"WAR EAGLE, ARKANSAS"(2007)
6:30 p.m. and 7 p.m., Riverdale 10. With Q&A with producer and screenwriter.
“War Eagle,” the festival's opening film and the latest big indie feature to come out of Arkansas, has a plot that's the stuff of Hallmark specials: Best friends since childhood, Enoch and “Wheels” are teen-agers living in the Ozark burg of War Eagle, struggling not only with same sorts of things teen-agers living in rural anywhere battle — the confines of a small town, overbearing family, girls, the future — but also debilitating conditions. Enoch, a high school baseball star with a chance for a scholarship, is a chronic stutterer, and cerebral palsy keeps the always-wisecracking “Wheels” in the wheelchair for which he's nicknamed. They're inseparable, it seems, because they're only fully functional when they're together. But despite a few bumps, the film never gets mired in sentimentality. Give large credit to the young lead actors, Luke Grimes and James McDaniel, who infuse their roles with plenty of pathos and awkward charm. Screenwriter Graham Gordy, a Conway native, helps, too, with casually hilarious teen-age dialogue.