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Capers and Crooks:

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The 11th annual Cape Fear Independent Film Festival kicks off this week at multi-venues in Wilmington. An excellent showcase of independent cinema, there is a vast selection this year available for many a viewing pleasure at The Browncoat Pub and Theatre, 16 Taps, and Live on Grace. One of the more engaging selections comes in the form of “The Red Machine,” a caper adventure set in 1935 Washington D.C., at the height of the Great Depression.

The movie follows a cool-as-ice Navy spy (Lee Perkins) who is ordered to work with a professional thief (Donal Thoms-Cappello) to pull off the heist of a lifetime. The Japanese military has changed its encryption codes, with potentially devastating results for the U.S., and a prominent Japanese diplomat holds the key to his country’s secrets in the form of a mysterious machine. As the spy and thief work together to get a glimpse of the machine, they find more to the job than they bargained for—things get very personal.

encore had an opportunity to talk with co-director Stephanie Argy about the film and its showing at the CFIFF on April 30th at 4 p.m.

e: Tell us the challenges you faced doing a period piece. Was it your first?
SA: ‘The Red Machine’ was our first narrative feature as writer/directors, but it wasn’t our first period piece. In fact, most of the movies we’ve made have been period pieces—the stories we fall in love with generally happen to be set in other times. The biggest challenge—and one that people may not think about—was finding actors who seemed believably period. People in the past had different facial structures, different physiques, and, most importantly, they spoke and behaved in a different way. We’d gone through the process of finding period-style actors before, especially on our short film “Gandhi at the Bat,” where we had to find actors who could play Hall of Fame baseball players of the 1930s —and we used many of those same actors again for “The Red Machine.”

e: When you were reading the script, a scene or a character, what jumped out and made you say, “I have to make this movie”?
SA: The thing that really made us want to make it were the actors—in particular Lee Perkins, who stars as the spy, and Donal Thoms-Cappello, who stars as the thief. We’d had the basic “Red Machine” story floating around in our imaginations for a while; then, when we made our short film, “Gandhi at the Bat,” we met those two, and, suddenly, it was as though a spotlight turned on for “The Red Machine.” We knew Lee was our spy and Donal was our thief, and we had to make the movie right then.

e: The film’s been touring a number of festivals. What’s the audience response been like?
SA: It’s been an amazing! We’ve played all over the U.S., and even in Scotland and India, and it’s an incredible experience to watch people from such different places connect to the movie. We draw a very smart audience, and they seem to appreciate a movie that asks them to pay attention and solve a puzzle. At our Q&As, they ask really sophisticated questions, and we feel really honored to meet them.

e: What kind of films inspired the movie?
SA: There are so many and such a wide range—we could sit down for a long, long coffee with you over this one! Capers and adventures are big favorites of ours, especially movies with a twist, like “The Sting.” We’re big fans of the Coen Brothers, so it’s been a compliment that people have compared our work to theirs—mainly the tone and the characters. We love movies from the 1930s and 1940s, film noir, like “The Maltese Falcon,” screwball comedies, like “His Girl Friday” and “The Lady Eve.” Looking even earlier in cinema history, the comedies of Buster Keaton have been a big influence—and that surfaces especially in Donal’s performance as the thief.

e: What’s next?
SA: We have a good one: It’s another caper adventure, this time set in the mid 1800s. It’s about a group of private detectives who do work for the railroads and the telegraph companies. Then, when the Civil War breaks out, they suddenly find they must learn to be spies.


Thursday, April 28th: Regional Showcase—Great short films from the Cape fear area and nearby.
• 16 Taps 7 p.m. – 9 p.m.

“Retriever” by Barrett DeLong
“Firearm” by Tim Boissey/Jon Ripley
“The Reliever” by Marcus Mizelle
“I F *#! with My Voice” by Evan Rothman
“Superhero” by Langley McArol
“Narc Squad” by Justin Soponis/Troy Carlton
“Rag & Bone” by Dan Burke
“House Hunting” by Angela Kennedy
“Mustang Psycho” by LeAnn Cheri
“Routine Process” by Jonathan Latona

Friday, April 29th: Invitational Feature
• Browncoat Theatre, 7 p.m. – 9 p.m.

“Choose” directed by Marcus Graves, plus the short film, “The Gritters.”

• Live on Grace, 9 p.m. – midnight

“Stonehenge” Kickoff Party

Friday, April 29th: Invitational Feature
• 16 Taps, 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Brain Hammer (short films)
“Truck Farm” by Ian Cheney
“Crab Feast or Famine” by Kat Moon
“Letters from Latta Plantation” by Glen Cashetta
“The Last Gift” by Marcus Mizelle
“The Note” by Chris Staehler
“Les Epouvantails (The Scarecrows)” by Berin Tuzlic

• Browncoat Theatre, noon – 2 p.m.

Listen to the Flower People (short films)
“The Plant” by Jennifer Oxley
“Stuck” by Teresa Dowell-Vest
“Man from the Dying Planet” by Taryn Kosviner
“Jaybird” by Javier Vivas
“Dooley 218” by William Lilly
“Chance of Showers” by David Spiegelman
“Carolina, I Love You” by Peyton Lea

• 16 Taps, 1 p.m. – 3 p.m.
Working Actors Panel Discussion, featuring Danielle Panabaker, Tammy Arnold, Jerry Winsett, Cindy Hogan, Lou Criscuolo, David Topp

• Browncoat Theatre, 2 p.m. – 4 p.m.
Intravenus DeMilo (short films)

“Anna” by Bud Dowdey
“Patrick” by David Rabinowitz
“Scraps” by Danny Safady
“The Relief Keeper” by Daniel Falicki
“The Life Smugglers” by David Wells
“I F *#! with My Voice” by Evan Rothman

• 16 Taps 3 p.m. – 5 p.m.
Business Of Film Panel, featuring Pete Wilkie, Heath Franklin, David O’Donnell, Andie Redwine

• Browncoat Theatre, 4 p.m. – 6 p.m.

“The Red Machine,” plus short film, “The Cask of Amantillado,” by Thad Ciechanowski

• 16 Taps 5 p.m. – 7 p.m.

“Flying By” by Jim Amatulli plus short film “Lucky Charm” by Heather Ostrove

• Browncoat Theatre, 6 p.m. – 8 p.m.
Shark Sandwich (short films)

“Instant Message” by William Lilly
“Friday Night Tights” by Joonki Park
“I.M. 2” by William Lilly
“The Gospel According to Booze, Bullets and Hot Pink Jesus, Act 1: The Missionary Man,” by Jayson Buterin
“Le Diable Aime La Fourrure,” by Karen Labbe
“Superhero” by Langley McArol
“Mixed Assumptions” by Michael Devereaux

• Browncoat Theatre, 8 p.m. – 10 p.m.

“La Soga” by Josh Crook plus short film “Saving Face,” by Peter Iengo

• 16 Taps 7 p.m. – 9 p.m.

“Malayaka House,” by Jesse Bradley and Jackie Harlow, plus short film “Bright” by Benjamin Busch

• Browncoat Theatre, 10 p.m. – 2 a.m.
Saucy Jack (Horror shorts)

“What Lurks Beyond 1 & 2” by David Kelly
“Alistair” by Aaron Cartwright
“Flush with Fear” by Christopher G. Moore
“Banks of the Vitava” by Dan A. R. Kelly
“The Suicide Tapes” by Billy Senese
“The Gritters” by Nina Voltaire
“An Evening with My Comatose Mother” by Jonathan Martin

Sunday, May 1st
• Browncoat Theatre, noon – 2 p.m.

“Paradise Recovered” by Storme Wood plus short film “Summer Knows” by Jan Seemann

• 16 Taps, 1 p.m. – 3 p.m.
“Der Sandmann” by Peter Luisi, plus short film “Extincion II” by Fernando Uson Fornie
Browncoat Theatre, 2 p.m. – 4 p.m.

Faith & Family Block

“Sea of Trees (Death 2 Suicide)” by Chad Daniel
“The Music Box” by Jennifer & NIcholas Oxley
“Maggie Tales” by Linda Warden
“The Rusty Bucket Kids” by Kevin McDermott
“Knowing” by Tim Vogel

• 16 Taps, 3 p.m. – 5 p.m.
Stage Fighting Demonstration with Scott Nice

Browncoat Theatre, 4:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.

“Nathan Davis Still Lives” by Dean Garris, plus short film) “Come Sit Stay” by Jody Oberfelder

• 16 Taps, 7 p.m. – 9 p.m.: Awards Ceremony

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Encore Magazine regularly covers topics pertaining to news, arts, entertainment, food, and city life in Wilmington. It also maintains schedules and listings of local events like concerts, festivals, live performance art and think-tank events. Encore Magazine is an entity of H&P Media, which also powers Wilmington’s local ticketing platform, Print and online editions are updated every Wednesday.

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