Published: Jun 24, 2008 08:32 PM
Modified: Jun 24, 2008 08:32 PM
The presidential election is less than five months away, and Charleen Swansea figures it's about time to start practicing.
Not filling out a ballot, but exercising the parts of the brain that control discernment.
Hence the theme for her fourth annual American Summer Film Festival, which starts Saturday, June 28, at the Carrboro Century Center: "Are Our Politicians Heroes or Scoundrels?"
"Here we are going into an election, and we'd better start thinking about how to make those kinds of judgments," said Swansea, who has appeared in most of acclaimed filmmaker Ross McElwee's documentaries ("Sherman's March," "Bright Leaves"). "This is my favorite theme yet. It's going to be a fun summer."
The 2008 American Summer series will start Saturday, June 28, at 7 p.m. with a remastered print of "Pumping Iron," a 1977 documentary about competitive bodybuilding that focuses in large measure on Arnold Schwarzenegger, now the governor of California.
Before he became a movie star and a politician, Schwarzenegger was a five-time Mr. Olympia.
"That's a little like Tiger Woods," Swansea said. "In fact, he was a lot like Tiger Woods in the way he focused his mind and body on winning. He had the heart of a lion, and you see that in this movie."
You also see him engaging in activities including smoking what he says is marijuana and telling a story that he later acknowledges was not true.
"Does that change the way you feel about him?" Swansea said. "We feel all this inspiration when we see how brave, how strong, how smart, how gifted he is. Then we see this different side of him.
"So my question after the movie is simply going to be, 'What do you think?' My experence in Chapel Hill and Carrboro is that everybody thinks something. Everybody has an opinion, and I want people to share their thoughts."
The series will continue on July 26 with a double feature: "Feed" and "Founding Fathers."
"Feed," by Kevin Rafferty, presents candid behind-the-scenes footage of candidates on the campaign trail when they didn't know the cameras were running. "Founding Fathers," a History Channel film, features Hal Holbrook portraying Benjamin Franklin.
The final installment, on Aug. 23, will be another double feature: excerpts from the classic "Citizen Kane" and a documentary called "Hearst Castle: Building the Dream."
"Kane," of course, features Orson Welles as a newspaper tycoon loosely based on William Randolph Hearst. "Hearst Castle" follows Hearst's building of the castle in San Simeon, Calif.
Admission is $4, $2 for children under 12 and seniors. Popcorn and soda are free.
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