FILM FESTIVAL TO WELCOME OSCAR WINNER BILLY BOB THORNTON
Jan. 30, 2008
FLORENCE, Ala. – Academy Award winner Billy Bob Thornton – an Arkansas native who rose to fame and critical acclaim with the offbeat Southern drama “Sling Blade” – will be the special guest for the 2008 George Lindsey UNA Film Festival.
The 11th annual festivities will take place March 6-9 at the University of North Alabama and across the surrounding Shoals’ area.
“Billy Bob Thornton is an incredible talent and a giant in the entertainment industry. This is an exciting opportunity and a milestone in terms of the quality and growth of our film festival, said festival founder and UNA graduate Lindsey, who became a household name through his classic role as goofy, good-natured garage mechanic Goober Pyle on television’s 1960s sitcom “The Andy Griffith Show.”
Thornton – who calls himself “the world’s biggest fan” of “The Andy Griffith Show” and its colorful Mayberry characters – is scheduled to appear at the Lindsey Festival March 7.
Highlights of his UNA visit will include a retrospective tribute to his career and a celebration of his Oscar-winning work on “Sling Blade.”
“I’m honored to be a part of the George Lindsey Film Festival at UNA, and I look forward to seeing everyone there,” Thornton said. “I’m such a big fan of George.”
In addition to his award-winning work as a screen actor, director and writer, Thornton is a seasoned musician whose latest album, “Beautiful Door,” was released last summer.
When he was 17, Thornton and his band traveled from Arkansas to Alabama to record their first album at Widget Sound, one of the fabled Muscle Shoals studios.
He was invited to attend UNA’s film festival by his close friend and frequent songwriting partner Donnie Fritts, a Muscle Shoals songwriting legend and longtime Lindsey Festival favorite.
“I look forward to the festival every year because I love George and I love movies,” Fritts said. Fritts has also appeared as a colorful character actor in films ranging from the Sam Peckinpah classics “Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid” and “Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia” to “A Star is Born” and the music-industry mockumentary “The Life and Hard Times of Guy Terrifico.”
“This year, the festival is going to be extra special because my good friend Billy Bob has agreed to attend,” Fritts added. “When I first asked him about it, as soon as he heard George Lindsey’s name, he automatically said, ‘Yes, I definitely want to do it.’”
Thornton is scheduled to participate in a question-and-answer session covering his career at 2 p.m. March 7 in the Performance Center at UNA’s Guillot University Center. The program will be moderated by Terry Pace, who teaches English at UNA and has written extensively on film history and the Muscle Shoals music industry.
At 7 p.m., the Festival moves to the historic Shoals theater in downtown Florence, where Pace will host a salute to “Sling Blade,” the groundbreaking film that earned Thornton an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay. Immediately afterward, Thornton will join Fritts and the Muscle Shoals rock-and-soul band The Decoys for an all-star jam session on the Shoals Theater stage.
“Billy Bob is such an ideal fit for this festival,” Pace said. “In addition to his admiration for George, his friendship with Donnie and his history with Muscle Shoals music, Billy Bob has worked closely with one of our area’s homegrown screen actors, Lucas Black, on ‘Sling Blade,’ ‘All the Pretty Horses’ and ‘Friday Night Lights.’ He also worked with another multi-talented and equally popular character actor from this region, the late Michael Jeter.”
In 2000, Thornton narrated “Sam Phillips: The Man Who Invented Rock ’n’ Roll,” an episode of the A&E series “Biography” that was filmed on location in the Muscle Shoals area and Memphis, Tenn. The two-hour documentary honored the musical legacy of Sun Records founder Phillips, a rock ’n’ roll revolutionary who remains one of Thornton’s musical heroes.
“Billy Bob has such deep roots in the South, but he seems to share an especially close kinship with the movie and music talent from this part of Alabama,” Pace remarked. “This is like a big Muscle Shoals homecoming for Billy Bob, and he’s excited about being here and joining the celebration. He’s definitely one of us.”
For more information on the 2008 George Lindsey UNA Film Festival, visit http://www.lindseyfilmfest.com or call 256-765-4592. For details on Thornton’s scheduled appearances, contact Pace at 256-366-4512 or email@example.com.