Department of Tourism
Movie-Making Creates a Buzz in Kentucky This Fall
FRANKFORT, Ky. – Kentucky’s growing stake in the motion picture industry will be in the spotlight this fall, with a new independent film festival on the calendar and two Hollywood studio features and a major independent production shot in Kentucky scheduled for release.
The first edition of the Bluegrass Independent Film Festival will debut in Oldham County Sept. 9-11 with screenings of more than 50 films, including features, documentaries, shorts, animation and music videos. Judges have culled the films to be screened and compete for prizes from more than 200 submissions from around the world, according to festival director Jay Broder.
“That’s a very good number of entries for a first-year film festival. It’s impressive,” said Todd Cassidy, director of the Kentucky Film Office.
“We hope that everyone in the region will come out to enjoy the films and provide feedback to these talented filmmakers,” said Broder, who is president of the festival’s main sponsor, the Oldham County Arts Association, and an executive with a Louisville-area credit-card processing company.
Broder is anticipating attendance of 3,500 to 10,000 at the festival, which has also garnered financial support from local companies, banks, restaurants and other private sources. Cassidy noted that economic activity from the festival would boost area restaurants, hotels and attractions.
Film screenings will take place at the Oldham County Arts Center, the Oldham 8 Theaters and the Oldham County Fiscal Court Building. More information about the festival, including ticket prices, parties with the filmmakers and other scheduled events, can be obtained on the Internet at www.bluegrassfilmfest.com or by calling Vikki Dennis at 502-241-5686.
The festival is dedicated to Oldham County native D.W. Griffith, one of the pioneers of American filmmaking. His groundbreaking first feature film was released 90 years ago. After a long career in Hollywood noted for his innovative cinematography, Griffith returned to his family home in LaGrange, where he is buried. Two of his silent features will be shown outside at dusk on Friday and Saturday, with admission free.
Kentucky will also be making a splash on the big screen this fall as three new features filmed here are scheduled for release. The timing is not just coincidence; it reflects a growing interest in Kentucky as a location for film productions, said Cassidy, who recently returned from a trip to Los Angeles to promote the state to members of the Producers Guild of America.
Keep Your Distance, a psychological thriller by acclaimed independent filmmaker Stu Pollard, will open in Louisville theaters on Sept. 2. Pollard shot the film, whose principle actors include Stacy Keach and Elizabeth Peña, in some 130 Louisville-area locations over a five-month period. The soundtrack includes songs from a dozen Louisville-based musicians. For more information, visit www.distanceflick.com.
The Paramount Pictures feature Elizabethtown, starring Orlando Bloom, Kirsten Dunst, Susan Sarandon and Alec Baldwin, is scheduled for release in October. Shot almost entirely in Kentucky, the romantic comedy/drama was directed by Cameron Crowe, whose father is a Kentucky native.
View a trailer at www.elizabethtown.com.
The Dreamworks Productions feature Dreamer, which stars Kurt Russell, Dakota Fanning and Kris Kristofferson, shot for three weeks in various locations around Lexington. Also scheduled for release in October, this family drama explores the relationship between a down-on-his-luck thoroughbred trainer and his young daughter who nurse an injured horse back to health with hopes of running her in the Breeder’s Cup. View a preview at www.dreamworks.com/dreamer.
Several films scheduled for screening at the Bluegrass Festival also have Kentucky ties. One of the most noted entries in the festival is Shakespeare Behind Bars, which was filmed at the Luther Luckett Correctional Institute in LaGrange and received outstanding reviews at the 2005 Sundance Festival in Utah and other film festivals. The documentary, directed by Hank Rogerson and Jilann Spitzmiller, follows the members of an all-male Shakespeare troupe of inmates at the Kentucky prison as they rehearse and perform The Tempest over the course of one year.
Another entry with a local perspective is How You Look to Me, filmed in Louisville and starring Frank Langella. Louisville native Bruce Romans wrote and acts in the drama that deals with an English professor who helps three young men come to terms with themselves. Other local actors are also featured.
Over the years, Kentucky has been the setting for many popular films and has also served as a shooting location for films set in other places. Major Hollywood productions filmed at least partially in the state during the past three decades include Seabiscuit, U.S. Marshalls, Rain Man, Fire Down Below, The Dollmaker and Coal Miner’s Daughter.
Some of Hollywood’s earliest productions that focused on the state include Judge Priest and The Little Colonel, both produced in the 1930s. Judge Priest, directed by the legendary John Ford, featured one of Kentucky humorist Irvin S. Cobb’s most popular characters, played by Will Rogers.
The Kentucky Film Office is a part of the Kentucky Department of Tourism and markets the state to film, television and advertising agencies. The office assists film crews in finding hotel rooms, securing permits and road closings, and serves as a liaison between property owners and production companies.
“A positive picture of Kentucky projected by the film and television industry has a direct effect on our image as a state. This in turn factors into decision-making such as whether to move to or visit us,” said Kentucky Department of Tourism Commissioner Randy Fiveash.