FSU Alumnus’s “Feast of the Seven Fishes”

Laine Edelman, Staff Reporter

The holiday season is known as a time of tradition. In particular, a time to come together with loved ones, celebrate personal traditions and observe some well-known ceremonies.

This sense of history and celebration of community is highlighted in the newly released comedy “Feast of the Seven Fishes,” written and directed 通过 Fairmont resident and Fairmont State University alumnus Robert Tinnell. Born and raised in West Virginia, Tinnell is well-known in the horror genre as both an author and a director, most notably for his 1996 film “Frankenstein and Me,” which featured actors Burt Reynolds and Ryan Gosling, and his work with horror movie legend George Romero.

Feast of the Seven Fishes is set in 1980s Fairmont, following the Oliverio family through young Tony Oliverio’s point of view as he navigates pre-holiday preparations, all while questioning his life and falling in love. Traditionally the Feast of the Seven Fishes — or La Vigilia, as it is called in Italy — is a Christmas Eve celebration involving an extensive seafood-based meal.

The Italian-American tradition is linked to a Catholic custom to abstain from eating meats and dairy products during the eve of many holidays. The number seven is used often in the Bible, from the number of sacraments to the days of creation.

Here in Marion County, this celebration has been a staple for generations in the surrounding regions. In an interview with 澳门合法赌场, Tinnell said the film’s major theme is family and community, going back to a time when people connected in person. He said he drew on his own memories of trips into town in which families celebrated the holidays not through their screens. This was the inspiration behind the conception of the film, which genre-wise is a departure from his earlier works in horror and graphic novels.

“It kind of grew organically. I was very interested just in the fact that we did this as a family,” he said.

Tinnell also knew others would connect with the spirit of the movie; “I knew we had a built-in sort of constituency with Italian-Americans and people from the Mon-Valley, and I knew that people who like food were going to like it.”

However, he was surprised 通过 critics’ positive response; “I did not foresee the critics liking it this much,” he said.

Ranking 88% on Rotten Tomatoes (and 91% on the audience score), the film has been praised 通过 reviewers from the LA Times, to RogerEbert.com, to Variety, which praised its “jolly, well meshed ensemble.” It also won audience’s choice award at the Heartland International Film Festival.

Tinnell is just getting started. With the success of Feast still fresh, he is excited about projects to come. However, he knows better than to give away too many details too soon. “I don’t think I was really prepared for all these reviews and this sort of reaction, so I just want to be really careful with what I do next,” he said

“I do know that I have more stories that I want to tell that take place in West Virginia because I think we have a lot of interesting stories here that haven’t been told and I would like to sort of expand the way people view the state and the people of the state.”

Even though the times have changed, the strength of the Feast of the Seven Fishes tradition throughout Fairmont remains. This year’s festival will feature Tinnell as a guest. For more information, visit //www.mainstreetfairmont.org/feast-of-the-seven-fishes-2019-holiday-homecoming.html