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Damon says 'Promised Land' doesn't judge

| Friday, Feb. 8, 2013, 8:57 p.m.

Matt Damon hopes “Promised Land,” his drama on the divisive practice of fracking, will win over international critics, despite a U.S. reception that disappointed the actor.

The movie on shale-gas drilling, directed by Gus Van Sant and with a script written by Damon and co-star John Krasinski, has its international premiere Friday at the Berlin film festival. It is one of 19 films running for the Golden Bear award.

In the United States, where the movie opened last month, “it didn't get the reception that I would have hoped for, but that happens sometimes,” Damon told reporters. “Sometimes, people find movies later on.”

Damon stars as a salesman persuading small-town residents to sell a big energy firm the right to extract gas from beneath their farmlands.

Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, frees natural gas from shale deep underground by injecting a well with chemically treated water and sand. Supporters say it can be an economic boon to rural areas, but critics say it can pollute groundwater.

The film was shot in Western Pennsylvania. Damon said the movie crew heard strong opinions there from both backers and detractors of fracking.

“We didn't want the film to be a judgment on what to do,” Damon insisted.

“What we really wanted to do was make a movie about American identity,” he said. “The actual issue itself was secondary to wanting to explore where we are right now, how we make big decisions.

— Associated Press

Choirs wanted for musical competition

Get ready for a high-school choir competition.

Pittsburgh Next Generation of Music Legends, along with N-Motion Entertainment, is seeking videotapes or DVDs of 3- to 5-minute-long musical performances by Pittsburgh-area high-school choirs.

Ten choirs will be selected to perform in a live musical battle. The winning choir will receive a cash prize and be the opening act for Howard University's Afro Blue, an a cappella jazz ensemble. Afro Blue competed in 2011 in NBC's “The Sing Off.” The group will perform at 7:30 p.m. April 27 at the August Wilson Center, Downtown.

The deadline for video entries is Feb. 22. Send the entries to Pittsburgh's Next General of Music Legends, 10918 Frankstown Road, Suite 701, Pittsburgh, PA 15235.

Details: 412-241-6218 or email Donald Patterson at dantessoul@aol.com.

— Tribune-Review

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