Bakersfield filmmakers to screen western movie at local theater

A pair of filmmakers from Bakersfield have been traveling around the nation screening their new western movie called Redemption: For Robbing the Dead. The filmmakers, who now live in Utah, are holding a special screening in Bakersfield Wednesday.
A story of forgiveness and going against the grain, “Redemption: For Robbing The Dead" is a tough tale to swallow.

"Redemption is based on a true story that took place in the Utah territory in the late 1800s,” says the film writer and director Tom Russell. “It was a grave robber, who they found out had robbed over 300 graves."

Movie-making couple Tom and Courtney Russell shot the film in Utah where they now live. Tom wrote and directed the independent film and Courtney produced it.

"It was a challenging film to produce because we had a really small budget," Courtney says.

The Russell’s shot the movie in 31 days on a budget of about $200,000. It features familiar faces, such as Margot Kidder, Barry Corbin and Rance Howard and Jon Gries.

Redemption tells the story of a sheriff who is reluctantly kind to a grave robber that the rest of the town wants dead.

"So the film just asks that question you know,” Tom says. “How do you forgive somebody who's done something that awful?"

“This film is a wonderful observation of how you practice the golden rule,” Courtney says. “And your opportunity to make your piece of the world a little bit better.”

The Russell’s are from Bakersfield. Tom is a graduate of Highland High School and Courtney went to Garces Memorial High School. Local production company Firstlight Independent put the film together.

Jim Burke Ford is sponsoring a free screening of the film this week at Reading Cinema.

"I mean when you're born and raised in a place, then that place always has the most significance for you,” Tom says. “You love the people there, so to be able to see it here, yeah, it's a lot more fun I think than any other place we've screened it."

He says he just finished writing a movie to take place Bakersfield, inspired by some of Buck Owens's lyrics.

"You know all Westerns have these big scenes and so this one is no different, it just has this beautiful scenery and locations,” Courtney says. “So to be able to see that on the big screen with the right surround-sound, and in the company of the people that we love, that's great.”

You can see the film Wednesday, January 2 at 7 p.m. at Reading Cinema at Valley Plaza Mall.
The movie cast and crew will be there and admission is free.
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