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Representing Talent Worldwide

Sep 9, 2008

"Legendary entertainer Dick Van Dyke makes a rare appearance in New York City to promote his latest documentary, "The Wonder Kids" screening as part of The New York International Independent Film & Video Festival "


"Remarkable" - Army Archerd (Variety)

New York NY [September 9, 2008 ]-- The New York International Independent Film and Video Festival is very pleased to announce that legendary entertainer Dick Van Dyke will make a special appearance at the “The Wonder Kids” East Coast Premiere, which will be held on Friday September 19th at 8pm at Village East cinema (181 2nd Ave. and 12th Street). Mr. Van Dyke narrated the documentary which scooped the prestigious Grand Jury Prize for Best Documentary at the NYIIFVF in LA. The legendary performer is expected to be joined in a pre-show dance with Savion Glover, and an All-Star cast of dancers featured in the film.

Written, produced and directed by Jim Petersen and Pamela J. Richardson, "The Wonder Kids" is the inspiring story of a tiny dance studio that set out to save the art-form of tap-dancing, and not only produced many of the world's greatest dancers, but saved the lives of thousands of inner-city kids in the process.

Dick Van Dyke, who will be making a rare New York appearance to promote the new film, will also appear that same day as a guest on the hit TV talk show "The View," where he will be discussing the story of "The Wonder Kids," his experience making it, as well as various clips from the film.

NYIIFVF Founder/Executive Stuart Alson commented, "We are absolutely thrilled and honored that Dick Van Dyke will be attending our festival. Mr. Van Dyke did an amazing job in terms of hosting "The Wonder Kids" and in lending his support to promote the film on both coasts. Alson went on to say "I am also very impressed with filmmakers Jim Petersen and Pamela Richardson. Their creativity, passion and ability to craft a very compelling story has resulted in a brilliant docmentary."

Not only were the filmmakers fortunate enough to have a true American icon tell their story, they got great help from the charismatic presence of Savion Glover - the man universally hailed as the greatest tap dancer in the world today. "When you're making a movie about tap-dancing, it definitely helps to have the world's greatest tap dancer in it," laughs Petersen. Savion, who grew up very close to the founders of the school, who were among his teachers, displays a powerful and memorable depth. He is joined in this regard by a who's-who group of the world's greatest dancers, including Dianne Walker, Jason Samuels Smith, Dormeshia Sumbry Edwards, and Derick Grant. But there would be another presence in the film, which would end up taking on perhaps a greater significance than even these.

Because they were the original inspiration for the founders of the school, a portion of "The Wonder Kids" pays homage to the Nicholas Brothers - the legendary tap duo who most dance insiders consider the greatest tap dancers of all-time. In essence, it was the Nicholas Brothers who were the first "Wonder Kids," and Paul and Arlene Kennedy (the school's main teachers) taught their style and later in life, befriended their idols. As a consequence, Petersen and Richardson were in awe as they sat down next to Fayard Nicholas to interview him about dancing and about this special little school.

"For Pamela and I, it truly felt like we were sitting down next to Babe Ruth to talk about baseball," says Petersen "it was an amazing honor to be there." Although he was 91 at the time, they still saw all the fire and passion in Fayard's eyes that had propelled him up walls and into spectacular (and painful to watch) splits. The old master used his interview to plug the dance he loved so devoutly. But it would be his last. Shortly after they met with him he died, deeply saddening "The Wonder Kids" film crew. But Fayards words, his final message -- they were now captured for future audiences to see.

The film only came about when Petersen and his wife were looking for a new dance school for their nine-year old daughter, who was advancing too fast for the one she was in. They saw an incredible performance of the "Wonder Kids" at the John Ford Theater in Hollywood, but because the school has no budget for advertising, it took quite a while before they could actually find the place. When they did, Petersen (who was a screenwriter), was immediately struck by the cinematic potential of these incredible young dancers. He soon became fascinated by the rich history and legacy of the tiny, run-down looking school. "But the thing that convinced me and then my partner Pamela that there was a film here, was the behavior of the kids themselves. We could have called it 'The Wonderful Kids.' Here were foster kids, kids from bombed out, gang-infested areas - teenagers who could have been real thugs--but instead they were the politest, most respectful, nicest
bunch of kids you could ever meet. We thought - wow - what's the story here? How's this happening? And then we learned that this school was turning gang-bangers into professional performers and straight A students. They were providing these children with the love, the discipline, and a pride in themselves that no one else was."

"And then we got Dick Van Dyke - a universally loved icon to tell the story - and that was a dream come true. Who doesn't love Dick Van Dyke?" Petersen asks rhetorically. Judging from the reaction people like Army Archerd have had to this true underdog of a film -- evidently not many. Does such a universally positive reception surprise the filmmakers?

"It does and it doesn't," replies Petersen. "It's quite an unpretentious film - and a very UN-contemporary Hollywood film. No violence, no sex--it's as G rated as 'Bambi.' But you've got Kids, Dancing, Dick Van Dyke, a powerful story about REAL love... There's a lot to love in this film."

Tickets are $12 in advance (www.nyfilmvideo.com) and $15 at the door. For all press requests and an invitation to the screening, please contact Briege McGarrity at 917 783-4042, or email her at BMcGarrityPR@aol.com. For further information about "The Wonder Kids," contact Brass Ring Productions at 323 559-1882 or 323 667-2922.

About the filmmakers: Although "The Wonder Kids" is his first venture into directing and his first completed film, Co-Producer and Co-Director Jim Petersen is a screenwriter who has sold and worked on several independent and studio films. He is about to begin work on adapting the best selling book "A Private Family Matter" by Victor Rivas Rivers, into a screenplay, and is just finishing up his first novel - a political satire called "The Lesser Evil." Co-Producer and Co-Director Pamela J. Richardson is an award winning screenwriter who has since Produced and Directed a new feature documentary called "Gold Diggers: The Motherlode," which she recently took to the Cannes Film Festival. Ms. Richardson has also worked as a producer and/or production manager for many music videos involving a wide range of artists, including Montel Jordan, Freddie Jackson, Dr. Drea, and Eminem. She also wrote the PBS docu-drama "Aids: A Family in Crisis," and received an
American Film Institute screenwriting award for her screenplay "Thicker Than Water."

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