A new movie rooted in Rochester screens at Pittsford Cinema 9 this weekend.
Wildflower airs on the Lifetime Movie Network in June and will show in hundreds of theaters in Latin America soon thereafter.
But you can catch it here first.
“I’m numb. I’m excited for the release to finally be here,” said Nicholas DiBella, of Webster, who wrote, directed and produced the movie that was filmed exclusively in the Rochester region. “It was a four-year process.”
DiBella, the director of King’s Faith, wrote the script for Wildflower, which stars Nathalia Ramos, of ABC Family’s Switched at Birth and Cody Longo, of ABC’s Nashville drama series, in 2012.
“After King’s Faith, I wanted to make a film that was thriller-esque,” DiBella said.
While writing the film, he was tapped by Bivona Child Advocacy Center, in Rochester, to help them with a public service announcement called “Be Brave,” about child sexual abuse. That experience gave DiBella the inspiration he needed for Wildflower’s plot.
“I learned so much about child sexual abuse working on the PSA for Bivona,” DiBella said. “I thought to myself, ‘I’m going to weave this topic into my film and shine some light on this important, not often talked about issue.’ ”
The result is a rich, faith-based psychological thriller about the power of the mind and the resiliency of the human spirit.
Ramos plays Chloe, an artistic college student, and Longo plays Josh, a heartbroken young man who helps Chloe solve the mysteries of her own traumatic childhood.
“I connected with my character from the moment I read it,” said Longo in a phone interview from New York. “He had a lot of levels to him. He was in really deep pain and seeking spiritual support.”
Longo, a Colorado native, loved the Rochester area, which he visited for the first time when filming the movie last fall.
“It’s a beautiful place with really nice people,” Longo said. “In between scenes, I’d go fishing on the canal. It was great.”
Much of the movie is set in Rochester’s Erie Canal village of Brockport. Specific locations used for filming were BeBe Mills boutique, Barber’s Grill and Tap Room and The College at Brockport. Chloe’s apartment was a loft above the Nothnagle office on Main Street in Brockport.
Other Monroe County places you may recognize in the film are the village of Spencerport, Parkside Diner in Irondequoit, Unity Hospital and Fairport’s First Baptist Church.
“I’ve always loved the look of the canal and the bridges,” said DiBella, a Greece native, describing why he picked Brockport as the main setting. “The people in the community were so supportive — there was so much buy-in from the community.”
Tamara Barrus, owner of BeBe Mills, enjoyed having the thirty person film crew use her Main Street Brockport boutique as Chloe’s place of business.
“It was a great experience,” Barrus said. “I’m looking forward to seeing the movie on the big screen. I hope it does well and that it brings awareness for those who don’t understand the struggles of mental illness.”
The movie becomes available digitally and on DVD at Walmart and other retailers nationwide beginning April 5. An exact airdate on the Lifetime Movie Network is not set, but will be sometime in early June.
The movie will be shown in about 200 theaters in Latin America, but DiBella’s main focus for distributing it in the U.S. is via non-theatrical means.
“I’m really excited to see how many lives it could touch,” DiBella said.
If you go:
What: Wildflower, rated PG-13, (Dove Foundation’s “Faith Friendly” seal for ages 12 and up).
When: Friday through Sunday show times are: 11 a.m., 1:05 p.m., 3:10 p.m., 5:15 p.m., 7:20 p.m. and 9:25 p.m.
Where: Pittsford Cinema 9, Pittsford Plaza, 3349 Monroe Ave.
Tickets: Various ticket prices depending on age and time of screening. Call (585) 383-1310 or visit pittsford.zurichcinemas.com. Learn more about the movie at wildflowerthemovie.com.