The Lundberg Family Foundation Masters Film Series Debuts with Connecticut Premiere of Rising Willy Deville Documentary, ‘Heaven Stood Still’

Fri, May 5, 2023
Brendan Toller

Willy Deville, musical polymath and subject of "Heaven Stood Still." Photo by Duana LeMay.

From Todd Haynes' groundbreaking Velvet Underground documentary to Ken Burns, Lynn Novick, and Sarah Botstein’s acclaimed The U.S. and the Holocaust to JIB Productions popular Short Cuts program (featuring selections from Sundance, Tribeca, SXSW), Verso Studios and The Westport Library are fast becoming a regional film hub for Fairfield County, the State of Connecticut, and the tri-state area.

Formally tying all of these emerging elements together is the May 19 launch of the Lundberg Family Foundation Masters Film Series, featuring the Connecticut premiere of a rising new documentary, Heaven Stood Still: The Incarnations of Willy DeVille, directed by Connecticut native Larry Locke.

The film event is free with registration, with doors at 6:30 pm and the film screening at 7 pm.

The Westport Library’s Lundberg Family Foundation Masters Film Series will showcase films and filmmakers, celebrating contemporary masters, innovative new voices, and emerging artists. This series provides an experiential and community-forward cinema experience, acting as a bridge between emerging independent production and established innovation. Special film screenings are coupled with master class sessions that educate and inspire on modes of production and storytelling craft, as well as technical, philosophical, and historical aspects.

The Trefz Forum, an ideal space for film. A recent snap from VersoFest 2023's screening of filmmaker Steve Gaddis's "Alice Cooper: Live from the AstroTurf."

“We thank the Lundberg Family Foundation for supporting and igniting an engaging series that builds up Connecticut’s dynamic film community," said Westport Library Executive Director Bill Harmer. “This is an exciting endeavor that showcases the strength of Verso Studios facilities with our 18-foot HD screen and concert-grade sound system. If you haven’t caught a film screening, now is the time to come out. The series also lends itself to the mission of Verso University: Audiences will get insider perspective and philosophy from an eclectic mix of filmmakers that will prove to be invaluable.”

Fusing a trailblazing film series with a trailblazing artist, Heaven Stood Still chronicles the American singer, Stamford, Connecticut-born Willy DeVille, who leapt out of the 1970s CBGB punk scene in New York City with his band Mink DeVille. Deville traversed to New Orleans as soul singer, blossoming into the premier voice of American roots music on the continent of Europe for more than three decades.

“Being a part of the inaugural Lundberg Family Foundation Masters Film Series, bringing Willy back home to Connecticut, it means everything,” says Heaven Stood Still Director Larry Locke (pictured above, next to the film poster). “As rock legend Peter Wolf says about Willy’s performance, ‘It’s atomic. It’s huge. And it always stays with you.’ You will never forget Willy DeVille." 

"Heaven Stood Still," production still of interview subject, and "Stand By Me" soul pioneer Ben E. King.

Heaven Stood Still features Westport locals Chris Frantz and Crispin Cioe, who star in the film. Cioe also serves as a producer. Heaven Stood Still has enjoyed a propelling and impressive start, with a series of sold-out screenings across Europe and a sold-out, star-studded New York City premiere just months ago.

After the screening, there will be a Q&A with the filmmakers, including Locke, writers Nick Flynn and John Eskow, Frantz, Cioe, along with Willy's niece, Marlene O'Brien DeVille.

Master classes, led by Locke, will follow, on June 14 and 21, entitled, "Finding the Best Story to Tell Your Story." Both will be held from 2 to 3 pm in Brooks Place, on the Library's main level. The class will focus on techniques to convert a film concept into a compelling documentary story. Attendees will be shown examples in current films and also participate in the development process for a new film currently in pre-production.

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