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The landmark Roanoke theater in the Grandin Court neighborhood has never held one before, the organizer says.
"The Invisible War"
Ryan Gosling and Eva Mendes star in “The Place Beyond the Pines,” a crime drama that headlines The Grandin Theatre film festival.
“Paper Man” won the 2013 Oscar for best short film.
Wednesday, April 17, 2013
The Grandin Theatre wanted to showcase its new digital projection equipment in a special way.
“It was just the right time to do a film festival,” said executive director Kathy Chittum. The landmark Roanoke theater in the Grandin Court neighborhood has never held one before, she said.
The theater had a scare when the digital projectors Chittum hoped to have in place by April 2 wound up on back order. But Monday, Chittum gleefully reported that installation had started, and the projectors will be in place when the festival starts Friday.
“It has been a hair-pulling, maddening, fun, exciting, thrilling experience all the way around,” she said of putting the festival together.
The festival’s headline event is the regional premiere of “The Place Beyond the Pines,” a crime drama with art house credentials starring A-listers Ryan Gosling and Bradley Cooper. But there’s also a lot of independent and offbeat fare, including films with Roanoke ties. Many of the films will be shown multiple times over the festival’s course.
“It’s a celebration of film,” Chittum said.
Patrick Weaver, a North Carolina filmmaker with ties to Salem and Floyd, will be on hand 9:35 p.m. Friday for the screening of “Reconvergence.” The heady documentary examines human existence and consciousness through interviews with a historian, a neuroscientist and a naturalist, as well as a poet traveling the Amazon River.
Martinsville filmmaker Mat Smith’s low-budget horror comedy, “Young Blood: Evil Intentions,” will screen Wednesday, and former Roanoke resident Katie Teague’s documentary advocating for a barter economy, “Money & Life,” will screen April 25. Smith and Teague will be present for the showings of their movies.
Some films were included as a way to give platforms to the festival’s sponsors. “The Invisible War,” nominated for a 2013 Academy Award for best documentary, examines rape within the U.S. military. It’s sponsored by the Sexual Assault Resource Agency (SARA). Director Kirby Dick will be available for a question-and-answer session via Skype after the screening at 7:30 p.m. Sunday.
The Blue Ridge Land Conservancy is sponsoring “Chasing Ice,” a documentary about National Geographic photographer James Balog’s efforts to chronicle the changes in glaciers with time-lapse photography. A panel discussion will be held after the 1 p.m. showing on Sunday.
Actor Jan Milligan, one of the stars of “Leonie,” will also give a live interview via Skype on Saturday after the 7:20 p.m. showing. “Leonie” chronicles the life of Leonie Gilmour, an American teacher and editor who married a Japanese writer in the early 1900s.
Lest potential viewers be concerned that the festival is all seriousness, there’s also the G-rated 1978 Walt Disney film “Candleshoe,” starring a teenage Jodie Foster as a pint-sized scam artist. The documentary “Bee People” explores the honeybee population crisis in a humorous way by introducing the viewer to some of the eccentrics who keep bees.
Having digital projectors in place now allows the Grandin to revive its tradition of showing the year’s Oscar-winning and nominated short films, which stopped about four years ago because the shorts were being made exclusively in digital format. The 2013 Oscar-nominated shorts will be shown Friday and Sunday.
The theater received a $9,000 grant from the city of Roanoke to help fund the festival, Chittum said.
“If this is successful, if this is a cool thing, I would like for this to be an economic driver” for the Roanoke region, she said.
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