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Film Festival Celebrates Capra's Life

The festival is the part of the art museum's Winter Film Series and consists of six Capra films in addition to the documentary.

Capra Jr., president of Screen Gems Studio in Wilmington, presented and answered audience questions. He received extended applause as he walked to the front of the screening room to address the crowd and gave his reasons for making the film. "We began to see that my father's work meant so much some 50 or 60 years after they were made in an industry not known for longevity," he said.

Capra Jr. chronicled his father's climb to success in "Frank Capra's American Dream." He touched on many facets of his father's life -- his breakthrough success directing "The Miracle Woman," the effect of his personal life on his films and finally his father's emotional collapse at the pinnacle of his career.

"We tried to take pieces from many, many films," Capra Jr. said, bringing the focus back to Capra's true legend: the memorable films Capra left behind.

Ruggedly handsome and unabashedly ambitious, Capra had the talent and the ambition to start changing the way America looked at movies. And early in his career, he began to do just that.

"A hell of a lot of films were being made when my father was making movies that you never hear about," said Capra Jr. of his father's work.

Though Capra was widely known for the eternal optimism of his movies, "American Dream" also reveals a darker side of the legendary director. Capra Jr. candidly documented his father's painful discovery of the loneliness and depression awaiting him at the top of Hollywood. "People think about the optimism and hope in his films in many ways that reflected him, but they also mirrored a dark side, from the death of my brother to his cluster headaches and depression," he said.

Many people will be surprised to find that one of their all-time Capra favorites, "It's a Wonderful Life," is not on the list of films to be shown. Instead, the festival puts a focus on his earlier work.

Despite the absence of that movie from the festival, audiences are likely not to be disappointed with the selected Capra classics. The museum has scheduled to show Capra's Academy Award-winning movie, "It Happened One Night," this Friday and will conclude the festival with "Mr. Deeds Goes to Town" on Feb. 15.

The Arts & Entertainment Editor can be reached at

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