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As high as the sky: Set to screen in Tryon

The picturesque town of Tryon, N.C. is rolling out the carpet to host AS HIGH AS THE SKY at the Tryon Theatre on July 21st. On the heels of the highly successful premier of CINIMEMA PURGATORIO, the Polk County Film Initiative (PCFI) has attracted yet another full-length movie to screen and engulf the community into the world of Indie film making. During an interview with Scarlette Bennett Tapp, Braendlin's spokesperson on Saturday, Braendlin is very excited about bringing her film to the western North Carolina mountain community.

An all female production crew and cast hard at work on Indie Film
Cinema Libre Studio

Los Angeles based film creator Nikki Braendlin is set to visit Tryon just a few days prior to the actual screening and PCFI plans to capitalize on every moment they can share with the up-and-notable film director. “We plan to spend as much time as we can with Braendlin and bring the art of film to the hearts and senses of our community,” said actor/director Lavin Cuddihee who is also the co-founder of PCFI. According to Cuddihee, PCFI also plans to interview Braendlin at their studio and inject the excitement of low-budget film making to local and national media at large.

After the exciting premier of Chris and Emily-Reach White’s full length feature film CINEMA PURGATORIO, the surrounding towns of Asheville and Greenville-Spartanburg have come alive with anticipation while clambering for more screening. Cuddihee and his co-partners are also being scheduled by the local news media to ready the community for even other advancing movie makers that are being lined up through the summer and fall.

The state of North Carolina has been struggling to hold on to its 25% refundable film production tax credit which has been stuck in a dead heat by law makers and industry trade workers for months. According to Cuddihee, it’s not just the film studios, investors and directors that stand to lose if the credits sunset but it’s every other labor aspect wrapped up in the trade of film art that will take a blow. “This is where the excitement of low-budget film making come into play. It is our responsibility to work with what we have and promote it the best way possible,” said Cuddihee.

According to Braendlin’s advance team which includes Scarlette Bennett Tapp (That’s It Marketing) and distributor, Cinema Libre Studio, AS HIGH AS THE SKY, a first-time, independent feature from writer-director Nikki Braendlin, is a beautifully nuanced film that explores the fragile bonds between sisters. Polk County Film Initiative (PCFI) will host a screening of this film, along with a Red Carpet VIP Reception and a “Meet the Filmmaker” session. Made on a SAG Indie Ultra-Low budget with an all-female cast and key crew, the film packs an emotional and memorable punch with stellar performances by Caroline Fogarty (‘Big Love’ and ‘Desperate Housewives’) and Bonnie McNeil (SYMPATHY FOR DELICIOUS). Following an award-winning festival run, the film was released to DVD and VOD by Cinema Libre Studio.

The film centers on ‘Margaret,’ a woman with OCD who is forced to confront the root of her issues when her estranged sister and niece show up unannounced. Braendlin says, “I wanted to explore probable causes of these behaviors as well as potential ways to heal. I have experienced OCD symptoms and they worsen when I’m working through a particularly difficult time. I was interested in examining the ramifications of someone who has never learned to identify, and thus process, her emotions at all. Additionally, and simultaneously, the film explores the complex and diverse relationships among mothers, daughters and sisters.”

Braendlin and Fogarty have been friends for years, having met as actors. Wanting to work together again, they joined forces for this film, with Braendlin writing the film for Fogarty and Fogarty's house serving as the location. According to Braendlin, their short hand in communicating lent to a very natural and easy working relationship.

AS HIGH AS THE SKY won top narrative-feature awards at: Palm Beach International Film Festival, Sonoma International Film Festival, Big Bear Lake International Film Festival, Idyllwild CinemaFest, as well as being an official selection at Heartland Film Festival, SOHO Int’l Film Festival and the Carmel Art and Film Festival.

SYNOPSIS: After being jilted by her fiancé, Margaret manages her loneliness by obsessively and compulsively organizing her already perfect home. But when her older sister, Josephine, and ten-year-old niece, Hannah, arrive unexpectedly for what seems an indefinite visit, Margaret’s carefully structured life is thrown into disarray, forcing her to adapt to the duo’s free-spirited lifestyle and to confront the years of estrangement. Weighed down by guilt for abandoning her sister after their parents’ death and questioning her parenting skills, Josephine does her best to reconnect with Margaret by including her in family activities with Hannah – truth or dare games, backyard movie nights, and upside-down floating heads. Initially resistant, Margaret slowly opens herself to the mess of emotions and realizes a new definition of family while learning that the bonds of sisterhood can be reestablished with time. But just as Margaret begins to embrace her new family, she discovers the truth behind Josephine’s visit.