In the last half-century, Kentucky-born-and-bred Conrad Bachmann has sustained a successful acting career in Tinseltown, appearing in such movies as “Tremors” and “Rules of Engagement,” as well as the TV series “The West Wing.” Though he left for Los Angeles as a young adult, landing his first acting gig on the sitcom “The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis,” Bachmann never lost sight of his love for Louisville and is giving back to his beloved hometown through an up-and-coming festival.
Now in its fourth year, Louisville’s International Festival of Film (LIFF) will return Oct. 4-7 to the Galt House Hotel, Kentucky Center for the Arts, Louisville Slugger Museum and the Muhammad Ali Center, where artistic films not usually presented through commercial venues will be screened to showcase independent filmmakers.
The weekend-long event will also honor late actor Warren Oates with his induction into the Kentucky Legends of Fame, a strip of concrete outside the Galt House inspired by the Hollywood Walk of Fame and dedicated to Kentuckians successful in the arts. CEO of the Galt House Mary Moseley also prompted the addition of Bachmann to the walk; on Oct. 4, he’ll place his hands and feet in cement, leaving a permanent mark on Louisville.
“This is starting to hit me in how honored I really do feel,” Bachmann said of being chosen as a Legends of Fame inductee. “Because (the festival) really is nothing more than my wanting to give back to my hometown and yet it seems like I’m getting so much from my hometown. But I got so much to begin with; it gave me the talent, it gave me the ability to go out and do what I’ve done for 55 years.”
The Galt House isn’t the first place to recognize Bachmann’s long-lasting career. His alma mater, Valley High School, dedicated a visual arts auditorium in his honor in early 2012. Through the LIFF, Bachmann has worked closely with high schools, hoping to inspire students to become involved in filmmaking. Proceeds from the festival go toward the Louisville Film Arts Institute, Inc., to help fund the training of filmmakers of tomorrow in Metro Louisville and the Commonwealth of Kentucky.
Recently, the LIFF afforded a five-day all-expense-paid trip to Hollywood to two students from Fern Creek High School and one from Ballard who won a contest in which teenagers were to explain why they’d like to pursue a career in filmmaking. The three winners worked on the set of a film in California and made a documentary about the experience that will show at this year’s festival, amongst a lineup of approximately 120 films from 30 countries.
“They’re learning how to work with people, they’re learning how to supervise, they’re learning how to follow,” Bachmann said of students working in film. “They’re getting experience like you can’t believe. It’s a growth period for them. So the benefits that come out of this, number one is the creativity, the creative expression that’s being offered to them, the opportunity to understand failure. I tell everyone first of all in Hollywood, learn to love the word ‘rejection,’ because everything starts at rejection. But these kids are having the opportunity to be creative, to make a film, they’re learning business practices.”
Students from Fern Creek High School will shoot footage of the red carpet premiere of the LIFF opening night film, “Shouting Secrets,” at the Kentucky Center for the Arts at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 4. Several filmmakers and actors from around the world will walk the carpet, along with anticipated celebrity guests Wil Heuser of season 14 of “Big Brother,” his costar Joe Arvin and Gunnar Deatherage of “Project Runway” fame. Charles “Cotton” Nash, former MLB outfielder, NBA forward and member of the ABA Kentucky Colonels, will sign autographs at Louisville Slugger Museum Oct. 6 before the Kentucky premiere of “Hitting the Cycle.”
Unlike past festivals, the 2012 LIFF is free and open to the public in honor of Julian “Buck” Wheat, the late revered figure of Churchill Downs, and Kathy Joosten, an actress on “Desperate Housewives” and “The West Wing” who died in June of lung cancer. As part of the LIFF, the Kentucky Youth Film Festival on Oct. 5 will also present student-submitted films on the subject of bullying. Additionally, seminars hosted by Bachmann, Anthony King of Barnholtz Entertainment and Gary Marsh, President of Breakdown Services, will help students and adults alike learn more about the casting, filmmaking and distribution process to help Kentuckians looking to land a storied career in Hollywood similar to that of Bachmann’s.
“The dream that I’ve had now and kept bringing back is happening,” Bachmann said. “Here it is, we’re in our fourth year. This year it was so difficult to make selections of films because so many of them were so incredible. We’ve chosen 120-something films, 30 countries now for Louisville’s International Festival of Film. We do have some Kentucky films, but the whole point is to reach out there again to make Louisville, Kentucky a destination city, a destination state. Let the world know who we are other than the Kentucky Derby, which we’re all proud of, but also we want to build this festival up where people all over the world who say this is the festival to be in.”
For more information and a schedule of the LIFF, visit louisvillefilm.net.