Film premieres Nov. 15-17 in controversial star's hometown of Marshalltown

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Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Marshalltown’s Orpheum Theater Center is rolling out the red carpet and warming up a searchlight for the world premiere of Movie Star: The Secret Lives of Jean Seberg, a new documentary by Emmy-nominated filmmakers Kelly and Tammy Rundle of Fourth Wall Films, and Garry McGee of McMarr, Ltd.

A premiere party and the feature-length film will open the three-day Jean Seberg International Film Festival on Friday, Nov. 15, celebrating what would have been Seberg’s 75th birthday in the theater where her first film, Saint Joan, had its North America premiere 56 years ago.

Horace Porter, F. Wendell Miller Professor of English and American Studies and chair of the American Studies Department and African American Studies Program, is among those scholars featured extensively in the film.

Movie Star: The Secret Lives of Jean Seberg is the first documentary film to focus on the private side of the famous Marshalltown native. Movie Star will also examine Seberg’s very public American and international film career, civil rights era activism, and her mysterious, untimely death in Paris. The film features exclusive on-camera interviews with Seberg’s family, friends and colleagues, film historians, and civil rights scholars, including Porter and former Black Panther Party leader Elaine Brown; as well as never-before-seen private photographs, home movie footage and rare movie and behind-the-scenes film clips.

“I find her fascinating and remarkable,” says Porter, author of Stealing the Fire: The Art and Protest of James Baldwin, Jazz Country: Ralph Ellison in America, and The Making of a Black Scholar. “Jean Seberg was right there in the mix and right there as a sympathizer. She was someone who was very much dedicated to improving the quality of life of those who had been discriminated against.”

Seberg made her acting debut in Otto Preminger’s Saint Joan and starred in Hollywood films Lilith, Paint Your Wagon, and the Academy-Award winning Airport, among others. She is best known for her performance in director Jean-Luc Godard’s groundbreaking French New Wave film Breathless, re-released on its 50th anniversary to rave reviews and a new generation of Jean Seberg fans.

“The documentary strips away the Hollywood gossip, the national media hype, and the F.B.I. propaganda to find a young woman of conscience embroiled in the important issues of her day, while also carving out a unique and important international film career,” says producer Kelly Rundle.

Porter will give a special symposium on Seberg’s civil rights activism during the film festival on Saturday, Nov. 16, from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. The symposium is free and open to the public.

For details about Movie Star: The Secret Lives of Jean Seberg premiere weekend screenings, the Jean Seberg International Film Festival’s free symposiums, accommodations to participate, and special showings of Seberg’s films, visit the Orpheum Theater Center website or call 641-844-5909. The IVCCD Orpheum Theater Center is located at 220 E. Main St., Marshalltown, Iowa.

Movie Star: The Secret Lives of Jean Seberg will continue screening at film festivals and in art theaters throughout the U.S. and Europe. The documentary will be released nationally on DVD, with broadcasts on Midwestern PBS stations following in late 2014. For more information about Movie Star: The Secret Lives of Jean Seberg, visit this website.

Movie Star: The Secret Lives of Jean Seberg was funded in part with grants from Humanities Iowa, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and Iowa Arts Council. The Historical Society of Marshall County served as the fiscal sponsor for the documentary project. Any views, findings, recommendations or conclusions expressed in the film and program do not necessarily represent those of these organizations.

The Departments of American Studies and English and the African American Studies Program are part of the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.