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Film shot here nets festival accolades.

Byline: Lewis Taylor The Register-Guard

It's been nearly two years since filming wrapped up on "The Sisters," the $5.5 million drama shot in Eugene, and although the movie has yet to be released in theaters, it's already generating buzz and picking up awards at film festivals across the country.

"I always believed in it, but I think maybe some of the awards and expectations (we had) have come a little bit faster than we expected," executive producer Carolyn Chambers said.

Due to be released in April, "The Sisters" has played at the Hollywood Film Festival, the Austin Film Festival, the Cleveland International Film Festival and the Tribeca Film Festival. It won the Milagro Award at the Santa Fe Film Festival and was named Best Feature at the Sedona Film Festival, where it also won the Audience Choice Award. Arclight Films picked up the movie for worldwide distribution in February and plans to release it on April 14 in New York City. Eugene audiences should get a showing of their own in May, said Jim Callahan director of accounting services for Chambers Communications.

Directed by Arthur Allan Seidelman, "The Sisters" is inspired by the Anton Chekhov play, "The Three Sisters." The film stars Mary Stuart Masterson, Erika Christensen and Maria Bello with the support of Elizabeth Banks, Steven Culp, Eric McDormac, Allesandro Nevollo, Chris O'Donnell, Rip Torn and others. Two dozen local extras were used for the film, which was shot on the University of Oregon campus and at other locations in and around Eugene.

Although "The Sisters" is set in New York's Upper East Side and Charleston, S.C., cameo appearances are made by Villard Hall at the University of Oregon, Sacred Heart Medical Center and a stretch of downtown Eugene.

Chambers said she hoped to help put Eugene on the map as a viable shooting and production location. She is in negotiations on two other projects that could end up shooting in Oregon.

"I didn't want to shoot it if we didn't do it in Eugene," Chambers said.

Chambers first teamed up with Seidelman on the Broadway production, "Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks" and later on the big screen production "Puerto Vallarta." That film, which stars Scott Glenn and Harvey Keitel, is also due out this spring.

Chambers said the most difficult challenge in producing "The Sisters" was overcoming a labor strike that marred the final days of shooting. The strike ensued when Chambers Communications refused to sign a union contract with the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees. Replacement workers were brought in after 65 crew members walked out.

Depending on how "The Sisters" fares at the box office and on DVD, the movie could prop up Oregon's burgeoning film industry," says Susan Haley marketing manager for the Oregon Film & Video Office.

"It's always great when you have a high impact successful film shoot in your state," Haley said. "The double bonus on something like "The Sisters" is that it's produced locally (which) not only tells the audience that it's a great place to shoot the film but it tells people that it's a great (place to produce a film)."

The last major movie to be shot in Eugene was "Stealing Time," by UO graduate Michael Garrity. Prior to that, the 1995 movie "Without Limits" was filmed here. The 1978 comedy "Animal House" is still a calling card for the region.

"Films have an economic impact and there's also a residual tourism impact," Haley said. "When a film is successful when there are many people seeing it, it generates interest in visiting the area where the film was made."

CAPTION(S):

Actor-paramedics respond when an actor stages a fall in a scene in front of Villard Hall. In an earlier scene, O'Donnell's character suffers a serious neck injury in a fall in front of Villard Hall. In this scene, the paramedics cart him off to the waiting ambulance with his love interest, played by Christensen, at his side.
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Title Annotation:Entertainment; "The Sisters," produced by Chambers, is due for release and may spur other projects
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Mar 24, 2006
Words:662
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