Tuesday, January 20, 2015

[266] Raise a glass to celebrate MTSU film ‘Happy New Year, Mr. Kates!’


MURFREESBORO — Celebrate the new year all over again with the official world premiere of a short film created by MTSU students, faculty and alumni.

“Happy New Year, Mr. Kates!” will be shown at 7 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 31, at the Murfreesboro Center for the Arts, 110 W. College St. in Murfreesboro.

The 33-minute tale features a nursing home resident who feels that his life has been a failure until fate intervenes on the eve of the new year. It was written and directed by Dr. Bob Pondillo, a professor emeritus of mass media history and American culture.

The Murfreesboro Center for the Arts will receive 15 percent of all money raised with the bulk of the revenue going to film festival fees.

“Our plan is to place ‘Mr. Kates’ in as many festivals as possible,” said Pondillo, noting that some festival fees run as high as $100 per event.

Admission is $14.50 per person. The film itself will be available on DVD for a donation of $15, and a compilation boxed set of DVDs containing all six of Pondillo’s award-winning films will be available for a suggested donation of $30.

The boxed set includes “My Name is Wallace” and “Wait …,” both of which were screened at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival in France, as well as “Would You Cry If I Died?,” “The New, True Charlie Wu,” and “The Miracles on Honey Bee Hill.”

“I think I’ve grown as a screenwriter and director since our earliest efforts,” said Pondillo. “And, by screening our boxed set, viewers will be able to see the growth and change.”

“Mr. Kates,” which has been more than two years in the making, won the “Best Short Screenplay” award at the 2012 American International Film Festival in Chicago.

The movie took the Audience Choice Award for Best Film at the ARTLightenment Festival in Nashville in November. Pat Reilly, who portrayed Mr. Kates, won the Best Actor Award, and Dr. Bob Wood, an MTSU professor of recording industry, won “Best Musical Score” honors for composing the music.

Pondillo’s earlier independent films, which also included students and alumni in the crew, have garnered awards at film festivals around the world.

His colleague, retired MTSU electronic media communication professor Dr. Mary Nichols, obtained an MTSU Synergy Grant of some $22,000 to make “Mr. Kates.” Synergy grants are awarded to facilitate interdisciplinary projects involving faculty and students.

More than 30 electronic media communication majors, several recording industry graduate students and a few recent alumni participated, as well as makeup artists from the Department of Speech and Theatre.

Following the screening, members of the audience will have an opportunity to chat with the actors who starred in the film. Complementary wine and hors d’oeuvres will be served.

To order tickets or for more information, contact Blake Tumbleson at 615-948-0008 or blake@TumblesonAV.com. Tickets may be ordered in advance at http://mrkates.brownpapertickets.com, and the movie’s Facebook page is www.facebook.com/HappyNewYearMrKates.