Independent filmmaker Tim Sutton returns to Memphis on Friday, September 19th, for the opening weekend of the Memphis run of his feature film, "Memphis." As a special guest of The Memphis & Shelby County Film and Television Commission and Malco Theatres, Inc., Sutton becomes part of a decades-old Film Commission/Malco Theatres, Inc. tradition of bringing filmmakers back to the Mid-South community where they made their films. Previous filmmakers include Michael Hausman, Robert Altman, and Mike Ryan.
Sutton will be available after the 7:35 pm September 19th screening for a question and answer session with the audience. Additionally, the next day, Saturday, September 20th, at 11 am, Sutton and The Commercial Appeal's popular film writer, John Beifuss, will hold an hour-long discussion on the making of "Memphis" in Memphis. Admission to the discussion is free-of-charge. It will be held at Malco's Studio on the Square in midtown Memphis.
"Memphis" was one of the first films to win a grant from The Venice Biennale's international competition for emerging filmmakers in Venice, Italy. A client of the Memphis & Shelby County Film and Television Commission, "Memphis" shot in the city for 21 filming days in spring, 2013. That summer, the film premiered at the 2013 Venice Film Festival. In January 2014, "Memphis" screened at The Sundance Film Festival. Finally, September 19th at Memphis' Malco's Ridgeway Theatre, "Memphis" comes home! Tickets are regularly priced at $10 for the opening night 7:35 pm screening with Sutton present. Tickets will become available on Wednesday, September 17th, either online at Malco.com or at the Ridgeway box office.
The story of an initially successful blues musician searching for meaning in his life, "Memphis" stars real-life recording artist Willis Earl Beal. Memphis music legends Larry Dodson and Teenie Hodges make cameo appearances as themselves at Memphis' Royal Studios for Beal's recording sessions. Memphis music celebrity George Klein also makes an appearance as Beal's interviewer at the film's beginning. However, as his quest for significance begins a downward spiral, Beal leaves behind the show biz life of Memphis - finding himself more at home amongst the dilapidated shotguns and poverty of South Memphis. The film's cinematography, showing both the high and low parts of the cityscape, reflects Beal's shifting psyche and internal struggle. Scenes from Memphis' real-life Peace Baptist Church offer contrasting views of hope and salvation. It comes as no surprise that Richard Brody of The New Yorker has called "Memphis" a "...pictorial translation of the blues...."
Local crew include associate producer Morgan Jon Fox, casting associate TC Sharpe and locations coordinator Christian Walker. Except for Beal, the cast is entirely local and non-professional, adding to the film's feeling of authenticity.
According to Jimmy Tashie, Senior Vice-President of Malco Theatres, Inc., and Chairman of the Film and Television Board, "Malco and The Commission have been partnering since the 1980s to give locally made films at least a screening. The lucky ones get a long run. We are happy to continue this tradition with Tim Sutton and "Memphis."
Sutton's Memphis visit in coordination with his film's opening is made possible by a grant from "Friends of the Film Commission," who have contributed to the Film Commission's 501(c) 3 arm. For more information on how to support The Memphis & Shelby County Film and Television Commission or for media inquiries about Mr. Sutton's appearances, call 901-527-8300, extension 3 for Linn Sitler, Film Commissioner.
Pictured: Willis Earl Beal in "Memphis."