Illinois Pioneers

Film producer/director Frederick Marx

7:30 pm Thursday, Dec. 12, on WILL-TV

Host David Inge interviews the C-U native and U of I graduate about his 35-year career in the film and television industry.

From his 1994 breakout work, "Hoop Dreams," to his most recent film, "Journey from Zanskar," Marx addresses multiculturalism and expresses empathy for the plight of the disadvantaged. "I love underdog stories," he said. He was a Guest-in-Residence at Unit One/Allen Hall on the U of I campus.

Marx grew up in Champaign-Urbana, attended University Laboratory High School, and has degrees from both Southern Illinois University and the University of Illinois. A practicing Buddhist, Marx said his religion impact the way he approaches filmmaking. "To me, the process is as important as the product," he said. "I use the filmmaking process as a way to mentor younger filmmakers."

Marx also talked about his interest in rites of passage. His next film will deal with that subject. "It's heartbreaking that in the last 200 to 300 years, a lot of these practices have broken down. My mission is to bring them back in the forefront of the dominant culture," he said.

 "Journey from Zanskar" is about two monks, inspired by the Dalai Lama, who select 17 young children aged between 5 and 12 to be educated at a Buddhist school on the other side of the mountain. The monks want to educate the next generation in the Tibetan alphabet, so that they can learn the Tibetan Buddhist scripture and in doing so preserve their language, heritage, and culture.