Photographer Nathan Farb & Onondaga Chief Jake Edwards chat at opening reception LPFF 2016
Lake Placid, NY—A major theme emerging at the Adirondack region’s premier film-related event, taking place from Wednesday, June 7th, through Sunday, June 11th, is cultural, racial/ethnic and gender diversity—a big-picture topic that’s being increasingly addressed throughout the North Country as many communities, organizations, residents and civic leader seek ways to connect this largely rural region—viewed by some observers as relatively homogenous culturally—to the wider, more culturally diverse world.
Topping the list of films with this theme being screened at the Lake Placid Film Forum, Version 16.0, is “I Am Not Your Negro,” which was nominated for the 2017 Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature (currently scheduled for Sunday, June 11, at 12:30 pm at the Lake Placid Center for the Arts [LPCA]; with all days, times & program content is subject to change). Directed by Haitian-born, Paris-based filmmaker Raoul Peck, whose feature films include “Lumumba” and the brand new “Young Karl Marx,” takes, as its starting point, a 30-page manuscript of an unfinished book by the great African-American novelist and essayist James Baldwin to tell the story of Baldwin’s role in the Civil Rights movement and the emergence of a more militant black consciousness from the nonviolence work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and other activists of the 1960s. The screening by the Adirondack Film Society (AFS)—the people who bring you the annual LPFF—is co-sponsored by John Brown Lives!, the Adirondack region’s leading human rights and freedom-focused nonprofit organization, and the newer Adirondack Diversity Initiative.
The AFS and John Brown Lives! are also teaming up to present “Loving” (Sat., 6/10, 2:30 p.m., LPCA), the feature film about the interracial couple whose trip across state lines resulted in an arrest and ultimately led to a ground-breaking Supreme Court decision. The film is directed by Jeff Nichols and co-stars Ruth Negga, who received a 2017 Academy Award nomination for Best Actress in a Leading Role.
In another collaboration with another leading North Country nonprofit organization, the AFS and the Adirondack Center for Writing (ACW) are co-presenting three very different as well as culturally divergent films that each have poetry at the heart of their stories: “Paterson” (Thu., 6/8, 6:45 p.m., LPCA), path-blazing indie filmmaker Jim Jarmusch’s latest feature about a bus driver named Paterson (played by Adam Driver of “Silence” and the new “Star Wars” trilogy) who lives in Paterson, NJ, and writes poetry influenced by another son of Paterson—the great William Carlos Williams; “A Quiet Passion” (dir. Terence Davies, Sun. afternoon, 6/11, Palace Theatre), starring Cynthia Nixon (“Sex and the City”) as Emily Dickinson; and “Neruda” (Sun., 6/11, 10 a.m. & 6 p.m., LPCA), a Chilean film described as a combination “film noir” and “biopic” about that country’s great national poet Pablo Neruda, directed by Pablo Larrain, who is coming off of his visually bold and provocative treatment of Jacqueline Kennedy’s integral role in the immediate aftermath of her husband’s assassination.
Other films being screened at LPFF 2017 that address the theme of cultural, racial/ethnic or gender identity include:
● “The Salesman” (Thu., 6/8, 9 p.m., LPCA), winner of the 2017 Best Foreign Language Film Oscar, from Iran; directed by Asghar Farhadi, about a Teheran couple performing in Arthur Miller’s classic play on the American Dream, “Death of a Salesman,” at a time of great upheaval in Iran.
● “Maudie” (Fri. evening, 6/9, & Sat. morning, 6/10, Palace), director Aisling Walsh’s Irish-Canadian biographical drama about Canadian folk artist Maud Lewis’s (Sally Hawkins) love affair with a fishmonger (Ethan Hawke) while working for him as a live-on housekeeper.
● “We Are Unarmed” & “Awake, A Dream from Standing Rock” (Sat., 6/10, 11:30 a.m., LPCA): The first is a work-in-progress about the Native American resistance to the Dakota Access Pipeline at Stand Rock, North Dakota, directed & to be introduced by Gwendolen Cates, whose feature-length documentary “The Good Mind” was an audience favorite. The second is a full-length documentary from Academy Award nominee Josh Fox (“Gasland”) and others that was recently screened at the Tribeca Film Festival in NYC.
● “Title VII,” (Sat. afternoon, 6/10, Palace) an independent feature film about racially based employment discrimination at an African-American-owned company, directed and co-written by LPFF alum Nicole Franklin
● A “Sleepless in Lake Placid”* master class on contemporary indie filmmaking in Russia led by Moscow-based producer Dmitry Pirkulov (Sat., 6/10, 2 p.m.).
● “The Crest” (Sat. afternoon, 6/10, Palace), a new indie documentary by Mark Covino, whose “A Band Called Death” was a huge hit at a previous LPFF, in which Irish heritage meets surfing. Mr. Covino is scheduled to be on hand in person to introduce his film and participate in a Q&A session afterwards.
● “Esteban” (Sat. evening, 6/10, Palace), a touching new feature-length drama described as a Cuban “Billy Elliot”; the AFS is flying the film’s director and co-producer, Jonal Cosculluela and Maritza Ceballo, respectively, in from Havana to present their film in person and participate in a post-screening Q&A moderated by author and Turner Classic Movies contributor Jeremy Arnold.
● “The Essentials” Classic Film: “Roman Holiday” (dir. William Wyler, Sat. eve., 6/10, Palace), the magical tale of a princess (Audrey Hepburn) who runs away from her noble identity to spend a night on the town with a journalist (Gregory Peck) who, despite secretly knowing who she is, can’t help but fall in love with her. Along with the emotional powerhouse performances by its two stars, the film functions as a travelogue of Rome, which never looked more beautiful on film. Hosted by TCM contributor Jeremy Arnold, author of the tie-in book, “The Essentials: 52 Must-See Films and Why They Matter.”
● “Denial” (Sun. eve., 6/11, Palace), a new documentary directed by Derek Hallquist and produced by Aaron Woolf (“King Corn”) that starts out examining the prospects for achieving a 100% renewables-based energy grid in Vermont and ends up grappling with the thorny issue of transgender identity. At press time, Mr. Woolf was scheduled to appear in person to introduce his film, along with its editor Anoosh Tertzakian.
Additional follow-up news releases will focus on other highlights of LPFF ’17. As in the past two years, admission to panel discussions, workshops and master classes remains free and single tickets to all screenings are $10 per person; however, this year the AFS is introducing an all-Forum screenings pass for $79, payable by check to the AFS or online via Inntopia. To learn more about tickets or the program overall, please contact AFS Operations Manager Fred Balzac at (518) 523-3456 or firstname.lastname@example.org or visit adirondackfilmsociety.org.
About the LPCA
Nestled in an Olympic village, the Lake Placid Center for the Arts is a year-round treasure to residents and visitors of the Adirondacks and is the premier art and cultural hub of the region. Orchestrating quality programming, performances, rotating art exhibitions, and education experiences to residences and visitors alike, the LPCA provides an ensemble of offerings in music, theatre and dance, and supports local, regional and national artists in its Fine Arts Gallery. At the heart of this hub is hands-on learning experiences for children exploring their creativity and adults finding new passions. As a leading organization, the LPCA collaborates with other Adirondack non-profit partners to build, support and cultivate the arts community. Inspiring excellence in the arts for generations, the LPCA continues to thrive today at its unique and captivating Lake Placid campus.
*This project is made possible, in part, with funds from the Decentralization Program, a regrant of the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature and administered by the Adirondack Lakes Center for the Arts.