'Painted Woman' screening set here

Photo by Priscilla Tran PhotographyPhoto by Priscilla Tran PhotographyPhoto by Priscilla Tran PhotographyPhoto by Priscilla Tran PhotographyPhoto by Priscilla Tran Photography
Amanda Corbin
News Reporter

“The message is very powerful about getting out of abusive situations and coming to terms with your past to go forward with your life,” said Amber Lindley, producer for “Painted Woman.”

The western film by Director James Cotten and Chasing Sunsets Productions — its first feature — of Northwest Arkansas is set to screen at the Poteau Theatre starting Friday. It is in association with Dark Highway Films based out of Los Angeles.

Lindley and Associate Producer Priscilla Tran stopped in Poteau on Thursday afternoon to promote the showing.

Lindley said they chose Poteau as one of the theatre releases due to Cotten being from this area — Sallisaw, specifically. Cotten now lives and works in Los Angeles, she said, but showing it here was to honor him and “to honor the people in Oklahoma.” Future showings will be announced in the coming days and weeks.

Another selling point for locals is the fact “Painted Woman” was filmed entirely in Oklahoma, distributed through Oklahoma City, Guthrie and Enid, while most of its producers are from Arkansas.

The official tagline for the tale is, “A young woman with a dark past finds wisdom and her identity in the romance of the old west.” Lindley described the film as an empowering tale about a prostitute in an abusive situation. “A man comes along that she thinks could be her ticket out,” Lindley said.

“And then through some lucky circumstances, she gets out of the abusive situation only to find that her past is sneaking back up on her.”

The production stars Stef Dawson as Julie Richards, Matt Dallas as Frank Dean, Kiowa Gordon as Chato, David Thomas Jenkins as Vince Wagner, Robert Craighead as Kyle Allison and Monica Peña as Maria Gonzalez. Dawson, of Australia, appeared as Annie Cresta in “The Hunger Games” trilogy. Jenkins has appeared in several Lifetime movies and “Return to the Hiding Place.” He also was on “Girl Meets World.”

Rounding out the main cast, Gordon appeared as Embry Call in “The Twilight Saga,” Craighead in Seth Rogen’s new television series “Future Man” and on “The Bold and the Beautiful” and “The Young and the Restless.” Dallas is best known for his lead in “Kyle XY” and Peña on shows such as “Friday Night Lights” and “Prison Break.” Cotten also has several works under his belt from involvement in, such as “Captain Fantastic,” “Pitch Perfect” and “La Linea — The Line.” Laurel Harris will be Ellie Anderson, and has been in “Odd Thomas,” “Mrs. Copeland” and “Saige Paints the Sky.”

Lindley said many of the crew and cast extras from “Painted Woman” are from Oklahoma.

“If you see the movie, you wouldn’t have guessed it was a male director because he did it so well with his understanding of those kinds of experiences [of women],” Tran said.

“James Cotten absolutely has an understanding and a sensitivity to women and our issues, but he brings a ‘cool factor’ to this story with his action sequences and ‘unapologetically male’ western characters,” Lindley said. “It’s the best of both worlds that brings a lot of satisfaction to the audience.”

Tran and Lindley agreed the film couldn’t premiere at a better time “because it deals with women’s issues and the abuse women faced in that time period and period,” Lindley said. “With everything going on with the Harvey Weinstein and Me Too movement, it’s very timely right now.”

Weinstein, an American film producer, has been accused of sexual harassment or assault by more than a dozen women, according to reports in The New York Times and The New Yorker. The Me Too movement started on social media as a hashtag for women to write #MeToo to showcase the magnitude of women who have been sexually assaulted or harassed.

Other producers include Executive Producer Kari Whisenhuet, Co-producer Steve Bannerman, associate producers Vicki Bronson and Jay Plyburn, Composer Corey Allen Jackson, Cinematographer Samuel Calvin, Casting Director Ricki Maslar and production designers are Brent David Mannon and Cassie Smith. A full list of cast and crew is available on IMDb.

“Painted Woman” is inspired by western novelist Dusty Richards’ “The Mustanger and the Lady,” which published January last year, his 150th novel. Richards lives in Springdale, Ark., near Beaver Lake, and is notable as one of the bestselling authors in the western genre. Richards had called the adaptation of his novel “a dream come true for a cowboy like me.”

Lindley said although inspired by the novel, which is told from the point of view of Vince Wagner, the “hero,” the film is from the heroine’s point of view, Julie. “Julie’s name in the novel is different,” Lindley said. “We gave her the last name of Richards as a tip-of-the-hat to Dusty.”

The film is already being held in high regard after winning Best Film, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Child Actor (Keagan Melton) and Child Actress (Chloe Wyatt) at The Wild Brunch Film Festival. They also received nominations for Best Supporting Actor and Supporting Actress and nominated for Best Cinematography. “Painted Lady” also won Best Romance at the Alaska International Film Awards and was an official selection for the Covellite International, Bentonville Film Festival and Lake Charles Film and Music Festival. Lindley said they were especially impressed with winning Best Film at The Wild Brunch because it was its first screening for an all-western audience.

To keep up with “Painted Woman” and Chasing Sunsets Production, follow them on Facebook at Painted Woman — formerly known as “The Mustanger and the Lady” and Instagram at Painted Woman Film and Chasing Sunsets Productions.

You also can read more about the film online at www.paintedwomanfilm.com.