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Watching and making movies, no time for standing still

by Mark Burger

Carolina Theatre

Back in January, I wrote a cover story on Greensboro’s ultimate marathon man, Charlie Engle, the “extreme runner” who trekked across the Sahara Desert in an effort to draw global attention to the needs of the indigenous population there. Engle’s remarkable feat, running some 4,500 miles in 111 days, joined by fellow extreme athletes Ray Zahab and Kevin Lin, is the subject of the eagerly anticipated documentary feature Running the Sahara. At long last, the film is ready for release, and area moviegoers will get the first chance to experience Running the Sahara for themselves, when it celebrates its Piedmont Triad premiere with a special screening 7:15 p.m. this Friday at the Carolina Theatre (310 S. Greene St., Greensboro). The film has an impressive pedigree: It is narrated by Oscar winner Matt Damon (also an executive producer) and directed by James Moll, whose debut documentary, The Last Days, won the 1998 Oscar for best feature documentary. The score is by Hans Zimmer (Oscar winner for the score of 1994’s The Lion King), with music by Bono, Wycliffe Jean, the African Children’s Choir and others. The film not only explores the grueling hardships faced by Engle and his fellow runners, but also the day-to-day hardships of the many people in that region (and throughout the world) who lack clean drinking water. Engle himself sits on the board of Water Partners International, a non-profit agency that works to bring clean drinking water to the corners of the world that need it… and, believe me, far too many do. Tickets are $15. VIP Tickets are $75. VIP ticketholders will enjoy a red-carpet reception (beginning at 6 p.m.) and a postscreening buffet and cocktail reception (beginning at 9:30 p.m.). All of the event’s net proceeds will benefit the H20 Africa Foundation’s Greensboro Wells Project. To order tickets, or for more information, call 336.333.2605 or see www.carolinatheatre.com.

And, for more information about Water Partners International — I think they’re entitled to a plug, don’t you? — see www.water.org. Something new at Triad Stage Triad Stage has the new 80-seat UpStage Cabaret on its third floor, and in addition to live shows, how better to maximize the space than by also using it to show movies? This new independent film program will open this Sunday with Alex Gibney’s documentary feature Gonzo. With the title like that, you can safely assume that it’s either about the late, great journalist Dr. Hunter S Thompson… or maybe the editor of the very publication you’re holding in your hands. As the film’s subtitle is The Life and Times of Dr Hunter S. Thompson, that point becomes rather moot. Besides, Brian Clarey doesn’t have the extensive arsenal of firearms that Thompson boasted. The final chapter on Thompson’s life wasn’t the happiest, considering he blew his brains out in 2005. But, somehow, it figured that he’d go out like that. Nevertheless, the lunacy and legacy of Thompson and his works live on, and this film explores both in equal measure. The film was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize at this year’s Sundance Film Festival and is making the rounds across the country. This is a rare opportunity to see the film in the region. Gonzo probably won’t be showing up in your neighborhood multiplex anytime soon. Director Gibney won an Academy Award this year for his documentary feature Taxi to the Dark Side, and earned his first Oscar nomination in 2006 for Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room. Gonzo is narrated by Johnny Depp, who played Thompson — brilliantly — in Terry Gilliam’s otherwise ugly

1997 adaptation of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, and among the very diverse folk who discuss Thompson’s career are former US President Jimmy Carter, musician Jimmy Buffett, Sonny Barger of the Hell’s Angels and even Pat Buchanan. Showtimes are 3 p.m. and 7 p.m.. Tickets are $8 and seating is limited. The movie is rated R (big surprise). This is only the first of what is hoped to be an entire series of film screenings at the UpStage Cabaret, tentatively scheduled for the first Sunday of each month. Triad Stage is located at 232 S. Elm St., Greensboro. For tickets or more information, call 336.272.0160 or see www. triadstage.org. RED Camera Boot Camp in High Point Okay, you’ve watched enough movies. Now, are you inspired to make one of your own, and thereby join the ever-growing contingent of filmmakers in the region? If so, you may want to check out the RED Camera Boot Camp, being held next Wednesday, Sept.10, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., at Leading Edge Studio, 2440 N. Main St. Suite 113, High Point. This one-day, all-day, intensive training course is designed to familiarize the filmmaker with the new Red One camera, including tips and techniques on how to make your movie the best it can be — whether it’s a documentary, a short film, a feature, a music video or even the backyard barbecue at Grandpa’s. You ought to see some of the stuff being filmed in the Piedmont Triad! I have… and it’s wild out there, folks. Registration is $25 (includes box lunch, drinks, snacks and all the information you can process). The deadline for registration is this Friday, and seating is limited. To register for the course, or for more information, call 336.794.3262 or e-mail robpowell@leadingedgevideo.com.

To comment on this story, e-mail Mark Burger at marksburger@yahoo.com.

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