Photo ad for Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri, starring Frances McDormand and Woody Harrelson Source: http://lwiles.com
The South has increasingly become a film destination of choice for Hollywood directors. In May of 2016 Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri, was partially filmed in our town, Sylva, North Carolina and our connecting town Dillsboro. This event created great excitement as a few town facades were remade for the film and some locals could be extras.
The film is about a mother whose daughter is raped and murdered. Not satisfied after seven months that the local police department is working hard enough to solve the case, Mildred the mother puts up billboards along the highway near the town that read “Raped While Dying,” “Still No Arrests” and “How Come, Chief Willoughby?”
Frances McDormand stars as the grieving, determined mother. Woody Harrelson plays the popular police chief. A local graduate of our area Nick Searcy plays Father Montgomery. Peter Dinklage, from Game of Thrones, also stars.
Source; The Sylva Herald, photo by Jason Farmer. Woody Harrelson, who plays Chief Willoughby, charmed Sylva citizens and signed autographs.
Academy Award hopes are high as “Three Billboards” was chosen at the Toronto International Film Festival for the Grolsch People’s Choice Award. The film also won best screenplay at the Toronto Film Festival.
Nick Breedlove, Director of Tourism for Jackson County, NC, arranged a screening of the movie in Sylva prior to theater release. I was fortunate to attend this great experience. When the towns of Sylva and Dillsboro came on the screen, the audience applauded. But beyond the local connection, the movie was outstanding.
This is a dark comedy. One minute you are laughing; the next you deeply feel a character’s pain. The characters are real and the action often intense. The language is not for children nor the faint of heart. Frances McDormand plays the grieving, guilty mother with a fierceness she is known for in other roles. Woody Harrelson once again shows his wide range of acting abilities. Sam Rockwell is both a comic but also tragic policeman. His role is very strong. Like all great Southern stories, this one is about anger, grief, revenge, and redemption.
The money this production brought into our county was a boon. The mayor observed that there were only a few complaints about the disruption in downtown traffic.
Please see the movie. It opens December 1 in Sylva. And wait for the Oscars!