Two UC Riverside Professors Collaborate on a Psychological Thriller

“A Thousand Cuts” will premiere at the Palm Springs International Film Festival on Jan. 12.

Michael O'Keefe

Michael O’Keefe stars in “A Thousand Cuts.”

RIVERSIDE, Calif. — “A Thousand Cuts,” a psychological thriller feature film directed by UC Riverside theatre professor Charles Evered, will premiere Jan. 12 at the 23rd Palm Springs International Film Festival. The film will screen at 7 p.m. in the 433-seat Annenberg Theater in downtown Palm Springs. There will be an additional showing on Jan. 15 at 4 p.m. at the Camelot Theatres in Palm Springs.

The film is a psychological thriller about a stranger (Michael O’Keefe, nominated for an Academy Award in “The Great Santini”) with a haunted past who shows up at the home of Hollywood’s hottest horror director (Michael A. Newcomer, “Pants on Fire”), determined to teach him what real horror is all about.

Michael Newcomer

Michael Newcomer stars in the psychological thriller "A Thousand Cuts."

“We’re very proud of the fact that we made a film that explores the nature of violence and its effect on our society — with a narrative that puts the victims of violent crime at the center of the story, rather than using them as props or for purely exploitative purposes,” said Evered, a noted playwright and associate professor of theatre at the University of California, Riverside. Evered wrote the screenplay with Eric Barr, professor and chair of the UCR Department of Theatre, and Marty James.

Evered studied at Yale University under director George Roy Hill. He made his directorial debut in 2008 with a film adaptation of his play “Adopt a Sailor,” which was an official selection at more than 20 national and international film festivals.

The writers acknowledge that audiences want to be entertained.

“But at what point does it become harmful to our culture when we seek to entertain ourselves by passively viewing the torture and suffering of others?” Evered asked. “Our film doesn’t pretend to offer any solutions, but simply poses the question: ‘Who is responsible?’ If archeologists thousands of years from now unearthed these hyper-violent films, what would they conclude about our culture? How would they consider the way we depicted women in this way?”

Actors Michael Newcomer and Oleysa Rulin

Michael Newcomer and Oleysa Rulin in a scene from "A Thousand Cuts."

Evered was a college student when hyper-violent films began appearing and were commercially successful. “I thought to myself: ‘What is this saying about our culture and especially the way women are used as no more than props in these films?’ As the father of a daughter, a brother to two sisters and as a husband, it really makes me uneasy.”

Violence in drama is nothing new, he acknowledged. “Look at the Greeks, at Shakespeare’s ‘Titus.’ But context is everything. Those depictions had a context, often set against larger historical backdrops.”

Films such as “Saw” and “Hostel” “seem to exist in a vacuum with no context and not even a pretense of redeeming value other than titillation and exploitation,” he said.

Barr said the film examines the artist’s responsibility for what he or she “puts into the public conversation. That is interesting to me and gives this thriller a resonance that I think will keep it in people’s minds.”

Barr and Evered have worked together before, with Barr directing readings of Evered’s plays. But “A Thousand Cuts” marks their first collaboration on a script. The film was produced by Kim and Jim Productions in association with Evered’s Ordinance 14 production company and Ericabo Productions.

The Palm Springs International Film Festival is one of the largest film festivals in North America, welcoming 130,000 attendees each year. The festival this year will host some of the biggest names in the world of film, including George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Glenn Close and Gary Oldham.

Tickets for “A Thousand Cuts” are available starting Dec. 26 for the general public. Contact the festival online at

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Additional Contacts

Charles Evered

Eric Barr

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