Cunningham asked the little girl a series of Beatles trivia questions, ending with this test for a true fan, "What is the greatest Beatles album of all?"
Without missing a beat, the girl replied, "Trick question. They're all great."
After the movie premiere Saturday night in Victoria, Cunningham took the stage and answered questions about his role in making and starring in the Texas-made film, which was set in the fictional town of Sironia but filmed in Waco. A couple of Baylor grads sitting next to us, Tami and Lee Keeling, murmured appreciatively throughout the movie at the familiar sights and sounds.
I asked Cunningham after the movie if the Beatles exchange was his contribution, and he confirmed it was. He said he and his co-writers regularly take note of the audience reaction to various lines in the film in a friendly competitive way, so he appreciated that I singled out these lines.
A highlight for me was Cunningham's response to my question about how he came to terms personally with the despair portrayed so honestly in the movie: a struggling artist's love-hate relationship with music. I set up the question by sharing my brother's unfulfilled dream of becoming a rock star.
Cunningham's answer was raw, honest and insightful. I hope I can get a recording of it from the man behind Victoria's Texas independent film series, Anthony Pedone, who was filming the question-and-answer session. My summary here won't do his answer justice, but Cunningham said he had to hit rock bottom and learn what was truly important before he could resume a relationship with music.
Success in the music business is such a crap shoot, he said. Talented people never make it big. Others with little ability become superstars. Cunningham said he no longer had any expectations for his music, but was grateful to be able to make a film in another capricious and cruel industry.
I left the movie thinking about my brother and the struggles we all endure to find peace. "Sironia" officially opens across the country in October, while Cunningham's music for the film is available on iTunes. He performed several of these songs Saturday night in Victoria, ending fittingly with a Beatles song that summed up the evening: "All You Need is Love."
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