Emily Logan

Tonight the Palm Theatre will hold a premiere screening of “Christmas in the Clouds,” a romantic comedy set in Indian Country. The screening will be a fundraiser for the San Luis Obispo International Film Festival.

A wine reception will be held at 6 p.m., followed by the movie at 6:45 p.m.

After the show, two of the lead actors, Sam Vlahos and M. Emmet Walsh, will be present for a question-and-answer session. Tickets to the showing are $20.

The film was chosen for the fundraiser because it fits in with San Luis Obispo’s culture, said executive director for the San Luis Obispo International Film Festival Galen Richard.

“The story involved tourism, a rural area and even the Native American theme ties right into the area. Also the fact that it’s an independent film, which is a direction we want to showcase,” Richard said. “I think it shows how much fresh vision there is out there.”

The crew got permission to film on Robert Redford’s land in Utah. This is only the second time Redford has allowed a movie to be filmed on his property.

Vlahos said the filming of the movie was a lot of fun, mostly because of the way the characters were written.

“They’re just trying to break out of the stereotypical things about Native Americans,” he said. “It’s a love story.”

The story consists of actor Tim Vahle as Ray Clouds on Fire, the general manager of a struggling ski resort. One day he receives a letter that an anonymous critic has booked a suite at his resort and he tries to get the staff in shape for the event. The cast of eccentric characters provide him with many challenges as the story unfolds providing a comedic look at American Indian stereotypes.

M. Emmet Walsh, who plays the critic visiting the resort, has been in many films like “Blade Runner,” “Ordinary People” and “The Jerk,” among many others. He will be a great interest to fans of film, Richard said.

“He is very well known among film buffs and I think any of us would recognize him when we see him,” Richard said.

The film was directed by Kate Montgomery, a cousin of Cal Poly student Lowell Olcott, a computer science sophomore with a minor in theatre.

Olcott said he is very close to Montgomery and has seen her interest in movies for years.

“As far as I know she’s always been interested in writing and directing,” Olcott said. “She’s an amazing person to watch a movie with. She’s one of those people that likes to know everything about (the movie).”

Olcott even gets special treatment from Montgomery occasionally.

“I had an early release copy of the film, but I was told not to watch it because she had made so many changes,” he said.

The film has another connection to the San Luis Obispo area since Vlahos has moved back to the area after years of being in films.

“I hit SLO after I was at PCPA many years ago,” he said. “I came back after retiring from pictures and things. I love it. I don’t know how I stayed away as long as I did.”

The San Luis Obispo International Film Festival will take place March 7 to 12.

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