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From the page to the screen - A movie dipicting one of Mark Twain's short stories will premiere in DeKalb

An open book.
Ben White - Unsplash.com
An open book.

The Northern Illinois University School of Theater and Dance will showcase a film that took over 10 years to complete.

Alexander Gelman is a film and dance professor at Northern Illinois University. He wrote the movie version of Mark Twain’s short story “The $30,000 Bequest.” He said this movie is different from other book adaptations because it includes all the original text.

“What we attempt to do is preserve the author's voice,” he said, “that have the combination of the imagined story that he's telling us, and also have his voice always in the room.”

Gelman said the movie took a while to complete because the production was done during the team’s spare time. At one point he said he and the editor watched a rough cut of the project and decided to start over.

He said before writing the movie he wrote a play based on the story that was performed starting around 2005 or 2006.

“And then for several years, we would do it, you know, for several stretches at a time, like we would do it for perform it and in Rockford for a couple of weeks," he explained. "We even performed it in Moscow, in Russia.”

Gelman said when the movie idea came up, he started over, writing the film script from scratch, again including all of Twain's text. He said that decision, along with the previously mentioned constraints on everyone's time, led to the lengthy birthing process for this movie.

The “$30,000 Bequest” movie premieres at 7 p.m. Saturday Jan. 21. Tickets can be purchased at the theater’s website.

  • Yvonne Boose is a current corps member for Report for America, an initiative of the GroundTruth Project. It's a national service program that places talented journalists in local newsrooms like WNIJ. You can learn more about Report for America at wnij.org.
Yvonne covers artistic, cultural, and spiritual expressions in the COVID-19 era. This could include how members of community cultural groups are finding creative and innovative ways to enrich their personal lives through these expressions individually and within the context of their larger communities. Boose is a recent graduate of the Illinois Media School and returns to journalism after a career in the corporate world.