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Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival

The Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival (FLIFF) reels out over 200 films from around the globe. Filmmakers and celebrities attend many of the screenings and events during the festival. Parties and gatherings at area "hot spots", on board yachts, and on the beach will provide audiences an opportunity to hob knob with film talent and other movie buffs.




Question And Answer Session with Amy Talkington and Geri Jewell

[img_assist|nid=1443|title=|desc=|link=node|align=block|width=204|height=278]Director Amy Talkington

Saturday, November 4-----A lively Question and Answer session followed the screening this afternoon of the comedy THE NIGHT OF THE WHITE PANTS at the Parker Playhouse. Director Amy Talkington and actress Geri Jewell attended and answered questions from the very enthusiastic audience.

THE NIGHT OF THE WHITE PAINTS is a Dallas, Texas-based comedy about one very long night in the life of a former oil tycoon, played with Southern fried charm by acclaimed English actor Tom Wilkinson. The patriarch of a dysfunctional family goes on a wild joyride with the punk rock boyfriend of his daughter, with everyone in the family learning valuable lessons about life, love and family loyalty. Geri Jewell, an actress with muscular dystrophy, is a particular standout as the level-headed Aunt, who seems the most dysfunctional because of her disability, and yet is the most clearheaded.

[img_assist|nid=1444|title=|desc=|link=node|align=block|width=506|height=316]Gerri Jewel

Director Amy Talkington made five short films that traveled the festival circuit before helming this, her feature debut. Drawing on her Dallas, Texas roots, she has written the screenplay QUEEN OF THE RODEO for 20th Century Fox and Madonna’s production company Maverick Entertainment. She is currently developing her sophomore effort, DEEPLY SHALLOW AND REALLY FAKE, a comedy about Dallas debutantes, which she hopes to shoot in her hometown early next year.

Question: Is the film autobiographical?

Amy Talkington (AT): The film is not autobiographical at all, but there is one character who is based on my real life Aunt, who does have muscular dystrophy, who is played by Geri Jewell. That character is very autobiographical, but the story is not, and the father in the film is definitely not my father….my Dad wants me to make that very clear.

Geri Jewell (GJ): Because my character was based on a real person, I really wanted to get it right. It was a challenge to play someone with cerebral palsy, and I did up the notches in playing her, but hopefully the sweetness of her character also came out. It was challenging to me as an actress. I did it with love and compassion.

Question: What was the significance of the game Macquakie in the film?

GJ: Well, since the character I played had the mind of a twelve year old, she would naturally be into fun and games, as a way of bringing the family together. It was the character’s very simple desire to bring the family together. Her idea of family of sitting around and playing games was very simple and direct.


Question: Can you talk about the casting, and how you got actors like Tom Wilkinson and Nick Stahl involved in the project?

AT: I had met Nick on another movie that I was hoping to make a few years ago, and got him a copy of this script. He was interested and through his prior working relationship with Tom Wilkinson who he had worked with on the film IN THE BEDROOM, the script got to Tom. He loved the script and loved the part, and sadly doesn’t get the chance to play leads in movies that often, so he decided to leap at the chance to play comedy, which he finds even more challenging and rewarding than playing heavy drama. It was fun for him and he already had a nice rapport and trust with Nick Stahl.

Question: How long did it take you to finish the script?

AT: I was given the chance to rent a friend’s house in Key West for a few weeks, and spent the time finalizing the script. Then, of course, I rewrote the script for nine months, but that is a pretty short time for a feature script. It has been in my mind for many years, percolating. The final script was what was finally shot, with very little improvisation. The actors were not that interested in doing improvisation, they liked the script just as it was.


Question: What are the plans for distributing the film in the future and when will it be available on dvd?

AT: We are working now to get the film a small theatrical release and then hope the film will be available on dvd by April of 2007. So, please tell your friends.

Question: What have you done previously that I might know and what are your plans for the future?

GJ: For the last three years, I have had a recurring part on the HBO series DEADWOOD and prior to that I was on the series THE FACTS OF LIFE over four years, and did about 13 episodes of the soap opera THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS. I actually started my career as a stand up comic and still go out and do stand up comedy when I can. Next week, I am going to Washington DC to receive a special Victory Award, in acknowledgement of my being a role model for actresses with disabilities, and I am very, very proud of that honor. To get film roles while being disabled is definitely a challenge, so I am really indebted to people like Amy who give me a chance to show off my talent. I hope you enjoyed my work and thank you so much for your support.

Sandy Mandelberger
Online Festival Dailies Editor