Not everyone likes Star Wars - director of new release has ties to Abingdon

Matthew Lane • Dec 16, 2017 at 1:00 PM

ABINGDON — “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” will be the biggest movie release of the holiday season and quite possibly of all of 2017. It just opened in thousands of theaters around the world and was expected to make more than $400 million on its opening weekend.

But what if you don’t want to watch Star Wars this weekend? As shocking as it might seem to die-hard fans, not everyone likes Star Wars.

Luckily, there are a few options for moviegoers (such as the animated “Ferdinand”) and one of them even has a local connection.

A “Permanent” movie

Colette Burson is the director of “Permanent,” a coming of age story about 13-year-old Aurelie Dickson (Kira McLean) growing up in a small town in Virginia in 1982. Her parents are Jeanne (Patricia Arquette) and Jim (Rainn Wilson).

“They’re all trying to figure out who they are and how they’re trying to fit in,” Burson said, noting the tag line of the movie is “Hairstyles are temporary. Family is forever.”

“Permanent” opened last weekend in eight cities, including Abingdon, where Burson lived for about six years.

Growing up Southern

Burson was born at Andrews Air Force Base and came to Abingdon in 1979 at the age of 12. She lived in the historic town through the end of high school. During those years, she would usher for free at the Barter Theatre and in return would receive two free tickets to a show. Classical performances were her favorite.

From there, she attended the University of Virginia and while she was still young — and money would not be a factor — she made a list of careers she thought were interesting. They included broadcast reporter, diplomat, actress and playwright.

Since Burson loved the theater, playwright won out and she went to New York University, going in as a playwright and coming out as a screenwriter. Then came the leap to director, Burson said.

Burson created “Hung” for HBO and “The Riches” for FX with writing partner Dmitry Lipkin. The two were married for a decade and have two children together. She has directed episodes of “Hung” as well as the short film “Little Black Boot.”

The Force Awakens

“Star Wars: The Last Jedi” is naturally soaking up an enormous amount of media attention, discussion on social media and other websites and is gracing the covers of countless magazines and newspapers. It’s hard to go a day without seeing something Star Wars-related this week.

But that doesn’t mean other movies aren’t getting any attention at all.

“Permanent” has been mentioned in recent articles by Vogue, the New York Daily News and the Wall Street Journal and has been featured on the Internet Movie Database, one of the most visited websites for information about movies and actors.

Still, having “Permanent” come out the same weekend as the latest chapter in the Star Wars saga might not have been Burson’s first choice.

“But there is some wisdom to counter-programming,” she said. “(Star Wars) is the intergalactic gorilla in the room and everyone is scared to go up against it, but (”Permanent”) is getting some attention, and not everybody likes Star Wars.”

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