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Modern Film Fest premiers in Kannapolis

By Emily Ford
eford@salisburypost.com
KANNAPOLIS ó Last weekend’s Modern Film Fest could become a signature event for the city of Kannapolis.
“This might be the festival that we’ve been looking for,” City Manager Mike Legg said.
The three-day, 15-film festival held at the Gem Theatre near the N.C. Research Campus has the potential to run for years, Legg said.
Festival organizers sold about 800 tickets over the course of the weekend. The largest crowd, about 135 people, turned out for a Saturday night screening of a documentary about radio personality Garrison Keillor, the festival’s main event.
The second most popular movie was the original “Night of the Living Dead,” shown late Friday night.
Movie buff Tina Coble bought a weekend pass and saw almost every film.
The Kannapolis resident said one of her favorites was “Sons of Cuba,” a documentary set in the legendary Havana Boxing Academy.
The festival featured independent films, many of them documentaries, that organizers thought would appeal to a broad range of moviegoers.
Jake Seaton drove from Raleigh to attend the festival. It was his second visit to Kannapolis.
“I hope it will revitalize the culture in this area,” he said. “This is a great area. There is so much potential.”
Gem Theatre owner Steve Morris agreed to host the festival again next year, and several sponsors renewed their support, organizers said.
Actor Chi Pham, who plays the father in the film “All About Dad,” surprised festival organizers by flying in for the event.
“You never have a guest of honor at an inaugural film festival,” said Michael Knox, an Asheville filmmaker who thought up the event. “What a treat.”
Knox, a former Kannapolis resident, said “All About Dad” happened to be a favorite of the festival’s screening committee, so members were thrilled to meet Pham.
“So much of this stuff was serendipity,” Knox said.
Knox and his cohorts only started planning the festival in April.
“They did this in five months,” Legg said. “Think of what they can do in a year.”

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