If you go
What: International Film Series
When: 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays-Sundays, Sept. 5 through Dec. 12
Where: Thursdays at the Visual Arts Complex Auditorium; all other nights at Muenzinger Auditorium, both on the University of Colorado campus
Tickets: $8 general admission, $7 students and seniors (A $1 discount will be given to anyone who arrives with a bike helmet as proof he/she cycled in.); $50 for 10-punch card (which includes parking validation for the Euclid Auto Park)
Info: 303-492-1531 or internationalfilmseries.com
Alex Cox is most known for directing big-screen cult films such as "Repo Man" and "Sid and Nancy."
Like those gems, Cox's latest endeavor, "Bill the Galactic Hero," also is a unique work — if only because the cast and crew were made up primarily of University of Colorado students from a variety of disciplines.
Cox, a production/screenwriting professor at CU, decided last year to take students with him into the depths of space amid an intergalactic war.
The results are "Bill the Galactic Hero," which will make its world premiere as the finale of the 2014 International Film Series.
The IFS season opens at 7:30 tonight with The Found Footage Festival. The Found Footage Festival, which sold out the Boulder Theater for several years, is celebrating its 10th anniversary by making its debut at the International Film Festival.
The Found Footage Festival showcases videos discovered throughout North America in warehouses, thrift stores, garage sales and even dumpsters.
Cox's project also was a grassroots effort of sorts.
He financed "Bill the Galactic Hero" by raising more than $100,000 through a Kickstarter.com campaign.
"Bill the Galactic Hero" is a sci-fi comedy based on Harry Harrison's novel of the same name. Written in response to Robert Heinlein's "Starship Troopers," the book tells the story of "Bill," a humble farm boy who is drugged, kidnapped and coerced into becoming a low-level soldier fighting against a reptilian alien species called "Chingers"
"Harry was offended by 'Starship Troopers' because he thought that it glorified war," Cox said. "He was in the army and got an entirely different take, so he wrote 'Bill' as riposte."
The movie "is told not from the flight deck but from the engine room: or to be more exact, the fusebays, where ranks of expendable Fusetenders Sixth Class wait to replace burned-out fuses, or die," Cox wrote for his Kickstarter campaign.
"Bill" was shot in live-action and on 35mm monochrome black and white film. According to Cox, "Bill" will be one of the last films ever to be shot that way because of the rising cost and impending discontinuance by several film manufacturers.
Cox and his crew utilized CU's many resources to film and produce the movie. To save on location costs, the film was shot mostly on campus, primarily in the ATLAS building.
"Most of the film takes place underground," Cox said. "The basement and staircases in the ATLAS building resemble the tunnels and fusebays of the spaceship."
However, the final live-action shoot for what Cox has called "the world's "biggest student film" was done in Cathedral Gorge, Nevada.
Cox first took on "Bill" with the money he made from "Repo Man." As Cox's first big-budget film, "Repo Man" plunged the director into cult-movie fame in 1984. Immediately afterward, Cox directed "Sid and Nancy," an independent film that documented the career and death of Sex Pistols bassist Sid Vicious and his eccentric lover, Nancy Spungen.
Film fans, especially those of Cox's work, will have to wait until Dec. 12 to see "Bill the Galactic Hero, " but they must wait only until Thursday, Sept. 11, to see Cox.
On Thursdays this season, the IFS will present Repertory Cinema, all shot on 35mm film, and Cox will be on hand for "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas," starring Johnny Depp and based on the novel by the late Hunter S. Thompson.
Before "Fear and Loathing," the IFS will screen footage of Cox, who originally was selected to direct the film, and Tod Davies, who wrote the script, as they are kicked out of Hunter S. Thompson's cabin under threats of gunfire, according to Pablo Kjolseth, the IFS' executive director. Cox will discuss his experiences dealing with the studio and Terry Gilliam, who ended up directing "Fear and Loathing."
The IFS will present two other Gilliam films — "The Fisher King" in honor of the late Robin Williams, on Sept. 12, and "The Zero Theorem," the director's most recent work, on Sept. 19.
Kjolseth is quite proud of the IFS' season schedule.
"This fall program," he said, "is a crammed piñata with completely different items, from masterpieces of Polish cinema, to the Found Footage Festival' to the Flatirons Food Film Festival, to a cluster of Korean films with special guests, to the world premiere of 'Bill the Galactic Hero,' to imported and very rare 35mm European prints, and much more."
Despite his enthusiasm for the entire season, Kjolseth personally is looking forward to satisfying his passion for rare 35mm prints with the inclusion of "My Name Is Julia Ross" and "Don't Look Now."
He describes "My Name is Julia Ross" as "a very cool and unusual film noir with a female protagonist."
"Don't Look Now," which the IFS is importing from the United Kingdom, "has one of the best performances ever put to film by Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie," Kjolseth said.