Last week, I told you briefly of the SCAD Museum of Art's special, one-show-only sneak-preview of a little-known dramatic feature that was shot here in Georgia. That film, "Eye of the Hurricane," is the first feature film made in the small community of St. Marys (which doubles for the Florida Everglades), and stars Campbell Scott ("The Spanish Prisoner"), Melanie Lynskey ("Heavenly Creatures") and Bill Murray's brother, Brian Doyle-Murray ("Caddyshack").
It's an emotional drama concerning the aftermath (both physical and emotional) of a devastating hurricane, and is told from the vantage point of a severely injured child.
Written and directed by newly hired SCAD film and TV department professor Jesse Wolf (a playright who also holds a master's degree in film direction from the prestigious American Film Institute's Center for Advanced Film & Television Studies), the movie will soon make its official stateside premiere, courtesy of the STARZ cable network.
"We thought this was a nice way to launch the film back into the U.S. market," Wolf says. He notes this "sneak preview" also allows folks in the area who may have worked on the film to see it in public.
"We shot the film in 24 days," he says. "Then spent most of 2012 going to about a dozen different festivals and securing worldwide distribution." The film has received mostly positive reviews, with some critics likening it to the classic deep-Southern morality tale "To Kill a Mockingbird," and others to the Stephen King-derived coming-of-age drama "Stand By Me."
Wolf says he has been somewhat overwhelmed with the response the movie (his first feature) has garnered.
"It's a quiet little film, but it has heart," he says. "People really seem to connect to its theme of family and the human spirit's resiliency when faced with adversity. I think anyone who's dealt with the aftermath of a disaster - either natural or man-made - will relate to this movie. Likewise, anyone who grew up with a sense of adventure and childlike optimism."
After "Eye of the Hurricane" premieres on premium cable in a few months, it will be made available through Video-On-Demand services, iTunes, standard DVDs and perhaps other television outlets. But this is likely your only chance to see it on the big screen. Wolfe himself will be onhand afterward to discuss the making of the film and answer questions about the challenges of shooting a feature film on location for less than $1 million. The show starts at 5 p.m. April 3. Those with SCAD IDs get in free.
Those without can see the film for no charge, provided they have paid for museum admission.
Looking ahead to April 9, the Psychotronic Film Society hosts a Special Mystery Screening at The Sentient Bean to celebrate Playboy Enterprises founder Hugh Hefner's 88th birthday.
Hefner, an international icon and advocate for freedom of the press, sexual liberation and progressive drug policies, is known for his gentlemen's magazine, "Playboy," and for notoriously wild parties at the famed Playboy Mansion. However, he has also been a groundbreaking figure in the world of television.
The landmark adult-themed late-night talk shows he conceived and hosted from 1959-60 ("Playboy's Penthouse") and 1969-70 ("Playboy After Dark") pushed the envelope of the type of spirited, mature discourse that could be had on broadcast television.
A philanthropist and staunch supporter of film presevration and archiving, Hefner reportedly paid for the universally praised state-of-the-art restoration of all the classic "Sherlock Holmes" films from the late 1930s and early 1940s starring Basil Rathbone - merely because he himself was a fan. He also donated $100,000 to the University of Southern California's School of Cinematic Arts specifically to create a course on the history of censorship in the cinema, as well as $2 million to endow a chair for the study of U.S.-made films.
Most recently, he gave close to $1 million of his own money to help a conservation group stop development of the land surrounding the famed Hollywood sign.
In honor of Hefner's unique contributions to worldwide pop culture and to salute his generosity in supporting motion picture studies and restoration, the PFS will screen a rare program that is suitable for mature audiences (but of course). The exact title will not be revealed in advance, but I can report that viewers with a fondness for risque sexual humor and subtle, intelligent writing should enjoy themselves immensely. Showtime is at 8 p.m., with $7 admission.
Finally, for those who like to plan their cinematic excursions far in advance, there are two noteworthy engagements on the horizon.
The weekend of April 11-12 finds The Lucas Theatre offering an oddly paired double bill. On April 11 is director David Fincher's dark and mindbending drama "Fight Club," starring Brad Pitt, Edward Norton, Helena Bonham Carter and yes, Meatloaf.
Based on author Chuck Palahniuk's 1996 novel, it's an expertly made thriller with a couple of twists most folks never see coming. It has a look and feel that have been appropriated countless times since its 1999 release. If you've never seen the film and know little of the plot, do not look it up or read any reviews. This is one film that is easily ruined - or at least rendered toothless - by spoilers.
April 12 finds The Lucas getting its silly on, with writer/director/star Ben Stiller's 2001 satirical fashion-biz comedy "Zoolander," co-starring Owen Wilson ("Wedding Crashers," "The Royal Tenenbaums"). It's rated PG-13, so some guidance is suggested for young kids. Think of it as a light, palate-cleansing cinematic sorbet after the grit, grime and nihilism of "Fight Club." Both features start at 7 p.m. with $8 admission.
Look for a special announcement in next week's Film Scene about a highly anticipated foreign film coming to town in late May. Until then, see you at the movies, and seriously, turn off that cell phone.
Jim Reed directs the Psychotronic Film Society of Savannah. Read more at www.filmsavannah.com.