#h#Save the Date: Feb. 15#/h#

Combining elements of thriller, romance, and war movie, “The Situation,” set exclusively in Iraq, is the first U.S. feature film to deal with the occupation, dramatizing one of the countless human stories that lie behind the headlines of the current war.

Its director, Philip Haas (“Angels and Insects”), who is currently teaching courses on documentary film and screenwriting at Princeton University, will be present for a panel discussion following a preview screening of the film on Thursday, February 15, at Montgomery Cinema in Skillman. The panel will be moderated by P. Adams Sitney, professor of film at Princeton University, with Joyce Carol Oates, National Book Award novelist and short story writer; C.K. Williams, Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award poet; and Chris Hedges, author of “War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning” and a Pulitzer Prize journalist. After the discussion, a reception will be held in the theater lobby.

“The Situation” begins when a group of American soldiers throw an Iraqi boy off a bridge in Samarra. The incident sets off a chain of events that exposes the deep rifts among the Iraqis in Samarra, and results in yet another cycle of violence between the insurgents and the corrupt Iraqi police.

Anna (Connie Nielsen) is an American journalist who decides to write a story about the assassination of an Iraqi leader whom she admires. At the same time, she is pulling away from a relationship with Dan (Damian Lewis), an American intelligence official, who thinks the war can be won with hearts and minds, and towards Zaid (Mido Hamada), a young Iraqi photographer who shows her there are people, rather than sides, in the conflict. As she tries to make sense of the half-truths of Iraq, she finds herself in the middle of a love triangle, and in the midst of a dangerous situation, set against a thick web of alliances, agendas, and reverses.

Filmed in Morocco, “The Situation” is scripted by a young female journalist, Wendell Steavenson, who has reported fromIraq, basing it on her own experiences. According to a press statement, the film “is an undiluted dramatization of the war in Iraq. The story isn’t ripped from the headlines; rather, it’s a chance to look deeper behind them.”

“The Situation,” Thursday, February 15, 7 p.m. Montgomery Cinemas, Montgomery Shopping Center 1325 Route 206, Skillman. 609-924-7444. Advance tickets can be purchased at the Montgomery Cinemas box office. $9; $6 children and seniors. The film opens theatrically on Friday, February 16. For more information visit www.thesituationmovie.com

#h#A Local Actor Heats Up ‘Law & Order’#/h#

Joseph Halsey of Langhorne, PA, leads a double life — of sorts. Halsey is the owner of a construction business, Joseph A. Halsey General Contracting, and most of his work is in Princeton, Hamilton, and Robbinsville. But he’s also an actor and has recently landed another role on NBC’s Law & Order, which will air on Friday, February 9, at 10 p.m. on the episode “Church.” Since Halsey’s first role on Law & Order in April, 2004, he has had reoccurring roles on Law & Order, Law & Order SVU, and also on The Guiding Light. He recently just finished filming the lead in an Independent film “Liars and Lunatics,” and is in the process of filming another independent film. Halsey has also appeared on One Life to Live, Americas Most Wanted, and The Cosby Show.

In addition to his acting career, Halsey is also an accomplished musician. His music can be heard on MTV’s Punk’d, Making the Video and Fox Sports. His wife, Dawn Halsey, works for the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America in Trevose, PA.

#h#The Civil War#/h#

‘For The Glory: The Civil War Musical,” opened on Broadway as “The Civil War” and was nominated for two 1999 Tony Awards — Best New Musical and Best Score. A new production opens Thursday, February 9, at Kelsey Theater. Written by Frank Wildhorn, Gregory Boyd, and Jack Murphy, with music by Frank Wildhorn, “For the Glory” fuses techniques from rock music, concert performance, oratorios, and song-cycles, with inspiration from Walt Whitman, Frederick Douglass, and Abraham Lincoln, as well as from letters, photos,and journals of Civil War era figures including slaves, Union and Confederate soldiers, and abolitionists.

Timothy Walton of Plainsboro, who is on the voice faculty in Franklin Township public schools, portrays a slave named Benjamin. “This piece is a good overview of history, but not what’s in the textbooks. It shows you the personal impact the Civil War had on the people living during that time, including a mother who lost five sons, a young man trying to be brave for his father, and a group of people who want to live a better life,” Walton says.

According to a press statement, “For the Glory” explores political themes through the personal stories of characters who lived through this extraordinary era. “The Union and Confederate armies sing of their excitement as they prepare for battle. Slaves sing of their pain and misery as they are sold as property. A soldier and his wife try to ease their separation by writing frequent letters. A nurse reflects on her difficult work. Soldiers of both armies, gradually realizing the horrors of war, face despair, defeat and death.”

“For the Glory: The Civil War Musical,” opening Thursday, February 9, Kelsey Theater, Mercer County College, West Windsor. Through Sunday, February 18. $16; $12 seniors; $10 for students and children. Free parking. www.kelseytheatre.net or 609-570-3333.

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