Actress enjoying limelight

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By Elizabeth DePasquale

INDIAN LAND – An Indian Land actress hopes to be hitting the big time soon.

Catherine Trail delivers her first performance in a principal role in "Death, Taxes and Chocolate!," a dark comedy.

The small-scale independent movie was filmed in Wilmington, N.C., in January.

Now, it has been selected by a jury to be screened at the very large-scale New York and Los Angeles International Independent Film Festivals.

"It was two days before Christmas and I got the call in World Market, and I just had to lie down in the middle of the store," Trail said of being cast in the role of the sassy Taylor in "Death, Taxes... and Chocolate!"

The film focuses on six friends who discuss their concerns about death and taxes and share their love of chocolate onboard a yacht.

What makes the film groundbreaking is its focus on green living and our flawed health-care system.

"All of the themes in it have credence for today," Trail says. "It's about global warming, depleted soil and rampant cancer."

These elements may be the leading factors in the film's success. It is one of 150 films chosen out of thousands for the New York and Los Angeles festivals.

Trail recently learned from screenwriter and producer Dr. Andrea Levinson that "Death, Taxes... and Chocolate!" will be screened at the Cannes Film Festival this spring.

"When we did this movie, we didn't know how important it was going to be," Trail says. "MGM is looking at the film for distribution and if they don't want it, they'll sell it at Cannes."

Levinson hired a marketing company to help promote the film. But it was director Bud Dowdey who submitted it to the festivals.

"If it wins an award at one of the festivals, then Andrea wants it to go to the Sundance Film Festival," Trail says. At that point, it would be considered critically acclaimed.

One of the film's biggest supporters is Frank Dooley, director of the Eastern North Carolina Film Commission.

"It has to do with aging, how the government is or is not dealing with these issues," Dooley says. "As a rebel intellectual, Levinson's thrown the door wide open on this."

For Trail and the film's other actors, the film's success could mean improved chances of getting roles in the future. For Levinson, a doctor of natural medicine and former geologist, getting exposure at festivals is about sharing her message.

"This movie has incredible social values wrapped up in a comedy," Levinson says. "I hope what comes out of it is that people start talking."

There have even been efforts to keep the production green, such as using limited and eco-safe packaging for the DVD.

The film's world premiere was in Levinson's hometown of New Bern, N.C., last week.

"That was my first taste of fame," Trail says. "Cameras were flashing; I got to sign autographs."

There is more red-carpet glamor to come at the festivals. While Cannes may be too far from home for Trail to attend, the New York and Los Angeles festivals are a different story.

"Oh, I'm definitely going to both. This is called striking lightning. It may never happen for me again," Trail says.

Trail, who has acted in theater all her life and done commercials for Harris Teeter and Allen Tate, lives in Legacy Park with her husband, George Smith. They have two daughters, Amber, 23, and Mandy, 18.

To see a trailer for "Death, Taxes...and Chocolate!," visit www.DeathTaxesandChocolate.com.