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Thursday, October 12, 2006


Minnesota-born screenwriter Brent Boyd will be the featured guest of the Screenwriters' Workshop in Minneapolis on October 28th while his film AURORA BOREALIS is being rolled out, city by city, across the country during the months of October and November.

AURORA BOREALIS main character Duncan, played by TV-star and teen heart-throb Joshua Jackson (Dawson's Creek) is a Minneapolis-slacker who moves from one job to the next, not due to economic hard times but more out of disrespect for authority. Duncan job problems are because of his attitude-itch.

Gradually, we learn Duncan's history and watch his indifferent exterior melt away under sway of healthcare professional Kate, played by Juliette Lewis, but moreso due to a growing bond with his grandfather Ronald played by Donald Sutherland. Duncan is stuck in Minnesota and Kate challenges him to go somewhere else in order to appreciate why Minnesota is a nice place to live.

A romantic comedy hangs in the wings while the true center of the film is the relationship between Ronald, struggling with end-of-life dehabilitating issues and Duncan who is trying to find meaning in his emotionally desolate life.

Larger themes are the autobiographical core of AURORA BOREALIS and Boyd acknowledge everybody asks if Duncan's story is his Minnesota story. The only scene Boyd will admit to being "real-life" is the end-second act Mall of America bathroom scene between Duncan and Ronald and the one that seems to stands out with viewers and movie critics. But it isn't the emotional apex of the movie which arrives later in the third-act.

How does such a particular a Minnesota film get sold in Hollywood and how do inside Minnesota jokes play to audiences around the country? Boyd doesn't have a simple or direct answer to the first question, however, he believes the more specific and detailed you make a film about its time and place the more universal its story becomes.

MPR calls AURORA BOREALIS Boyd's love letter to Minnesota. Star Tribune chief film critic Jeff Strickler [as I also speculated in this blog before Strictler wrote his review] says the real attention for Boyd's film will come when Sutherland is nominated for an Oscar for his performance as Ronald Shorter. Still, I believe Regent Releasing is way out of its league in the Oscar race and I doubt they can draw enough attention to this film.

Boyd described how when the film screened in festivals, the teenage girls would swarm and scream around Josh Jackson while elderly women swarmed around him. At the same time, he claims, the Minnesota insider jokes play to all audiences in North Carolina and New York.

WHAT: Screenwriters' Workshop Annual Meeting
WHO: Featured Guest BRENT BOYD screenwriter of "Aurora Borealis"
WHEN: October 28th, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. (with Break for Lunch)
WHERE: Minneapolis Community and Technical College (MCTC)
1500 Hennepin Avenue South, 3rd Floor, Whitney Library, Minneapolis

Links: http://minnesota.publicradio.org/display/web/2006/09/29/brentboyd/

Photos courtsey of Regent Releasing 2006

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