Office of University Communications & Marketing

UNA Screens Award-Winning GUEST HOUSE, Welcomes Director and Star for 17th Annual Lindsey Festivities

Feb. 28, 2014

Guest HouseBy Terry Pace, Communications and Marketing

FLORENCE, Ala. – The 2014 George Lindsey/UNA Film Festival will introduce regional audiences to a critically acclaimed independent film through a special out-of-competition screening at this year’s 17th annual festivities.

Based on the true-life experiences of director Aaron Wolf, the award-winning 27-minute film Guest House will be presented at 7:30 p.m. Friday, March 7, in Room 131 of the Communications Building on the UNA campus. Admission is free.

“For the most part, the films the festival screens have always been in competition for prizes,” according to Dr. Cynthia Burkhead, a UNA assistant professor of English who chairs the annual festival. “This year we wanted to offer the competing filmmakers and our audiences the opportunity to relax and enjoy a film that has already had its success at film festivals.”

The 2014 Lindsey event – which opens Thursday, March 6, and continues through Saturday, March 8 – will screen and showcase 18 professional, student and young filmmaker works and present table readings of two winners in the annual competition for short and feature screenplays. Other events include panel discussions, workshops, a gala awards show and question-and-answer sessions with visiting filmmakers.

Guest House director Aaron Wolf and star Mark Gessner will be in attendance and will participate in a Q&A after the screening,” Burkhead explained. “It is a real bonus that the director and lead actor will be on hand to talk about the film.”

Guest House recounts the story of young, middle-class suburbanite Lance Wesley (played by Mark Gessner of God of Love, The Big C and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit) who loses both his job and his fiancé. Moving into his parents’ guest house, Lance receives unexpected consolation from the suddenly animated relics of his childhood. 

Wolf’s short film – which features such well-known actors as Michael Gross (Family Ties, Tremors, Call Me Fitz) and Heather Lind (A Single Shot, Half the Perfect World, Boardwalk Empire) – earned the Grand Jury Award at the 2013 Nevada Film Festival and the Award of Excellence at the 2013 New York Los Angeles International Film Festival. Guest House was named the Audience Choice winner at the 2013 Hampton Film Festival and has been screened at other top film festivals across the country.

“Aaron Wolf approached me out of the blue and said, ‘I want you to read this script and consider playing the father,’ ” Gross explained in a 2013 television interview. “To be honest with you, there is so much terrible material out there that I wasn’t too excited. But it was a short film, so I thought, ‘Oh, well, the read won’t be too bad.’ So I read it and rather liked it. It’s a nice little piece, and I thought it was a wonderful shape for a short film. This young director, Aaron Wolf, is a fine young man and a good director and shows a lot of promise.”

The George Lindsey/UNA Film Festival was founded in 1998 by UNA alumnus George Lindsey (1928-2012), whose long and versatile career in the entertainment industry included Broadway musicals, feature films, prime-time television and stand-up comedy. Lindsey earned lasting fame and audience adoration for his signature role as goofy, good-natured garage mechanic Goober Pyle on the beloved television 1960s-era sitcom The Andy Griffith Show and its spinoff, Mayberry R.F.D. 

Previous Lindsey festivals have featured special guests ranging from Oscar winners Billy Bob Thornton (Sling Blade, Jayne Mansfield’s Car, Monster’s Ball) and Ernest Borgnine (Marty, The Wild Bunch, The Dirty Dozen) to actors Lee Majors (The Big Valley, The Six-Million-Dollar Man, The Fall Guy), Lucas Black (Sling Blade, Crazy in Alabama, 42), Michael Rooker (Henry – Portrait of a Serial Killer, The Walking Dead, Slither) and cast members from the Back to the Future sci-fi movie franchise.

For more information on the 2014 George Lindsey/UNA Film Festival, call the festival office at 256-765-4592, e-mail or visit

A high-resolution image from Guest House is available for media use on the UNA Gallery at: