Sunday, April 13, 2014

On the Road with Chris Eska & "The Retrieval'

We have a few updates from filmmaker Chris Eska, currently touring his film The Retrieval on the Southern Circuit:

Suwanee, Georgia
My tour began with a little taste of home since the City of Suwanee partners with the Texas theater chain The Movie Tavern, which serves real food while you enjoy the film.  Toni Shrewsbury, Adam Edge, and Lynne DeWilde all greeted me at the swanky bar inside the theater, and their Suwanee hospitality woke me up from my non-stop travel daze.  After the screening, the discussion was lively--every single person in the audience asked at least one question and we actually ran out of time!  It was a perfect kick-off to the trip, and it has me excited for more.

Madison, Georgia
The trip from Suwanee to Madison went far beyond the suburbs of Atlanta into what reminded me of the rural South of my youth.   I was compelled to stop more than once to take photos along the scenic back roads.  Driving into Madison felt like coming home since I also grew up in a Texas town of about 5,000 people full of beautiful late 19th century homes and historical markers.  The screening took place in the incredible Madison Morgan Cultural Center, which is a large converted school house from the 1890’s.  Thanks to Rebecca Bonas for coordinating and to the African American Museum for sponsoring the reception!  Over 50 people stayed for an extended Q&A that also delved deep into my previous works and what it means to be an indie filmmaker.

Hapeville, Georgia
It seemed like I was driving back into Atlanta, but Hapeville is a unique small town that just happens to be surrounded by the sprawl of the city.  It was a beautiful spring day with blossoming trees and the city of Hapeville hosted an outdoor reception (complete with live music) that really brought out an impressive crowd—over 70 people including the mayor!  The screening was on the grounds of a beautiful city park inside a renovated church from 1895, complete with intricate woodwork and real pews.  This made me initially feel like a preacher droning on at the beginning of the post-film discussion, but once the floor was opened to questions, the audience became very engaged with curiosity and many thoughtful comments.  It was a truly wonderful end to the Georgia leg of my tour, and I hope to come back soon.

Lake Charles, Louisiana
From the moment I stepped on the plane, it felt like I was entering another country.  When I arrived in Lafayette and began driving to Lake Charles, southern Louisiana did not disappoint:  Zydeco and swamp pop on the radio, endless marshes, French language, green as far as the eye can see, and joyous people.   Before the screening, I stopped by the Downtown Crawfish Festival to hear some live Zydeco, see a crawfish eating contest, and get my picture taken with Miss Crawfish!  The screening at Banners at McNeese was also a huge success, and I enjoyed hearing about local life and history in Lake Charles as much as the audience enjoyed hearing about filmmaking.