LAKE PLACID, NY — “American Animals” is the unbelievable but entirely true story of four young men who attempt to execute one of the most audacious art heists in U.S. history. Spencer Reinhard, Warren Lipka, Eric Borsuk and Chas Allen are friends who live an ordinary existence in Kentucky. After a visit to Transylvania University, Lipka comes up with the idea to steal the rarest and most valuable books from the school’s library. As the story starts to unfold, the would-be perpetrators question whether their attempts to inject excitement and purpose into their lives are simply misguided attempts at achieving the American Dream.

The 2018-2019 edition of the Adirondack Film Society (AFS) Screening Series at the Lake Placid Center for the Arts (LPCA), Version 5.0, continues with this critically acclaimed comedy-drama on Friday and Saturday, January 25-26, at 7 p.m. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased in advance by visiting or calling the LPCA box office at 518-523-2512; they will also be available at the door. To learn more about the Screening Series or other AFS programs, please contact AFS Operations Manager Fred Balzac at 518-523-3456 or -588-7275 or [email protected] and/or

The AFS is also pleased to announce the next two films in the series, both being screened on a Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m.:

  • On February 15-16, the Film Society will present the regional premiere of “In Search of Greatness,” the latest groundbreaking feature documentary from award-winning filmmaker Gabe Polsky(“Genius”). It is a cinematic journey into the secrets of genius, told through the eyes of some of greatest athletes of all time. The film is based largely on original interviews with hockey great Wayne Gretzy, football Hall of Famer Jerry Rice and soccer legend Pelé and features such giants in their respective fields as Muhummad Ali, Michael Jordan and Serena Williams and non-athletes David Bowie an Albert Einstein. Mr. Polsky’s previous documentary, “Red Army”—about the creation and development of the Soviet Union’s national hockey team and its fate after the squad’s breathtaking loss to the U.S. in the 1980 Lake Placid Winter Olympics—remains one of the best-attended programs in the Screening Series at LPCA. And as he did following one of the Red Army screenings back in November 2014, director Polsky will appear via Skype to participate in at least one Q&A session with the LPCA audience present for “In Search of Greatness.”
  • Then, on March 15-16, the series continues with “Eighth Grade,” a comedy-drama written and directed by Bo Burnham in his feature-film directorial debut. It is told through the perspective—including via selfie videos posted on Facebook—of 13-year-old Kayla Day (played by Elsie Fisher, who was nominated for a 2019 Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Musical or Comedy) enduring the tidal wave of contemporary suburban adolescence as she makes her way through the last week of middle school—the end of her thus-far disastrous eighth-grade year. Common Sense Media hailed Ms. Fisher as “fabulous in writer-director Burnham’s poignant, sensitive exploration of the challenges of early adolescence in the age of social media and constant phone use,” while Screen Rant raved that the film “masterfully captures the emotional horror of being a Generation Z middle-schooler, yet tells a universally relatable coming of age story.”

Taking the Heist Movie into Bold New Territory

In the meantime, area film buffs and movie lovers have “American Animals” to take in—written and directed by British filmmaker Bart Layton, who is probably best known for his earlier acclaimed work, “The Imposter.” This newer film centers around two friends from the middle-class suburbs of Lexington, Kentucky. Spencer (Barry Keoghan) is determined to become an artist but feels he lacks the essential ingredient that unites all great artists—suffering. His closest friend, Warren (Evan Peters), has also been raised to believe that his life will be special and that he will be unique in some way. But as they leave the suburbs for universities in the same town, the realities of adult life begin to dawn on them and with that, the realization that their lives may in fact never be important or special in any way.

Determined to live lives that are out of the ordinary, they plan the brazen theft of some of the world’s most valuable books from the special collections room of Spencer’s college library. Enlisting two more friends, accounting major Eric (Jared Abrahamson) and fitness fanatic Chas (Blake Jenner), and taking cues from heist movies, the gang meticulously plots the theft and subsequent fence of the stolen artworks. Although some in the group begin to have second thoughts, they discover that the plan has seemingly taken on a life of its own.

Unfolding his narrative from multiple perspectives, and innovatively incorporating the real-life figures at the heart of the story, writer-director Layton takes the heist movie into bold new territory.

What the critics had to say:

*“‘American Animals’” is a high-style caper that touches a deeper chord of youthful indiscretion and moral imbalance. You won’t be able to stop talking about it.”—Peter Travers, Rolling Stone

*“Sensational…. a riveting college-boy crime caper that speeds along on pure movie-movie adrenaline, before U-turning into a sobering reflection on young male privilege and entitlement…. a wildly entertaining true-crime thriller.”—Guy Lodge, Variety

“The embrace of factuality’s slippery nature lends the film a delirious headiness, turning what might otherwise have been just another true-crime story into something more philosophical and complex.”—Michael O’Sullivan, Washington Post

“Incredible…. an expertly told, brilliant story.”—Gail Tolley, Time Out

“…One of the summer’s freshest and most entertaining films.”—Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times

Genre: comedy, drama, mystery & suspense • rated R (for language throughout, some drug use and brief crude/sexual material) • running time: 120 mins.

The two screenings of “American Animals” are partially underwritten by the Law Office of Brian P. Barrett, PLLC.

And be sure to save the dates for the 18th Annual Lake Placid Film Festival ( —to take place Thursday through Sunday, October 24-27, 2019!