"Bainbridge on the big screenThe Celluloid Bainbridge fest returns, showcasing local cinema."
June 9, 2008 · Updated 3:38 PM
"If an islander shoots it, they will show it.Movies made on Bainbridge or featuring islander talent will be arrayed for the Third Annual Celluloid Bainbridge Film Festival, Feb. 25 at Lynwood Theatre.Every year, kids come up to me and say, 'I hope you are going to have this next year, because I want to make a movie,' said Kathleen Thorne, program coordinator for the Bainbridge Island Arts and Humanities Council.We want to see whatever they come up with. The festival's main point is to support the art of filmmakers in our community - whether they are established or new. The films slated for this year run the gamut from barely-in-the-can to nationally distributed and high-profile. Islander Darryl Ponicsan, who wrote novels and screenplays that became highly successful movies, will be on hand for a showing of The Last Detail, a 1973 feature film starring Jack Nicholson and Randy Quaid.The story traces the wild adventures of a young sailor bound for the brig, and the two guards assigned to escort him there.Ponicsan wrote the novel that became The Last Detail when he was 30.I was so work-oriented in those days, that success affected me in a way to give me more freedom - to work, Ponicsan said. He quit his high school teaching job and bought a house. But he avoided alcohol and drug-fueled excess that might have come with his Hollywood success.Look, I was not a kid, Ponicsan said. I had been teaching seven years, (and) I was married.Ponicsan wrote another novel that became a movie, Cinderella Liberty, and penned screenplays for hits including School Ties, Nuts and Random Hearts. During his long career, he enjoyed watching young actors - most recently Matt Down, Ben Affleck and Sean Penn - begin their careers in his stories.Ponicsan acknowledges that he has much to thank Hollywood for. But as the years have passed, he has seen popular American cinema change. When Sam Peckinpah made 'The Wild Bunch' (in 1970), I defended what he had done because in that movie you could see blood, you could see pain, Ponicsan said. Before that, some cowboy staggered around a while and keeled over. Peckinpah made you look at it.But, shortly after Peckinpah, a kind of sophomoric delight began to be taken in blood and guts. The kids now are definitely desensitized. I learned how to kiss from the movies, I learned how to hold a gun, he continued. Of course (today's youth have) learned about violence. It's hypocritical to think otherwise. Hollywood has a lot to answer for.Another of this year's featured filmmakers is Ann Childers, who grew up on Bainbridge but now lives in New York City. At 24, she's among the younger participants; she works as production manager for The History Channel. For the Bainbridge festival's feature, Calling Bobcat - an all-night search for the protagonist's ex-girlfriend that Childers calls an anti-romantic comedy - she teamed up with writer/director Paul Kermizian. Childers was impressed that Kermizian raised the $200,000 needed to film. He did not, however, know how to cast, so she lined up a casting director.We were up and shooting in three months, Childers said, and it took us 18 days to complete. We were in his New Jersey hometown and he had free locations, free everything. It was the best film experience I've ever had.The pair took the completed film to a series of festivals, until they sold Calling Bobcat for video release to Hollywood Cinemas. They broke even, and that's not bad for a first film, she said. Looking to the future, Childers would like to teach grade school - or produce feature films. I would need a lot of money, she said At least with the Bainbridge festival, I know one movie I've worked on will be seen on the big screen. "