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Epic grass-roots triumph

Category: Beowulf & Grendel News
Article Date: September 8, 2006 | Publication: Corvallis Gazette-Times | Author: Alex Paul
Source: http://www.gazettetimes.com/articles/2006/09/08/entertainment/cover/cov05.txt

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Albany woman spearheads effort to get film broader exposure in U.S.

Albany — When it comes to the world of entertainment, Albany isn’t usually mentioned with metropolitan areas such as New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, Seattle or San Francisco.

But Saturday, Sept. 9, The Pix Theatre will debut the movie “Beowulf & Grendel” as part of an eight city U.S. premiere. The showing will be at 2 p.m. Admission is $4 plus one canned-food item that will be donated to the Linn-Benton Food Share.

Many people talk about something being a “grassroots” effort, but Teresa Stout of Corvallis and two friends have made the term come to life for the producers of the independent film.

The movie — which was shot under grueling weather conditions in Iceland — features Scottish-born actor Gerard Butler as the Scandinavian warrior Beowulf, who saves Danish King Hrothgar’s people from a troll called Grendel. It is based on the English poem written sometime between the seventh and 10th centuries.

If not for Stout — a devoted Butler fan — and her friends, the movie may have had a brief but profitable run in Canada and disappeared onto video store shelves. But the women’s efforts promoting the movie on numerous Web sites led to a U.S. distributor picking it up as well.

“I’ve never before experienced this type of grass-roots support for a film,” director Sturla Gunnarsson said in a phone interview from Toronto, Canada. “They have made a big difference. They’re tireless. Their work on the Internet has had an effect on the box office, there’s no doubt about it.”

Stout and her friends created such a “buzz” about the movie that fans from the United States flocked to Canadian theaters to watch it.

“Some people have seen the movie 10, 15, even 20 times,” Gunnarsson said. “It’s quite incredible. We had teachers who drove hundreds of miles so their students could see it. Literally, people chartered buses to come see it.”

It was the top-grossing film in Canada for nearly four weeks.

Stout, who works at the Democrat-Herald, was in Los Angeles recently for the film’s opening. She said fans arrived in chain mail, dressed as warriors.

“There are people who know every line of the film,” Gunnarsson said. The movie took seven years from inception to completion and was shot on a shoestring budget. It was a combined effort of companies, actors and crew from Canada, Iceland and the United Kingdom.

Stout has been a Gerard Butler fan since seeing him in the movie version of “The Phantom of the Opera.” “I saw the stage play 10 times,” she said. “I saw him in the role and liked what I saw. I checked out his fan site and learned more about him. He has an international following, but just hadn’t been accepted as much here. So, I wanted to help.”

Although Stout had never put together a Web site, she and her husband, Kenneth, jumped in. Along with fellow Beowulf fans Donna Santaniello of Long Island, N.Y., and Sandra Sucku of Cleveland, Ohio, they started promoting the movie online. Stout and Santaniello have never met face-to-face.

The Web site went online in June 2005. Since then, the movie sold out at the Toronto, Sarasota and Seattle film festivals.

The women have sent as many as 1,600 e-mails to college professors across the country, encouraging them to show the movie on campus or take students to it. Stout’s Web site is at www.kenesa.com/beowulf-grendel.

Parents should be warned that the movie is “R” rated due to strong language, sex, and graphic battle scenes.

There will be a no-host dinner at Wyatt’s Eatery & Brewhouse immediately following the movie’s showing at The Pix.

The movie is also available on DVD for pre-order at www.amazon.com.

 


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