Luther celebrates 25th anniversary of ‘The Straight Story’ in April

Luther College’s Center for Ethics and Public Engagement (The CEPE) will celebrate the 25th anniversary of David Lynch’s “The Straight Story,” with a free screening and discussion with one of the film’s stars in early April. The film is based on the true story of Alvin Straight from the Iowa community of Laurens, who rode his lawn mower tractor across the state and part of Wisconsin to reunite with his estranged brother.

The CEPE will host a screening of “The Straight Story” at 7 p.m Thursday, April 4, in Olin 102. At 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 10, in the Center for Faith and Life Recital Hall actor James Cada, who played Danny Riordan in the movie, will be on campus to discuss the film. Along with Susanne Egli, associate professor of communication and leadership at St. Mary’s University, the two will also discuss the role of art as part of the public good.

“The brilliance of ‘The Straight Story’ is that its complex characters and narrative positivity speak to audiences of all ages. And for folks living in this part of Iowa and the Midwest, it’s a rare chance to consider how our lives and values get represented on the silver screen,” said Andy Hageman, associate professor of English at Luther and director of the CEPE. “That helps us explore the values that may connect us in this part of the world, and it helps folks recognize that every identity represented in films shapes attitudes for good or ill.”

Lynch, director of “Eraserhead” and “Blue Velvet,” surprised Hollywood and audiences by directing a G-rated film produced by Disney that is set in rural Iowa. The film stars Richard Farnsworth and Sissy Spacek along with Cada. It captures the feel of rural Iowa with the landscapes and dialogue.

Cada and Egli, who has a theater career spanning around the U.S., will reflect on actors and artists who are based in the Midwest, but connected around the globe. The two will also share insights on the recent strike by SAG-AFTRA (the actor’s union) and the future of acting.


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