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Geeksboro celebrates Star Wars

The clock is ticking and the world awaits … Star Wars: The Force Awakens, perhaps the most eagerly anticipated motion picture of the 21 st century (to date, anyway), blasts into theaters on Dec. 18. Many theaters will be having special promotions, displays, and screenings – including sneak previews the night before.

I’ve even received an e-mail invitation to a screening event in Abu Dhabi (!), at the Emirates Palace on Dec. 16. Some of the film was actually shot in Abu Dhabi, but I don’t think I can make the screening.

To join the celebration, you needn’t go to “a galaxy far, far away …” – but merely to Greensboro, at the Geeksboro Coffeehouse Cinema, which is presenting its Star Wars: FANdemonium gala this Sunday.

This multi-media art extravaganza boasts original artwork, prints, and vintage memorabilia from the Star Wars universe, which seems to be expanding every day. Among the attractions are Strikes, an autobiographical sequential short penned by Bret Parks, the owner of Ssalefish Comics in Winston-Salem, featuring illustrations by Winston-Salem artist Ben Towle. Geeksboro has also joined forces with Greensboro’s ACME Comics (located just a few doors down) to present an exclusive Force Awakens reprint of Strikes. Among the other noted area artists participating in FANdemonium are Dan Dos Santos, Brian Smith, and T.A. Boatwright.

If that’s not enough to send your temperature rising – “Wookie Fever,” don’t you know – the evening concludes with a special screening of the independent feature 5-25-77, directed by UNCSA School of the Arts professor and “First Fan of Star Wars” Patrick Reed Johnson (director of the 1994 comedy Baby’s Day Out and the 1995 comedy/drama Angus).

This award-winning, semi-autobiographical, coming-of-age comedy/drama stars John Patrick Daley (TV’s “Freaks & Geeks”) as a lonely teen (named Pat) growing up in rural Illinois who dreams of becoming a filmmaker and whose world is turned upside-down when he sees Star Wars for the first time. The film, whose title refers to the release date of the original Star Wars, also stars Austin Pendleton (What’s Up, Doc?) and Colleen Camp (Apocalypse Now).

It’s hardly an exaggeration to proclaim that Star Wars is the Mount Everest of geekdom. Sure, there’s “Star Trek” (another franchise that J.J. Abrams has assumed control over), Lord of the Rings, the vast Marvel Comics universe, Hammer Films, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, … and, hey, some of us revere Darren McGavin as “Kolchak: The Night Stalker” – but Star Wars is at the top.

“No matter how people feel about Star Wars in the present tense, anyone who first experienced the original trilogy as a kid will almost always have a connection to the characters and the universe that George Lucas and Company created,” observes Joe Scott, Geeksboro’s chief creative officer (i.e. “Grand Moff”). “Even if there are people who maybe felt burned by the prequels, I can’t think of anyone who connected with Star Wars like I did who doesn’t feel at least a tinge of excitement.”

Scott well remembers his introduction:

“My first Star Wars experience was going to see Return of the Jedi in theaters when it came out in 1983. I was too young to really behave in a movie theater, but fortunately it was a week-day and the theater was empty save for me, my friends, and our parents. We goofed off under the screen and began playing around as if we were part of the adventure! I had not even seen Star Wars or The Empire Strikes Back, but the design of the characters and the courage, bravery, and sense of friendship they represented resonated with me all the same.

“I hope the new movie represents the redemption that the Star Wars brand so desperately needs,” he says. “There are kids growing up today who don’t know who Han Solo or Chewbacca is – I can’t accept the fact that I live in a world where this is true!” !

WANNA go?

The Star Wars: FANdemonium event blasts off 6 pm Sunday at Geeksboro Coffeehouse Cinema, 2134 Lawndale Drive, Greensboro. Tickets are $8 and can be ordered in advance from www. geeksboro.com/starwars. For more information, call 336.355.7180.

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