Thursday, September 23, 2010

MVP in San Francisco & Chicago

My documentary MOST VALUABLE PLAYERS will make its film festival world premiere at the Mill Valley Film Festival in California. It screens on October 10th and October 15th. TICKET INFO.

We'll also be participating in the Chicago International Children's Film Festival on October 23rd. TICKET INFO.

And come see us at the St. Louis International Film Festival in November. (Dates TBA.)

Critics have called MVP "a heartfelt Valentine," "a winner," "infectuous," "a happy film."

Michael Lumpkin of the International Documentary Association calls MOST VALUABLE PLAYERS, "the feel good documentary of the year."

LISTEN to Claudia Puig (USA Today) and Lael Loewenstein (Variety) review the film.

And here's what Kevin Thomas, the venerable Los Angeles Times film critic, said about MVP:

Matthew D. Kallis’ irresistible documentary “Most Valuable Players” charts the sixth year of the Freddys, which are the equivalent of the Tony Awards for the high schools of Lehigh Valley, PA.

Kallis discovers a win-win situation all around. The students get both a terrific, joyous experience in performing and a great learning experience. The non-profit State Center for Performing Arts, where the locally televised Freddy Award ceremonies are held annually, is a glorious old movie and vaudeville palace superbly recycled, in turn gets much-needed publicity for its entire calendar of events. The Freddys, named for a 1940s manager of the theater said to haunt it benignly, has become a major event throughout Lehigh Valley.

Of the many high schools in Lehigh Valley with stage productions in competition for the Freddys, Kallis wisely focuses on just three: Freedom High in Bethlehem, Emmaus High in Emmaus, and Parkland High in Allentown. By coincidence both Emmaus’s small high school and the much larger Parkland have chosen to compete with the formidable “Les Miserables”—and had scheduled to perform them locally on the same night. Meanwhile, Freedom, another big school, is weighing in with “Bye-Bye Birdie.”

Among those individuals who stand out are Shelley Brown, a former PBS producer who is the president and CEO of the State, a chic, savvy woman of much warmth; Vic Kumma, the Freddys coordinator and a beloved local hero; and Freedom High drama teacher Jennifer Wescoe, who has a gift for keeping her students grounded while inspiring them to soar. Among the students who make the strongest impressions are John Andreadis, a charismatic soccer player cast as “Birdie’s” Elvis-like hero and Zachary Gibson, sidelined from sports by juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, who found a new avenue of achievement on stage.

Kallis generates suspense and handles an unexpected, potentially tragic development with grace. Generous glimpses of the film’s three competing productions suggest that they are most impressive, and as for the expertly staged Freddy ceremonies, they look to be more fun than the Tonys themselves.


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