Ian Cheney’s The Search for General Tso tracks down the origin of a famous recipe while also exploring the history of Chinese-Americans and their successful integration into American society.
THE FIRST ANNUAL Creative Edge Film Festival jets off on Friday, September 25, at the Orpheum Theatre, 121 W. Broadway, setting a new paradigm in the Midwest for independent filmmakers, producers, directors, and actors to showcase their talents.
“We adore the idea of indie films,” says Ginger Belilove, who is co-executive producer of the festival, along with her husband Jim and producer Tracy McCormick. “We wanted to have an event with films that were fun, intelligent, and quirky without violence, agenda, drama, or propaganda.”
On Friday, the festival kicks off with the short documentary World Fair (2013). Directed by Amanda Murray, the film travels back in time to the 1939 New York World’s Fair, using memories of former fairgoers—now in their 80s and 90s—as well as photographs, archival footage, home movies, and ephemera.
With the Great Depression behind them and war looming overseas, millions flocked to the 1,200-acre site in Queens for a glimpse of a better world. The modernist techno-utopia opened up a whole new world for those who had just survived the dreary depression. Said one fairgoer, “The world’s fair was like a child’s imagination, buildings in shapes you could never have imagined—hundreds of them, rides going round this way and that, and music and color. It was like children were in charge.”
A Spicy Dish
World Fair will be followed on Friday night by the delectable Sundance Select 2014 film The Search for General Tso. Rotten Tomatoes gives this film a 94 percent approval rating, with this summary:
“This mouthwateringly entertaining film travels the globe to unravel a captivating culinary mystery. General Tso’s chicken is a staple of Chinese-American cooking, and a ubiquitous presence on restaurant menus across the country. But just who was General Tso? And how did his chicken become emblematic of an entire national cuisine? Director Ian Cheney (King Corn) journeys from Shanghai to New York to the American Midwest and beyond to uncover the origins of this iconic dish, turning up surprising revelations and a host of humorous characters along the way. Told with the verve of a good detective story, The Search for General Tso is as much about food as it is a tale of the American immigrant experience.”
On Saturday, September 26, the evening will begin with a surprise short film, followed by the new documentary Paolo Soleri: Beyond Form. Narrated by actor-activist Peter Coyote, this documentary from director Aimee Madsen looks at Soleri’s lifelong labor of love—the futuristic city of Arcosanti in the desert of Phoenix, Arizona. Soleri inspired a cult-like following, reminiscent of the passionate devotees of Frank Lloyd Wright, and Arcosanti continues to grow long after the death of its creator.
Relatively unknown outside of architectural circles, Paolo Soleri was a multi-talented artist and architect. The bio-documentary Paolo Soleri: Beyond Form presents a fresh look at his creative genius.
“The film has humor, beauty, and spectacular cinematography,” says director Steve Weiss.
Following the screening, Aimee Madsen will be available to take questions from the audience.
Director Aimee Madsen will be on hand Saturday night after the screening to answer questions.
The Final Day
To close the weekend, on Sunday, September 27, there will be a matinee showing of The Search for General Tso and an evening presentation of Paolo Soleri: Beyond Form.
The festival will also include a teaser at each showtime on a film currently in production called The Last Man Standing, a feature-length documentary on Jerry Yellin, one of the last veterans from WWII. He enlisted to fight the Japanese after Pearl Harbor, but suffered from severe post-traumatic stress disorder for years afterward. It was only when he began Transcendental Meditation decades later that he started to heal. The Last Man Standing is a heartfelt exploration of an inspiring man who has faced his own demons and wants to share his experiences of turning hate into love. Director Louisa Merino will follow Jerry for 18 months as he shares his stories with audiences around the world.
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The Orpheum has been shuttered for months now, so don’t miss this opportunity to watch great indie films in Fairfield again. Supporting the Creative Edge Film Festival will open up possibilities for more film screenings in Fairfield. “These are wonderful films to see in a theater,” Ginger says. “Join us for lots of fun—and we will have popcorn!”
The Creative Edge Film Fest is executive produced by Jim and Ginger Belilove, sponsored by Creative Edge Master Shop, and produced by Tracy McCormick of Lightfinder PR.