Pale Male soars into a/perture theatre, Eyeborgs makes its broadcast debut on syfy

by Mark Burger

The a/perture cinemas (311 W. 4 th St., Winston-Salem) has been doing boffo business with The King’s Speech, Black Swan and now 127 Hours, but there’s always room for even the smallest independent offering.

The Legend of Pale Male (***) marks the directorial debut of Belgian-born Frederic Lilien, who came to New York City uncertain what he wanted to do with his life. What he found was “Pale Male,” the red-tail hawk that had decided to make his nest outside a Fifth Avenue penthouse overlooking Central Park in New York City.

A fervent contingent of photographers, bird watchers and other locals would spend its days observing the bird and documenting his every move. Pale Male even became something of a tourist attraction.

Lilien first made a video documentary in 2002, titled simply Pale Male, and that seemed to be the end of the story. But it wasn’t.

Pale Male had amassed a following of fans throughout New York City, and their passion was proved when the owners of the apartment building decided to get rid of his nest, which had been in place for the better part of 20 years. All of a sudden, without warning, Pale Male was homeless!

It was time for Lilien to take up his camera once more, documenting the efforts of those who wanted Pale Male’s nest returned and restored — and made their feelings known in no uncertain terms.

Nevertheless, there’s a happy ending to the story, as audiences will see for themselves.

Showtimes are 8 p.m. Sunday and Monday (Feb. 6 and 7). Tickets are $10, with $1 going to the Forsyth County chapter of the Audubon Society. For tickets or more information, call 336.722.8148.

For a complete schedule of screenings and events, including regular updates, you can also visit the official a/perture cinemas website: Eyeborgs, the sci-fi action blowout about killer robots on the rampage in Winston- Salem, will make its broadcast debut on Syfy (formerly the Sci-Fi Channel) Saturday, Feb. 12.

The film, which stars Adrian Paul, Luke Eberl, Megan Blake, Danny Trejo and John S. Rushton, was very much a homegrown project, as it was conceived, produced and edited entirely in and around Winston- Salem.

Set in the near future, following a second terrorist attack on US soil, the film details the efforts of a Department of Homeland Security agent (Paul, best known as TV’s “Highlander”) to uncover some startling truths about the hi-tech surveillance robots (those would be the “Eyeborgs” of the title) utilized by the government to ferret out undesirable elements. In doing so, he puts not only his career, but his life, in jeopardy. These robots are on the rampage, and they don’t take prisoners.

Eyeborgs was directed by Richard Clabaugh, formerly a full-time faculty member at the School of Filmmaking at the UNC School of the Arts in Winston-Salem. In addition to co-starring as Paul’s DHS partner, Rushton was also one of the project’s producers. The film marked the feature debut of Crimson Wolf Productions, based in Lewisville and founded by Clabaugh, his wife Fran, and Rushton.

“We’ve always felt [Eyeborgs] was an excellent film for today’s technologically advanced audience,” said Rushton in an exclusive interview with YES! Weekly. “SyFy certainly plays to that demographic, so we have always targeted that channel and that market since the very beginning of the project. Since we more or less expanded the film to be more theatrically-slanted as the project grew, we definitely feel it holds up against even the best cable programming, especially where special effects are concerned.”

Although Clabaugh has considerable experience in the sci-fi and horror as both a cinematographer (The Prophecy, Phantoms, two of the Children of the Corn shockers) and director (he made his directorial debut with the Syfy favorite Python), Eyeborgs marks Rushton’s debut in the genre.

“Python has been one of the more successful offerings on the channel,” he noted, adding: “Hopefully, there will be John S. Rushton fan clubs popping up internationally the day after Eyeborgs airs!” Fan clubs notwithstanding, if the film earns good ratings, it’s entirely possible that the Eyeborgs will be on the prowl once more.

“We’ve obviously had a lot of interest in Eyeborgs II and an ‘Eyeborgs’ series,” Rushton said. “In fact, SyFy has an option for a series if the numbers look good, so please encourage everyone you know to tune in!” Rushton, who is also the founder and artistic director of the West Side Civic Theatre in Lewisville, looks back on his producing debut with great fondness and nostalgia, especially “the incredible experience of doing a film of its scope right here in our own backyard. I still have people view the film and not believe it’s really Winston-Salem. I think they are shocked that it looks so grand and big! I can say, without reservation, that no film has ever made Winston-Salem look so good.

“Lastly, we beat literally every odd in making this film,” he said. “In the end, even battered and bruised, it’s a pleasure to know that we pulled it off, and that it’s doing so well.”

Let’s see: I have written about Eyeborgs during pre-production. I wrote about it during production (few can ever forget the YES!

Weekly cover story in the Summer of ’07). I wrote about it in post-production. I wrote about it when Image Entertainment released it on DVD and Blu-ray last July. (You can even download it from Netflix.)

I’m even in the film — although, fortunately, not for very long. This, then, ought to close the book on Eyeborgs, at least so far as I’m concerned.

Until the sequel, of course….

For more information about Eyeborgs, you can visit the official website of Crimson Wolf Productions: