Lake Placid Film Festival ’18: Making Its Way Back to the Top Tier with a Slew of Diverse, Cutting-Edge New Films
1st Group of Film Selections Includes “Picks Fit for Film Buffs, Cineastes & People Who Just Love Movies,” say Festival Organizers
LAKE PLACID, NY — A “Godfather”-like saga about the impact of the Colombian drug trade on one indigenous, desert-dwelling family that is Colombia’s nominee for the foreign-language film Oscar, a French animated film for children and adults of all ages that hearkens back to the heyday of the Looney Tunes, and a “magical realist” documentary described as both a cross between Agnes Varda and Wes Anderson and a new way of doing nonfiction story-telling are among the films to be screened at the 17th Annual Lake Placid Film Festival (LPFF). The festival will take place Thursday through Sunday, October 25-26, 2018 at venues that include the historic Palace movie theater in the heart of the Olympic Village’s downtown shopping and restaurant district, the venerable Lake Placid Center for the Arts (LPCA) and the High Peaks Resort, which this year is serving as Film Festival Headquarters.
The first five titles to be officially announced are:
● “Birds of Passage” (narrative feature, Colombia, in Spanish with English subtitles; run time: 2 hrs., 5 mins.): This crime drama spins the dark tale of the Colombian drug trade, as seen through eyes of an indigenous Wayuu family that becomes involved in the booming business of selling marijuana to American youth in the 1970s.
● “Becoming Astrid” (narrative feature, Sweden, in Swedish and Danish with English subtitles; run time: 2 hrs., 3 mins.): The drama depicts the early years of Swedish author Astrid Lindgren, the world’s third most-translated children’s writer, credited for more than 100 books, including “Pippi Longstocking,” “Emil of Lönneberga” and “The Six Bullerby Children.”
● “Big Bad Fox and Other Tales” (animated narrative feature, France, in French with English subtitles; run time: 1 hr., 20 mins.; rated G): The countryside isn’t always as calm and peaceful as it’s made out to be, and the animals on this farm are particularly agitated: a fox who mothers a family of chicks, a rabbit who plays the stork, and a duck who wants to be Santa Claus. The movie is a hilarious, heartwarming trio of interrelated stories about animal misfits from the creators of the Best Animated Feature Oscar-nominated “Ernest & Celestine,” adapted from co-director Benjamin Renner’s acclaimed graphic novel.
● “Monrovia, Indiana” (documentary feature, USA; run time: 2 hrs., 23 mins.): This film explores a small town in rural, mid-America and illustrates how values like community service, duty, spiritual life, generosity and authenticity are formed, experienced and lived along with conflicting stereotypes. In the 43rd documentary he has directed since 1967, celebrated filmmaker Frederick Wiseman (“High School,” “Meat,” “The Store,” “Ex Libris – The New York Public Library”) offers a complex and nuanced view of daily life in Monrovia and provides some understanding of a way of life whose influence and force have not always been recognized or understood in the big cities on the East and West Coasts of the United States—most conspicuously in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.
● “306 Hollywood” (documentary feature, USA; 1 hr., 22 mins.): When siblings Elan and Jonathan Bogarín undertake an archaeological excavation of their late grandmother's house, they embark on a magical-realist journey in search of what life remains in the objects we leave behind. The first documentary ever to be included in the Sundance Film Festival’s NEXT section, “306 Hollywood” transforms the dusty fragments of an unassuming life into an epic metaphor for the nature of memory, time, and history.
To learn more about the 2018 event and the films selected for it, including movie trailers, ticketing info and regular updates as we draw nearer to show time, please visit LakeplacidFilmFestival.org.
Professionalizing the Film Selection Process
The films chosen are also the result of a new approach to film selection that is just one of several significant changes being made to the planning, development and anticipated management of the film festival, which, for the first time in its nearly 20-year history is taking place not in early June but in the Fall—Thursday through Sunday, October 25-28, 2018, to be precise. Other major changes include the naming of a Festival Director—Gary Smith, a member of the board of directors of the Adirondack Film Society (AFS), the nonprofit organization that presents the annual event; the adoption of a theme—diversity—which, like the creation of the Festival Director position, is an historic first for the LPFF; and, perhaps most significantly, rechristening the event the “Lake Placid Film Festival” from its longtime moniker “Lake Placid Film Forum.”
The changes are all intended to help boost attendance at this year’s event, enhance the film-going experience of everyone who attends the 2018 festival and continue the LPFF’s journey on the path toward once again being considered one of the country’s top-tier film festivals, said AFS co-founder John B. Huttlinger, Jr., Chair of the organization’s Board of Directors and one of the festival’s principal organizers. “Take the approach to film selection this year,” he said. “It’s really an attempt to professionalize the way we choose films for the festival by empowering a single professional—in this case, film consultant and veteran LPFF alum Dylan Skolnick—to select the bulk of the films for the 2018 edition.”
Mr. Skolnick, who through his many contacts among film distributors has helped with booking films for the past several LPFFs along with serving as a member of the previous Programming Committees, is Co-Director of the Cinema Arts Centre in Huntington, Long Island, one of the New York Metropolitan area’s top “art” houses and venues for alternative film. He is also a consultant and film buyer for several cinemas across the United States, including the Hollywood Theater in Pittsburgh; the Lyric Theatre in Stuart, Florida; and the Circle Cinema in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
In addition to those being picked by Dylan, several of this year’s films will be chosen by AFS-LPFF co-founder and current Artistic Director Kathleen Carroll, a gala tribute to which will kick off the 2018 film-fest on Thursday evening, October 25th. Ms. Carroll is being honored not only for her indispensable service to the Film Society and its major annual event, but also to her many contributions to film and the film industry writ large. As film critic for the New York Daily News for approximately three decades extending into the 1990s, Kathleen interviewed many of the biggest names in movies ranging from Robert Redford and Mel Brooks to Joan Crawford and Gloria Swanson; attended and reported on such major film festivals as Cannes, Sundance and Toronto as well as New York; and was ahead of her time in recognizing the importance of directors such as Federico Fellini, François Truffaut, Martin Scorsese, Woody Allen and Clint Eastwood.
All in all, beginning with the tribute dinner Thursday evening and continuing through Sunday evening with several free panel discussions, seminars and/or workshops along with screenings of the 30+ films selected by Mr. Skolnick and Ms. Carroll, the long weekend offers the promise of the biggest and best LPFF in years, said Festival Director Smith, in announcing the first batch of film selections. “I’m especially excited about the great lineup of films we’ve chosen this year,” he said. “They amount to—in the parlance of the movie trade—picks fit for film buffs, cineastes and people who just love movies.”
The Whys and Wherefores of a Programming Director’s Picks
Asked to provide some insight into his selections for the 2018 Lake Placid Film Festival, Programming Director Dylan Skolnick offered the following thoughts on three of the films in this first batch:
● On “306 Hollywood”: “If Wes Anderson made a documentary, it might look something like this stunningly creative movie. When their grandmother dies, Elan and Jonathan Bogarin use the objects in her New Jersey home into a stunning portrait of a life well lived. It’s a wonderful mixture of universal themes and a look at one unique life.”
● On “Monrovia, Indiana”: “Frederick Wiseman is a true master of documentary filmmaking. Over the past 50 years, he has created a stunning body of work. His latest, a portrait of a small middle American town, may initially seem among his more modest works; but like a real-world version of Thornton Wilder’s ‘Our Town,’ it captures the essence of life from cradle to grave. Working, as usual, without voiceover, interviews, or even a descriptive intertitle, Wiseman weaves a vision both deeply realistic and magically poetic. It’s an honor to be showing the movie.”
● On “Birds of Passage”: “In his follow-up to the acclaimed ‘Embrace of the Serpent,’ Columbian filmmaker Ciro Guerra has crafted an epic saga of an indigenous family that gets swept up in the drug trade. Guerra combines echoes of classic gangster dramas like ‘The Godfather’ and ‘Scarface’ with the dazzling imagery of visionary works like ‘El Topo’ and ‘Performance.’ ‘Birds of Passage’ was one of the most acclaimed films at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, and we’re delighted to be bringing it to Lake Placid.”
All-session passes to the 2018 Lake Placid Film Festival (granting admission to all ticketed programs from Friday, Oct. 26, through Sunday, Oct. 28, except where noted) are $79.00 each and are available via lakeplacidfilmfestival.org. Individual tickets to each screening are $15.00, available at the door. For additional information on this year’s Lake Placid Film Festival or on the Adirondack Film Society in general, please contact AFS Operations Manager Fred Balzac at 518-523-3456 /518-588-7275 or email@example.com.