Traverse City Record-Eagle

2012 Traverse City Film Festival

August 2, 2012

Fans come out for tribute to Sarandon

TRAVERSE CITY — Valerie Schollett tied a scarf around her head and donned a pair of sunglasses to get in the spirit for a "Thelma & Louise" screening.

Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon starred in the 1991 film that mixes drama, action, adventure and road-trip elements into a dark and funny story of two women trying to outrun the law. The film screened Wednesday at the Traverse City Film Festival, and Sarandon was on hand to introduce the film and answer questions afterwards.

"It's been a long time since I've seen it," said Schollett, of Traverse City.

Her accessories were a special nod to the film's iconic costumes, worn in scenes that feature an open-top convertible.

The special screening, with Sarandon in attendance, thrilled movie-goers and fans of the outspoken actress.

"She's an icon," Schollett said. "She does what she believes and doesn't make any apologies."

The festival on Wednesday also was scheduled to screen a newer Sarandon film, the 2012 "Robot & Frank," as part of this year's tribute to her.

The "Thelma & Louise" screening at the City Opera House followed an in-depth panel discussion between festival Founder Michael Moore and Sarandon. The two re-appeared on the Opera House stage after the classic final scene when (two-decade spoiler alert) Thelma and Louise drive off a cliff into the Grand Canyon rather than be captured by police.

Sarandon told the audience she wasn't interested in making a revenge film and wanted to focus on her character's path to understanding "what went wrong."

The film resonated with audiences as a tale of female empowerment. Sarandon said she didn't know that's how the film would be received, and at the time viewed it as a "cowboy movie with girls."

But the feminist flavor is what many women who saw the movie liked about it.

"I remember 'Thelma & Louise.' That was an amazing movie for women who were working to be independent," said Kathy Ballard, of East Lansing and Charlevoix.

Ballard saw the film in the theater years ago but bought tickets to watch it and "Robot & Frank" after learning Sarandon would be in Traverse City for the festival.

The long, winding line to get into the Opera House screening also included some who weren't as familiar with the film but grabbed the chance to view it in such a unique setting.

"I had never seen 'Thelma & Louise,'" said Sarah Mihalus, of East Lansing. "(It's) always more fun to see movies on the big screen."

And, she added, to see it with the starring actress in attendance.

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