Last night we attended the opening ceremonies for the Little Rock Film Festival. The film That Evening Sun sold out both screens. The website stopped selling tickets yesterday afternoon, but our friend Sujith decided to go with us without a ticket. He managed to get in to the first showing. We were far enough back in line to just make it into the second with our friend and film studies professor Kristi.
My parents started subscribing to cable the year after I moved out of the house. Since then they have enjoyed the outdoors channel and movies that they happen upon. When my father can’t sleep, sometimes he’ll turn on the Independent Film Channel. He always misses the beginning, so he never knows the names of the films, but he can tell you everything about the plot and the atmosphere. When he talks about these movies, he gets a 1,000 mile stare and has a sort of empathy about them that I’ve seen rarely as his daughter.
That Evening Sun will be one of the movies that transports him to a place where he will need to tell Ty and I about the story, and how it captures something that films rarely capture. He will not have the words to tell us exactly what it is, but he’ll try.
People from The South will probably go on and tell you how southern the movie is. It is a source of pride for some in the south to tie their lives back to their rural roots. As a non-southerner, I’ve known quite a few non-southern farmers and rural folk. I could see so much Hal Holbrook’s rural farmer character Abner Meecham in Ty’s grandfather, a former upstate New York dairy farmer, as well as the dying breed of Nebraska livestock farmer embodied in my uncles and father. Placing the story in a southern backdrop makes the rural seem poorer, the struggle even more ancient, more epic, and the outside forces in dealing with the nature, rusted machinery, and other stubborn rural folk even more insurmountable.
The film is based on a short story by William Gay, first published in the Oxford American. The Oxford American Magazine is now located just a mile away from us in Conway, AR, and they sponsored last night’s party.
At the end of the movie, the director Scott Teems, producer/actor Walton Goggins, producer/actor Ray McKinnon, came out for a Q&A.
I couldn’t place Ray McKinnon, but I knew I had seen him before. IMDB says he played the preacher from Deadwood, who was super skinny. He’s considerably heavier and bearded in his amazing role as Lonzo Choate in That Evening Sun.
It was fun to hear them all talk about the movie, and getting independent movies like this made.
If I had one complaint about the movie, it is a complaint I’ve had about many other movies: the shaky camera. Fortunately with this movie, it was only at the end. Saving Private Ryan and The Blair Witch Project had me looking for an air sickness bag in the movie seat ahead of me. Being in the second row for the movie didn’t help my motion sickness, but near the end there are a blend of destructive and dream sequences. Sometimes the camera turned too fast, and sometimes the edits of the close fire shots flickered me to the point of pre-epileptic seizure. The dream shots were very dream like, but not steady as the camera kept bolting up the stairs and through the house.
The movie is looking for a distributor, so I’ll keep you updated on it.