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Grant County on the big screen

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THE BAR: Chuck, left, played by Joe Martyn Ricke, and Chris, played by Todd Bruno, sit together in a bar in one scene of the film “Palace,” set in Grant County. The movie, directed by a Taylor University graduate, has its first local screening on Feb. 2 at Abbey Coffee.
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STILL: Alexa, played by Indianapolis-based actressEmily Sweet, is pictured here in a scene in the film “Palace,” which has its Grant County premiere on Feb. 2 at Abbey Coffee.

BY Carolyn Muyskens - cmuyskens@chronicle-tribune.com

The first narrative-length feature film set in Grant County will have its county debut at Abbey Coffee on Feb. 2.

“Palace” is written and directed by 2018 Taylor University graduate Andrew Paul Davis, now a full-time filmmaker living in Bloomington. The movie features several Grant County locations, including Webster Park in Marion, the Gas City Public Library, Ivanhoe’s and more.

“Palace” is a drama that traces the stories of three characters – Chris, an auto-mechanic, Chuck, a retired widower, and Alexa, a college student – whose lives intersect at a bar.

“At first they’re strangers, but you realize their inevitable connections as they cross paths,” Davis said.

Davis said the inspiration for the name of the film was Palace Bar in Fairmount. The bar scenes were filmed in a Hartford City bar called The Glorious.

The film premiered at the Heartland International Film Festival in Indianapolis in October 2018.

Marion native Brianna Garr, who was the audio engineer for the film, got to see it for the first time at the premiere.

“It was really cool to be able to see your own backyard in a movie,” she said.

She said it was the local setting that interested her in working on the film in the first place.

“I think most people can connect to at least one of the characters in the film, and it’s cool to see them interact in a setting you’re familiar with,” Garr said.

Joe Martyn Ricke, a Taylor University English professor, plays the character of Chuck.

Ralph Linardic, in a four-out-of-five star review of the film for CineSportsTalk.com, singled out Ricke’s performance.

“The stand out, in this critic’s opinion, is Joe Martyn Ricke. He had to reach places that most haven’t in their lifetime, and it was believable. I wasn’t watching a film, I was watching Chuck’s struggle with alcohol and reconnecting with his daughter. It’s very rare that actors go so far that you get sucked into the world (in this case, it’s Grant County, Indiana),” Linardic said.

Linardic’s review also praised Davis’s directing work.

“Chris, Chuck and Alexa’s stories have been told before, but the craft behind them is what makes it a job well done. There’s plenty of every-day-folk stories to go around, but not all of them get the care behind them as Palace did,” writes Linardic.

The film also stars Todd Bruno as Chris, Emily Sweet as Alexa, Sara Bailey as Kelly and Benjamin Byron Bethel as Ben.

Bailey and Bethel are both Taylor alumni. Bruno is a South Florida native and Sweet is an Indianapolis actress now based in Los Angeles. 

Davis is looking forward to the Marion screening of the film.

“It was always one of the core goals of the film for everybody in Grant to hear about it and watch it if they want to,” Davis said.

He is hoping to release the film for distribution in July on iTunes or Amazon, and he also hopes to be able to make available DVD and Blu-Ray copies of the film.

“There is something super special about seeing locations you know in a movie,” Davis said.

Davis said rural Indiana is “a place of spectacular beauty,” something he hopes comes through in the film.

Tickets will be available for $5 at the door for the 94-minute screening, which will be followed by a 15-minute Q&A with Davis.

The screening starts at 7 p.m. at Abbey Coffee Company, 1500 S. Western Ave.

A trailer for “Palace” is available at onecountyfilm.com/palace. The film has a recommended audience of 17 and up.