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Our next film needs a bit of context. Inspired by Matt Damon and Ben Affleck who had won the best screenplay Oscar for Good Will Hunting, and with the co-operation of Miramax Films an internet competition was launched in the United States for a screenplay with the intention of actually producing the winner. The project got over 7,000 submissions. The whole process from the original shortlist was filmed and produced as a television series, called Project Greenlight. The series was screened on HBO and it played in a Melbourne cinema over the past couple of weekends, with perhaps more screenings planned in other cities. In the series the meetings between the producers were fascinating as they went through the finalists. The whole series shows the chaos of making the decisions at every level in filmmaking. The ultimate winner was a struggling writer from Chicago Pete Jones who wrote a film called Stolen Summer, the story of 8 year old Irish Catholic boy Pete O'Malley, Adi Stein who wants to avoid going to hell by converting a Jew during his summer break. Pete decides to approach the local temple, setting up a free lemonade stand, where he gains the co- operation of Rabbi Jacobson, Kevin Pollak. Pete is one of eight siblings, his father, Aiden Quinn, is a fireman who saves the rabbi's son Danny, Mike Weinberg from a housefire. The connections between the two families is set in motion. Pete becomes friends with Danny who's recovering from leukemia. Pete talks Danny into going through ten tests to become eligible for communion and consequently for heaven. Stolen Summer is really a Sunday night telemovie, it's overly sentimental, it's so worthy you blush, but the performances of the two young leads - Stein and Weinberg - with the added ballast of Pollack, Quinn plus Brian Dennehy as a priest and Bonnie Hunt as Pete's mother gives weight to an otherwise lightweight project. It is interesting to see what a nationwide search for a screenplay produced. Maybe there's a much better one buried amongst the submissions, but as an exercise in putting back when you're on top, you have to give both Damon and Affleck credit for really putting their efforts into this.

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PG
1 hour 31 min

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