Lexington native and Louisville-based filmmaker Archie Borders will continue a fine romance this weekend at the Kentucky Theatre.
"That's where I fell in love with movies was at the Kentucky Theatre," Borders says, taking a break from doing his taxes and preparing for a weekend of premieres for his latest project, Pleased to Meet Me.
"I used to love to go after school. They used to put out this monthly program that was like a calendar that told you what was showing each day. It was a big deal whenever the calendar came out, and you could say, 'Oh, here's what's playing,' and you could plan your time."
The 1981 Henry Clay High School graduate had a big thrill in 1995 when his movie, Reception to Follow, appeared on the Kentucky Theatre calendar (the theater stopped printing calendars in 1998, when its booking model changed).
"Suddenly I was credible," Borders says.
Now, he will have an even bigger distinction as Pleased to Meet Me will be the last movie screened at the Kentucky Theatre before it closes for a three-month renovation.
The adjoining State Theatre will remain open through the renovation.
The 7 p.m. Sunday screening will benefit the Friends of the Kentucky, which is supporting the renovation project that includes new seats and lighting for the Main Street theater. It will include a reception before the screening with Borders and film stars John Doe and Karin Bergquist and a question-and-answer session after the screening.
Fans of 1980s rock will probably pick up on the signals about where this Pleased to Meet Me is coming from with Doe, frontman for the seminal punk band X, and the film's title, borrowed from The Replacements' classic 1987 album.
According to the film's press kit, Doe and co-star Aimee Mann, of 'Til Tuesday and Portlandia fame, referred to making the movie as "rock and roll music camp."
Border's movie was inspired by the This American Life segment Everyone Speaks Elton John, in which reporter Starlee Kine had Mekons frontman Jon Langford recruit a band from the classified ads of a Chicago newspaper. In Borders' movie, Mann plays a radio reporter who wants to do the same thing and pitch it to a public radio music show. Her friend, washed-up rocker Peter Jones (Doe), suggests she needs to have a hook, like a rock star making a comeback. He also needs the session to record his long overdue album.
Rounding out the cast are other names folks will recognize including singer/songwriter Loudon Wainwright as an anti-social theremin player, Grammy Award-winning producer and actor Joe Henry as Pete's friend and engineer, Karin Bergquist of Ohio-based Over the Rhine as an aspiring singer, Whispertown frontwoman Morgan Nagler as bassist Stacey and Louisville musicians Adam as a metal musician-turned-Christian rocker and Katie O'Brien as drummer Mel.
Borders attributes bringing together the all-star cast to Henry, who he says, "Is one of those guys who has a knack for bringing people together."
Having worked his script to death, Borders says he turned to Louisville-based screenwriter David Henry, Joe's brother, who, "really punched it up and made it his own. Then he said, 'Do you mind if I show this to Joe?'
"Originally we were thinking he might play the lead, but he came back and said, 'I know my limitations, and I can't do that. But I know someone who can, and that's John Doe,'" Borders said.
With Doe on board, they turned to casting Laura, and Henry suggested Mann.
Filling the cast with musicians was intentional.
"I wanted rockers who could act as opposed to actors pretending to be rock stars," Borders says. "It doesn't feel authentic, and this film had to feel authentic. ... You had to believe that when they picked up a guitar or stepped up to the mike, that was them. They were not overdubbed."
He was gratified that after a private screening, he heard from several musicians who said he got the music aspects of the movie right.
"A lot of it was creating an atmosphere to let these guys do their job," Borders says.
After a Louisville screening Saturday and the Lexington screening, Pleased to Meet Me will go into national distribution in April.
Still, Borders says he is very gratified to have one of the first screenings at, "my favorite movie theater in the world," and that it will benefit sprucing the place up.
"The thing that's unique about that place is it's not like the multiplexes with the tiered seating and all," Borders says. "It's got that history to it, and I'm grateful people realize what a jewel that is. You can drive through a lot of American cities and see old, dead theaters. So Lexington is really fortunate."