Where do movies go when they die?

Every year, anywhere between 500 and 750 movies are released theatrically in the United States, and every year, hundreds more get made but never see the silver screen. Where do they go?

As one who attends several film festivals a year can attest, many quality movies play once and then are never to be heard from again. Not for reasons of quality and artistry (although they factor), but because movie distributors decide to pass on these movies, and often they disappear into the ether. It’s a tragic death for all involved, and not just those who made the movies, but the audience that was denied the chance to connect with the work.

Thankfully, some right-minded people are trying to change that. The Feature Film Project, an offshoot of the MANHATTAN SHORT Film Festival, is allowing the audience a chance to decide the fate of a movie. On Thursday, March 5, Patrick’s Day will screen at The Boedecker Theatre—one of 26 art-house theaters nationwide showing the movie—and following the movie, audience members will vote if Patrick’s Day is worthy of wider distribution.

Patrick’s Day is writer/director Terry McMahon’s second feature (his first, 2011’s Charlie Casanova, was never distributed in the U.S.), and this Irish drama follows Patrick (Moe Dunford), a 26-year-old schizophrenic out celebrating his birthday with his mother, Maura (Kerry Fox). Patrick wanders away from his mother and into a nearby bar, where he meets the Lady in Red, Karen (Catherine Walker), an airline stewardess enjoying another lonely night at the bottom of the bottle. Karen enchants Patrick, and the two indulge in her misery and spend the night together. 

Karen isn’t aware of Patrick’s mental illness, and Patrick certainly isn’t aware of Karen’s depression—which is on the brink of suicide—but their night together is intimate and revealing, providing both of them a purpose. But that purpose isn’t in the cards for Maura, and she hires a local detective (Philip Jackson) to track her son down. Maura makes it quite clear that the safety and sheltering of her son is her top priority, even if that comes at the cost of experiencing life. Experiences that are forcefully and painfully taken from Patrick in the movie’s climatic montage, a bravura moment so strong that it forgives some previously clunky moments.

Patrick’s Day is a solid movie—Dunford’s naturalistic performance is a highlight—with McMahon painting a personal and affecting picture of these characters, making Patrick’s Day a perfect candidate for this type of special exhibition.

The Feature Film Project is an exciting endeavor, and with a model like this, the end result is not just to bring a larger exposure to a movie and possibly jumpstart a career or two but to get the audience engaged with the cinema. Here is your chance to vote not just with your wallet but with your voice.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Patrick’s Day (2014)
Written and directed by Terry McMahon
Produced by Tim Palmer
Starring: Kerry Fox, Moe Dunford, Philip Jackson, Catherine Walker, Aaron Monaghan, Conor Mullen
ScreenProjex, Not rated, Running time 102 minutes, Premiered March 8, 2014 at the South By Southwest Film Festival

The above review first appeared in the pages of Boulder Weekly Vol. 22, No. 31, “Calling all audiences.”