Two friends, John Strayer
and Patrick Perfitt, have always enjoyed attending such events as the Toronto Film Festival, the Traverse
City Film Festival and now the new Cinetopia
Film Festival in Ann Arbor, MI.
Three years ago they began investigating the possibility of doing something
like a film festival in Fenton. With the help of the generous local merchants
and Downtown Development Authority, they had the means. With the really cool
Saarinen building and its awesome ballroom right in mid-town, they had the
place. With the desire to offer great independent films, foreign films,
documentaries, and classic movies, they had the incentive to obtain the movie
license they needed to get started! All of this came from their motivation to
contribute to the revitalization of downtown!
John Strayer and Patrick Perfitt live and work in Fenton. So, choosing Fenton
and its awesome, architectural jewel, the Fenton
Cultural & Community Center for
the theater became the only rational choice! Although they are both involved in
all parts of the effort, John Strayer has been primarily responsible
for selecting the movies and handling the bookkeeping. Patrick Perfitt has been principally
responsible for selecting musicians and musical groups to provide live entertainment
in the hour preceding the movies. They also have generous volunteers who help
with concessions. Talk about a town that all comes together! This town is
the quintessential example of it! Could Fenton Be any Closer?
Besides many interesting
and unusual films, which can't be found at the major movie theaters, the
concession stand might surprise you too. They’ve been known to offer free food
from many generous local restaurants - including coffee and pastries from the
Laundry, homemade soda from the Fenton Winery & Brewery, sandwiches from
Jimmy John's Gourmet Sandwiches and appetizers from Bangkok Peppers Too. Hungry yet?
The local businesses have
proven to be fabulous partners in the event also.
Fenton’s Open Book
sponsored the Oscar-nominated film "Winter's Bone" last February and
raffled off a free copy of the book too!
Joyful Noise Music Studio
co-sponsored a documentary entitled "Standing in
the Shadow of Motown"; a riveting story about the local musicians who
provided the instrumental music to all of the Motown hit songs. Adding to the
fun, the Joyful Noise students performed before the film singing some of the
Man Named Pearl", a documentary about Pearl Fryar, a self-taught gardener
from South Carolina whose topiaries gardens are now world-famous. On the weekend following the movie, Gerych's
brought Pearl Fryar to Fenton in
person, to lecture and give demonstrations about his magnificent
gardens. Both the movie and the live
presentations were incredibly well attended and wonderfully received!
One of the most exciting activities that the Fenton
Film Series seems to generate is the production of short movies created by high school filmmakers from Fenton
High School. They are shown before the main attraction. The students and their
families proudly attend and engage the audience in a Q & A after the film.
What a wonderful way to encourage our youth in the arts! Truly, Fenton has
become the hallmark for others to study in this area. The best part of this is
that Fenton has just begun!
Look for the classic musical "White Christmas" December 12th. They will be
encouraging the audience to sing-a-long with the many great Irving Berlin songs
in the movie. The lyrics to these
memorable songs will appear onscreen and we hope for a joyful community
sing-along for the holidays.
As a grateful
community for this wonderful gift to the City of Fenton, let us all thank again
the Fenton Downtown Development Authority, Tanglewood Assisted Living
& Home Care, Patrick Perfitt-Financial Advisor, Fenton Winery &
Brewery, Behind Your Design, The Laundry, Jimmy John's Gourmet Sandwiches,
Southern Lakes Parks & Recreation, Comfort Keepers, and Bangkok Peppers
See you at the Movies!