The Southern Gothic storytelling of ‘That Evening Sun’

Hal Holbrook in “That Evening Sun” (Image courtesy of Dogwood Entertainment)

Making independent movies is hard work, then distributing them is even harder. Just ask Larsen Jay.

But he believes his current project is worth the effort.

“We call it the little movie that could,” laughs Larsen Jay, executive producer of “That Evening Sun.” “It keeps sort of a slow burn. Everybody, once they see it they start talking about it and we keep building and building and building.”

The movie stars Hal Holbrook as an old Southern farmer who decides he can’t stand living in an old folks home any more. He sneaks out and heads back to what he thought was his home.

“And when he gets there he realizes the farm is being rented out by the son of his arch rival,” Jay says. “and instead of leaving he sort of squats on his own land, and thus ensues this great mental battle between this old salt of the earth character and this young buck both claiming the land for their own. It’s a really powerful drama with great characters and a really true depiction of the South.”

The film has been winning awards on the festival circuit, including a couple from SXSW. Now Larsen and others involved in the film are doing a 30 city roll-out of the film, playing in arthouses around the country. They are also going to cities where Holbrook performs his Mark Twain show, which he has been doing for 55 years.

As part of that effort Jay will introduce the movie at Minnesota Film Arts in its new home at St Anthony Main tonight at 7.30

He says he believes this is a different kind of a movie, and that was clear on the set.

“This is a storytelling film, and so it’s a little different from being on a movie set where there is a whole lot of glitz and glamor. I mean, Hal Holbrook is a craftsman, and he is prepared and he is the character,” Jay says.”Everyone was very serious about making sure the story was told right, not just making a movie.”

Jay is please with the finished film, but now there is a lot more work to be done.

“The response we get after people see the film is wonderful and it continues to build, but it does require a lot of travel, it requires a lot of dedication, time, money, effort. People are not going to find your film just because you made it. You have to go present it to them. You have to go talk to them. You have to explain why this is a story worthy of being seen.”

The trick he says is to get people in the door.

“It’s hard to market and introduce people to a Southern story about an 80 year old man who is fighting for land. It’s not cool and sexy like “Avatar.” But it is real life and it is a really powerful story. And when people leave the theater the best reactions we’ve received are “That made me think,” he says. “And that’s a really powerful tool if they are going to recommend it to someone else.”

Comments are closed.