I was invited last night to the world premiere of the made in Youngstown movie, "Fine-Tune". The premiere was held in front of an almost packed house at the Ford Recital Hall in the DeYor Performing Arts Centre. Youngstown native Chris Rutushin, returned to the area to shoot a film based on his family and it's Italian heritage, after an Emmy winning turn in broadcast news in Las Vegas, and learning behind the scenes of his craft at the Today Show in New York. The movie provides a slice of life view of a typical Italian family, circa early 1970's Youngstown Ohio. Shot entirely on locations familiar to most Mahoning Valley residents, Fine-Tune, is a light nostalgic ride through a time not too long ago.
The premiere was a who's who of young and old, in those that are vocal in championing our city and putting their words, actions and money, where their mouth's are. Fine-Tune's Executive Producer, Tony LaRiccia, and his lovely wife and thespian in the film, Mary, were welcoming invited guests, and seen mingling were Janko from "I Will Shout Youngstown" blog, Phil Kidd, Youngstown's Downtown Director, Khaled Tabbera and his band the Zou, and many, many more. I was honored to be invited by the Maluso Family, who's patriarch John Maluso, pretty much steals the show as "Grandpa". John's wife Claire, former downtown Youngstown Director was greeting the crowd and singing Youngstown's praises as always along with the talents of the director, cast and crew of the film. Mary Jo Maluso was beaming with pride about her fathers work in the film, as was her husband and musical partner Rick Blackson, who was equally proud of his father-in-law. Together, Rick and Mary Jo's company, Beyond Broadway Entertainment, are excited about the surge of artistic talent that is energizing in Youngstown, and have some exciting plans of their own for the City to be announced in the coming months.
The film itself was overall, very enthusiastically recieved by those in attendance at the premiere. The premiere's opening remarks compared the independent nature of the film, to "Napoleon Dynamite", that captured the slice of life exploits of the underdogs in society, and went on to gross over a million dollars in box office and rentals. Running a production company, it is not fair for me to review the artistic merits of the film, because we all have our own production biases. I will say that the set decoration and mood of the film, certainly captured the look and feel of the period. There was a good mixture of comedy and plot development. The acting was enjoyable and fun, and let you see the characters as well rounded. The themes of family interaction, responsibility, race, and friendship, ring true to the period and contrast how far we have come, and how much we have remained the same. Some inside and mainstream jokes had the audience laughing in all the right places, and of course, being a hometown film for a hometown audience, some of the biggest applause came at the opening and ending credits, in recognition of the work of both friends and neighbors that collaborated in the making of this film.
Congratulations to Chris Rutushin and his crew for turning his dream into a reality and creating his own, "Accent On Youngstown," with his film inspired by his family and the City where he was raised. Check out the trailer below, and look for this film to come to a theater near you. I am sure that no matter what happens in the extremely competitive film distribution business, you will hear a lot more about "Fine-Tune", and where you can watch it for yourself.