Isn’t it great to find out that you are living next door to a true hero? That your neighbor is someone who is a great humanitarian?
This weekend you can find out about a neighbor and watch it in a neighborhood screening room you’ve probably never been to in the San Fernando Valley.
You can find out about actress Marsha Hunt, who just recently turned 98, and has lived in Studio City and Sherman Oaks most over her life. The ups and downs of her inspiring life are depicted in the heartfelt documentary “Marsha Hunt’s Sweet Adversity” at the closing night of the Studio City International Film Festival this Sunday, Nov. 15.
Marsha will be there at the screening to answer questions with director Roger Memos. Some of the proceeds will go to the charities Last Chance for Animals and the Alliances of Women’s Directors.
“It is such a great honor to see your life put together so beautifully in a film like this,” says Marsha, who has won a few honors recently at film festivals across the country since the documentary was completed about six months ago. “It is hard for me to go through all these emotions every time I see it, but I am delighted that people are interested. It is also wonderful to know that my friends say that there are things they didn’t know about me after all this time.”
I’ve seen the 100-minute documentary three times, and it’s destined to make you laugh and cry even if you know nothing about Marsha Hunt’s incredible career. I’ve also known Marsha for more than half my life (two-and-a-half decades) and this truly brings together her multi-faceted life and shows a true champion who is both a citizen of the world and a strong fighter for justice, even in the face of great odds.
The film takes you on the journey from her strong family roots, to a vibrant career working with the likes of Laurence Olivier and John Wayne, to a career sideswipe because of the Hollywood Blacklist. But then, the movie shows how she rises through it all with a loving husband and becomes an advocate for the hungry and homeless, works with the United Nations and remains a tireless activist.
It’s a particularly good time because of the recent release of the movie “Trumbo” with Bryan Cranston playing the screenwriter Dalton Trumbo whose career was also damaged by the Hollywood Blacklist. Also starring Helen Mirren, John Goodman, Diane Lane and Elle Fanning, the movie mixes real documentary footage with the actors’ portrayals and if you watch closely you can see Marsha alongside Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall when they attended the House Un-Amercian Activities Committee hearings that caused people to rout out Communists and point fingers at their friends and colleagues.
The Studio City International Film Festival is in its third year, created by local actors and filmmakers. They’ve managed to find incredibly eclectic movies from across the globe and promote diversity in independent film. The screening is held in a cozy theater called the Complete Actors Place Theatre on Ventura Boulevard, down the street from CBS Studios and a few miles away from Universal Studios and Warner Bros. It has an outdoor patio and a bar with comfortable seating where you can watch movies on a big screen.
The film shows a life that continues to be well lived. In May, 1935, while visiting her uncle in Los Angeles, 17 year old model and aspiring actress Marsha Hunt was “discovered” in Hollywood. She signed with Paramount and went on to a flourishing career at MGM during the Golden Age of Hollywood. She made 54 films in 17 years before a series of unfortunate events led to her being unfairly blacklisted. After the blacklist, she championed humanitarian causes, forging a new career as one of Hollywood’s first celebrity activists. Marsha is still fighting for the causes she believes in.
“It is great to see that Marsha has a whole new generation of fans that are discovering her for the first time,” says filmmaker Roger Memos. “She is still willing to answer all the questions that anyone has and answers them all very honestly.”
This is truly worth you while. It’s about a person you’ll never forget. (Check out the slide show above.)
See “Marsha Hunt’s Sweet Adversity” at 5 p.m. at 13752 Ventura Blvd. in Sherman Oaks. Tickets are $15.
Learn about a legend who has been living next door to you all this time. Meet her in person. You won’t regret it!