and Tuesday, Oct. 6. Kris Swanberg will screen her film, “It was great, but I was ready to come home,” at 7 p.m. Monday. Joe Swanberg will screen his film, “Alexander the Last,” at 7 p.m. Tuesday.

The College of Mass Communication and Media Arts’ Department of Cinema & Photography presents the event through Student Fine Arts Activity Fee funds. Admission is free.

Swanberg and his wife, the former Kris Williams, earned bachelor’s degrees in cinema and photography in 2003.

Joe Swanberg is a noted DIY “Do-It-Yourself” filmmaker whose films include the acclaimed 2007 film “Hannah Takes the Stairs,” and the 2008 film, “Nights and Weekends.”

In reviewing “Alexander the Last,” Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly said, “The lo-fi purity of Swanberg's style is a conduit to something that transcends youth...what looks like a drama of adultery turns out to be an exploration of how the spaces between people can separate them or join them, often at the same moment.”

Kris Swanberg’s film, “It was great, but I was ready to come home,” recently was shown at the 2009 SXSW Film Festival. She is also the founder of “Nice Cream,” a handcrafted seasonal ice cream, according to its Web site.

Susan Felleman, an associate professor in cinema studies, said it’s “great for current students to see where their education can lead and get feedback and inspiration from successful alumni like Joe and Kris.”

Joe Swanberg was a student in Associate Professor Lilly Boruszkowski’s “Film I Intro to Film Production” class in 2000. She recalls the “outstanding film he made,” and said it was “very insightful, sensitive and creative.” She mentioned the film a few weeks ago during a lecture on scriptwriting.

“It’s a real treat to have Joe and Kris visit, screen their work, and meet with our students,” Boruszkowski said. “Joe and Kris are fantastic role models for our students. Making and distributing independent feature work is a daunting task, and their success is something to be celebrated. Learning about their first-hand experiences and being able to ask them questions is something my students and I look forward to.”