[10 May 2007]
McClatchy-Tribune News Service (MCT)
Aspiring filmmaker Julian Adams has finally seen a dream come true.
His production “The Last Confederate: The Story of Robert Adams,” formerly known as “Strike The Tent,” is being released by ThinkFilm for theatrical runs this month and in June. Then it is scheduled to be released June 26 on DVD ($27.98).
“I feel great about this,” Adams said in California during a telephone interview. “We had other offers, but ThinkFilm seemed like a good fit for us. I feel they will give the film the proper release.”
ThinkFilm specializes in independent productions and has issued such Oscar-nominated films as “Half Nelson,” “Being Julia” and “Murderball.”
“One thing I’m really pleased about is that I know about 99 percent of indies never get released anywhere,” said the South Carolina native, who directed and co-wrote the film.
The Civil War drama is based on the true story of the romance between Adams’ great-great grandfather, Confederate captain Robert Adams, and a Northern girl, Eveline McCord. Despite the tragic events and the bloodshed swirling around them, Adams fought hard to keep their love alive.
Much of the filming took place where the actual events unfolded, including the Civil War-era Wavering Place Plantation, located in the Midlands of South Carolina. Other locations included Lenoir, N.C., and Wilmington, N.C.
Among those in the extensive cast are Mickey Rooney, Tippi Hedren, Bob Dorian and Amy Redford, daughter of actor Robert Redford. Newcomer Gwendolyn Edwards plays Eveline. Although others were considered for the role, it was Julian who ended up playing his ancestor. Adams said that tuned out to be easier than he first imagined.
“I had heard so much about my great-great grandfather while growing up,” Adams said. “So when I played him, I almost felt like I was him. I think his spirit was there with me.”
Julian credited his father Weston Adams, a South Carolina attorney with a political background that included a stint as U.S. ambassador to the South African Republic of Makawi during the 1980s, as being the driving force behind the film.
“He has instilled a sense of family love and loyalty in me,” Adams said. “This film doesn’t just honor my great-great grandfather, but also honors my relationship and love for my father. He gave me the will and perseverance to do this.”
The film obviously has left an impression on many who have seen it at various film festivals. During 2005, it won the Best Picture award at the TAHOE/Reno International Film Festival, was named Best Foreign Film at the Navan Film Festival in Ireland and took the Jury Prize for Best Feature Film as well as the award for Best Cinematography at the Long Island International Film Expo.
It also was named Best Picture at the Great Lakes Film Festival in Erie, Pa., where Adams was named Best Actor. It picked up the Best of the Fest award at the 25th annual Breckingridge, Colo., Festival of Film and was named the “Like No Other” winner, an award given for unique and outstanding filmmaking, as the Westwood International FilmFestival in Los Angeles.
Adams said he changed the title “because I wanted one that was more broad. I think the new title clearly shows what the subject matter of the film is.”
The film opens with Hedren, as a much older Eveline, reminiscing about the Civil War and that long-ago love. We discover how the love blossomed but also how it was strained when Robert Adams was captured and placed in a Northern prison. He manages to escape but it is a flight filled with tense moments as he attempts to make his way back South. “The Last Confederate” includes vivid battle sequences as well as a re-creation of the burning of Columbia, S.C., that took place when Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman’s troops marched through in February 1865.
“I have been incredibly lucky to be a part of this,” Adams said. “To be able to honor those who created the world you live in - this is what we did here.”
What does the future hold for the young filmmaker?
“I’ve got some projects on the drawing board,” Adams said. “But next I’ve got a nice part in a movie called `The Last Full Measure.’ It’s a true story about William Pitsenbarger, who was awarded the Medal of Honor 34 years after his death.”
Heading the cast are Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman and Robert Duvall.