Shawna Shea Festival to show half dozen films Thursday

Ruth Wells Center, Starlite to host film screenings

By Patrick Bracken
Citizen Chronicle Entertainment Writer

SOUTHBRIDGE — The area’s very own version of Cannes, the Shawna Shea Festival, begins film screenings at two separate venues in town on Thursday.  This is an opportunity to see some excellent low-budget films before anyone else does, and perhaps discuss them with the filmmakers themselves.  Here is an overview of Thursday’s movies:

Screenings at the The Ruth Wells Center for the Arts (111 Main Street, Southbridge)

Off the Streets for Good — 2 p.m.

This powerful documentary is screening as part of the Shawna Foundation Educational Program and is free to everyone.  Dr. Luciana Lagana’s film looks at homelessness from the point of view of 4 survivors who share their experiences and offer potential solutions.  It’s a great start to the festival and the price can’t be beat (donations to the Shawna Foundation will be accepted at the door).  More information about the film can be found by clicking here.

Good Day — 4:30 p.m.

What if the scariest part of Halloween isn’t demons and monsters, but real life?  That’s the question asked by this comedy/drama from director Louie Cortes.  “Halloween is my favorite holiday and a big influence on all of my work,” says Cortes.  “I wanted to show an adult’s perspective on the holiday with the added struggles of everyday life.”  He says that the secret to making a low budget film is hustle.  “We dedicated a lot of our time to Good Day and in the end I think it shows.”

Do It Man:  The Story of the Celebrity Club — 7 p.m.

This documentary is perfect for the music lovers in Southbridge.  Do It Man tells the remarkable story of the first integrated music club in New England.  During its brief but influential history, The Celebrity Club played host to a who’s who of 1950s musical acts, including Louis Armstrong, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald and many others.  The film is about more than music, however.  Directors Thomas Shakur and Norm Grant use The Celebrity Club to tell a deeper story about race in America.

“It’s sad to say after all this time we’re still dealing with race relations in this society today,” says Shakur. “That’s why we think this story is so important to tell. It’s about how one man and a city came together to overcome racial segregation.”

Screenings at Starlite (39 Hamilton Street, Southbridge)

Shorts program — 4:30 p.m.

One of the most entertaining evenings you can have at the Shawna Shea Film Festival is attending the short film screenings.  Here the filmgoer gets a grab-bag of films with different styles, genres, and moods, each lasting between 3 and 30 minutes.  The experience is even better at Starlite, where viewers can get a cold beverage to go along with the films.  This block features five shorts, including Father of Lies, in which the Norse god Loki arrives in the present day after his brothers murder his child, and Breakneck Hill, about a man looking for his lost cat.  The latter seems destined to be an audience favorite; don’t miss it.

The Graveyard Gang — 7 p.m.

This comedy thriller from director Guthrie Roy Hartford is about a shiftless 26-year-old writer whose life gets turned upside down when he meets the new woman at the newspaper factory at which he works the graveyard shift.  It’s a profane and entertaining way to end the first day of the Shawna Shea Film Festival.

For more information about the festival, visit its website at


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