LAKE ARROWHEAD: Old Pals Reunite At Arrowhead Film Fest

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Old Pals Reunite At Arrowhead Film Fest

by Richard David Boyle

I had not seen my pal, Actor John Savage, since he starred in the 1986 film “Salvador” as a photographer killed in combat, but here he was to my shock in the hot tub beside the shimmering Lake Arrowhead last weekend. His date, the noted Mexican actress and producer Blanca Blanco and my companion Jalissa Bryant, slated for a key role in my new European co-production, “War on My Own,” became instant friends and we all spent the rest of the weekend dining and dancing at the breathaking Lake Arrowhead Film Festival last weekend.

It was also fun meeting a new generation of brilliant directors such as David Dilley, who won for best drama feature with “Suspicion” and Randall Wilson, who won for best documentary, “Our Fathers War, A Vietnam Journey” which brought many to tears. Sitting at the table with me and Savage and the ladies, Wilson, holding his award, told us that “Salvador” was an inspiration to many younger film makers.

I also got a chance to meet one of my favorite actors of all times, fellow Oscar nominee Sally Kirkland who also worked with Oliver Stone, director of “Salvador,” in the film “JFK” and we shared funny stories of how he got the best of his actors by pushing psychological buttons. She and Savage starred in another festival winning film, “Last Gamble” directed by Joe E. Goodavage who put together an awesome all star cast also including Kevin Bauer,Joe Mancuso and Ray Abruzzo.

Another legend present was featured in the documentary, “Accidental Icon, the Real Gidget Story” I always thought Gidget was all in the mind of some fellow screenwriter, but the story of Kathy Kohner Zuckerman, the real 15 year old girl who was played by Sally Field and Sandra Dee was real and at 71, just as beautiful as in her surfing days in Malibu.

One of the most impressive winning short documentaries was “One In Seven, The New Face of Hunger.” It was not made in Hollywood by professionals but by sixty high school students at Carlsbad High School, San Diego County, who not only made a film about hunger, but got local markets to donate food to the hungry, a very noble effort. The problem was the students did not show up, it was prom night.

As the bubbles swirled in the hot tub and the trees gently swayed by the lake, Savage and I agreed this was the best film festival in the world. Sure there is Cannes, Venice, Sundance, Moscow, or Tornonto, but nowhere can you walk from your magnificent suite at the Lake Arrowhead Resort and Spa overlooking mountains to the events down the hall, where both the festival and hotel staff cater to every desire and the service is five star.

“It wasn’t like this when we made ‘Salvador,” Savage told we as he sipped a diet coke and I had Irish whiskey. “Yeah, we ran out of money because the El Salvador Death Squad government found out about our fake script and we had to shoot in Mexico,” I replied. The government colonel assaigned to provide free military support to me and Stone was shot in the head in a tennis game by the rebels and the truth that the “Salvador” script was really anti-death squad was then revealed.

“Your death scene should have won an Oscar,” I then told Savage.

“Well, I guess you and Oliver (Stone) pushed the right buttons on Jimmy,” he smiled. (James Woods,played me as a journlalist in Salvador and was nonimated for a best actor Oscar.)

As Jalissa and Blanca joined us, we all laughed, because while the old days were fun, it seems now is really much more fun.

Richard David Boyle was also nominated with Oliver Stone for best original screenplay for “Salvador.” Boyle taught film at USC, Stanford, San Framcisco State and Crafton Hills College and presently lives in both Forest Falls and the Philippines and is working on a new film in Europe.