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What the world needs right now is a good movie

I don't have anything against lowering interest rates and spending tax dollars to stimulate the economy. But I believe that will only take us so far. The key ingredient we're missing in the current economy is hope. We've heard our public officials talk about restoring confidence. And we know that a collective hope for better times helped pull us out of dire economies in the past. But it's hard to be hopeful that things will turn around when every day another gloomy headline scrolls across the screen. It's time for the film industry to step up. And I'll admit I'm a little biased, since I've been producing films in the Charlotte area for the last seven years. Right now I believe film, more than any other medium, can help lift spirits and spur us to positive action. We've all heard stories of someone leaving a movie theater and deciding to change their vocation or view on life. Already the signs are positive: a recent New York Times article reported movie ticket sales are up nearly 18 percent this year. If that pace continues through the year it would amount to the biggest box-office surge in at least two decades. And we're not going to the movies to see depressing films. Just look at the runaway success of Slumdog Millionaire - the small film with the feel good message that swept the Oscars. We have a long history with this sort of thing. Peter Pan was #1 at the box office during the 1953 recession. In 1982 - the middle of another recession - "TOOTSIE" was the big hit. And Ghost took those honors during the 1990 Gulf War. Now I'm not suggesting that Hollywood is a magic cure. But it's clear that fear drives down economies and stock markets, while hope lifts them up. How do we give hope to the masses and lift their spirits? We tell them uplifting stories - and film is the best story-telling medium of all. So if you want to do your part to stimulate the economy, go to a movie. Better yet, see one that will leave you feeling hopeful about yourself, the world and your fellow man. Bert Hesse is a local film producer. His latest project is about Hope Stout, the Charlotte teenager whose final wish before dying of cancer was to help other children.