Film Festival Highlights First Weekend of UT’s James Agee Celebration

KNOXVILLE — The James Agee Centennial Celebration, a monthlong series of events marking the 100th birthday of the Knoxville native and Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist, screenwriter, journalist, author and poet, kicks off this weekend with the James Agee Film Festival, Friday, Oct. 23, through Sunday, Oct. 25.

The film series is presented by the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, College of Arts and Sciences, UT’s John C. Hodges Better English Fund, the Haines-Morris Endowment, the Knox County Public Library and the Tennessee Archive of Moving Image and Sound (TAMIS).

The first part of the film festival features movies that inspired Agee. The film “Easy Street” (1917), starring Charles Chaplin, will be shown at 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 23, at the East Tennessee History Center, 601 S. Gay St. Following the screening, independent scholar and author John Wranovics will discuss “The Political Side of Chaplin that Inspired Agee.” After the lecture, there will be a screening of the Chaplin film “Monsieur Verdoux” (1947). Friday night’s events are free and open to the public.

The film festival continues Saturday, Oct. 24, at The Square Room, 4 Market Square. From 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., the films and lectures will be free and open to the public. The topic will be “Screenplays by James Agee” and will feature discussions by Wranovics and Jeffrey Couchman, author of “‘The Night of the Hunter’: A Biography of a Film,” and screenings of the films “The Blue Hotel” (1956), “Genghis Khan” (1950), “The Quiet One” (1948) and “The African Queen” (1951).

Saturday evening at 8 p.m., David Auburn will lecture on “Agee Comes to Yellow Sky,” followed by a screening of “The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky” (1952), comments and a reading by Knoxville writer Jack Neely. Afterward, TAMIS will present “Agee: Lost and Found Footage,” followed by a screening of “In the Street” (1948), and Knoxville poet, musician and playwright R.B. Morris will discuss “Playing Agee” before reading “James Agee’s Last Letter,” a section of his play “The Man Who Lives Here is Loony.” Admission to the Saturday evening events is $5 per person.

On Sunday, Oct. 25, the film festival moves to the Bijou Theatre, 803 S. Gay St., where the topic will be documentaries about Agee. Author Ross Spears will lecture on “The Making of Agee” at 1 p.m., followed by a screening of “Agee: A Sovereign Prince of the English Language” (1980). TAMIS then will screen restored prints of local film trailers. Author Jeffrey Couchman will lecture on “Vision and Revision: James Agee and Charles Laughton Adapt ‘The Night of the Hunter,’” followed by a screening of “The Night of the Hunter” (1955) and a question-and-answer session with Couchman.

Admission to the Sunday events at the Bijou is $7 per person.

The James Agee Centennial Celebration continues through Sunday, Nov. 22.

Born on Nov. 27, 1909, in a home on Highland Avenue near James Agee Street, Agee spent the first seven years of his life in Knoxville before leaving town to attend boarding school. He returned to Knoxville for a year of high school and then left again, eventually graduating from Harvard University.

Agee went on to write for magazines such as Time, Life, Fortune and The Nation. He wrote the screenplays for the films “The African Queen” and “The Night of the Hunter,” and won a posthumous Pulitzer Prize for his book “A Death in the Family.”

For the full schedule of Agee Centennial events, visit http://web.utk.edu/~english/news/agee100.html.

C O N T A C T :

Michael Lofaro (865-974-4928, mlofaro@utk.edu)

Charles Primm (865-974-5180, primmc@utk.edu)

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