Tuesday, May 25, 2010

New Hampshire filmmakers re-enact Custer's Last Stand for "Bighorn"

Custer's Last Stand re-enacted for the short film 'Bighorn'
Supernatural historical thriller is the latest from award-winning
New Hampshire filmmakers Catalfo and Gardner


DURHAM, N.H. -- George Armstrong Custer and his 7th Cavalry were again annihilated at the Battle of Little Bighorn, this time on the shores of Great Bay on the New Hampshire seacoast. The re-enactment of Custer's Last Stand took place at the Little Bay Buffalo Company in Durham for the upcoming short film "Bighorn." The supernatural historical thriller is the latest project from award-winning New Hampshire filmmakers Alfred Thomas Catalfo and Glenn Gardner, who have just completed principal photography.

"I remember saying that my next film would be simple and easy," laughs writer/director Catalfo, a Dover attorney. "Now I'm directing Custer at the Little Bighorn with mounted cavalry, soldiers firing period weapons, arrows flying, a Lakota medicine man and a herd of buffalo."

"Bighorn" is a Twilight Zone-ish story based on a true historical fact: that General Custer's bandmaster, Felix Vinatieri -- an Italian immigrant and the great-great-grandfather of Super Bowl-winning kicker Adam Vinatieri -- was ordered to stay behind at the 7th Cavalry's Powder River Camp and missed the Battle of Little Bighorn. The story takes place in 2002 and 1876.

The film stars Michael Walsh, Fritz Wetherbee, Gregory Athans and Greg Kretschmar. Custer is portrayed by the renowned Steve Alexander. The United States Congress passed a resolution proclaiming Alexander "the foremost Custer living historian." He has re-enacted Custer's Last Stand on the original battlefield every year since 1986, has portrayed him on the History Channel, on A&E's Biography, at West Point, and lives in Custer's former home in Monroe, Michigan.

"Though the story is primarily fiction, we heard from a lot of Custer enthusiasts who talked to us about the importance of historical accuracy," Catalfo says. "It doesn't get any more authentic than Steve Alexander, right down to his weapons, uniforms and appearance. He has an imposing presence and was fantastic to work with, a true gentleman." The producers also brought in Bill Watkinson, a Native American and adopted Lakota who speaks and sings the language, to play a Medicine Man who is integral to the story.

"Bighorn" is the fourth short film Catalfo has written and directed. In 2006, his film "The Norman Rockwell Code," a 35-minute spoof of The Da Vinci Code, made The Must List ("Ten Things We Love This Week") in Entertainment Weekly, had more than one million hits on the Web in less than three months, and was selected by the Library of Congress for inclusion in its Film Collection that features works by American filmmakers chosen on the basis of their historical, cultural or aesthetic significance. Catalfo was a winner or finalist in 21 screenwriting competitions with three different feature film scripts in three years.

Catalfo is producing "Bighorn" with Glenn Gardner of Portsmouth, who won the prestigious Palme d'Or, the top overall award, at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival as producer of the film Sniffer.

Gardner has an MFA from Columbia University in Film Producing. The Director of Photography is Jeff Spires of Spires Video in Dover. Locations include the Woodman Institute in Dover and Berwick Academy in South Berwick, ME.

"Bighorn" will have a running time of approximately 15 minutes. It will be released in the fall with screenings at film festivals and on the Web.