"Legendary entertainer Dick Van Dyke makes a rare
appearance in New York City to promote his latest
documentary, "The Wonder Kids" screening as part of The New
York International Independent Film & Video Festival "
"Remarkable" - Army Archerd (Variety)
New York NY [September 9, 2008 ]-- The New York
International Independent Film and Video Festival is very
pleased to announce that legendary entertainer Dick Van
Dyke will make a special appearance at the "The Wonder
Kids" East Coast Premiere, which will be held on Friday
September 19th at 8pm at Village East cinema (181 2nd Ave.
and 12th Street). Mr. Van Dyke narrated the documentary
which scooped the prestigious Grand Jury Prize for Best
Documentary at the NYIIFVF in LA. The legendary performer
is expected to be joined in a pre-show dance with Savion
Glover, and an All-Star cast of dancers featured in the
Written, produced and directed by Jim Petersen and Pamela
J. Richardson, "The Wonder Kids" is the inspiring story of
a tiny dance studio that set out to save the art-form of
tap-dancing, and not only produced many of the world's
greatest dancers, but saved the lives of thousands of
inner-city kids in the process.
Dick Van Dyke, who will be making a rare New York
appearance to promote the new film, will also appear that
same day as a guest on the hit TV talk show "The View,"
where he will be discussing the story of "The Wonder Kids,"
his experience making it, as well as various clips from the
NYIIFVF Founder/Executive Stuart Alson commented, "We are
absolutely thrilled and honored that Dick Van Dyke will be
attending our festival. Mr. Van Dyke did an amazing job in
terms of hosting "The Wonder Kids" and in lending his
support to promote the film on both coasts. Alson went on
to say "I am also very impressed with filmmakers Jim
Petersen and Pamela Richardson. Their creativity, passion
and ability to craft a very compelling story has resulted
in a brilliant docmentary."
Not only were the filmmakers fortunate enough to have a
true American icon tell their story, they got great help
from the charismatic presence of Savion Glover - the man
universally hailed as the greatest tap dancer in the world
today. "When you're making a movie about tap-dancing, it
definitely helps to have the world's greatest tap dancer in
it," laughs Petersen. Savion, who grew up very close to
the founders of the school, who were among his teachers,
displays a powerful and memorable depth. He is joined in
this regard by a who's-who group of the world's greatest
dancers, including Dianne Walker, Jason Samuels Smith,
Dormeshia Sumbry Edwards, and Derick Grant. But there
would be another presence in the film, which would end up
taking on perhaps a greater significance than even these.
Because they were the original inspiration for the founders
of the school, a portion of "The Wonder Kids" pays homage
to the Nicholas Brothers - the legendary tap duo who most
dance insiders consider the greatest tap dancers of
all-time. In essence, it was the Nicholas Brothers who
were the first "Wonder Kids," and Paul and Arlene Kennedy
(the school's main teachers) taught their style and later
in life, befriended their idols. As a consequence,
Petersen and Richardson were in awe as they sat down next
to Fayard Nicholas to interview him about dancing and about
this special little school.
"For Pamela and I, it truly felt like we were sitting down
next to Babe Ruth to talk about baseball," says Petersen
"it was an amazing honor to be there." Although he was 91
at the time, they still saw all the fire and passion in
Fayard's eyes that had propelled him up walls and into
spectacular (and painful to watch) splits. The old master
used his interview to plug the dance he loved so devoutly.
But it would be his last. Shortly after they met with
him he died, deeply saddening "The Wonder Kids" film crew.
But Fayards words, his final message -- they were now
captured for future audiences to see.
The film only came about when Petersen and his wife were
looking for a new dance school for their nine-year old
daughter, who was advancing too fast for the one she was
in. They saw an incredible performance of the "Wonder
Kids" at the John Ford Theater in Hollywood, but because
the school has no budget for advertising, it took quite a
while before they could actually find the place. When they
did, Petersen (who was a screenwriter), was immediately
struck by the cinematic potential of these incredible young
dancers. He soon became fascinated by the rich history and
legacy of the tiny, run-down looking school. "But the
thing that convinced me and then my partner Pamela that
there was a film here, was the behavior of the kids
themselves. We could have called it 'The Wonderful Kids.'
Here were foster kids, kids from bombed out, gang-infested
areas - teenagers who could have been real thugs--but
instead they were the politest, most respectful, nicest
bunch of kids you could ever meet. We thought - wow -
what's the story here? How's this happening? And then we
learned that this school was turning gang-bangers into
professional performers and straight A students. They were
providing these children with the love, the discipline, and
a pride in themselves that no one else was."
"And then we got Dick Van Dyke - a universally loved icon
to tell the story - and that was a dream come true. Who
doesn't love Dick Van Dyke?" Petersen asks rhetorically.
Judging from the reaction people like Army Archerd have had
to this true underdog of a film -- evidently not many.
Does such a universally positive reception surprise the
"It does and it doesn't," replies Petersen. "It's quite an
unpretentious film - and a very UN-contemporary Hollywood
film. No violence, no sex--it's as G rated as 'Bambi.' But
you've got Kids, Dancing, Dick Van Dyke, a powerful story
about REAL love... There's a lot to love in this film."
Tickets are $12 in advance (www.nyfilmvideo.com) and $15 at
the door. For all press requests and an invitation to the
screening, please contact Briege McGarrity at 917 783-4042,
or email her at BMcGarrityPR@aol.com. For further
information about "The Wonder Kids," contact Brass Ring
Productions at 323 559-1882 or 323 667-2922.
About the filmmakers: Although "The Wonder Kids" is his
first venture into directing and his first completed film,
Co-Producer and Co-Director Jim Petersen is a screenwriter
who has sold and worked on several independent and studio
films. He is about to begin work on adapting the best
selling book "A Private Family Matter" by Victor Rivas
Rivers, into a screenplay, and is just finishing up his
first novel - a political satire called "The Lesser Evil."
Co-Producer and Co-Director Pamela J. Richardson is an
award winning screenwriter who has since Produced and
Directed a new feature documentary called "Gold Diggers:
The Motherlode," which she recently took to the Cannes Film
Festival. Ms. Richardson has also worked as a producer
and/or production manager for many music videos involving a
wide range of artists, including Montel Jordan, Freddie
Jackson, Dr. Drea, and Eminem. She also wrote the PBS
docu-drama "Aids: A Family in Crisis," and received an
American Film Institute screenwriting award for her
screenplay "Thicker Than Water."