Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Movie buffs of Middle Georgia unite: The Macon Film Festival nears

With the Macon Film Festival returning for its sixth year starting Feb. 17, it's time to get geared up for some great movies you won't be able to see anywhere else around town - or many places on Earth, for that matter.

A full schedule and more about the special guests who make the evening screenings such unique events will be available at www.maconfilmfestival.com and in the Telegraph (where I toil daily) next week, but for now, here's a sneak peek at the four movies that will be offered as special screenings nightly at the Cox Capitol Theatre from Feb. 17-20 (the festival itself also spreads out to the Douglass Theatre and Macon Convention Center - it's impossible to keep a good thing down.)

And as a final caveat, I've only seen the last of these, but changing that is what a good film festival's all about, right?

First up, at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 17, will be "Freedom Riders," a documentary about the hundreds of college students who flocked to the South in 1961 to demonstrate against segregation. Veteran filmmaker Stanley Nelson's movie made its debut at last year's Sundance Film Festival and will be aired on PBS in May, but you can see it much earlier than that at the Macon Film Festival.

Feb. 18 at 8:15 p.m. will feature "Black, White and Blues," directed by Mario Van Peebles, son of the legendary director Melvin Van Peebles. Starring Michael Clarke Duncan, Taryn Manning, Tom Skerritt and even Luke Perry (yes, that Luke Perry), the movie tells the story of a troubled blues musician who is drifting through life often in a drunken haze until a mysterious stranger arrives to tell him his grandfather has died and he must travel back to his Southern hometown to claim an inheritance. From what I can gather, this will be a road movie traveled both through the American South and on the road to redemption, and it should be great.

The first special guest I know of (though there will be more with each nightly screening) will be director Nick Moran, who will be on hand Feb. 19 at 8:30 p.m. for the screening of his movie, "The Kid." Based on the best-selling memoir by Kevin Lewis, who co-wrote the screenplay with Moran, the movie tells Lewis' story of surviving a life that started in a poverty-stricken London council estate and later has him caught up in a criminal underworld where he's dubbed "The Kid." Lewis' ultimate survival and escape from this rough life should make a stirring tale. You may remember Moran, by the way, as Eddy in "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels," so definitely turn out to hear him present his movie if you can make it.

And finally, Feb. 20 at 7 p.m. comes the final evening special screening, and having seen this one I suspect they've saved the best for last. "Get Low" stars Robert Duvall as an old curmudgeon (the kind of character I can more and more relate to) who, as he nears the end of his life, decides to throw his own funeral while he's still alive so he'll be able to hear what everybody says about him. This movie is filled with wickedly sly humor and more than enough heart, and since it co-stars Bill Murray as the lawyer charged with making this all happen, can you really go wrong? A great way to wrap up the festival.

As I said at the outset, this is just a small taste to whet your appetite for what's come during the four days of the Macon Film Festival, but there's much, much more in store. For a more complete schedule and ticket information, visit www.maconfilmfestival.com, and check back in The Telegraph next week for more about the movies and special guests that make this event so much fun.

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