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SilverNotes: Building momentum

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Let’s be frank: Of the thousands of documentaries that get made each year, only a tiny percentage have even the slightest hope of getting distribution. One of the great things that a documentary festival like Silverdocs does is throw a spotlight on worthy features — pictures that deserve to be seen by as wide an audience as possible.

“Best Worst Movie” is one such feature, and over the last few months it has built up a huge amount of momentum. Festival appearances at venues like SXSW and Silverdocs, as well as items on movie blogs like /Film, have put this film on the radar of big time distributors like MGM, Oscilloscope, IFC, and Magnolia. I had a chance to sit down with director Michael Paul Stephenson and star George Hardy earlier today to discuss “Best Worst Movie” and how to capitalize on the success they’ve had on the festival circuit thus far.

“Best Worst Movie” is about the cult following that has sprung up around “Troll 2,” a legendarily awful horror film released in 1990. Messers Stephenson and Hardy were stars of “Troll 2” and came to realize the impact the movie has had on people; “Best Worst Movie” captures the devotion “Troll 2” has inspired and the all-too-human stories of the people involved in the project. But you don’t have to have seen “Troll 2” to truly understand this documentary.

“It’s more profound for people who have not seen ‘Troll 2,’” said Dr. Hardy (having abandoned the movie game years ago, he’s a dentist with a practice in Alexander City, Ala.). “The theatrical experience [of ‘Best Worst Movie’] is an unbelievable feeling. I mean, people were laughing. This has to be released.”

Simply getting the movie released isn’t enough for Mr. Stephenson; he’s weighing his offers in an attempt to find a distributor willing to do the movie justice. He envisions something of a roadshow experience, hitting towns that have previously hosted “Troll 2” celebrations and combining screenings of the documentary with screenings of the movie that inspired it all.

“It’s a personal and meaningful movie,” Mr. Stephenson said of his documentary, adding that he wants to make sure it “has the ability to reach the audience I know it can reach.” Anyone with an interest in cult films and good, personal stories should check out Saturday evening’s 8:15 p.m. screening.

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