‘The Donner Party’ makes final screening Sunday at Sugar Bowl
TRUCKEE, Calif. – When reminiscing of the infamous Donner party, using the word “tasteful” as a descriptor probably isn’t best – but it’s the best way to describe the feature film of the same name.
“We tried to be tasteful – no pun intended,” said T.J. Martin, who wrote and directed “The Donner Party,” which is screening Sunday at Sugar Bowl. “It’s not a gory film.”
The 2009 movie, filmed at the site of the 19th-century journey in which some survivors resorted to cannibalism, already has had big-screen runs in Los Angeles, San Diego and Austin, Texas. It was picked up by FirstLook Studios after it was shown at a couple of film festivals. It will go to video after the Sugar Bowl presentation.
Filmed over two weeks in winter 2008, “The Donner Party” stars Crispin Glover (George McFly from “Back to the Future), Christian Kane (the television show “Leverage”) and William Eddy (“24”).
The stars are part of the “Forlorn Hope,” which was a group who separated from the Donner party to try to reach California and return with a rescue team.
“The story’s fascinating,” Martin said. “This is the start of what could be film representations of the Donner party. This is just a small aspect of what they went through.
“I would love someday to see a “Band of Brothers” type miniseries on the topic. Starting in Independence (Mo.) and going all the way through the entire journey.”
Of the 87 Donner party members, 48 survived. The Forlorn Hope was composed of 10 men and five women who attempted to trek 100 miles to Sutter’s Fort. They were trapped in a blizzard and the ones who died were eaten by the group’s survivors.
While Martin created story lines, he said he tried to be as historically accurate as possible.
Martin and some of the movie’s cast members and crew are expected to attend the Sugar Bowl showing at Judah Lodge, where they all stayed during filming.
“It’s a nice coming home for us,” Martin said.
Local residents also were involved in the production at Donner Pass. Jeff Pettit was the production designer and Ryan Baker was the prop master. Baker’s newborn baby girl, in fact, appears in the movie.
For more information on The Forlorn, visit donnermovie.com. For more information on the movie night at Sugar Bowl visit sugarbowl.com or call (530) 426-9000.