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Monday, Oct 15, 2018
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Christmas-themed movie starring Plant City native set for Tuesday release

PLANT CITY — Charleene Closshey is getting the best possible Christmas gift a bit early:

A movie with a holiday theme starring the Plant City native is being released nationally Nov. 4 by Walmart, iTunes, Amazon, DirecTV and other platforms. It premieres Dec. 21 on Netflix.

“An Evergreen Christmas” features the 33-year-old Closshey as a rock singer with a faltering Hollywood career who is called home to the family Christmas tree farm after the death of her father. She ultimately decides to abandon big city life and return to her roots in her rural hometown.

Closshey said she thinks it will strike a chord with viewers, particularly at the Christmas season.

“We all in one way or another are searching for the place where we belong. It’s a positive and realistic movie,” she said. “Everyone can relate to what its like to be home.”

Closshey is the central character, and also plays the violin and wrote the musical score for the film. Her fiancé, Jeremy Culver and his sister Morgan, wrote the screenplay.

Culver said his grandfather, the late Don Culver, who was a Christmas tree farmer in Michigan, provided the inspiration for the film. The script was the result of months of work, and in the end, 228 minutes of film was whittled to 98 minutes, he said.

“My grandfather got to see it before he died, and that meant a lot to me,” Culver said.

The cast also includes Robert Loggia, best known for such films as “Independence Day,” and Naomi Judd, who teamed with her daughter Wynonna in the musical duo The Judds.

Some Plant City residents play bit parts, such as her dad Charles who plays a bartender and her aunt, Yvonne Fry, who plays a secretary. Charleene’s mother, Jennifer, is executive producer.

The movie was filmed about two years ago at a tree farm in rural Charlotte, N.C. It is set at Christmas time in a fictional small town in Tennessee.

The past year, the film has been shown at film festivals and marketed to retailers. The reaction has been positive, including from Walmart, which has chosen it as one of six holiday movies that will be placed on the endcap, a term used for a product placed at the end of an aisle. It is considered a high profile spot and perceived to give a brand a competitive advantage.

The movie also will be sold Nov. 8 through Christmas at Fred’s Southern Kitchen, 1401 W. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Plant City. All profits from the sale of the movie at the restaurant will go to help The Spring, a nonprofit that helps victims of domestic violence.

Closshey, who since the movie was filmed has spent a lot of time performing with the musical, “Once,” said she hopes there will be a sequel. She hopes families will fall in love with “An Evergreen Christmas” and want to watch each holiday season.

“We all in one way or another are looking for the place to call home,” she said. “It’s the kind of a story that everyone can relate to.”

Twitter: @dnicholsonTBO

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