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Also playing... Local boy makes good (film)

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Rochester native and screenwriter-director Steve Anderson returns Thursday, April 15, for a special local showing of his first film, The Big Empty, at the Little Theater. Anderson will answer questions following the 7 p.m. screening.

            The 42-year-old Anderson grew up in Pittsford and graduated from NazarethCollege. He moved to Los Angeles in 1989 and worked primarily for CNN. Previously, he was a WXXI-TV cameraman and he won a 1987 Peabody Award for his work on the documentary film Safe Haven.

            The Big Empty is an Artisan Entertainment film that stars Jon Favreau, Kelsey Grammer, Sean Bean, Daryl Hannah, Rachael Leigh Cook, and Joey Lauren Adams. Anderson wrote the screenplay in four weeks during 1999, and its quirkiness attracted the well-known cast.

            Favreau plays struggling Hollywood actor John Person. One day a strange neighbor asks him to deliver a locked blue suitcase to a man named Cowboy at a Baker, California, desert truck stop. Cowboy would pay Person $27,000. So Person accepts and receives a gun and a warning to guard the suitcase with the utmost care. Later, the strange neighbor turns up mysteriously decapitated. Grammer plays special agent Banks, who investigates the murder.

            Anderson says the $1.9 million film can't be easily categorized because it's part thriller, romance, mystery, action, and X-Files. It screened in Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and Spokane, Washington. He hoped it would go nationwide, but he says the studio had a difficult time marketing a film that represented such diverse genres.

            "I was thrilled that we did get a theatrical release," he says. "When I conceived this, it was as a smaller independent film made with friends. But we achieved something far beyond what I originally intended."

            The Big Empty just recently won the Sonoma Valley Film Festival Audience Award for best feature. It will be nationally released on DVD Thursday, April 20.

The Big Empty screens on Thursday, April 15, at 7 p.m. in Little 4 at the Little Theatre, 240 East Avenue. 258-0444. $7

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