I drove 210 miles Saturday to attend the second annual Jean Seberg International Film Festival. Boy, am I glad I did.
The festival was wonderful, from the symposiums and exhibits to the films and vintage television interviews. I particularly enjoyed the bus tour through Marshalltown to see the schools and homes and other locations once frequented by your hometown actress.
I've never seen anything quite like the remodeled and repurposed Orpheum Theater Center. Its existence proves how strongly Marshalltown and surrounding communities are committed to the theatrical and cinematic arts. You are to be congratulated.
My interest in the film festival comes from my interest in one of Jean Seberg's "Saint Joan" co-stars, Richard Widmark, who performed in more than 60 Hollywood movies from 1947 to 1991. I live near Widmark's hometown of Princeton, Ill., and have gotten involved in a project to encourage Princeton residents to rediscover Richard Widmark. With the 100th anniversary of Widmark's birthday approaching in 2014, the time is right for Princeton to create something similar to Marshalltown's salute to Seberg, hence my "scouting trip" to your community.
Along with an interesting, entertaining festival, I found something else during my trip: Marshalltown's hospitality. Pip Gordon, Orpheum Theater Center director, was generous with her time and suggestions. As the bus tour guide, Jeannine Heng was very accommodating as she brought the Jean Seberg story to life with her vivid stories and descriptions. And a special thanks to the Orpheum usher who suggested I try the Maid-Rite diner for lunch; best chocolate malt I've had in years!
The Jean Seberg film festival is something special. I hope it keeps going for years to come.