Athens-born filmmaker James Ponsoldt to visit Ciné for Willson Center 30th

Filmmaker James Ponsoldt will visit Ciné for a day of events celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Willson Center on Saturday, Oct. 21. Ponsoldt is a writer and director whose credits include The End of the Tour, The Circle, and “Master of None.” He was raised in Athens.

Ponsoldt will introduce special screenings of Peter Bogdanovich’s 1971 masterpiece The Last Picture Show at 3 p.m. and his critically acclaimed 2013 film The Spectacular Now, which was filmed in Athens, at 7:15 p.m. Between the two films, at 5:30 p.m., Ponsoldt will take part in a public conversation about an education, life, and career in the arts and humanities with Nicholas Allen, Franklin Professor of English and director of the Willson Center. A public reception in the CinéLab will begin at 5 p.m. and continue after the conversation, with refreshments from The National and book sales by Avid Bookshop.

Ponsoldt received his bachelor’s degree from Yale University as well as an M.F.A. in directing from Columbia University. His other credits include the films Smashed and Off the Black. Films that Ponsoldt has written and/or directed have won multiple awards at the Sundance Film Festival, been nominated for Independent Spirit Awards, and been honored by the National Board of Review. He co-wrote the graphic novel Refresh, Refresh (selected by Alison Bechdel for Best American Comics), and is developing films with Disney, A24, Fox, and Plan B.

The Last Picture Show, based on the 1966 novel by Larry McMurtry, starred Timothy Bottoms, Cybill Shepherd, Jeff Bridges, Cloris Leachman, Ellen Burstyn, and Ben Johnson. The film was nominated for eight Academy Awards including Best Picture and Best Director, with Johnson and Leachman winning Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress. “Concerned with adolescent experience seen in terms of flatlands anomie,” wrote Pauline Kael in The New Yorker, “—loneliness, ignorance about sex, confusion about one’s aims in life—the movie has a basic decency of feeling, with people relating to one another, sometimes on very simple levels, and becoming miserable when they can’t relate.”

The Spectacular Now is based on the novel by Tim Tharp, a finalist for the 2008 National Book Award in Young People’s Literature. The film stars Miles Teller, Shailene Woodley, Brie Larsen, Jennifer Jason-Leigh, and Kyle Chandler. Woodley and Teller were awarded a Special Jury Prize for Acting at the Sundance Film Festival for their performances as teens edging toward adult love in what Variety’s Rob Nelson called a “bittersweet ode to the moment of childhood’s end.”

Ciné is located at 234 W. Hancock Ave. in downtown Athens. All events are free and open to the public. Tickets for the screenings will be available on the day of the show at the Ciné box office. The conversation will be held in the CinéLab, with admission and seating on a first-come, first-served basis.