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Powerful and thought-provoking ‘Stone’ premieres in Sedona Nov. 30

Robert De Niro as parole officer Jack Mabry in "Stone"

The thought-provoking drama “Stone” makes its Northern Arizona premiere and exclusive one-night only engagement in Sedona on Tuesday, Nov. 30, presented by the Sedona International Film Festival.  There will be two screenings of the film at 4:00 and 7:00 p.m. at Harkins Sedona Six Theatres.

A seasoned corrections official and a volatile inmate find their lives dangerously intertwined in “Stone”, a thought-provoking drama directed by John Curran and written by Angus MacLachlan. “Stone” features powerful performances by Academy Award-winner Robert De Niro and Oscar-nominee Edward Norton, and a startlingly raw, breakout performance from Milla Jovovich as the sexy, casually amoral woman they both desire. Golden Globe-winner Frances Conroy completes the superb ensemble as Madylyn, Jack’s devout, long-suffering spouse.

As parole officer Jack Mabry (De Niro) counts the days toward a quiet retirement, he is asked to review the case of Gerald “Stone” Creeson (Norton), in prison for covering up the murder of his grandparents with a fire. Now eligible for early release, Stone needs to convince Jack he has reformed, but his attempts to influence the older man’s decision have profound and unexpected consequences for them both.

“Stone” skillfully weaves together the parallel journeys of two men grappling with dark impulses, as the line between lawman and lawbreaker becomes precariously thin.

Set against the quiet desperation of economically ravaged suburban Detroit and the stifling brutality of a maximum security prison, this tale of passion, betrayal and corruption examines the fractured lives of two volatile men breaking from their troubled pasts to face uncertain futures.

According to the film’s co-producer Jordan Schur, “Stone” is situated squarely in life’s grey areas. “The title character, played by Edward Norton, is a convicted arsonist who can also be perceived as a murderer,” he says. “He seems like the one who has committed the most serious sins, but because nothing about the situation is black and white, we sympathize with Stone and even root for him a little bit. On the other hand, Jack, played by Robert De Niro, seems to be the good guy, but he’s breaking a lot of moral laws. The film presents a story where these compromised characters intersect.”

A true ensemble production, “Stone” gives each of its four stars the chance to explore a rich and layered character, full of contradictions and surprises.

“The characters were what made us want to make the film,” says co-producer Holly Wiersma. “They are all sympathetic, but they’re all very flawed. You’re always trying to figure them out.”

The first to commit to the project was legendary leading man Robert De Niro. With two Oscars to his name, the first for his breakthrough role in “The Godfather Part II” and the second for playing boxer Jake La Motta in Martin Scorsese’s “Raging Bull”, De Niro has delivered some of the finest performances in modern American cinema.

De Niro’s Jack Mabry is a conflicted character, a man whose actions are at odds with his words. “Jack does some despicable things,” says Wiersma. “But he also needs to be someone people feel they know and like. Without someone accessible playing that role, it becomes much harder to watch. We knew that De Niro would bring a certain amount of sympathy to it. Jack’s a charming man, but he does not do charming things in this picture.”

The title sponsors for this special premiere film event are Ultimate Energy, LLC. and A Spa For You. The series is also made possible by a grant from the Arizona Commission on the Arts and National Endowment for the Arts, the City of Sedona, and the Sedona Community Foundation.

“Stone” will be shown at Harkins Sedona Six Theatres on Tuesday, Nov. 30 at 4:00 and 7:00 p.m. Tickets are $12, or $9 for Film Festival members, and will be available starting at 3:00 p.m. that day in the Harkins lobby. Cash or checks only. Film Sedona members can purchase tickets in advance at the Sedona International Film Festival office, 1785 W. Hwy. 89A, Suite 2B, or by calling 928.282.1177. For more information, visit: www.SedonaFilmFestival.com.