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Local film premieres tonight at Harbor Mall Cinema

Friday, June 9, 2006

Journal Arts Writer

Fall River filmmaker Robert Manuels will hold the premiere showings of his latest feature film, Broken Love, at the Harbour Mall Cinemas tonight through Sunday, with all proceeds going to benefit the Disabled American Veterans Chapter 9.

Manuels held the first screenings of his previous film, Two Good Guys, at the theater in 2001.

Why so long between movies?

Although he studied filmmaking at the Boston Film and Video Foundation, in real life Manuels works for an electric company. "That's how I pay for my movies. There's no outside funding. This is done out of love, passion." But the lack of backers also means he has to follow his first love of moviemaking part time.

Broken Love, which the 31-year-old Manuels describes as a "dark movie" that has "a Hollywood action sequence," was filmed between September 2002 and early 2003 in a Massachusetts forest and in Fall River. It wasn't completed until recently, however, because in the interim he shot another feature film -- The Old Ranch -- in an abandoned Fall River house, which suddenly was made available to him, as well as two short films -- Jack's Final Journey, a 15-minute film about a man who discovers he has only a few weeks to live and decides to try to find his high school sweetheart who is married to someone else, and Gina, "about an emotionally and physically abused woman who tries to leave her boyfriend but can't."

Those films took precedence over Broken Love, which Manuels says revolves around a happy couple whose camping trip goes terribly awry and radically changes their lives. He says he wanted to develop a body of work because that would give him "a better chance of getting into big film festivals." He hopes to get Broken Love, which was completed only last month on 16mm film, into the Sundance Film Festival next January.

Two Good Guys, which is about a pair of friends in dead-end jobs who are lured into trafficking drugs for a mob boss, was screened at the New Bedford Film Festival where "it won best dramatic feature film. It's my only award so far. I cherish it."

So where does the connection to the DAV come in? Broken Love has nothing to do with war veterans, disabled or otherwise.

Manuels said that he's a big fan of the organization. "My mother's husband is a member of Chapter 9 and they do a lot of good work. I feel that there are a lot of countries out there where I couldn't do what I've been doing. I thank the vets for what they've been through to give us all these opportunities."

The Harbour Mall Cinemas are allowing him to use one of their auditoriums for his screenings, as long as all the money goes to charity. Showtimes are 7:30 and 9:20 tonight; 3, 5, 7:30 and 9:20 p.m. tomorrow, and 1, 3, 5 and 7:30 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $5 at the box office. Following screenings of the hour-long film, a 40-minute making-of-the-film featurette will be shown.

mjanuson@projo.com / (401) 277-7276

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