Bluegrass Independent Film Festival

‘Shakespeare Behind Bars’
on film fest list

The documentary joins
an impressive group of films
selected for this inaugural festival

By Don Ward and Helen McKinney
Editor and Contributing Writer

Indiana & Kentucky September Cover

Indiana & Kentucky
Editions Cover
for September 2005

CRESTWOOD, Ky. (September 2005) – The Oldham County Arts Association has brought to life a new and exciting event that could infuse a jolt of cultural awareness and pure entertainment into this quiet residential community just outside Louisville.
The Bluegrass Independent Film Festival will feature 71 films from various categories playing on screens at three locations throughout the county over the weekend of Sept. 9-11. These locations are the Oldham County Arts Center in Crestwood; the Oldham 8 Cinema in La Grange; and the Oldham County Fiscal Court building in La Grange. For a reasonable fee, attendees can catch shuttle buses running from La Grange to the other screening sites.
The arts association, along with many corporate sponsors and local volunteers from Oldham and Jefferson counties, will stage the event and several “meet-the-filmmakers” parties over the weekend. Ticket holders will be invited to nearly all the parties and will get a first-hand look at how small budget movies are made. Many filmmakers and some actors are traveling from New York and California to attend the event.
“We are very excited to have such a high quality list of films to show at this first-ever film festival. These are low budget films, by and large, that were made for less than $500,000 each,” said arts association president Jay Broder, who led the festival planning. “But if any one of them ever make it big, it could help put our festival on the map.”

Shakespeare Behind Bars

Photo by Andrew Nelson courtesy of
Philomath Films Productions

This promotional photo from the
documentary, “Shakespeare Behind Bars,”
captures the essence of what the filmmakers went through to make this film
over a 37-week period at the Luther Luckett
Correctional Complex in La Grange, Ky.
It is among the festival entries.

Organizers viewed more than 200 submitted films before deciding on which ones would ultimately be selected for the festival.
The audiences will be asked to score the films and their tallies will be combined with scores from a committee of judges to determine the festival’s overall winners. Specifically, the films will be judged on cinematography, sound and story line, with 60percent of the final score coming from the audience.
On Sunday, awards and cash prizes ranging from $200 to $1,000 will be presented to filmmakers in seven categories: feature ($1,000), short ($300), documentary ($400), animation-claymation ($200), music video ($200) and Best Regional Filmmaker ($200), which include those films shot in Kentucky or southern Indiana. The largest number of entries is in the short film category, with 33. There are 18 feature films to be shown and 11 documentaries. Awards also will be presented for Best Student Film, Honorable Mentions and a Director’s Choice Award in each category to be determined by a committee.

Shakespeare Behind Bars actors

Photo by Hank Rogerson

Sammie and Demond perform a scene from
“The Tempest” in the documentary,
"Shakespeare Behind Bars."

In addition, the festival will honor the late filmmaker, D.W. Griffith, who was born in 1875 in Centerfield and is buried in Oldham County. Griffith, who died July 23, 1948, was a pioneer in black-and-white silent films. His “Birth of a Nation,” released exactly 90 years ago, is considered a classic. Oldham County Arts Broder said he believes it is only fitting that this festival should also pay homage to Griffith.
“What better time to honor him,” said Broder, who owns and operates the credit card processing company, Card Solutions International, in Buckner.
During opening ceremonies, a tribute to Griffith will be given by Dr. Bruce Tyler, associate professor of history at the University of Louisville.
During a press conference held Aug. 23 to promote the upcoming festival, Broder arranged to receive a telephone call from “The West Wing” actress Allison Janney, who plays C.J. on the popular TV series. Janney, who stars in her friend, CameronWatson’s independent film, “Our Very Own,” called from the TV set in Los Angeles to wish Broder and the organization well in pulling off the new festival but added that she would not be able to attend.

Strike the Tent

Photos provided by production companies

A promotional poster from
the Civil War movie,
“Strike the Tent.”

Actress Mary Badham, who starred in the classic “To Kill a Mockingbird,” is expected to attend, along with comedian Andy Dick. Badham stars in “Our Very Own,” while Dick appears in the film, “AdCorp Inc,” a short film by Dick and Marshall Cook.
With the recent completion and dedication of its new arts center in Crestwood, the Oldham County Arts Association members wanted to create a large event that would give it a permanent place in the cultural fabric of the area, Broder said. Because of his prior management experience, Broder was instrumental in establishing what organizers hope will become an annual event.
Broder said he first checked with other festivals to see what they did right and what they did wrong. He modeled this one after all of the concepts that seemed to have worked.

Oxford Park

Ventriloquist Jonathan Geffner with
his dummy from the short film,
“Oxford Park.” Both are scheduled
to appear at the film festival.

The process began seven months ago with a call for entries through specific Internet websites that target independent filmmakers worldwide. Although this festival is geared for screenings of movies recently made in or about Kentucky, more that 200 entries were received by late June from the United States, Germany, Japan, Italy and Mexico.
“The response was overwhelming, since we initially only expected to get about 50 or 60 films,” he said during an Aug. 23 press conference to promote the upcoming festival.
Volunteers were asked to screen and rate them over a three-day period. Broder enlisted the help of civic groups, such as the Rotary Club, Pewee Valley Women’s Club and the Oldham County Business & Professional Women, to help narrow down the list.

Saving Sophie

A scene from the feature film,
"Saving Sophie."

“We had to watch for certain demographics when matching the films to these groups because we didn’t want the garden club ladies to have to watch and evaluate a hip-hop music video,” Broder said. “What we ended up with is a top-quality list of films, unlike some film festivals that let anyone in.”
Most of the films are premiering at this festival. “We didn’t seek them. They came to us. We’re thrilled to have them,” said Broder, who came to Louisville from New York 40 years ago.
Vicki Dennis, publicity chairman for the Oldham County Arts Center, said this festival is “an enormous opportunity for the county to really show off all we have to offer to a large group of people who don’t know much about us.”

• Sept. 9-11 at three locations in Oldham County
• A fund raising event for the Oldham County Arts
Association featuring 71 films in seven categories
to be viewed and judged by the audience. Also
meet-the-filmmakers parties and special events.
• Film screenings from 7 p.m. - midnight Friday;
9 a.m. - midnight Saturday; 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. Sunday.
• Tickets: $10 per day or $20 for a weekend pass
to view all films. To order, go online or
call 1-866-811-4111.
• Information: (502) 241-1006
• Website: www.bluegrassfilmfest.com

Special Events:
(All times EST-fast time)
Friday, Sept. 9:

• 6 p.m.: Ceremonial ribbon-cutting at the Oldham County Arts Center, 7105 Floydsburg Rd., Crestwood, Ky. Gov. Ernie Fletcher and other dignitaries have been invited to attend. Welcome address by Arts Association president Jay Broder.
• 6:30 p.m.: “Tribute to D.W. Griffith” presentation by University of Louisville history professor Bruce Tyler.
• 7 p.m.: Screening of “How You Look to Me,” a feature film shot at Churchill Downs and U of L, with a Q&A with the filmmaker to follow.
• 10 p.m. - til?: “Meet-the-Filmmakers Party,” at Station House Grille, Crestwood Station Shopping Center on Hwy. 146, Crestwood. Free with festival ticket; otherwise by invitation only.
Saturday, Sept. 10:
• 10 a.m.: Introduction of “Shakespeare Behind Bars” director-producer Hank Rogerson and some cast members at the Oldham County Fiscal Court Building.
• 10:30 a.m.-noon: Screening of “Shakespeare Behind Bars” followed by Q&A with director and actors.
• 1-3 p.m.: Panel discussion with filmmakers Stu Pollard, Bruce Romans, Todd Broder, Susan Andrews and other surprise guests at the Oldham County Fiscal Court Building. Free admission.
• 9 p.m. - til?: Maker’s Mark Madness Party at Waldeck Mansion, 5900 Hwy. 22, Crestwood. A VIP reception for filmmakers. Sponsored by Maker’s Mark, Anheuser-Busch, River Bend Winery, Red Bull and Silver Spoon Catering. Tickets $25 for the public but limited. (Must be 21-over).

Sunday, Sept. 11:

• 1-2:30 p.m.: Panel discussion and Q&A with filmmakers at the Oldham County Arts Center. Free admission.
• 3:30 p.m.: Screening of locally filmed “Breaking and Entering” followed by Q&A.
n 6 p.m.: Awards presentations featuring The Cumberlands band plus special guest host Sam Suede at the Oldham County Fiscal Court Building. Free admission but seating is limited.
• 7 p.m.: Closing party at Irish Rover Too, 117 E. Main st., La Grange. (Only for filmmakers, VIPs, arts center volunteers with special passes.)
• Free outdoor screenings of D.W. Griffith’s movies at dusk on Friday and Saturday at the Oldham County History Center, 106 N. Second Ave., La Grange. Includes free popcorn and lemonade. Call (502) 222-0286.

While spotlighting regional filmmakers, Oldham County is playing host to an event that is recognized statewide; it’s not an event just for or about Oldham County. The festival coincides with recently increased local tourism efforts within the county and has the backing of the Kentucky Tourism Commission, she said.
Dennis said there has been strong interest shown by filmmakers, producers, directors and actors in attending the festival also to gauge the reaction of the attendees. Since most of these people have never visited the county before, “it will be a chance for us to show off the county.”
A “Meet the Filmmakers” Party will begin at 10 p.m. on Sept. 9 at Station House Grill in the Crestwood Station Shopping Center on Hwy. 146 in Crestwood.Many of the filmmakers, dignitaries and some celebrities are expected to attend. A VIP party, “Maker’s Mark Madness,” is scheduled for 9 p.m. on Sept. 10 at Waldeck Mansion on Hwy. 22 in Crestwood.
Many of these independent films will be shown once a month at the Oldham County Arts Center beginning in October, said Broder. Oldham County residents will not have to drive to Louisville to see such quality films.
One film, “Our Very Own,” is by Louisville native Cameron Watson. Born in the Louisville area, Watson lived on Green Meadow Circle in the St. Matthews area before moving to Shelbyville, Tenn. The film was shot in Shelbyville, Tenn., last year.
“I grew up in that town and wrote it (the play) about growing up there,” said Watson who produced, wrote and directed this film. Watson has been an actor in Los Angeles and New York City for 20 years.

Synopsis of select films
featured at the Bluegrass
Independent Film Festival,
Sept. 9-11, in Oldham County, Ky.

“How You Look To Me”
Category: Feature
Filmmaker: Bruce Romans (Louisville native)
Director: J. Miller Tobin
Background: Filmed in Louisville in 2004. The film will open the festival with a screening Friday night at the Arts Center. Romans plans to attend the festival and take part in panel discussions.
Website: www.sweetwilliam.info
Synopsis: A young man and his two best friends, while attending graduate school and the horse races, get more of an education than planned when they are forced to deal with their own fears by the women they fall for and an unrelenting professor.

“Our Very Own”
Category: Feature
Filmmaker and director: Cameron Watson (Louisville native)
Background: Filmed in Shelbyville, Tenn., and features a number of prominent Hollywood actors, including Allison Janney (“The West Wing”), Keith Carradine, Jason Ritter and Mary Badham (“To Kill a Mockingbird”). This is Badham’s first film since “Mockingbird 39 years ago. She plans to attend the festival.
Website: www.ourveryownmovie.com
Synopsis: In 1978, when a Hollywood movie star makes a rare publicity appearance in her hometown of Shelbyville, Tenn., painful family secrets of one local teenaged boy are revealed, and he and his four best friends put into motion their own hilariously desperate quest for fame and a ticket out of the hauntingly sleepy town.

“AdCorp, Inc.”
Category: Short
Filmmakers: Marshall Cook and Andy Dick
Director: Marshall Cook
Background: Both Marshal and Dick, a comedian, are expected to attend the festival on Saturday for the screening. Dick will take part in a panel discussion.
Synopsis: A comical look at what might have happened behind closed doors with the think tank team that created the name for the store, Bed, Bath & Beyond.

“Shakespeare Behind Bars”
Category: Documentary
Filmmakers: Hank Rogerson and Jilann Spitzmiller (husband-and-wife)
Director: Hank Rogerson
Background: Filmed at the Luther Luckett Correctional Center in La Grange. The filmed screened this year at Sundance to excellent reviews. The filmmakers may not attend but volunteer theater director Curt Tofteland of the Kentucky Shakespeare Festival in Louisville is expected to attend.
Synopsis: Twenty male inmates in a Kentucky prison have created an unlikely acting troupe that exclusively performs Shakespeare. This year, the men take on ‘The Tempest,” exploring themes of forgiveness, isolation and transformation.

“Heart of the Beholder”
Category: Feature
Filmmaker-Director: Ken Tipton
Background: In an ironic twist, the executive producer of the film is Darlene Lieblich, a vice president with Fox Network in Los Angeles who is in charge of censorship for Fox. She felt so strongly about the film being shown that she financed it herself.
Website: www.Beholder.com
Synopsis: The film is based on the true 1980s story of a St. Louis couple who lost their chain of video stores, their family and almost their lives while fighting a Citizens for Decency group over the removal of controversial films such as “Splash” and “The Last Temptation of Christ.”

“The Wild Guys”
Category: Feature
Filmmaker: Robert Frederick
Director: William Gereghty
Background: Based on an award-winning play, the film won Best Feature Film at the 2004 World of Comedy International Film Festival in Toronto, and Best Picture at the 2004 California Independent Film Festival.
Website: www.thewildguys.com
Synopsis: The film is about four men who find themselves lost in the wilderness. They learn about themselves and each other and are forced to come to terms with their own deeply hidden fears.

Category: Animation
Filmmaker-Director: Danny Oakley
Background: Winner of the Audience Favorite at Moondance International Film Festival in Colorado in May 2005. Won Best Animation at the Danville, Calif. International Children’s Film Festival in May 2005.
Website: www.outofourmindsstudios.com
Synopsis: A little wooden plane, despite the price it must pay, does the impossible and joins a world of which it could only dream.

“Pee Shy”
Category: Short
Filmmaker-Director: Deb Hagan
Website: www.peeshymovie.com
Synopsis: A boy becomes so frightened by his scout leader’s campfire stories that he humiliates himself one night, and becomes the object of the scout leader’s vicious humor.... until the troop encounters something truly terrifying in the woods.

“Saving Sophie”
Category: Comedy
Filmmaker-Director: Lorraine Portman
Background: Won the Audience Choice Award at the Southwest Virginia Blue Ridge Mountain Vision Film Festival and Best Feature and Best Emerging Director at the Maple Valley Film Festival in Covington, Wash.
Website: www.savingsophie.net
Synopsis: Saving Sophie is about four sisters keeping their fragile niece, Sophie, from going over the edge in a whirlwind of her wedding, a wake, a baby on the way, two dead bodies, three affairs, secrets that won’t stay secret, a carpal tunnel epidemic and a guy in a dogsuit.

“Oldham County”
Category: Short
Filmmaker-Director: Todd Broder
Background: The Manual High School graduate and Louisville native is the son of film festival organizer Jay Broder. The film has nothing to do with Oldham County.
Website: www.twentyoneproductions.com
Synopsis: A cowboy named Carter Branson gets involved in a drug-smuggling ring with con men to save his farm and pay for medical treatment needed by his sick daughter. Carter double-crosses the con artists and escapes with the money to salvage his life.

“Oxford Park”
Category: Short
Filmmakers: Ian Lewis, Jonathan Geffner
Director: Ian Lewis
Background: Sam Suede and Aunt Sarah Weinstein, both featured in the film, will make a special appearance at the festival, accompanied by their partner, ventriloquist Jonathan Geffner.
Website: www.trilloandsuede.com
Synopsis: Van Trillo and Sam Suede, a ventriloquist-dummy detective duo on attachment from New York City, are sent by Scotland Yard to investigate a murder at the country estate of Lady Oxford.

Category: Short
Filmmaker: Sean Wathen
Background: The Crestwood, Ky., 22-year-old will attend the festival and discuss his unusual film about a mysterious soda can.

The film is a coming-of-age story set in 1978 in the South. The premise of the story centers on a Hollywood movie star who makes a rare public appearance in Shelbyville, Tenn. During this time, the painful family secrets of one local teenage boy are revealed as he and his four best friends put into motion their hilariously desperate quest for fame and a ticket out of the sleepy town of Shelbyville.
Watson entered the festival to gain exposure for “Our Very Own.” He hopes audiences will relate to the film and connect with the themes.
Watson has been in the filmmaking industry for a long time. A film festival honoring D.W. Griffith will highlight the legacy Griffith left behind for present day filmmakers, he said. “(Griffith) was the maverick trailblazer of the entire art form. He laid the groundwork that we still operate by today,” said Watson.

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