Rachael Walters Brightwell
- Associate Director for Programing and Outreach
ATLANTA (January 8, 2015) - The Emory Cinematheque, a weekly series of free film screenings, celebrates the thriving movie business in Georgia, with "Home Grown: Made in Georgia," beginning Wed., January 14, with Bruce Beresford's 1989 Oscar-winner Driving Miss Daisy. All screenings take place at 7:30 on Wednesday evenings in White Hall 208 on the Emory campus. Admission is free, and no tickets are required. Most of the films are shown in 35mm or DCP.
The movie business is booming in Georgia. The state is now one of the busiest and fastest-growing production centers in the world, hosting everything from edgy indies like the forthcoming A Walk in the Woods to tentpole blockbusters like 2014's The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, and reality TV favorites like Here Comes Honey Boo Boo to scripted smash hits like The Walking Dead.
While current explosion owes much to an ambitious program of tax incentives and a deep pool of local expertise, according to Eddy Von Mueller, Senior Lecturer in Film and Media Studies at Emory University and the Series Curator, the roots of Georgia's homegrown cinema run very deep. "There have always been strong incentives, creative and economic, drawing filmmakers to the South," he said. "Georgia locations show up in beloved family classics and grindhouse quickies, in low-brow romps and high-minded historical epics."
"And zombies," Mueller adds, "you can't do Georgia cinema these days without zombies."
According Mueller, who also serves as the faculty coordinator of Emory College's Film and Media Management Concentration program, a number of the films included in the schedule are important to the history of the film and entertainment industry. "The Burt Reynold's vehicle Smokey and the Bandit epitomizes an important part of American pop culture in the late 1970s and early 1980s - it nearly caught up with Star Wars at the box office," he observes. "And Tyler Perry's Diary of a Mad Black Woman was a the cornerstone in the formation of what has arguably become one of the most significant forces in African-America film and television."
"Extraordinary movies have been made here, by extraordinary filmmakers," says Mueller, "and it's incredible to have the opportunity to showcase some of them at a Georgia university, and as part of a program dedicated to presenting films as closely as possible to the way they were meant to be seen."
Each film in the series will be introduced by Dr. Mueller. For more information, visit the Emory Film and Media website or call Maureen Downs at 404-727-6761.
Jan. 14: Driving Miss Daisy (1989).
The most famous film about Atlanta and race relations since Gone With the Wind (1939) and based on Atlanta native Alfred Uhry's Pulitzer-Prize winning off-Broadway play, this portrait of the evolving relationship between a wealthy Jewish widow and her African-American chauffeur across the civil rights era won four Oscars including Best Picture and Best Actress for the 81-year-old Jessica Tandy and marked Morgan Freeman's breakthrough. Locations include Druid Hills, downtown Decatur, Castleberry Hill, Little Five Points, Griffin and Douglas.
Jan 21: Smokey and the Bandit (1977)
This low-budget chase film features Burt Reynolds and Sally Field illegally smuggling Coors beer across southern state lines, while comic veteran Jackie Gleason plays the cantankerous sheriff trying to catch them. This first entry in a three-part series earned $300 million in box office grosses on a $4.3 million budget, and helped fuel a cycle of similar material, including Sam Peckinpah's CONVOY (1978) and television shows like B.J. and the Bear (1979 - 1981). Locations include Atlanta, Cumming, Helen, Jonesboro, Redan, Riverdale, Lithonia and McDonough.
Jan 28: Cockfighter (1974)
Warren Oates plays the mute Frank Mansfield, the title character who hits bottom after losing a major cockfight to rival Jack Burke (Harry Dean Staunton) and struggles to find redemption. Produced by exploitation legend Roger Corman, the film was directed by cult favorite Monte Hellman, whose roughhewn eloquence and grim wit have made him a favorite of directors as diverse as Herzog and Tarantino. With cinematography by Nestor Almendros, frequent collaborator of Francois Truffaut and Terence Malick (he shot Days of Heaven.) Locations include Toccoa, Juliette, Milledgeville and Decatur.
Feb 4: Zombieland (2009)
An unlikely foursome (Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone and Abigail Breslin) join forces to battle zombies spawned by an outbreak of Mad Cow Disease as they search for, among other things, the last Twinkie on earth. Shot in Atlanta, Decatur, Buckhead, Valdosta, Newnan, Rutledge, Morrow, Powder Springs, Hapewell and Hampton.
Feb 11: Glory (1990)
Col. Robert Gould Shaw (Matthew Broderick) leads the 54th Massachusetts Regiment, the U.S.'s first all-black fighting unit, in this brutal, soaring ironic epic, arguably the finest film made about the Civil War. The film won Academy Awards for Best Supporting Actor (Denzel Washington), Sound and Cinematography, and features another excellent performance from Morgan Freeman. Locations include Savannah, McDonough, Jekyll Island, and various spots along the Savannah River.
Feb 18: The Visitor (1979)
This oddball cross between Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Damien: Omen II features extraterrestrial representatives of heaven and hell battling on earth using telekinetically endowed children and a lot of birds. The prominent and strange cast including Glenn Ford, John Huston, Mel Ferrer, Shelley Winters, and Lance Henriksen and local talk-radio personality, Neil Boortz. Shot entirely in Atlanta.
Feb 25: 42 (2013)
Chadwick Boseman turns in a winning performance as the iconic Jackie Robinson and his struggle to break major league baseball's color barrier. With Harrison Ford as Brooklyn Dodgers executive Branch Rickey and John McGinley as game announcer Red Barker. Written and directed by the highly successful screenwriter Brian Hegeland (L.A. Confidential, Mystic River). Locations include Hiram and Macon.
March 4: The Longest Yard (1974)
No single person did more than Burt Reynolds to boost Georgia filmmaking in the 1970s, and in this combination prison film/ sports film, he plays a disgraced NFL quarterback leading a ragtag interracial team of inmates in a football grudge-match against their bigoted guards. Locations include Brunswick, Savannah and the Reidsville state prison.
March 18: Sherman's March (1985)
Charlotte, N.C.-born Ross McElwee, dubbed by enthusiastic critics a "Southern Woody Allen," films himself retracing General Sherman's March to the Sea in this Sundance award-winning personal documentary / comedy landmark placed on the National Film Registry in 1998. The journey ends up being less a Sherman biopic than a revealing look at McElwee's tortured examination of southern manhood and an appropriate southern female mate. Locations include Adrian and Atlanta.
March 25: Manhunter (1986)
Made five years before Silence of the Lambs, Michael Mann's film is drawn from Thomas Harris' earlier novel about serial killer Hannibal Lecter and his cat-and-mouse relationship with the FBI profiler who caught him. Largely unseen in its original release, this 'police procedural' has acquired something of a cult film status with the once 'gimmicky' hyper-stylized visuals now appreciated as a reflection of Mann's authorial signature. Brian Cox, who has since appeared in some 70 films, is every bit as memorable a madman as Anthony Hopkins, who followed him in the role. Locations in Atlanta, including the High Museum of Art.
April 1: Drumline (2002)
A cocky New York City teen (Nick Cannon) joins an historically black Atlanta college's marching band and finds their standards harder than he'd imagined and the girl of his dreams (Zoe Saldana) elusive. This surprise success (its sequel appeared last October) features a hot soundtrack that mixes hip hop and R&B before climaxing in some truly remarkable marching band and drumline playing and choreography from college bands such as Morris Brown, Clark Atlanta and Grambling State. Shot entirely in Atlanta, including the Georgia Dome.
April 8: Diary of a Mad Black Woman (2005)
Writer-producer-actor Tyler Perry passed the director's baton to video director Darren Grant in this tale of an abandoned wife (Kimberly Elise) and her gun-toting Granny Madea (Perry), making her big screen debut here. A mix of soap opera melodrama, slapstick farce and church sermon, the film helped lay the foundations for Perry's growing, Atlanta-based media empire. He has played Madea in seven subsequent films; an 8th is in the works. Shot entirely in Atlanta.
April 15: Get Low (2009)
A notorious and irascible backwoods hermit (Robert Duval) decides to throw himself a funeral in this Depression-era 'true-life' myth, re-imagined by first-time director Aaron Schneider. In this 'little' film with big time-talent, Murray is joined by Sissy Spacek (Badlands, Coal Miner's Daughter) and Bill Murray (Ghostbusters and most of Wes Anderson's films). Shot entirely in Georgia.
April 22: Deliverance (1972)
Elegaic, haunting and grotesque, Boorman's unforgettable adaptation of James Dickey's novel about the collision of the New South with the Old follows a quartet of middle-class Atlanta day-trippers on a hellish canoe ride down a soon-to-be damned river. A film that still shocks and stirs controversy, today it stands as one of the major works of 1970s American cinema. Starring Burt Reynolds and Jon Voight, its locations include Chattooga River, Tallulah Falls & Gorge, Rabun Gap, and Clayton.