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LOUDONVILLE -- "The Back 80," a movie about Bigfoot sightings near Loudonville, premiered at the Ohio Theatre this Saturday, July 1, with showings at 2, 5 and 7 p.m., and a question and answer session by the film's directors at 3:30 p.m.
According to film promoters, Twisted Tree Productions in Cleveland, the film is based on an alleged Bigfoot sighting on County Road 211 in western Holmes County about nine miles southeast of Loudonville, in the summer of 2013. County Road 211 runs west from Ohio 514, south of Nashville, and ends when it crosses the Mohican River and runs into Wally Road (Holmes County Road 23) just downstream from the Wally Camp Site. The sightings took place on Road 211 between the 211 intersection with County Road 22 (Drake's Valley Road), and Wally Road.
In promotional verbiage, producers say "a woman's life is turned upside down when a Bigfoot ran across the road in front of her one summer evening. Just as she is trying to come to terms with what she's seen, the creature arrives at her doorstep and sends her into a downward spiral looking for answers. After calming her fears, a few years later, she heads into a nearby plot of woods called 'the back 80' to find the truth."
In preview clips of the film, area residents Marion Frank and Suzanne Ferenczek are interviewed telling their experiences with alleged Bigfoot sightings.
Sally Hollenbach, manager of the Ohio Theatre, said on her first day on the job, April 1, Twisted Tree representatives contacted her about showing the movie in its premier. They also did a pre-screening for participants in the film in the spring. The premier showing falls on a busy day in Loudonville, with the car show and antique festival running through the day in Central Park and the downtown, and the annual fireworks show coming at dusk the same evening.
Bigfoot sightings have been an item of note in the area much of this year. In April, College of Wooster professor Mark Wilson presented "A Scientific Perspective on Bigfoot," there indicating "scientists don't think it's likely, yet it is not impossible." Using video and photographic evidence from Bigfoot films and reports, he noted "all would be easy to stage, a person dressed in a costume or a three toed footprint -- easy to fake."
"These make good stories, but not good science," he told an audience of about 300 at the same Ohio Theatre in the program arranged by the Mohican Historical Society. Kenny Libben, curator for the Historical Society, said the turnout for Wilson's presentation doubled the record for crowd size at a Historical Society program, necessitating the move from the usual meeting place, the Cleo Redd Fisher Museum, to Ohio Theatre.
Knox County resident Jerry Cline countered Wilson's contentions at that program, noting he once sighted a Bigfoot and created his own group, the Knox County Bigfoot Organization, to record and further study the sightings. County Road 211, incidentally, ends just a mile or so from the Holmes/Knox County line.
Producers of "The Back 80" would fall into Cline's school of thought on the subject. They contend that the woman who sighted the Bigfoot soon "found others in town who had similar stories to tell. Her quest for answers takes her to the only place these creatures could live ... the abandoned, gated woods of 'The Back 80.'"
According to the producers, "'The Back 80' is not a documentary. We tried to tell the story as we heard it, and the results promise a creepy, intense and scary experience as we follow actual events that happened."