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Archive for Sunday, June 6, 1999

ACTOR LENDS STARDOM TO STATE FESTIVAL

June 6, 1999

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The annual Cannes (pronounced "Con") Film Festival brings together hundreds of the film industry's biggest stars for a week of movies, paparazzi and parties.

The annual KAN (pronounced, well, like it looks) Film Festival didn't have the all stars, parties or the paparazzi. But there were films. Plenty of films. Films by independent filmmakers ranging from young (college filmmakers) to really young (elementary school filmmakers.)

"There are a lot of contests around for creative writing, painting, art, but very little for film," festival publicist Martin English said. He believes it is important for budding Spielbergs and Lynches to have an outlet for expression while they're young. In Kansas and Missouri, that's KAN. "We're the only show in town."

It's a show that was enough to bring one well-known actor from Los Angeles to see what's being created in the Midwest. Jay Underwood, who first gained fame as a child actor in the 1986 Disney film "The Boy Who Could Fly" and who recently portrayed Sonny Bono in a television movie, also has made a number of independent films in recent years. He appreciates the struggles of young filmmakers, as well as the problems faced by filmmakers outside the mainstream.

Underwood, who was one of the festival judges, shared his excitement with the festival entrants and let them know the work they do now can lead to bigger things.

"Independent films have been some of the most fulfilling work I've done," he said.

Underwood, whose wife, Julie, is from Topeka, also wants young filmmakers from this part of the country to know that you don't need to be able to see an ocean to make movies.

"Everyone thinks the first thing they need to do is go to L.A. or New York," he said. "KAN supports filmmaking in Kansas and Missouri."

-- Erik Petersen's phone message number is 832-7221. His e-mail address is epetersen@ljworld.com.

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