Local film ‘The Suspect' to unspool at special screening in Reading

"The Suspect," a film by local writer/director Stuart Connelly, will show at a special screening in Reading this Sunday, Oct. 13, as well as at two screenings at the Philadelphia Film Fest later this month. Photo courtesy of Modoc Spring

The husband-and-wife producing team of Stuart Connelly and Mary Jo Barthmaier will be showcasing the film they shot late last year in the Tri County area, “The Suspect,” in Reading this Sunday, Oct. 13.

The film, a psychological thriller starring Mekhi Phifer (ER) will have an exclusive, one-show-only engagement at the R/C Movies 11 IMAX and is open to the public.

“We wanted to thank the many people in the area who helped us out during production,” Barthmaier says. “Most folks just saw glimpses of the story, slivers, and it only seems fair to let them see how it all came together.”

While some locations may be hard to recognize due to the heavy layer of production design, Barthmaier says there’s lots of fun to be had seeing how various locations in Elverson, West Nantmeal, Chester Springs, Morgantown and West Chester tied together to create the fictional towns of Midland and Polaski, where most of the film’s action takes place.

“Many recognizable locations in our community look amazing on the big screen,” she says. “Viewers will enjoy seeing what roles the familiar places took on.”

Tickets are available for $8.50 at the door as well as through the R/C Theaters website. Although “The Suspect” has not yet been rated by the Motion Picture Association of America, it does contain adult language. Connelly will be on hand after the film for a question and answer session. A preview trailer is available on the film’s website, thesuspectmovie.com.

The couple, West Nantmeal residents, started their company Modoc Spring with the goal of shooting Hollywood-style productions without needing to leave their home for months at a stretch.

“This area of Pennsylvania is so diverse and has so much personality,” says Connelly, who wrote and directed the picture. “There’s no reason why we can’t share the beauty of our backyard with the world.”

And that’s already started. In addition to several international sales, the couple is currently finalizing a distribution agreement for “The Suspect,” which they anticipate will be released nation-wide in 2014.

But that doesn’t mean that film production has ended in the Tri County area. Modoc Spring is already preparing for Connelly’s sophomore effort, the thriller “Haven House,” and the couple is producing another local writer/director’s project, Chad Scheifele’s “Natural Selection.”

Those who would like to see the film but can’t make the Oct. 13 screening will have two more chances this month – The Philadelphia Film Festival just announced “The Suspect” as part of this year’s lineup. The festival runs from Oct. 17-26.