Director will screen movie that features his two kids

CHAMPAIGN — As part of the C-U Film Society's Visiting Filmmaker Series, director Cory McAbee will be at a free screening this week of his family-friendly movie "Crazy & Thief" as well as a separate meet-and-greet at Crane Alley.

The 52-minute micro-budget movie is showing at film festivals worldwide; Indiewire listed it as one of the Top 10 best undistributed films of 2012.

The screening of "Crazy & Thief" will be at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Art Theater, 126 W. Church St., C. McAbee will answer questions afterward. Hendrick House is sponsoring that event.

The free meet-and-greet with McAbee will be at 8 p.m. Wednesday at Crane Alley, 115 W. Main St., U, and is sponsored by Busey Bank/Busey Wealth Management.

A musical fantasy, "Crazy & Thief" stars musician-turned-filmmaker McAbee's two children: his daughter, 7, and son, 2. The girl takes her younger brother on a fantastic voyage through the real world with a homemade star-map to guide them.

In his review for Indiewire, Eric Kohn called the movie "adorable to the extreme" and wrote:

"McAbee's rhythms and repetitive lyrics are eminently catchy, and he applies them to movement with a seamless integration that shifts the experience from literal to poetic. In 'Crazy & Thief,' the opening track 'Walkin' With Their Eyes Closed' underscores the children's odyssey as they simmer down the sidewalk, neatly establishing the plucky urban adventure that follows. As the tone shifts from nostalgic to sublime and melancholic, 'Crazy & Thief' marvelously inhabits its young protagonists' world with a conviction that calls to mind 'Peanuts' by way of Michel Gondry.

"Like the Charles Schulz cartoon, McAbee is never condescending to his subjects: The camera always remains on his children's level as he subtitles the eternally curious Johnny's rambling questions and odd declarations, bringing them into focus as though they commanded great philosophical weight. Vy, conversely, takes on the sage-like leader role despite the constant wonder present in her eyes."

Before the release of "Crazy & Thief," McAbee wrote, directed and starred in the space-Western musical films "The American Astronaut" and "Stingray Sam." Both screened at the Sundance Film Festival.

While here, McAbee also will lead free workshops with University of Illinois students via Innovations LLC, an entrepreneurial group; Illini Film and Video, a campus film club; and the UI School of Art + Design.

All of the programs with the filmmaker are free and open to all ages, thanks to an Urbana Public Arts grant.

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