CHAMPAIGN — An award-winning documentary featuring Champaign piano player Faye Ballard as well as other pianists will have its Champaign premiere Aug. 18 at the I Hotel and Conference Center.
The event will include live music, refreshments and an appearance by Ballard and co-director Nick Holle. Ballard and Daniel Souvigny, the 2012 Junior World Champion, will perform and answer questions after the screening, as will Holle.
"The Entertainers" is a 90-minute documentary about a group of ragtime piano players who compete for the title of the world's best ragtime piano player at the World Championship Old-Time Piano Playing Contest, which takes place each year in Peoria.
Ballard, a lifelong Champaign resident and employee at the University of Illinois College of Nursing, has been a staple at the contest since she was 12.
A contender every year since, she has been a five-time finalist.
"Ballard is a beloved figure in the ragtime piano community for her warm personality, quick wit and huge heart," said Holle, who lives in Madison, Wis., and produced and co-directed the documentary with Michael Zimmer of Los Angeles.
"Heart-warming and often hilarious, the film shows how a librarian, a machine operator, a secretary, a computer programmer, an author and a high schooler devote their lives to this incredible old-time music, which provides joy to the people around them and, for the players themselves, a small escape from the trials of their everyday lives," reads a news release from Holle.
The Old-Time Music Preservation Association stages the World Championship Old-Time Piano Playing Contest every Memorial Day weekend to educate people about old-time piano. Through the years, the contest has handed out more than $50,000 in prize money to more than 500 players.
"The Entertainers" has been screened at more than a dozen film and music festivals nationwide, winning six festival awards altogether, among them audience awards for best documentary at the St. Louis and Minneapolis-St. Paul international film festivals and the Wisconsin Film Festival.
"The Entertainers" will be shown at 7:30 p.m. in the Chancellor Ballroom of the I Hotel and Conference Center, 1900 S. First St., C. Tickets are $15; children younger than 10 are admitted free. Tickets will be available before the show; to reserve tickets email Ballard at firstname.lastname@example.org .
For more information, visit http://www.theentertainersmovie.com .