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Film

Northern Arizona University alumni, filmmakers Joe Cardone and Carol Kottenbrook, will introduce their 1998 movie “Outside Ozona” and join viewers after to talk about the film and their long, successful Hollywood careers.

Kottenbrook and Cardone worked together on 23 films. For most of their collaborations, Kottenbrook produced films written and/or directed by Cardone. Together they built Sandstorm Films, a production company, which made films primarily for Sony Pictures.

Cardone and Kottenbrook went their own way in a film industry in which there is little room for independence, especially for as long as the 30 years they worked in movies. Cardone proudly wrote and directed mainly B genre movies, because those are the kind of movies he loves.

Together they provided Sony with No. 1 box office hits, working with Oscar winning and nominated actors like Bruce Davison, Carrrie Snodgress, Tom Berenger, James Spader, Louise Fletcher, JT Walsh, Katherine Ross, Mickey Rourke, and in “Outside Ozona” Robert Forster and David Paymer.

Sandstorm Films often hired NAU talent. Including Cardone and Kottenbrook, 12 NAU students, alumni and employees worked on “Outside Ozona.”

They assembled a power packed cast for “Outside Ozona.” Joining Forster and Paymer, (currently appearing on Amazon’s “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”), the cast includes Swoozie Kurtz, Sherilyn Fenn, Penelope Miller, Kevin Pollock (also currently on “Mrs. Maisel”) with outstanding performances by two Grammy-award winning musicians Taj Mahal and Meat Loaf.

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The story has three couples and a weary truck driver navigating the dark highways outside Ozona, Texas, all listening to the same radio station disc jockey, Dix Mayal (Taj Mahal), who we discover, as Cardone cuts from the highway couples to the country music radio station, has locked himself in the control room so he can play the blues, much to the displeasure of Meat Loaf’s station manager. Dix talks about “the badlands” out there on the dangerous, deserted highways where a serial killer lurks.

Robert Forster has been a welcome movie presence since 1969’s “Medium Cool” made him one of the hottest young stars of that era, for about 20 minutes. He went through a long dry spell, struggling just to survive as an actor until Quentin Tarantino cast in 1997’s “Jackie Brown,” for which he received a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination.

The next year Forster appeared in both Gus Van Sant’s “Psycho” remake and Cardone-Kottenbrook’s “Outside Ozona,’ rebooting his career and going on to act in more than 70 movies until his death just last month. His last role was in the “Breaking Bad” sequel “El Camino.”

While B movies are notoriously underappreciated by critics, in his 1998 review, Roger Ebert wrote, “After all the slick formula movies, it's refreshing sometimes to see a film that isn't working from the rule book… (Cardone’s) going for something touching and sincere… there are moments I will remember, and Cardone evokes a real sense for the deserted night highways.”

While “Outside Ozona” plays regularly on the Sony channel, it was never released on DVD. Don’t miss this rare opportunity to see a terrific cast in an entertaining movie and to meet the filmmakers Tuesday night.

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