The Daily Tar Heel
Printing news. Raising hell. Since 1893.
Friday, Dec. 1, 2023 Newsletters Latest print issue

We keep you informed.

Help us keep going. Donate Today.
The Daily Tar Heel

Festival Brings Capra's Life, Film To Art Museum

Frank Capra Jr. is scheduled to introduce his documentary on his father to start off a festival showcasing the older Capra's films.

Capra's works, from "It Happened One Night" to "It's a Wonderful Life," are deeply ingrained in the American psyche. The next two weeks will be filled with multiple showings of his many films, but a documentary on Capra's life and career will kick off the festivities this Friday.

Introducing the documentary is none other than Capra's son. Frank Capra Jr. took a cue from his father and followed him into show business, though he chose a producer's role. He owns and operates Screen Gems Studios in Wilmington -- the home base for shows such as "Dawson's Creek" and "28 Days" -- which now enjoys great success as the largest American film studio outside of Los Angeles.

As an expert, the younger Capra is complimentary of the museum for its selection of films to be shown during the retrospective. "They've done a really nice job with their schedule," he said. "It's going to be a pretty complete piece."

When museum officials developed the idea of a Capra retrospective, they decided to see if his son would be interested in participating. "They contacted me early about coming at least and introducing the documentary I did about my dad, called 'American Dream,' and I said, 'That's a great idea.'"

He plans on discussing areas that the documentary does not cover -- namely his experiences growing up in a show business family and the film industry's history.

Capra Jr. said his father's experiences continue to guide his own methods in dealing with the varied and eccentric people in his difficult profession. "I learned a lot about coming to these problems with good humor or else you get ulcers," he said.

Capra Jr. recognizes that while his father went through tough times, especially with the death of his young son and various illnesses, his eternal optimism shone through in all of his films, whatever their subject matter.

"My father's choice of subject and his take on the subject are meaningful to us today because it's about the human spirit, and that doesn't change," he said.

"Even though (his films) are almost all in black and white and their stars are people that have long passed away, the subject matter is still very modern."

For more information about the Frank Capra Film Festival, which runs until Feb. 15, call the N.C. Museum of Art box office at 919-715-5923.

The Arts & Entertainment Editor can be reached at

To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.