LAWRENCEVILLE -- This past April, when Scott Teems' film had just received the jury award for best narrative feature at the 2009 Atlanta Film Festival, the Lilburn native said seeing his movie in theaters "would be a real dream come true."
That dream has become a reality.
"That Evening Sun," which Teems wrote and directed, was released in Los Angeles and New York in November and in Cleveland, Kansas City and Los Banos, Calif., this past week.
The film is set to open in Atlanta at the Tara Cinema today.
"Here, we are hopefully starting the next phase of what will be a wider release," Teems said.
Based on the short story "I Hate to See That Evening Sun Go Down" by award-winning Southern author William Gay, the film follows an aging Tennessee farmer as he returns from a forced stay at a retirement community to his homestead, where he intends to live out his final days. Upon his return, Abner Meecham, played by Hal Holbrook, finds his son has leased the property to an old adversary. Simmering tension comes to a boil as neither wants to give up a claim to the land.
"That Evening Sun" was shot in Tennessee and is Holbrook's first film role since his 2008 Academy Award nomination for the movie "Into the Wild." The film also stars Holbrook's wife, Tennessee native Dixie Carter, famous for playing Julia Sugarbaker on the TV show "Designing Women." This is the first film in which Holbrook and Carter have appeared together. Georgia native Ray McKinnon plays the role of Abner Meecham's adversary and was a producer for the film.
"That Evening Sun" has garnered its share of awards at festivals throughout the country, including multiple awards for audience choice for best feature film and jury awards for best feature film and best narrative feature. Teems was recognized with the award for best director of a narrative feature at the Sidewalk Moving Picture Festival in Alabama.
Teems began writing the script for "That Evening Sun" five years ago, spent three years trying to secure funding and then a year actually making the film before starting the festival circuit.
"What's interesting about this process is really it's a marathon run," Teems said. "It seems like forever ago we were in Atlanta at the festival and here we are at the release of the movie, so in many ways you feel like you've gone on this journey and we're just beginning it in one sense."
"That Evening Sun," Teems' first full-length feature film, has begun to open doors. Since the film's festival debut, Teems has secured both and agent and manager and the project offers have begun coming in.
"It's all great, but my goal was not to lose sight of what I want to do, which to make movies that I think have something to say and if those people can enable me to do that more easily, that's great," Teems said. "But also part of my objective is not to get caught up in that. I'm just trying to take it one day at a time and not get ahead of myself."
Teems and his wife will be in Atlanta for tonight's release, as well as his parents, siblings and friends.
"They're all showing their support and it's great because lives are busy and my friends all have kids and it costs a lot of money to get a babysitter and come down to the movies," Teems said. "Everyone's lives are so busy and complicated so it's a real thrill that they take the time to come support me and what I do."