If you’ve been reading the newspapers lately, you’ve probably heard some of the buzz surrounding the newly-released movie Three Billboards Outside Ebbings, Missouri, starring Frances McDormand and Woody Harrelson. The movie, which tells the story of a mother seeking justice for the rape and murder of her daughter, is being touted as a serious Academy Award contender.
The town of Sylva, NC, which was a primary filming location for the movie, is getting most of the press. But the Swannanoa Valley plays a role in the movie, too. In fact, the three billboards, for which the movie was named, were erected just off North Fork Road between Black Mountain and Swannanoa.
The billboards went up without much fanfare, and initially alarmed residents who didn’t realize their quiet country road had become part of a movie set. In the movie, the mother (played by Frances McDormand) uses the billboards to convey some pointed messages to the local police, who had failed to identify a suspect in her daughter’s murder. According to a December 3 article in the Asheville Citizen-Times, the film crew took to covering the billboards with giant tarps when they weren’t being filmed, to avoid raising the eyebrows of unsuspecting residents and passersby.
The Town Pump in Black Mountain, at 135 Cherry Street, also became a movie set, with several scenes filmed both inside and outside the bar.
If you’d like to see Three Billboards Outside Ebbings, Missouri, it’s currently playing at the Fine Arts Theatre and Carolina Cinemark. Be forewarned that the movie has adult themes, and is rated R for violence and language.