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Mariners' Wharf Film Festival begins with 'Lilies of the Field'

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"Lilies of the Field," the 1963 classic comedy starring Sidney Poitier, will be the first film featured in this year's Mariners' Wharf Film Festival, which begins Tuesday at Mariners' Wharf Park.

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From staff reports

Saturday, June 2, 2018

This year’s Mariners’ Wharf Film Festival, which begins next week, will include a mix of classic films like 1957’s “Funny Face” with Fred Astaire and Audrey Hepburn, and more recent movies like the 2006 Will Smith film, ”The Pursuit of Happyness.”

Each Tuesday starting at 8:30 p.m. or at dusk — whichever comes first — film lovers will be treated to a free movie on a big screen at Mariners’ Wharf Park. Coordinating the festival each Tuesday night through July 24 is Elizabeth City Downtown, Inc. as part of its Summer Movies & Music Series. 

The festival’s first film Tuesday evening is “Lilies of the Field,” the 1963 classic starring Sidney Poitier, who portrays a traveling laborer who meets five nuns in the Arizona desert. The comedy-drama, directed by Ralph Nelson, has a running time of 1 hour and 34 minutes.

Deborah Malenfant, ECDI’s executive director, noted that movies selected for the Mariners’ Wharf Film Festival traditionally have been black-and-white classics from the 1930s through the 1960s. This year’s festival, however, will see some more recent films and movies from different genres. 

“We’ve gotten requests over the last few years to expand our selections outside of the traditional classic movie genre,” Malenfant said. “We have a diverse community, so we want our movies to be a little more diverse, as well.”

In addition to “Lilies of the Field” and “Funny Face,” the series will include two other standard classic films, she said. However, the series will also feature more recent dramas, romantic comedies and, according to Malenfant, “even a corny-as-heck sci-fi horror movie and an Elvis movie.”

Malenfant noted that film-goers need to be aware that some of the content in the films may not be child-friendly. 

“Going outside the norm of the classics, we do want to be sure that people know the content of the films before bringing young kids to watch,” she said. “We researched the films carefully and made notations where there might be language or other content concerns.”

Malenfant said she encourages film attendees to visit www.commonsensemedia.org to review each movie’s content.

On Tuesday, June 12, the festival will screen “Dirty Dancing,” the 1987 musical and drama-romance starring Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey. The film portrays a 17-year-old’s crush on a dance instructor at a resort in the Catskill Mountains in 1963. The film is rated PG-13 and contains some adult content, sexual references, a pregnancy and reference to an abortion. 

On Tuesday, June 19, the film will be “Invasion of the Body Snatchers,” a 1956 drama-horror and science fiction movie that focuses on an alien plot to take over the earth by replacing humans with zombie-like pod people.

On Tuesday, June 26, the movie is the 1993 film “Sleepless in Seattle,” starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. The comedy-romance directed by Nora Ephron features the story of two people, a widowed father and a writer, drawn together after the father appears on a radio call-in show. The movie is rated PG and contains some cursing and sexual references. 

On Tuesday, July 3, the festival continues with “King Creole,” the 1958 film starring Elivs Presley. The movie follows a young Presley as he goes from a custodian in a nightclub to a singer. The film is rated PG and runs just under two hours.

On July 10, the festival will screen “The Pursuit of Happiness,” a 2006 biography-drama that tells the true story of Chris Gardner, a San Francisco salesman, played by Smith, who struggles to build a future for himself and his 5-year-old son, played by Smith’s own son, Jaden. The film is rated PG-13 and includes some cursing and sexual references.

That’s followed on July 17, by “Funny Face,” the 1957 musical-romantic comedy featuring Hepburn and Astaire based on the 1927 George Gershwin Broadway musical of the same name. Astaire plays a photographer tasked with finding a “new face,” who turns out to be Hepburn, who plays a bookstore clerk.

The last film in the series is “Dead Poets Society,” the 1989 film staring Robin Williams and Ethan Hawke. The drama-comedy, which will be screened July 24, tells the story of an English teacher who uses unorthodox teaching methods on his students at an all-boys preparatory school. The film, which runs 2 hours and 8 minutes, is not rated. It contains some cursing and topics such as suicide.

Movie-goers are encouraged to bring their own chairs or a blanket to spread on the grass at the park. They can also bring their own food. Popcorn and drinks will be sold on site.

For more information, visit www.marinerswharffilmfestival.com or call 338-4104.

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