KING CITY — King City native Robert Machoian will premiere his new feature film, “The Killing of Two Lovers,” at Sacramento’s Tower Theatre this week.

Machoian, who was born in King City and attended King City High School, is a former faculty member of Sacramento State and has since become an independent moviemaker.

“The Killing of Two Lovers,” written and directed by Machoian, premiered at Sundance in 2020 before being picked up by NEON for national distribution. On Friday, May 14, the film will be shown at Tower Theatre, one of the locations selected for its opening run in theaters.

“I started to be interested in making films while living in Sacramento, and Tower Theatre was the theater that I went to to watch independent cinema and the films I was drawn to,” Machoian said about the significance of having a movie premiere at that location.

This is Machoian’s first film to receive a proper theatrical release.

“My other films have normally been online available through Netflix or iTunes,” he said. “This time we’re going to do a significant run. … For an independent film at my level, this theatrical run is very exciting.”

Machoian has been a filmmaker and photographer for the past two decades.

Following his education at UC Davis, Machoian moved to Sacramento in 1998, where he lived for nearly a decade and taught as an adjunct professor at California State University, Sacramento. His multiple, award-winning short and feature films have premiered at major film festivals, including Sundance, SXSW and CPH:DOX.

Machoian said “The Killing of Two Lovers” gave him an opportunity to work with not only actors, but also his family members.

The cast includes actors Chris Coy, Clayne Crawford, Sepideh Moafi and Avery Pizzuto, and also noticeable in the film and its trailer is Bruce Graham, Machoian’s father, as well as three of Machoian’s children, Arri, Ezra and Jonah Graham.

“It opened how much I can push and pull on their performances and create these characters who are outside of where they are as normal people,” Machoian said, explaining that trained actors are able to play characters that differ greatly from their true personalities.

The film was shot in Alabama in a small town, capturing the small-town essence that Machoian was familiar with growing up in King City. The town used in the film, however, is only three blocks wide and has a population of 350.

Machoian said the small-town experience makes for a social community where most people know each other, which has an impact on relationships — a key element of the movie.

In “The Killing of Two Lovers,” a man is estranged from his wife and is staying at his father’s house during the fallout. In a larger city, it would be possible to break up and never see the person again.

“It’s impossible not to run into each other on a regular basis,” Machoian said. “Where David is living with his father, he can see his house from his dad’s porch.”

The proximity and being forced to see what an ex-love is doing and whom they’re spending time with plays into the movie’s plot as the main character, David, struggles to work through his marriage.

Machoian is working on post-production of his next film, “The Integrity of Joseph Chambers,” and said he expects to finish that in June. From there, he said independent moviemakers seek out festivals and it could be a year and a half until a film’s release.

Along with its theater run, Machoian said “The Killing of Two Lovers” should be released on iTunes on May 14. Other platforms were not yet confirmed but are expected to carry the film, as well.

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Sean Roney is a freelance reporter for King City Rustler and Salinas Valley Tribune, a unified publication of Greenfield News, Soledad Bee and Gonzales Tribune. He covers general news for the Salinas Valley communities in South Monterey County.


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