Little Rock Film Festival 2009
First thing to do when arriving to the Little Rock Film Festival (if the films and parties haven't started) is to walk down Markham St. to The Flying Fish restaurant, just a rock's throw from the Bill Clinton Library. While waiting in line to order (there is ALWAYS a line) you giggle at the hundreds of photos of customers with fish that are posted on the wall . Then you grab a beer from the fridge and order from a choice of catfish, shrimp, oysters, frog legs, crawfish, calamari--fried, grilled, boiled, whatever. Today I kept it simple with a shrimp cocktail, a couple pieces of cat and some fantastic grilled zucchini while chatting with the filmmakers from Slumberland. We talked about the wealth of creative talent around Little Rock like Ray McKinnon who co-produced and starred in the fest's opening film That Evening Sun.
The movie has been winning festival awards around the country since its unveiling at SXSW a couple months ago, and receiving Oscar buzz for its star Hal Holbrook who plays an elderly Tennessee farmer who resists being put out to pasture in an old folks home and gets into a battle over losing his farm to an old enemy, Lonzo Choat, played by McKinnon. After some acclaimed work in projects like HBO's "Deadwood" and O, Brother Where Art Thou? McKinnon gives his strongest performance to date in his dark portrayal of Choat, an extremely unlikable character that McKinnon somehow convinces us to sympathize with. This is the actor who captivated us when he burst onto the scene and won an Oscar for his short 2001 film The Accountant, still a classic. After the screening director Scott Teems and co-producer/co-star Walton Goggins joined McKinnon for a Q & A, moderated by screenwriter Graham Gordy. It screens again Saturday night.
Read my SXSW reviews on That Evening Sun and Bomber, another favorite which also shows at the festival later this week.