Main Street in Uniontown was a flurry of activity last week when the State Theatre Center for the Arts rolled out the red carpet for the world premiere of the film “Kecksburg.”
Filmed locally, “Kecksburg” is not a documentary, but instead an interpretation of the events that took place on Dec. 9, 1965, when an unidentified object that eyewitnesses described as being shaped like a large acorn, landed in the woods of the rural Southwestern Pennsylvania community.
In a documentary made by the History Channel several years ago, colleagues of local journalist John Murphy, who prepared to report on the incident in 1965, claim he was coerced into not revealing certain aspects to the public.
In a tape recording of his program, Murphy says: “We regret that part of the program had to be censored and other parts of the program had to be cut out entirely.”
Several years later, Murphy was killed when a car hit him on a highway in Ventura, California.
In the movie, the foreign object is an unidentified flying object and has aliens that will blind a human with one touch.
The story shows President Lyndon B. Johnson giving orders to get rid of any person who was witness to the event, which included local journalist John Murphy.
In the film, Murphy, played by actor Scot Cooper of Los Angeles, takes pictures of the aliens as well as of a man getting ready to kill witnesses on order by Johnson.
There are a lot of twists and turns along the way, but in the end, Johnson puts things in motion to blame the Russians for the whole event and said no one would believe the outrageous stories of the witnesses.
The only loose end that needs tied up is the roll of film that Murphy took at the site to verify the truth.
Emily Lapisardi, the actress who portrays Lady Bird Johnson and is the wife of Director Cody Knotts, said being able to watch the finished product for the first time at the world premiere was a little nerve-wracking.
“We want everyone here to enjoy it, but we want to make sure that the individuals who have experienced the actual event realize that it’s not a documentary, but instead a mixture of history, mystery and memory wrapped up together,” she said. “We hope that they enjoy it, even if it’s not strictly factual.”
While the film is made up of dozens of local actors, the leads boast the acting chops of the likes of Szonja Oroszlan, a lead actress in her native land of Hungary whose credits include “The Martian” with Matt Damon and “Hellboy II: The Golden Army.”
“Cody (Knotts) found me through my agent and sent me the script,” she said. “I thought it was amazing, so we met in Philadelphia over a cup of coffee.
“He told me that normally he would hold auditions for the role but said he wanted to offer me the part and asked if I would like to do it,” Oroszlan said. “I told him, ‘hell ya.’”
Cooper, originally from South Africa has been in the film “Mazerunner: The Death Cure” and the Showtime series “Homeland.”
John Murphy’s assistant in the film, Anne LeMaster, is played by Remington Moses, the granddaughter of music icon Ricky Nelson. She has credits in the films “Buddy Hutchins” and “A Fatal Obsession.”
Cooper said he was pleased to see how it all fit together.
“It’s been a long journey so far, but this isn’t the end,” he said. “The journey will be continuing as we try to sell it at the American Film Market back in California.”
Director Cody Knotts said they will indeed be showing the film at the American Film Market in Santa Monica, California, in hopes of selling the rights to the film to different markets, whether they be foreign markets or the domestic, North American market. If a foreign market buys the rights to the film, the movie could be available to Blue Ray and DVD, as well as other streaming outlets, much sooner.
“If we don’t sell the rights domestically, it should be out by the end of November,” Knotts said.
Knotts said he is also hopeful for an opportunity for a limited Pittsburgh theatrical release with AMC theaters.
Locally, the film will again be shown 7 p.m. Sept. 28 at the Westmoreland History Education Center, 809 Forbes Trail Road, Greensburg. The event, hosted by the Westmoreland Historial Society, will also include a discussion about the film. Cost is $10 for members and $12 for nonmembers. For tickets, call 724-836-1800, ext. 210.