A variety of classic and Academy Award-winning films will return to the big screen this weekend in Bigfork.
The second annual Bigfork Retrospective Film Festival will begin tonight, Oct. 5, and run through Sunday, Oct. 8, at the Bigfork Center for the Performing Arts. All 13 films chosen to be screened at this year’s festival are Oscar-winning flicks.
“A survey we did told us that moviegoers wanted variety, so we selected movies that had wide appeal,” said Steve Shapero, founder of the Bigfork Retrospective and the Bigfork Independent film festivals. “Starting with [American Film Institute]’s top 100 list we asked some local film enthusiasts to pick their 20 favorites. We then narrowed the selected films down to the final 13 we thought would be great movies to watch on the big screen. For the first time we’re doing a sing-along in which the audience is encouraged to join in.”
The festival begins at 6 p.m. today with “The Godfather” (1972). The festival continues at 11 a.m. Friday with showings of “Sunset Boulevard” (1950), “Bonnie and Clyde” (1967), “Some Like it Hot” (1959), “Schindler’s List” (1993) and “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” (1975). Saturday’s lineup, also beginning at 11 a.m., features “The Wizard of Oz” (1939), “Raiders of the Lost Ark” (1981), “The African Queen” (1951), “Interrupted Melody” (1955) and “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” (1969). The festival closes Sunday with a noon screening and sing-along of “The Sound of Music” (1965), followed by “West Side Story” (1961).
In addition, the festival will feature two guest speakers: Jerry Molen, who with Steven Spielberg won the 1994 Best Picture Oscar for producing “Schindler’s List,” and Peter Ford, son of the actor Glenn Ford, who stars in the Academy Award-winning film “Interrupted Melody.”
“I’m delighted, honored and thrilled to be asked to be a part of this,” Molen said of the film festival. “I hope a lot of people come out and see a real testament to history [with ‘Schindler’s List’].”
MOLEN WILL speak at 6:30 p.m. Friday, before the screening of “Schindler’s List.”
Molen is semi-retired from the motion picture and television industry after a 58-year career. Some of his other producing credits include “Jurassic Park,” “Hook,” “The Lost World — Jurassic Park,” “The Other Side of Heaven” and “Minority Report.”
Molen now resides in Bigfork and serves as chairman of Kindred Images, Inc., a film and entertainment production company dedicated to family entertainment. He frequently speaks to students, groups or organizations on subjects ranging from the entertainment industry to his love for America.
“Schindler’s List” was filmed on location in Poland and released in 1993. Molen said he understood the importance of the subject matter from the beginning.
“I knew it was going to be important because of the script,” Molen said. “This is history and it’s an important part of history.”
Based on a true story, “Schindler’s List” stars Liam Neeson as Oskar Schindler, a German businessman in Poland who sees an opportunity to make money from the Nazis’ rise to power. He starts a company to make cookware and utensils and brings in accountant and financier Itzhak Stern (Ben Kingsley) to help run the factory. By staffing his plant with Jews who’ve been herded into Krakow’s ghetto by Nazi troops, Schindler has a dependable unpaid labor force. For Stern, a job in a war-related plant could mean survival for himself and the other Jews working for Schindler. However, in 1942, all of Krakow’s Jews are assigned to the Plaszow Forced Labor Camp, overseen by Commandant Amon Goeth (Ralph Fiennes), an embittered alcoholic who occasionally shoots prisoners from his balcony. Schindler arranges to continue using Polish Jews in his plant, but, as he sees what is happening to his employees, he begins to develop a conscience. He realizes that his factory (now refitted to manufacture ammunition) is the only thing preventing his staff from being shipped to the death camps. Soon Schindler demands more workers and starts bribing Nazi leaders to keep Jews on his employee lists and out of the camps. By the time Germany falls to the allies, Schindler had lost his entire fortune — and saved 1,100 people from likely death.
“One thing I took away from this film, what viewers can take away, is how one person, one individual, can make a difference in the lives of other people,” Molen said.
FORD WILL speak at 6 p.m. Saturday, before the screening of “Interrupted Melody.” Asked about the film being chosen to be screened this weekend, Ford laughed and said “My father is in very good company there!”
Ford is the only child of two Hollywood stars, Eleanor Powell and Glenn Ford. He tried his hand at the same profession, working in nearly two dozen film projects as an actor and dialogue director. The first film in which father and son worked together was “Gilda” in 1946, where director Charles Vidor used Peter’s photo to represent Johnny Farrell (Glenn’s role in the film) as a child, and later, “The Americano” in 1954. Peter Ford’s first speaking role was in “The Gazebo” in 1959. He also appeared in “Pocketful of Miracles,” “Dear Heart,” “Advance to the Rear,” “Fate is the Hunter” and “The Rounders.” Still at Fox in 1972, he was cast as a series regular as well as dialogue director of his father’s new TV series “Cade’s County.” Peter appeared as the forensic lab deputy, Peter Odom, in nearly all of the 24 episodes.
Ford collects movie memorabilia from Hollywood’s Golden Age, and maintains The Glenn Ford and Eleanor Powell Library and Archives. He is the author of “Glenn Ford: A Life,” a definitive biography of his father published by the University of Wisconsin Press. Ford is now retired and lives with his wife Lynda on 25 wooded acres in Bigfork, which he described as “like living in a Disney film” with all of the wildlife on the property.
In “Interrupted Melody,” Eleanor Parker stars in the fact-based biography of Marjorie Lawrence, a famed opera singer who discovers she has polio. After falling in love with her physician, Dr. Thomas King (Glenn Ford), they marry, and despite her ailment, Lawrence battles to appear one final time at the New York Metropolitan Opera.
“It was an important film for my dad personally,” Peter Ford said. “And it’s a great film. I think people will enjoy seeing it.”
THE BIGFORK Retrospective Film Festival offers the film screenings for $5 each for adults and $4 each for seniors and children. A VIP all-access pass is also available for $35.
“The vision of the Bigfork Retro Film Festival is to present classic movies on the big screen ‘as they were meant to be seen,’” Shapero said. “That’s not just a catchy tagline, but underlines why I put this festival together. With theater ticket sales declining it’s become clear that most people aren’t watching movies in theaters anymore. They watch movies at home, on TV or on their tablets or cellphones. And while it’s convenient to not have to go to a theater to watch a film, I don’t think the experience of watching a movie on an iPhone is anywhere near the same as watching it on the big screen in a theater.
“I want to recreate the experience of watching a movie in a darkened theater with 100 other people, just like we used to in the old days, and the festival allows me to do that.”
For more information or to purchase tickets in advance, visit http://bigforkfilmfestival.com.
Arts and entertainment editor Stefanie Thompson can be reached at 758-4439 or ThisWeek@dailyinterlake.com.