Feb. 21, 2004 – CASA of the Virgin Islands — the local Court Appointed Special Advocate program — is hosting the territory's premiere showing on Wednesday of the first film in its 2003 Movie Series, the triple Academy Award-nominated "In America."
Directed by Jim Sheridan ("My Left Food," "In the Name of the Father"), who wrote the screenplay in collaboration with his two daughters, "In America" is a story of modern-day immigrants — a family from Ireland that moves to New York in search of — what else? — the American dream. It draws extensively on the autobiographical experiences of Sheridan, his wife and their two young daughters, who did just that in the 1980s.
In the film, Johnny (Paddy Considine) and his wife Sarah (Samantha Morton) discover when they arrive in New York with their spunky youngsters Christy (Sarah Bolger) and Ariel (Emma Bolger) that it will take not only effort but ingenuity and tenacity to make their dream come true. Cash-strapped, they move into a chaotic tenement and set out to turn their rag-tag surroundings into a home.
As one Web synopsis puts it, "nothing comes without a fight for the couple. And yet, as they see America as rife with challenges, dangers and weirdness, their daughters see it as a magical place where anything can happen, a place that might release them from the anguish of what has come before."
A turning point comes on Halloween, when the girls dare to knock on the door of "the screaming man," a reclusive neighbor named Mateo (Djimon Hounsou, who played Cinque in "Amistad"). "As the family heads for a crisis," the synopsis continues, "Mateo becomes their unlikely ally in the territory where hope, faith and even magic hold sway."
A New York Times review said the film "is likely to pierce the defenses of all but the most dogmatically cynical viewers." A Los Angeles Times critic said it's "particularly adept at dealing with the immigrant experience, with lives lived on the knife edge of hope, poverty and despair that is in many ways this country's quintessential situation." And a writer for Film Journal International said: "No one has ever told an immigrant story quite like this."
"This is a beautiful story told through the eyes of the family's 11-year-old daughter and is filled with laughter, frustration and the craziness of New York City — and ultimately with hope and success," says Gail Shearer, CASA of the Virgin Islands director.
The premiere of the film will take place at Diamond Cinemas. There'll be a reception at 6 p.m with the showing to begin at 6:45 p.m. Tickets are $20, with the proceeds to benefit the not-for-profit CASA program, which trains volunteers to become advocates for abused and neglected children on St. Croix.
Noting that Wednesday's showing comes just four nights before the 2004 Academy Awards ceremony, Shearer says the community is invited to join CASA on its "red carpet Crucian Oscar reception." Up for awards from "In America" are Hounsou for Best Supporting Actor, Morton for Best Supporting Actress and Sheridan for Best Original Screenplay.
Following on the success of sold-out theaters last year when the advocacy group presented "Antwone Fisher" in February and "Frida" in March, "the CASA program has expanded its movie series and anticipates five films between now and September," Shearer says.
"Each movie has a theme party/reception preceding," she said, adding that "friends and local businesses are invited to contact CASA" about sponsorships. The other films in this year's series will be announced later.
Tickets for "In America" are being sold at Applause, Patalidis Designs, Solitude Country Store, Turtle's Deli, Undercover Books and Walsh Metal Works. For more information about the film premiere or about the advocacy program, call CASA at 773-2626 or Barbara Walsh at 773-8169.
"In America" is rated PG-13 (for sexuality, drug references, brief violence and language).
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