‘Jamie Marks’ leaves its mark at Sundance film festival

Judging by audience reaction, “Jamie Marks is Dead” made an impression at the Sundance Film Festival.

The film is adapted from “One for Sorrow” (2007), a novel by Christopher Barzak, a writing professor at Youngstown State University.

Filmmaker Carter Smith wrote the screenplay and directed the film, which is a finalist in the U.S. Dramatic category, along with 15 other films. Sundance, a premiere global launchpad for independent films, has been running all week in Park City, Utah. Award winners will be revealed Saturday.

Barzak returned early this week from Utah after catching the premiere of “Jamie Marks” on Sunday.

“The audience was totally engaged with it,” he said, “laughing at the funny bits, creeping up against the backs of their chairs at all the eerie moments, and crying or sighing in all the right places. They had lots of good questions for the Q and A afterward, which the actors and the director fielded.”

Although Barzak had seen a rough cut of the film in September, the Sundance premiere was also the first time he saw the finished product.

He loved it.

“It was a smooth and seamless ride through a variety of emotional effects, moving from sad to eerie to funny throughout, but ultimately has a hopeful ending,” said Barzak. “The acting was all really well done. I couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful adaptation in the script either. By the time the movie was halfway finished, I was confident that the film was strong.”


Josh Turner’s performance Saturday at Stambaugh Auditorium was one of the best country concerts I’ve seen in Youngstown.

The deep-voiced Turner — who is a magnet for his frenzied female fans — plays at a confident pace. You can relax and put your trust in him.

But that doesn’t mean there was a lack of excitement; with full light and video effects, there was plenty. Such bells and whistles are rarely part of shows at staid Stambaugh, but Turner’s concert proved they should be.

The auditorium was nearly full for the concert, and — although he had never heard of it — Turner seemed impressed with the high-end venue and its fine acoustics.

And apparently its name, too.

It’s funny what occurs to newcomers with their fresh eyes and ears. While talking about the auditorium, Turner sang a few bars of “Stambaugh Me” (to the tune of “Stand By Me”) and “Stambaugh Your Man” (“Stand By Your Man”).


Unusual and interesting exhibitions open Sunday at the Butler Institute of American Art in Youngstown and its Trumbull branch in Howland.

“Faking It,” an exhibition of copies of masterpieces from the collection of Rob Berk of Warren will be at the main branch through March 16.

This exhibit doesn’t focus on the masterpieces of the art world, but rather the greater number of forgeries of those masterpieces. Thousands of fakes have been skillfully created over the centuries, but this exhibition focuses on two: Leonardo DaVinci’s “Mona Lisa” (1507), which is in the collection of the Louvre, and Winslow Homer’s “Snap The Whip” (1872), which is housed at the Butler.

The originals will be displayed as accurate digital reproductions. The copies are paint on canvas produced by Chinese artisans who have become adept at copying well-known artworks.

Berk, who apparently has some interesting collections, also is responsible for the new show at the Trumbull branch.

Titled “American Pinball,” it is a collection of the once-popular arcade games and offers insight into their history and artistry. The exhibition will be on display through March 16.


The High School Rock Off is under way, and one of the Mahoning Valley bands in the competition at Cleveland’s House of Blues has already advanced to the final round.

Small Mammals, a five-piece folk-punk band from Boardman High School, emerged as one of the few who made the cut last weekend. The act will play at the Final Exam on Feb. 1.

Brachedown (South Range), Welcome Aboard (Badger) and No Clue (South Range) were all eliminated. One more Valley band, Pedestrian City (South Range, Heartland Christian) will get its shot Saturday.

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