This Friday, an award-winning documentary filmed in Peoria will screen at the Four Points by Sheraton Hotel downtown as part of this year’s World Championship Old-Time Piano Playing Contest celebration.
This spring The Entertainers, about a talented and unlikely group of ragtime piano players, won the Audience Award for Best Documentary at both the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Film Festival and the Wisconsin Film Festival, where it played to standing ovations and sold-out shows.
The film features six piano players from across the country (and Mexico) vying for the title of world’s best ragtime piano player at the World Championship Old-Time Piano Playing Contest, which takes place each year in Peoria. Heart-warming and often hilarious, the film shows how a librarian, a machine operator, a secretary, a computer programmer, an author, and a high schooler devote their lives to this incredible old-time music, which provides joy to the people around them and, for the players themselves, a small escape from the trials of their everyday lives.
“We just hope the film can do justice to the talent and heart of our stars and this beautiful city,” said Michael Zimmer, who lives in Los Angeles and produced and co-directed the film with Nick Holle, of Madison, Wis. Zimmer noted, “It’s exhilarating to watch them play and to see how passionate they are about this incredible music.”
“This music is so important to American musical history. Ragtime eventually led to jazz, but first it dominated American pop music for 20 years, then had numerous revivals. As time has passed many people have sort of forgotten it. But the stars of our movie – the people of this contest – are doing their best to make sure this music is never lost.”
The Entertainers will screen on May 25, 2012 at 8:00 p.m. at the Four Points by Sheraton Hotel in downtown Peoria. Free tickets to the contest screening are available at four Peoria-area locations: Sky Harbor Steak House in West Peoria; the Spirit of Peoria riverboat’s business office; Slim Clippins Barbershop in North Peoria, and Aqua-Tech pool supply in Morton. Seating is limited to about 500.
The film’s directors and all of its stars – Adam Swanson (Shenandoah, Ia.), Faye Ballard (Champaign, Ill.), Jim Boston (Omaha, Neb.), Bill Edwards (Ashburn, Va.), Four Arrows (Fortuna, Mexico), and Ethan Uslan (Charlotte, N.C.) — as well as much of the supporting cast will be on hand to introduce the screenings, play piano, and conduct an audience question and answer session after the show.
Every year over Memorial Day weekend in Peoria Illinois, the Old-Time Music Preservation Association (OMPA) stages the World Championship Old-Time Piano Playing Contest to educate people about old-time piano. Through the years, the contest has provided more than $50,000 in prize money to more than 500 piano players from across the United States and from five foreign countries. The film will precede the Contest, which takes place on Saturday, May 26, and Sunday, May 27.
For more information, visit the film’s official Web site at www.TheEntertainersMovie.com.