Minneapolis is Second Festival Entry for Peoria-based Documentary
A second film festival has now accepted The Entertainers, a 90-minute documentary shot over a nearly three year period in Peoria, IL about competing in the annual World Championship Old-Time Piano Playing Contest, which is staged each year by the Old-Time Music Preservation Association, Inc.
Director/producer Michael Zimmer received word that the Minneapolis/St. Paul International Film Festival had accepted the film as part of the Feature Documentary Competition. “It’s a big festival, well-regarded, and an exciting opportunity,” said Zimmer, who got interested in making The Entertainers because he knew one of the contestants. “Champ Ethan Uslan and I had gone to school together, and he told me how wonderful the people involved were. I came to the contest with my co-director Nick Holle and a small crew, and we were blown away by the musicians and their talent. We knew we had to document their amazing stories,” said Zimmer, a writer and filmmaker from Los Angeles.
Zimmer and co-director Nick Holle assembled a team that included former piano competitor Brent Watkins, now an independent producer in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, to follow six players across the country and Mexico as they prepared to compete in the World Championship. They filmed contestants near Washington DC, in Omaha NE, Charlotte NC, Champaign IL, rural Iowa and Mexico in the months before the competitions. Then they followed the six stars throughout the competition at the World Championship in Peoria.
“We just hope the film can do justice to the talent and heart of our stars,” Zimmer said.
“It’s exhilarating to watch them play and to see how passionate they are about this music. It’s a heartwarming and funny story, with fantastic music.”
Co-director Nick Holle added, “This music is so important to American musical history, but as time has passed many people have sort of forgotten it. But the music is incredible. Ragtime led to jazz, and it dominated American pop music for 20 years plus numerous revivals.”
The film will screen Saturday, April 28 and Sunday, April 29 at 9 p.m. at the St. Anthony Main Theater in Minneapolis. The directors and three stars of the film will be on hand to play live ragtime before and after the screening, as well as to answer audience questions.
The Wisconsin Film Festival, in Madison, will also screen the film on April 20 at 9 p.m. at the Chazen Museum of Art and April 21 at 1:30 pm at the UW Cinematheque. Four stars of the film will be there to play piano and discuss the film with the audience.
The film will also be shown in Peoria at the World Championship Old-Time Piano Playing Contest and Festival. It’s set for Friday, May 25, at 8 p.m. at the Four Points by Sheraton Hotel. Free tickets to the contest screening are available at four Peoria area locations including Sky Harbor Steak House in West Peoria; the Spirit of Peoria riverboat’s business office; Slim Clippins Barbershop in N. Peoria and at Aqua-Tech pool supply in Morton. Seating is limited to about 500.
Following the screening, director/producers Michael Zimmer, Nick Holle, and the cast of piano players will take part in a Q&A session. “It looks like every one of our stars will be back at the contest for the screening this year,” Zimmer said. “It’s going to be a great time.”
Illinois Governor Pat Quinn honored The Entertainers and the Contest as he proclaimed that May 24-28, 2012 is Old-Time Music Preservation Weekend in Illinois. The association will present Zimmer with a framed copy of this Proclamation at the screening on May 25.
For further information about The Entertainers, Contact Michael Zimmer at 323-528-1069 or firstname.lastname@example.org.