Artful activism comes to Vandy with 'Big Eden' screening, discussion

Several LGBT groups from Vanderbilt have banded together to bring "Big Eden" to Nashville.

On Monday, Jan. 25, the romantic drama is coming to Vanderbilt University's Sarrat Cinema for a special screening at 6 p.m. and discussion with actor O’Neal Compton. The cinema is located at 2301 Vanderbilt Place.

“The greatest aspect of this event has been the collaboration between the LGBTQI groups represented at Vanderbilt,” said Kristen Eckstrand, president of the Vanderbilt Medical School Gay/Straight Alliance.

Many administrative and student-based organizations supportive of diversity are helping bring this movie to Nashville, including the Medical School Gay/Straight Alliance, the Office for Diversity in Medical Education, the Office of the Dean of Students, the Vanderbilt University Office for LGBTQI Life and the undergraduate Lambda Association.

Save the date

"Big Eden" screening and discussion

Monday, Jan. 25, @ 6 p.m.

Vanderbilt University Sarrat Cinema
2301 Vanderbilt Place

“Big Eden is a light-hearted romantic drama that highlights the more subtle issues faced by the younger LGBTQI generation, specifically the next step after self-acceptance and coming out: sharing those feelings with another person,” Eckstrand said. “A common sentiment within the LGBTQI community is the idea of finding happiness with a partner regardless of their gender. We hope that this event can draw a link between people by focusing on human emotions rather than the categorical relationships in which these emotions are shared.”

In the film ( written and directed by Thomas Bezucha, Henry Hart (played by Arye Gross) is a New York artist returning to the fictional Montana town Big Eden to care for his grandfather and deal with a long-held unrequited love for his high school friend Dean (Tim DeKay). Meanwhile, local store owner Pike (Eric Schweig) begins to fall for Henry, and town locals conspire to bring them together. The film is rated PG-13 for some mature themes.

In the film, O'Neal Compton plays Jim Soams, an older leader of Big Eden. “There’s not a word about coming out or being out,” Compton said. “That’s why it’s refreshing. It doesn’t get brought up.”

Soams acts as a mentor to Pike, a local store owner and love interest to main character Henry.

“I’m sort of the lead of the town folk, and I’m married as a typical heterosexual man,” Compton said. ”I’m set up like I’ll be a bigot, but I actually mentor the love interest [Pike] when he starts struggling and trying to keep Henry from going.”

Compton said he enjoyed his time filming, seeing elk and bears in the wildlife and having a blast with the cast and crew.

“It was so much fun," he said. "It was like a big party. By the time it was over, none of us wanted to leave. It was a magical place, and we made a magical movie.”

Photo by Margo Amala on Unsplash

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