A six-episode miniseries that filmed a pivotal scene at Mount Union Cemetery in Philomath will be featured at a premiere event on Thursday, Aug. 18 at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry.
The film project’s events coordinator issued an invitation to Philomath residents to attend the special event, which begins at 6 p.m. in Empirical Theater at the museum (1945 SE Water Ave.). General admission or VIP tickets can be purchased online. Organizers said those attending will be required to wear face masks and proof of vaccination or a negative test within 24 hours will be required.
Entitled “Dearest Eva,” the miniseries represents the first Victorian family drama to center Black characters and love with scenes filmed in Portland and surrounding areas in 2021, including Philomath’s historically significant cemetery.
On the decision to film at Mount Union Cemetery, founded in 1861 when the formerly enslaved Reuben Shipley and Mary Jane Holmes donated land for a mixed-race burial ground, creator and Kryptic Films founder Kamryn Fall said, “We were just extremely excited to find a place that had actual significance to Black lives in Oregon, and it was also extremely beautiful. They did a little rewriting of history themselves by creating a place where Black folks could be buried with dignity, so we thought it was perfect.”
J.C. “Jace” Meyer-Crosby, event coordinator, said OMSI makes sense as the host for the premiere.
“We would love it if the people of Philomath would turn out for this event and celebrate their city’s historical contribution to the project while we celebrate this project’s contribution to the world of film,” Meyer-Crosby said.
Meyer-Crosby said OMSI as the event venue works “because dreaming up worlds unaffected by colonization and white supremacy has always been science fiction. What guests are going to see up on that screen is a reimagining of the past that shapes possibilities for the future.”
In “Dearest Eva,” a letter from a young Black woman’s childhood crush arrives, and she struggles to balance love and happiness with her responsibilities as matriarch of her chaotic and dysfunctional 19th-century family. The heroine, Eva Williams, assumes the burden of supporting her younger sister Mary, brother Sam and her father. While Eva entertains the idea of kindling a relationship with George, Mary plans a wild house party, undermining Eva’s authority and getting in touch with the town’s social scene. The aftermath triggers a series of consequences that will test the strength of Eva’s family bonds and challenge her notions of love in all its forms.
“The objective of Dearest Eva is to create a timeline in an alternate world without slavery, gender oppression and land theft so that we can see how Black and brown folks would have lived in this Victorian aesthetic and what that looks like,” Fall said.
After a celebratory red carpet photo opportunity, the series will be shown on the Empirical Theater’s projection screen ahead of its mainstream release online. The run time is approximately two hours.
Those who purchase VIP tickets are able to attend a reception following the screening and will include hors d’oeuvres, beverages, cast meet-and-mingle and live music, featuring a performance of the original song from the show “My Dearest,” written by award-winning local indie artist Kingsley.