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Beebe Film, Tribute to DeCample Will Open Arkansas Cinema Festival

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The Arkansas Cinema Society will open its annual festival, Filmland 2019, this week with a look at a couple of men of distinction.

A special premiere screening of “Men & Women of Distinction” is set for 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at Ron Robinson Theater in downtown Little Rock. The subject of that film, by the Arkansas Educational Telecommunications Network, is Mike Beebe, the Jackson County native who became the 45th governor of Arkansas.

But before the screening, Beebe and former staffers will pay tribute to Matt DeCample, the governor’s former spokesman, who died of a rare form of liver cancer March 3 in Little Rock. DeCample fought through his illness with a humorous mix of blogging, improvisational comedy and many close friendships, associates said.

“He was a music aficionado, a movie buff, a world of information,” Beebe said after DeCample’s death. “He was a diplomat, he was kind to each and every one, extremely witty, and he had more friends than anyone I know.”

DeCample appears in the film, directed by Kathryn Tucker, as Beebe reflects on his 32 years in public office, with observations from the former governor’s wife, Ginger, ex-chief of staff Morril Harriman, columnist John Brummett and Conway banker Johnny Allison. Colette Honorable, former chief of staff in Beebe’s attorney general’s office, also appears in the documentary.

On Thursday, the Filmland’s curated program will feature “Troop Zero,” the tale of a misfit girl in Georgia, at 6 p.m., also at the Robinson Theater. “Free Solo,” the documentary by Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin detailing climber Alex Honnold’s solo conquest of El Capitan in Yosemite National Park in June 2017, screens at 6:30 p.m. Friday.

A panel discussion at 11:30 a.m. Saturday will feature directors Jeff Nichols, the Little Rock native who made “Mud” and “Loving”; Andrew Stanton, who directed “Finding Nemo” and co-wrote “Toy Story 4”; and Joel Edgerton, the celebrated Australian actor who has starred in several of Nichols’ films and recently directed “Boy Erased.”

That movie will be Saturday’s curated screening, at 6 p.m. It tells the story of a Memphis teenager who comes out as gay to his mother, played by Nicole Kidman, and father, played by Russell Crowe. Crowe’s character, a Baptist preacher, puts the boy into gay conversion therapy. In addition to directing, Edgerton plays Victor Sykes, the chief therapist.

Saturday’s program will also feature “Arkansas Shorts” in two blocks, the first at 1:30 and the second at 3 p.m. Block 1 includes “Odd Happenings in a Tiny Tent” by Jesse Burks, “Shelter” by Daniel Hanna, “The Bench” by Bronson Crabtree, “Unos Huevos” by David C. Cruz, “Into the Green” by Mary McDade Casteel and “Mike the Birdman” by Paige Murphy. Block 2 will feature “Purple Monster” by Damon McKinnis and “Dragonslayer” by Mark Thiedeman.

Sunday’s program will screen “Toy Story 4” at 2:30 and “Stranger Things,” the Netflix hit horror series, at 6 p.m.

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