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Movie Star: The Secret Lives of Jean Seberg (2014)

"Movie Star: The Secret Lives of Jean Seberg" is the first documentary film to focus on the private side of the famous Marshalltown, Iowa native. It will also examine Seberg's very public ... See full summary »

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"Movie Star: The Secret Lives of Jean Seberg" is the first documentary film to focus on the private side of the famous Marshalltown, Iowa native. It will also examine Seberg's very public American and international film career, civil rights era activism, and her mysterious death in Paris. "Movie Star" features exclusive on-camera interviews with Jean's family, friends and colleagues, as well as personal photographs, home movie footage and film clips. Award-winning filmmakers Kelly and Tammy Rundle and Garry McGee are pleased to bring Jean Seberg's unique and compelling story to the screen. Written by Fourth Wall Films

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Actress. Activist. Icon.

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September 2014 (USA)  »

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MOVIE STAR will leave you BREATHLESS
12 December 2013 | by (Saint Paul) – See all my reviews

I begin my review by saying that I am totally biased about Jean Seberg. She was from my hometown Marshalltown, Iowa. As a kid, breathing her name bespoke all of the possibilities that a yearning artist could ever hope to attain: overnight success, world fame, talent, and radiant beauty.

Jean's Father, Ed Seberg, was one of my father's good friends, and dad acted as his family attorney. My dad had looked over the contracts from Otto Preminger after he had discovered Jean. One of my dreams, to work for Ed at, my favorite store, Seberg Pharmacy, was attained during my 2 years at Marshalltown Community College from 1969 through 1971. Ed was and, though gone, still is one of my heroes. He was a great, kind, wonderfully hospitable, strong yet gentle man.

Meeting Jean the first time, on one of her visits from Paris France, was quick, but remarkable. I had never been this close to a real movie star, and one who was far more beautiful in person than on screen. I was to enter Jean's life in a very real way in September of 1970. It was the summer she had lost her child Nina Hart Gary due, in no small measure, to the brutal smear campaign orchestrated by J. Edgar Hoover and shared with the world by Newsweek Magazine. I was to sing two songs at Nina's memorial service, held open casket in Marshalltown to prove to the world that Nina was not, as the FBI and Newsweek claimed, the child of a Black Panther Activist. Jean and I bonded and she made this 19-year-old singer/songwriter feel special and talented. She also opened his eyes to some of the real world issues of the day. We continued to write and would see each other again on one of her dwindling visits to town.

In 1979 I learned that she had been found dead of a "probable suicide" in Paris 10 days after she had gone missing. In some ways I have cried for that tragic loss since that day. Ed & Dorothy, who had already lost a Son in 1968, would never recover from both the loss of their daughter and the loss of the unquestioning love of the nation which had allowed their daughter to be swept out of their lives due to malicious lies.

So I am very protective of Jean, Ed, Dorothy, and the wonderful Seberg Family, and I have a deep distaste for J. Edgar Hoover and Newsweek. I also have a distaste for those who would sensationalize Jean's already tragic, and sensational enough, life. Books, plays, and films have already been done that were so out of touch with reality and painted a picture of Ed and the family that were so off base, that I would not have been involved even so far as to tell my Jean story.

Several years back Kelly & Tammy Rundle of Fourth Wall Films, and Jean's already biographer, Garry McGee and I got in contact about their, nearly 20 years in the works, film. I agreed to an interview, but was a bit shy of their take on Jean and the family. In the interview I was relieved that their take was quite humane, and that they were committed to an accurate portrayal.

In the three years that followed Kelly, Tammy, and Garry decided that some of my and my wife's music (Amy & Adams) would be perfect for MOVIE STAR. This made us both excited and nervous for the Premiere at The Orpheum Theater on November 15, 2013.

As the film began we were swept away, first by the tears of Mary Ann, Jean's sister, then by Jeans radiance even as a child, her fairy tale discovery, and her up and down road to international stardom and icon, cemented by the French New Wave movie BREATHLESS.

As the story turned from movie to political history we were swept along with Jean into the maelstrom that was the Civil Rights movement of the 50s, 60s, and 70s. But through it all we were not directed by the filmmakers as to how we should feel. One of the strengths of MOVIE STAR, and there are so many, is there seem to be few, if any, finger prints from the film makers.

At the end of the film Amy and I and the audience dwelt in rapt silence until we finally burst into applause. We had just gone on a 93 minute journey with the film makers into the complex life of, a very human, humane, talented, incredibly vulnerable and yet immensely strong, stunningly beautiful, and iconic MOVIE STAR. Though she has been largely forgotten in the US, even in her own Home Town, Jean Seberg remains an international fashion and film Icon. Since that moment I've seen MOVIE STAR once more in full and once again in part. Each time I've been stunned, saddened, exhilarated, shamed, lift up, and left for long moments quite BREATHLESS.


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