Jack Garner: Batavia writer who penned Civil War-era movie script to speak here
12:30 PM, Jun 26, 2013
The creator of the two first-rate Civil War historical dramas Gettysburg and Gods and Generals, is back with another, more unusual drama about the War Between the States: Ronald F. Maxwell’s new film is Copperhead.
The movie, which opens Friday, has a script by noted Batavia writer and historian Bill Kauffman, who adapted a book by Harold Frederic. Kauffman will appear at the Pittsford Cinema at 6 p.m. Sunday to discuss the film. You can hear him after the 4 p.m. screening or before the 6:40 p.m. screening.
Copperhead tells a lesser known yet engrossing story of families in rural upstate New York who become divided as they’re increasingly drawn into the war. Most believe in President Lincoln, and in the need to support the Union by sending young men into battle. However, a few oppose the war vehemently the pacifists of their age and are called “Copperheads” (as in snakes) by their neighbors.
The story will resonate with folks who recall the opposition to the Vietnam War, and for those all too aware of the blue-state, red-state adversity in today’s political arena. Billy Campbell (of The Rocketeer and Killing Lincoln) plays Abner Beech, a farmer who opposes the war and favors appeasement with the South. The conflict heats up when his son enlists in the Northern army. His co-stars include François Arnaud, Lucy Boynton, Casey Thomas Brown, and, in a small cameo, Peter Fonda.
Though set in an unnamed upstate New York community, Copperhead was filmed in King’s Landing, New Brunswick, Canada, from May to June 2012.
Kauffman is the author of nine books, mostly political in nature, reflecting his complex beliefs as a lifelong Democrat with strong libertarian and culturally conservative views. His works include Bye, Bye Miss American Empire;
Forgotten Founder, Drunken Prophet (about anti-Federalist Luther Martin); and Ain’t My America The Long, Noble History of Antiwar Conservatism and Middle-American Anti-Imperialism.
Kauffman, who clearly favors long book titles, also wrote Dispatches from the Muckdog Gazette: A Mostly Affectionate Account of a Small Town’s Fight to Survive, a social and cultural history of his hometown of Batavia. It was awarded the 2003 Sense of Place Award from Rochester’s Writers & Books.
Bury My Heart with Tonawanda, a movie written by local filmmaker Adrian Esposito and directed by Gary Sundown, will have a free screening at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Memorial Art Gallery. It will be followed by a Q&A with Esposito and others involved in the film.
The movie tells of a developmentally disabled boy who is shunned by 19th century white society, but finds acceptance among the Tonawanda Seneca Nation. Sundown is a Seneca actor and director, and Seneca actors play many of the roles.
MORE JAZZ FEST PICKS. As the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival moves into its last three days, I offer a few more recommendations. Of course, I’m excited to be going to the homecoming tonight of world-class drummer (and Rochester native) Steve Gadd, with David Sanborn and Bob James. I’m thrilled for Steve and for the festival that the show is sold out, but I’m sorry for you if you don’t have a ticket.
Otherwise, on my radar through the weekend are:
The Ravi Coltrane Quartet, performing Thursday, featuring a talented and resourceful saxophonist who has more than overcome the challenge of being the son of one of the most legendary and memorable of all saxophonists.
Gregory Porter, a superb, original and thoroughly enjoyable vocalist who is on his way to the top of the jazz vocalists pantheon. Porter performs Friday. Another guy who is already there, Kurt Elling, closes the fest Saturday.
Two fine pianists, Hilario Durán and Cyrus Chestnut, in separate performances Friday Durán heading a trio, and Chestnut as part of the Hatch Hall solo piano series. And a third keyboard master, Monty Alexander, closing out the free street concert series on Saturday.
The Mario Romano Quartet, performing Saturday, is a fine Toronto foursome that spotlights Mount Morris native Pat LaBarbara on sax.
LOCAL PLAYERS KEY. Though I’ve always known Rochester as a great jazz community, the 12th edition of jazz fest has reminded me how blessed we are here with excellent piano players.
I realize there is sometimes a school of thought that jazz fest attendees should sometimes skip familiar local names in order to search out visiting artists who aren’t as easy to see with any regularity. However, I would hate to have missed the thoughtful and richly harmonic sets of great music performed on solo piano by Bill Dobbins, Paul Hofmann and Harold Danko.
And at least two other Rochester keyboard mainstays, Gap Mangione and John Nyerges, offered performances in ensemble formats.
I’m not sure any other town of Rochester’s size could offer such quality on the piano.