North Carolina-made films highlight festival
North Carolina sets the scene for five films featured at the fourth-annual Modern Film Fest this weekend at the historic Gem Theatre in Kannapolis.
Festivalgoers will see a supernatural courtroom drama set in Concord, spend time with a hoarder of Hollywood relics and relive the birth of a city around its mill.
Did African-Americans actively fight for the Confederacy? How will development and tourism change the lives of traditional fishermen on the coast?
These five films will shed light on the land many of us call home.
The feature film “Jimmy,” based on Robert Whitlow’s best selling novel, was shot in various locations in and around Concord last year including the Cabarrus County Courthouse and a residence in downtown. It will show at 7 p.m. on Oct. 6.
Actor Burgess Jenkins, who played the film’s villain Jake Garner, will be in attendance at the festival. Jenkins is better known for his roles in “Remember the Titans” and “One Tree Hill.”
The movie, which tells the story of a mentally-challenged teenager who interacts with supernatural beings he calls “watchers,” also features Kelly Carlson, known for her role in “Nip/Tuck,” and Bob Gunton, who many moviegoers will recognize from his portrayal of the warden in “The Shawshank Redemption.”
“Martin Hill: Camera Man”
Charlotte-based director Joanne Hock spent six years filming Midland resident Martin Hill and his collection of the artistic tools of master filmmakers for “Martin Hill: Camera Man.”
Hock’s previous film, “Redneck Roots,” was a crowd favorite at various film festivals including the 2011 Modern Film Fest.
Martin Hill’s story is one of passion and preservation, obsession and compulsion, expectation and disappointment. Hock takes viewers on a journey with Hill through his dilapidated bowling alley, where he buys, houses and hoards an array of historic film equipment.
His priceless treasures include classic motion picture cameras used to create iconic Hollywood movies including “Star Wars," "Gone with the Wind," "Lawrence of Arabia" and "The Ten Commandments.”
“Martin Hill: Camera Man” screens at 5 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 6, right before, “Jimmy.” Hock will be in attendance at the festival and will hold a Q&A following the screening.
“Stitched in Time”
The final Cabarrus County-made movie at the festival will be a re-screening of the Cannon Mills documentary, “Stitched In Time,” which premiered at the Gem Theatre earlier this year.
Directed by A.L. Brown High School teacher Jonathan Greene, “Stitched In Time” tells the story of Kannapolis and Cannon Mills.
Created by Leadership Cabarrus, a program of the Cabarrus Regional Chamber of Commerce, the documentary will screen at 3 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 7.
The screening will also include a Q&A with Greene and Robin Scharding with Leadership Cabarrus among others from the documentary.
To create the documentary, Leadership Cabarrus, representing a diverse group of businesses in the region, worked with faculty and students at A. L. Brown and Concord High School, as well as staff and volunteers from Historic Cabarrus, Inc. and Kannapolis History Associates.
Filmmaker Ken Wyatt describes himself as a man who brings attention to the obvious, yet unpopular and uncomfortable.
In his new documentary, “Colored Confederates: Myth or Matter of Fact,” Wyatt’s white elephant in the room is the on-going historical debate as to whether or not blacks fought on the Confederate side of the Civil War.
“Why would blacks fight for the Confederacy?” Wyatt asked. “Why are there pictures of blacks, all over the internet, fighting for the Confederacy?”
He said his research revealed some of photographs were bogus, but some were indeed real. Draped in the Confederate flag, the issue provokes questions, speculation, ignorance, racism, uneasiness and typically no real answer or solution.
“A lot of people I’ve talked to, with a lot of blacks, they don’t want to go anywhere near the topic,” Wyatt said. “It’s like, ‘I don’t want to lift that rock up.’”
At first, making a documentary on blacks donning Confederate uniforms and fighting alongside whites who were supposedly fighting to support slavery, Wyatt felt little motivation to peel away the layers of that onion.
“There were so many wrongful interpretations and slanting of it, as well as the facts, the true things,” he said. “But it kept tapping me on the shoulder.”
Wyatt knew what he was facing with such a racially divisive topic. He knew the research and interviews would be demanding.
Despite the challenges of securing on-camera interviews for discordant topics, Wyatt landed some of the most well-known experts on the issue of African Americans’ role in the Civil War. H.K. Edgerton, a Civil War reenactor and former head of the Asheville NAACP, was one of the people Wyatt was most eager to sit down and talk to.
Neal Hutcheson first came across the fishermen of Core Sound while documenting the dialect of Ocracoke Island along North Carolina’s Outer Banks.
He spent a weekend in Atlantic, on Core Sound, and met some of the local fishermen.
“I recognized the speech and culture of Ocracoke, and in fact most of the people there have ties to Ocracoke and Portsmouth Island, but without the impact of development and tourism.” Hutcheson said. “It’s a rough, rowdy and good-hearted place, with an almost physical sense of centuries of continuous engagement with the adjacent waters,” Hutchenson said.
About the same time he started visiting Atlantic, it had also been discovered by host of developers.
“Their plans promised a quick change to the character of the community,” he said. “The stubbornly independent Core Sounders were beginning to organize to fight for their mutual interests, and that in itself was remarkable.
The topic was irresistible fare for a filmmaker specializing in documenting cultural change in North Carolina.
“I've done my best to accurately capture this place and people at this moment in time, because things are changing quickly and it may look like a lot of other places pretty soon, places without much character,” Hutcheson said.
“We're quickly losing the few remaining communities and livelihoods that have a direct, daily engagement with the natural systems around us, and I think we'd all better start thinking about what that means.”
Tickets are $4 per movie screening. There will also be a free discussion panel at 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 6, featuring local extras from, “The Hunger Games” which was partially shot in Cabarrus County.