A quirky dark comedy filmed and produced here in Arizona will make its debut in theaters on Sept. 27.
“Raising Buchanan,” a full-length feature film written and directed by Rocky Mountain Emmy Award winner and Tempe resident Bruce Dellis, premiered at the Phoenix Film Festival in April. Since that time, it has been shown at film festivals nationwide and in Europe, earning awards including Best Arizona Feature and Arizona Filmmaker of the Year (Phoenix Film Festival), Best Dramedy (Manhattan Film Festival), Best Leading Actress in a Comedy Role and Best Original Screenplay (New Haven International Film Festival), and Best Comedy Feature (Franklin International Indie Film Festival).
Now, in a limited exclusive engagement, “Raising Buchanan” will be shown at Harkins Theatres Shea 14, located at 7354 E. Shea Blvd. in Scottsdale. The film will run from Friday, Sept. 27, through Thursday, Oct. 3. Showtimes are available online.
Filmed in and around Phoenix and Prescott in 2017, the film tells the comedic tale of a 40-year-old woman who is not exactly “living the dream.” Set in suburban Phoenix, Ruth Kiesling is a donut shop employee with anger issues. Ever the opportunist and desperate for money, she “steals” the body of President James Buchanan. She does so, hoping to ransom him for a nice windfall –– but she’s surprised to discover that no one seems particularly interested in getting him back.
Plan B (and C and D), lead to dead ends involving a wealthy widow, a confused LGBT organization, and a hot-headed shipping foreman. The resolution of this increasingly dire situation will require previously untapped resourcefulness from Ruth and demanding commitments from her roommates and parole officer.
“Raising Buchanan” stars Emmy-nominated and Tony Award-winning actor René Auberjonois as President James Buchanan. Auberjonois is best known for playing Clayton Endicott III on the popular TV show “Benson,” as well as roles on “Star Trek: Deep Space 9” and in the film “The Patriot.”
Auberjonois said that the screenplay was attractive to him because it is “beautifully written,” and he’s looking forward to bringing the deceased president back to life.
“The script is outrageously funny and courageously insightful in its way,” he said. “The role is one of the most challenging I have had in a long career, but I’m psyched to sink my teeth into it.”
The protagonist, Ruth Kiesling, is played by local actress Amanda Melby Crisalli, who boasts an extensive background in independent film. The cast includes a combination of national and local acting talent, including Cathy Shim (“The Sun Is Also a Star,” “Reno 911!”), M. Emmet Walsh (“My Best Friend’s Wedding,” “The Jerk,” “Blade Runner”), Terence Bernie Hines (“The Secret Life of Walter Mitty,” “Stuck on You”) and Robert Ben Garant (“Night at the Museum,” “Reno 911!”).
The film came to fruition with the help of a 100% local production crew, which included Producers Joe Gruberman and Amanda Melby Crisalli, Director of Photography Bret Kalmbach, Production Manager Shelly Boucher, Production Designer Vicki Xericos, Costume Designer Nola Yergen, dozens of other crew members, and 28 interns from surrounding colleges and universities.
Carrying on the tradition of other dark, quirky comedies in the vein of “Election” and “Little Miss Sunshine,” “Raising Buchanan” employs an immensely talented cast while showcasing a wide range of Arizona destinations, businesses and private homes.