Before the film hits theaters nationwide next month, Augusta is rolling out the red carpet Thursday to premiere Deadline, starring Steve Talley and Academy Award nominee Eric Roberts.
Cast members, director Curt Hahn and author Mark Ethridge will be present for a question-and-answer session after the debuts at Regal Augusta Exchange Stadium 20. The Augusta Chronicle is host for the event.
Deadline is the true story of a Charlotte, N.C., investigative journalist who uncovers the murder of a young black boy, a case that had gone unsolved for nearly 20 years. The film is adapted from Ethridge’s novel Grievances, which was published in 2006.
The film will be released nationwide April 13, said Hahn, the founder and CEO of Film House, the largest film production company in Tennessee.
“It’s a wonderful story about how the very soul of this little town that had been torn apart for 20 years by this senseless murder is redeemed ... by the investigation by these two reporters who solve this murder mystery and bring the guilty parties to justice,” Hahn said.
Augusta is one of 45 cities where Deadline is being premiered. The director, writer and cast members are traveling from city to city to spread the word about the film. The premiere’s host is the major daily newspaper in each city because the hero of the story is an investigative reporter.
The film is based on Ethridge’s experiences. He worked as a reporter and editor for years, including serving as managing editor at The Charlotte Observer, where he played a key role in earning the newsroom’s two Pulitzer Prizes for public service.
A man visited the newsroom one day to speak to a reporter, which ended up being Ethridge, about an unsolved murder.
“The story lived with me...” Ethridge said. “One of the things that I really hope comes out of this movie, it’s very important for the public to understand what a vital role the free press plays in a free society. When the institutions of government fail to protect the citizens, it falls to the newspaper to have that role.”
Hahn and Ethridge met in boarding school and reconnected at their high school reunion five years ago. Ethridge had just published Grievances, and they decided to adapt the novel into a film. They started trying to raise private equity for the independent film in September 2008, around the time the nation entered the recession.
“We spent almost two years trying to raise the funding to make the movie without success,” Hahn said.
They didn’t want to give up, so Hahn decided to borrow the money and make the film himself. A CEO on the film studio’s board offered to invest half the money.
Later this year, Hahn will release his fourth film, Jubilee, the story of 10 young black students, all former slaves or children of slaves, who set out from Nashville on a singing tour to raise money to save their failing school, Fisk University.
Two weeks ago, Ethridge released his new novel, Fall Out, a story about a weekly newspaper and a doctor who save their community from an environmental threat.