THE YEARS-LONG effort by the extended arts and rock 'n’ roll community in Savannah to help Keith Kozel get a kidney transplant is entering a new and critical phase.
As of this writing, Kozel—frontman for two legendary Savannah bands, GAM and Superhorse—has found a kidney donor and the transplant surgery is scheduled very soon.
“He found someone who is a match, and there’s an appointment to get the transplant surgery,” says Jim Reed, Keith’s old friend, bandmate, and founder/director of the Psychotronic Film Society (PFS). “Our big fundraiser is literally the weekend before he goes into the hospital.”
While this is awesome news for Keith and his family and friends, the financial issues don’t go away after the transplant, far from it. Fundraising is needed now more than ever.
Immediately after the surgery, and for rest of his life, he’ll be on costly anti-rejection medicine. Not all the costs are covered by insurance.
“We’re all very anxious and also we’re excited and extremely touched and grateful that the person donating the kidney is a friend of Keith’s,” Reed says.
Last year, Reed and the PFS held a big fundraising screening of Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure at the Lucas Theatre.
“It was a really big success—at least 400 people showed up. It was great because it was a movie everyone loves that they could bring their kids to,” Reed recalls.
And now, as the line goes, for something completely different.
The PFS fundraiser for Keith this year comes in the form of a two-night showing of comparatively lesser-known films by Joss Whedon.
An opportunity came up to do two nights at the Trustees, in a partnership with SCAD Cinema Circle.
“Ever since the PFS started back in late 2003, I’ve wanted to present films in the Trustees. So I’m thrilled that after all this time the perfect opportunity presented itself,” says Reed.
“Each of these films is incredibly well made, and well regarded. They’re both rated at more than 90% positive on Rotten Tomatoes. So they’ll appeal not only to a wide range of viewers, from teenagers to seniors, but to SCAD students especially.”
Reed is quick to clarify that the event is not sponsored per se by the Savannah College of Art and Design, but co-presented by its Cinema Circle.
“Sheila Lynne Bolda, who programs the Savannah Film Festival and SCAD’s Cinema Circle series, will be co-hosting the post-show discussions with me. So folks who may not be familiar with either film don’t have to just take my word for it!” laughs Reed.
Reed explains the genesis of the actual Joss Whedon idea.
“I always had a list in the back of my mind of about 10 different movie-themed events I’d like to do in town,” he says.
“A ton of people know Joss Whedon’s name, but it’s mostly because of the big budget stuff he’s done, like Avengers. But in the sort of extended nerd and geek communities, they’ve known about him for a lot longer than that, with things like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Firefly," Reed says.
“When I talked to the Trustees I basically pulled out this Joss Whedon idea—I had a feeling it would be a good fit,” Reed says. “I pitched it and Trustees people responded in the affirmative.”
Psychotronic Film Society exists to throw a spotlight on underappreciated or somehow marginalized films, Reed says.
“So the dilemma is, how does that philosophy work in concert with a venue that has 1100 seats? With Whedon’s name recognition, the idea is to show two movies which in my opinion are kind of like the best-loved but least-known of his films.”
Reed describes The Cabin In The Woods as “one of the smartest, most devilishly unpredictable horror movies of the past 30 years.”
He says, “I think Serenity is right up there with the original three Star Wars films and Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan as one of the finest interplanetary sci-fi action flicks ever made. Both of them deserve to be seen on a huge screen in a beautiful, historic cinema.”
One poignant backstory of this event is how it centers on two contemporaries who knew each other, Kozel and Robyn Reeder, the beloved cultural and small business advocate who recently passed away after a long struggle with cancer.
“Robyn’s family has said one way to honor Robyn’s life is to make a financial contribution to Keith’s kidney transplant fund, and/or Jason Statts’s medical fund,” says Reed.
Reed says he’s been reaching out via Twitter to Joss Whedon and some of the actors in the films, “trying to get them to ask followers to make direct donations. If only a tiny fraction of the people who follow anyone involved in these movies went to Paypal and donated even two bucks, that would be huge.”
Reed clarifies that because of the cost associated with bringing the films town, the proceeds at the door are being split 50/50 between PFS and Kozel’s kidney fund. “But you can donate directly through Paypal to Keith’s fund and 100 percent of that goes straight to him.”
Joss Whedon Weekend at the Trustees Theatre
Fri. Nov. 13, 8 pm: Cabin In The Woods
Sat. Nov. 14, 8 pm: Serenity
Voluntary donations at door both nights. Psychotronic Film Society suggests $10 per person based on normal Trustees prices. All proceeds split between Keith Kozel's Kidney Transplant Fund (keithneedsakidney.com) and Psychotronic Film Society. Everyone who donates at least $10 at door gets free popcorn.