October 20, 2021

The Rivertown Film Blog

This is a page of nearby events, local film and filmmaker news, and comments on film culture that is found regularly at the end of the Rivertown Film Enews. To stay up to date on the schedule of Rivertown Film please subscribe to the Enews here. If you have a screening or event for filmmakers to add to this page, write to film@rivertownfilm.org at least two weeks before your event.

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August 5, 2021

SUPPORT LOCAL FILM CULTURE

Get ready to write that screenplay you’ve been thinking about at Rivertown Film media specialist Juliana Roth’s class for Rutgers University’s Camden College of Arts & Letters, Introduction to Screenwriting. Examples of web series, TV pilots, features, and short films will be shown, and you’ll end up with an outline of your story, an understanding of where the turning points will land, and a road map to completion. Presented on Zoom on September 18.

Erotic Fire of the Unattainable, a feature film by Rockland County filmmaker Frank Vitale, is available on Amazon Prime, Google Play, and YouTube Movies. Movie Gourmet said “Captivating … We don’t see many movies about the romantic lives of women of a certain age, but assessing the relative appeal of lovers is a universal quandary.”

Emotions Physical Theatre presents Emotion and Soul: A Short Film Festival, an outdoor evening of soul food and short films created by local and international artists at Diddy’s Soul Food in Suffern on Aug. 7.

Garner Arts Outdoor Shorts: The New Normal, a program of curated independent short films, will take place on Friday, August 20th and Saturday, August 21.

The 9th Annual Nyack Film Festival runs from August 16 through 19, for the first time at the Hotel Nyack.

The Northwest of NYC Film Festival returns to Rockland County for a second year, October 8 through 10th, at venues to be announced.

With new film festivals appearing all over, Rockland County has officially become a friendly destination for filmmakers. For sobering thoughts on the future of some of the country’s most eminent film festivals, Indiewire recently published American Film Festivals Have a Future If They are Willing to Change (Almost) Everything.

You have until August 14th to catch Till They Listen: Bill Gunn Directs America, at Artists Space in NYC. The Rockland based Black filmmaker, writer, dramatist and actor who passed away in 1989 has been undergoing a career reevaluation and is increasingly recognized for his groundbreaking but often sadly overlooked achievements. Here’s a twelve minute film about his now classic film from 1972, Ganja & Hess.

While many theaters have closed in the last year, the storied Paris Theater on West 58th Street has been revived and opens on Aug. 6. The first week of special programming includes Losing Ground (1982) by Rockland filmmaker Kathleen Collins, one of the first feature films directed by a Black woman, on August 12.

The New City Cinemas has reopened under the management of the Teaneck Cinema and is showing first run Hollywood films. Matinee’s are $6.00. Check out titles and showtimes here.

July 8, 2021

SUPPORT LOCAL FILM CULTURE

Erotic Fire of the Unattainable, a feature film by Rockland County filmmaker Frank Vitale, is now available on Amazon Prime, Google Play, and YouTube Movies after a festival run that included some top festivals such as the American Fringe in Paris, and the Cinequest, Sarasota, and Brooklyn Film Festivals. Movie Gourmet said “Captivating … We don’t see many movies about the romantic lives of women of a certain age, but assessing the relative appeal of lovers is a universal quandary.” Watch it from home and support local filmmakers.

Good news for film audiences in Rockland County. The New City Cinema’s 6 has reopened under the management of the Teaneck Cinema (a 4-screen theater in Teaneck, New Jersey). Matinee’s are $6.00. Check out titles and showtimes here. This brings the total number of movie theaters in Rockland County to three.

From Rockland writer and filmmaker Gregg Mitchell‘s indispensable substack column “Between Rock and a Hard Place”: “It’s the 50th anniversary of arrival of Robert Altman’s McCabe and Mrs. Miller, which brought Leonard Cohen’s early songs to a larger audience, such as ‘Sisters of Mercy,’ as live below from 1972.” Followed in his next column with: Here’s the opening of McCabe with Leonard crooning “The Stranger.”

A currently very relevant issue of Gregg’s “Between Rock and a Hard Place” column this week has the eye catching headline: Was ‘Summer of Soul’ Footage Really ‘Locked in a Basement for 50 Years”? If you’ve been enjoying the film in a theater or on Hulu, this is an interesting addition to the history. And as always, Gregg finds great clips on YouTube to accompany the column.

In the world of the Ottoman Sultans, a poor child from Jerusalem makes an unimaginable desert journey to Cairo and back. Rockland animator Conor MacFinn is running a crowdfunding campaign for ARIAL, a story with deep roots in the Middle Eastern/North African Jewish community. Visit his Indiegogo page.

Shura McComb is a projection mapping artist and VJ from Brooklyn and Artist in Residence at Garner Arts Center. His solo exhibition, MY LOVE SPiNS… SPiNS LOVE is running on Saturdays through July 10 at Garner Arts Center in Building 2 South. Free, but reservations are required. https://garnerartscenter.org/exhibitions

Garner Arts OUTDOOR SHORTS: THE NEW NORMAL, a program of curated independent short films, will take place on Friday, August 20th and Saturday, August 21, with the same films showing each evening. https://garnerartscenter.org/outdoorshortsfilm

The 9th Annual Nyack Film Festival runs from August 19 through 22. Submissions are now being accepted in all lengths and genres.

June 25, 2021

SUPPORT LOCAL FILM CULTURE

In the world of the Ottoman Sultans, a poor child from Jerusalem makes an unimaginable desert journey to Cairo and back. Rockland animator Conor MacFinn is running a crowdfunding campaign for ARIAL, a story with deep roots in the Middle Eastern/North African Jewish community. Visit his Indiegogo page.

Shura McComb is a projection mapping artist and VJ from Brooklyn and Artist in Residence at Garner Arts Center. His solo exhibition, MY LOVE SPiNS… SPiNS LOVE is running on Saturdays through July 10 at Garner Arts Center in Building 2 South. Free, but reservations are required. https://garnerartscenter.org/exhibitions

Garner Arts OUTDOOR SHORTS: THE NEW NORMAL, a series of curated independent short films, will take place on Friday, August 20th and Saturday, August 21, with the same films showing each evening. https://garnerartscenter.org/outdoorshortsfilm

The 9th Annual Nyack Film Festival runs from August 19 through 22. Submissions are now being accepted in all lengths and genres.

June 17, 2021

SUPPORT LOCAL FILM CULTURE

In the world of the Ottoman Sultans, a poor child from Jerusalem makes an unimaginable desert journey to Cairo and back. Rockland animator Conor MacFinn is running a crowdfunding campaign for ARIAL, a story with deep roots in the Middle Eastern/North African Jewish community. Visit his Indiegogo page.

Shura McComb is a projection mapping artist and VJ from Brooklyn and Artist in Residence at Garner Arts Center. His solo exhibition, MY LOVE SPiNS… SPiNS LOVE is running on Saturdays through July 10 at Garner Arts Center in Building 2 South. Free, but reservations are required. https://garnerartscenter.org/exhibitions

Garner Arts OUTDOOR SHORTS: THE NEW NORMAL, a series of curated independent short films, will take place on Friday, August 20th and Saturday, August 21, with the same films showing each evening. https://garnerartscenter.org/outdoorshortsfilm

The 9th Annual Nyack Film Festival runs from August 19 through 22. Submissions are now being accepted in all lengths and genres.

May 14, 2021

SOMETHING TO WATCH

The day after Minari was nominated for 6 Academy Awards including Best Picture (unprecedented for a film about Asian Americans), 6 women of Asian descent were murdered in Atlanta. Video essayist Kevin B. Lee looks at the two events and contrasts their stories in Mourning with Minari, at Hyperallergic.

THINGS TO READ

A recent report from the global business consulting firm McKinsey & Company reports that based on past grosses Hollywood has lost $10 billion annually by not producing more films led by Black filmmakers, and that among all American industries, including energy and finance, filmmaking is one of the least racially diverse.

SUPPORT LOCAL FILM CULTURE

Piermont Film Festival returns in 2021 on June 12 and 13, with screenings in the Goswick Pavilian / Rittenberg Ball Field on at the Piermont Pier. Information at www.piermontfilmfestival.com

The 9th Annual Nyack Film Festival runs from August 19 through 22. Submissions are now being accepted in all lengths and genres.

May 4, 2021

SOMETHING TO WATCH

The day after Minari was nominated for 6 Academy Awards including Best Picture (unprecedented for a film about Asian Americans), 6 women of Asian descent were murdered in Atlanta. Video essayist Kevin B. Lee looks at the two events and contrasts their stories in Mourning with Minari, at Hyperallergic.

THINGS TO READ

A recent report from the global business consulting firm McKinsey & Company reports that based on past grosses Hollywood has lost $10 billion annually by not producing more films led by Black filmmakers, and that among all American industries, including energy and finance, filmmaking is one of the least racially diverse.

P-MRC, the owner of Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, IndieWire, Billboard, Rolling Stone and Deadline, recently purchased 50% of Austin’s annual music/film/tech conference, SXSW. Little of this conglomeration is being reported outside of the trade press – which P-MRC now owns most of.

SUPPORT LOCAL FILM CULTURE

The JCC Rockland Jewish Film Festival is back for its 18th year with 14 new films, from March 3 through May 10, all online again this year. Check out the entire selection of films, here.

The 9th Annual Nyack Film Festival runs from August 19 through 22. Submissions are now being accepted in all lengths and genre.

April 1, 2021

ARTS FUNDING IN ROCKLAND AND WESTCHESTER

NYC reported a 66% drop in jobs in the arts last year. With no federal leadership yet, NY artists and arts organizations are calling on Cuomo to start a new WPA for the arts, and now there’s a bill in front of the NY Senate that proposes just that. At the same time, ArtsWestchester and The Arts Council of Rockland are calling for Restart the Arts funding from Albany to provide $1 million to help the arts in Westchester and Rockland Counties. Contact your state representatives to support Restart the Arts.

LOCAL FILM CULTURE

At the Rockland Virtual Arts Festival, running for the entire month of April, check out the Short Independent Films by Lucas Ruderman on April 5 at 7PM, and Joe Allen, Bill Batson, and Cheryl Baum discussing Literature and Film on Thursday, April 19 at 7PM.

How does a man go from “I believed in demonizing Hillary Clinton” to crying in compassion for a trans woman? What triggered his escape? 2 Comedians – first Sarah K. Silverman then Sarah O’Connell. How? Melissa Jo Peltier (Rockland in Motion) shows you his story at www.AmericanDignityPAC.com, the final installment of her series The Game Is Up: Disillusioned Trump Voters Tell Their Stories

The JCC Rockland Jewish Film Festival is back for its 18th year with 14 new films, from March 3 through May 10, all online again this year. Check out the entire selection of films, here.

The 9th Annual Nyack Film Festival runs from August 19 through 22. Submissions are now being accepted in all lengths and genres

March 25, 2021

ARTS FUNDING IN ROCKLAND AND WESTCHESTER

NYC reported a 66% drop in jobs in the arts last year. With no federal leadership yet, NY artists and arts organizations are calling on Cuomo to start a new WPA for the arts, and now there’s a bill in front of the NY Senate that proposes just that. At the same time, ArtsWestchester and The Arts Council of Rockland are calling for Restart the Arts funding from Albany to provide $1 million to help the arts in Westchester and Rockland Counties. Contact your state representatives to support Restart the Arts.

LOCAL FILM CULTURE

Rivertown Film has lost one it our earliest supporters and first Board Treasurer, Mildred (Mimi) Schneider. Before settling in Rockland County she owned a clothing manufacturing company and was a savvy business person and designer. She moved back to New York City a year ago. We will miss her.

How does a man go from “I believed in demonizing Hillary Clinton” to crying in compassion for a trans woman? What triggered his escape? 2 Comedians – first Sarah K. Silverman then Sarah O’Connell. How? Melissa Jo Peltier (Rockland in Motion) shows you his story here: www.AmericanDignityPAC.com, the final installment of her series The Game Is Up: Disillusioned Trump Voters Tell Their Stories

The JCC Rockland Jewish Film Festival is back for its 18th year with 14 new films, from March 3 through May 10, all online again this year. Check out the entire selection of films, here.

Greg Mitchell’s Atomic Cover-Up just had its world premier at the Cinequest Film Festival where it still streams through 3/30. “Don’t be surprised if this documentary is a player at next year’s Oscars.” Rod Lurie (director of The Outpost, The Contender, others). “Very powerful. Incredible unseen footage restored and the tale of the filmmakers who photographed the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.” — Alex Gibney, Academy Award-winning director of Enron, Taxi to the Dark Side. You can view a trailer and purchase tickets to an online viewing here.

Running Wild, a documentary of a cowboy determined to protect wild horses and the American west, by Suzanne Mitchell (producer of the above-mentioned Atomic Cover-Up), is now available to rent or buy from www.runningwildfilm.com. “Quietly grand” … “The burning question is why Mr. Hyde’s story has never been made into a feature film.”

The New York Times

The 9th Annual Nyack Film Festival runs from August 19 through 22. Submissions are now being accepted in all lengths and genres.

March 12, 2021

LOCAL FILM CULTURE

Rivertown Film has lost one it our earliest supporters and first Board Treasurer, Mildred (Mimi) Schneider. Before settling in Rockland County she owned a clothing manufacturing company and was a savvy business person and designer. She moved back to New York City a year ago. We will miss her.

How does a man go from “I believed in demonizing Hillary Clinton” to crying in compassion for a trans woman? What triggered his escape? 2 Comedians – first Sarah K. Silverman then Sarah O’Connell. How? Melissa Jo Peltier (Rockland in Motion) shows you his story here: www.AmericanDignityPAC.com, the final installment of her series The Game Is Up: Disillusioned Trump Voters Tell Their Stories

The JCC Rockland Jewish Film Festival is back for its 18th year with 14 new films, from March 3 through May 10, all online again this year. Check out the entire selection of films, here.

Greg Mitchell’s Atomic Cover-Up gets its world premier at the Cinequest Film Festival (3/20-3/30). You can view a trailer and purchase tickets to an online viewing here. Rod Lurie, director of hit film The Outpost, introduces it, saying: “There’s a reason I agreed to intro this documentary. It isn’t just brilliantly done —it’s a fucking historical first, including images from the Japanese atomic bomb devastation that were suppressed for decades. If you’re a history student it is malpractice to not see the movie.”

Greg just posted this interesting bit of local news in his music and politics blog “Between Rock and a Hard Place“: “Nixon “plumbers” finally getting their day, as HBO set to start filming in my neck of the woods (Hudson Valley) for a five-part series, starring Woody Harrelson (as E. Howard Hunt) and Justin Theroux (as G. Gordon Liddy). It’s based on Egil “Bud” Krogh’s book and public records, and titled The White House Plumbers— from producers of Veep and Succession (so my old buddy Frank Rich?). A call for extras has gone out locally here. Have to chuckle over Woody playing Hunt who, along with Harrelson’s hit man father, was once linked in wild conspiracy theories—far, far, from proven—to Dealey Plaza and the JFK assassination.” If you want to try out for a part, Patch tells you how.

Running Wild, a documentary of a cowboy determined to protect wild horses and the American west by Suzanne Mitchell (producer of the above-mentioned Atomic Cover-Up), is now available to rent or buy from www.runningwildfilm.com. “Quietly grand” … “The burning question is why Mr. Hyde’s story has never been made into a feature film. You’ve got big sky, a crazy but magnetically confident old coot, a noble but seemingly hopeless quest and a triumphant ending.” – The New York Times

The 9th Annual Nyack Film Festival runs from August 19 through 22. Submissions are now being accepted in all lengths and genres.

VIEWING

For the Covid era: How to Festival at Home

This is applicable to regular television viewing as well, and it’s only 60 seconds. Thanks to the Chicago Film Festival.

ARTS FUNDING IN ROCKLAND AND WESTCHESTER

NYC reported a 66% drop in jobs in the arts last year. With no federal leadership yet, NY artists and arts organizations are calling on Cuomo to start a new WPA for the arts, and now there’s a bill in front of the NY Senate that proposes just that. At the same time, ArtsWestchester is calling for Restart the Arts funding from Albany to provide $1 million to help the arts in Westchester and Rockland Counties. Contact your state representatives to support this needed initiative. Before this year, the arts were the fastest growing segment of the Rockland County economy.

March 3, 2021

LOCAL FILM CULTURE

The JCC Rockland Jewish Film Festival is back for its 18th year with 14 new films, from March 3 through May 10, all online again this year. Check out the entire selection of films, here.

Greg Mitchell’s Atomic Cover-Up gets its world premier at the Cinequest Film Festival (3/20-3/30). You can view a trailer and purchase tickets to an online viewing here. Rod Lurie, director of hit film The Outpost, will introduce it, saying: “There’s a reason I agreed to intro this documentary. It isn’t just brilliantly done —it’s a fucking historical first, including images from the Japanese atomic bomb devastation that were suppressed for decades. If you’re a history student it is malpractice to not see the movie.”

Running Wild, a documentary of a cowboy determined to protect wild horses and the American west by Suzanne Mitchell (producer of the above-mentioned Atomic Cover-Up), is now available to rent or buy from www.runningwildfilm.com. “Quietly grand” … “The burning question is why Mr. Hyde’s story has never been made into a feature film. You’ve got big sky, a crazy but magnetically confident old coot, a noble but seemingly hopeless quest and a triumphant ending.” – The New York Times

The 9th Annual Nyack Film Festival runs from August 19 through 22. Submissions are now being accepted in all lengths and genres.

INTERESTING VIEWING

For the Covid era: How to Festival at Home

This is applicable to regular television viewing as well, and it’s only 60 seconds. Thanks to the Chicago Film Festival.

Feb. 18, 2021

LOCAL FILM CULTURE

Running Wild, a documentary of a cowboy determined to protect wild horses and the American west by Suzanne Mitchell (producer of The Pratt in the Hat), is now available to rent or buy from www.runningwildfilm.com. “Quietly grand” … “The burning question is why Mr. Hyde’s story has never been made into a feature film. You’ve got big sky, a crazy but magnetically confident old coot, a noble but seemingly hopeless quest and a triumphant ending.” – The New York Times

Bestselling author Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah, who moderated the discussion with the nine filmmakers who took part in Rockland in Motion, Program 2, just directed a music video for Mike Mitch. View it here.

The 9th Annual Nyack Film Festival runs from August 19 through 22. Submissions are now being accepted in all lengths and genres.

INTERESTING VIEWING

For the Covid era: How to Festival at Home

This is applicable to regular television viewing as well, and it’s only 60 seconds. Thanks to the Chicago Film Festival.

Feb. 4. 2021

LOCAL FILM CULTURE

ArtsRock raises the bar for arts production and exhibition, again, with Eddie Izzard In a Global Conversation with Elliott Forrest. This special online presentation begins at 4:00 PM on Friday, February 12. Have a question for Eddie? Mail it to ArtsRock. This event is in support of the Arts in Rockland County, NY, Phyllis B. Frank Pride Center of Rockland, and Eddie’s Charities.

This year the Sundance Film Festival invited theaters throughout the country to be satellite venues for their online-only 2021 festival. The Jacob Burns Film Center signed on, and among the films they chose to show was Brooklyn Demme’s The Place Where the People Gather (shown in Rockland in Motion), followed by a virtual conversation with Brooklyn, Owl Steven Smith, and Chenae Bullock. Watch the recorded conversation here.

Bestselling author Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah, who moderated the discussion with the nine filmmakers who took part in Rockland in Motion, Program 2, just directed a music video for Mike Mitch. View it here.

Writing about and reviewing films, especially independent films, is as important as making, distributing, and exhibiting them. One of the few people doing this locally is writer/filmmaker Greg Mitchell. Here’s his two-part post on One Night in Miami, a speculation of what took place at a real event in 1964 when Muhammad Ali, Jim Brown, Sam Cooke, and Malcolm X all gathered in Ali’s motel room. Read it and subscribe here.

The 9th Annual Nyack Film Festival runs from August 19 through 22. Submissions are now being accepted in all lengths and genres.

INTERESTING READING

In 2017, Sam Pollard spoke via Skype to a Rivertown Film audience after a screening of his film, Two Trains Runnin’, the story of white blues fans looking for Skip James in Mississippi in 1964, during Freedom Summer. His latest film, MLK/FBI, examines how the FBI worked against the civil rights movement and in particular Martin Luther King. There’s a good article in the NY Times about Sam, whose first film job was on Rockland filmmaker Bill Gunn’s seminal Ganja and Hess (and actor in Losing Ground). The arts publication Hyperallergic interviews Sam here.

Jan. 21, 2021

LOCAL FILM CULTURE

Writing about and reviewing films, especially independent films, is as important as making, distributing, and exhibiting them. One of the few people doing this locally is writer/filmmaker Greg Mitchell, who writes on a variety of subjects. Here’s his two-part post on One Night in Miami, an imaginary story of what took place at a real event in 1964 when Muhammad Ali, Jim Brown, Sam Cooke, and Malcolm X all gathered in Ali’s motel room. Read it and subscribe here.

Rivertown Film advisory board member Ellen Kuras, who has moved from award-winning cinematography to directing recent episodes of Ozark, Umbrella Academy, and Catch 22, is creating a global documentation of the Covid 19 pandemic. With cooperation from the American Society of Cinematographers and International Federation of Cinematographers, she is compiling short submissions by cinematographers from 46 countries (so far) into a film or series of shorts titled Chronicle. Read about it in American Cinematographer. Proceeds will go to Doctors Without Borders. We look forward to seeing this and opening our eyes to the world wide disruption that has been taking place in 2020 – and that we hope will dissipate in 2021.

The 9th Annual Nyack Film Festival runs from August 19 through 22. Submissions are now being accepted in all lengths and genres.

INTERESTING READING

In 2017, Sam Pollard spoke via Skype to a Rivertown Film audience after a screening of his film, Two Trains Runnin’, the story of white blues fans looking for Skip James in Mississippi in 1964, the year of Freedom Summer. His latest film, MLK/FBI, examines how the FBI worked against the civil rights movement and in particular Martin Luther King. There’s a good article in the NY Times about Sam, whose first film job was on Rockland filmmaker Bill Gunn’s seminal film Ganja and Hess (behind the Times paywall). The arts publication Hyperallergic interviews Sam here.

Lettterboxed is the GoodReads of film, or so they say. Check it out, or read the Times story about their growth during Covid (paywall).

December 31, 2020

ROCKLAND FILMMAKERS

Rivertown Film advisory board member Ellen Kuras, who has moved from award-winning cinematography to directing recent episodes of Ozark, Umbrella Academy, and Catch 22, is creating a global documentation of the Covid 19 pandemic. With cooperation from the American Society of Cinematographers and International Federation of Cinematographers, she is compiling short submissions by cinematographers from 46 countries (so far) into a film or series of shorts titled Chronicle. Read about it in American Cinematographer. Proceeds will go to Doctors Without Borders. We look forward to seeing this and opening our eyes to the world wide disruption that has been taking place in 2020 – and that we hope will dissipate in 2021.

December 24, 2020

ROCKLAND FILMMAKERSThe new and acclaimed film by David Fincher now streaming on Netflix, Mank, is the story behind the writing of Citizen Cane, considered to be one of the best films ever made. One aspect of Mank has to do with MGM’s part in propagandizing against socialist Upton Sinclair’s campaign for governor of California in 1934. That’s a subject that local writer and filmmaker Greg Mitchell knows something about, having written a book on the subject, The Campaign of the Century, that the Wall Street Journal called one of the best five books written about a political campaign. Read what Greg Mitchel has to say about Mank in The New York Times or on his own blog.

Marta Renzi has directed a re-imagined version of The Nutcracker that will be shown on PBS Rhode Island on the 18th, 20th and 25th, and it looks like a new direction in filmmaking for Marta. Not only that, she recently made another version of The Nutcracker with Coupe Dance Studios here in Rockland County, exhibition date TBA.

The Rockland in Motion short directed by John Gray and produced by Melissa Jo Peltier, Exit Package, (see the interview above) won Best Quarantine Short at the Studio City Film Festival. And the latest installment of Melissa’s video series, The Game is Up: Disillusioned Trump Voters Tell Their Stories; The Farmer, is streaming now at American Dignity Pac.

A RESTRUCTURING OF THE FILM BUSINESS?

Warner Bros. has announced that all of their films will now open in theaters and on HBO Max on the same day. Writing about Wonder Woman, Slatesums it up this way: “Without theaters, we’re drowning in options, grabbing whatever flotsam is nearest to hand, and while that firehose keeps getting bigger, it hasn’t made it any easier to find a good drop to drink.” Now Warner Bros. star director, Christopher Nolan, is calling the studio that has backed his films “the worst streaming service” and co-financiers of some films are preparing to sue, claiming that big sums were offered by other streaming companies for these same films. When studios send their films to streaming services owned by their own parent companies rather than to theaters, they wipe out the “backend” participation of investors, producers, directors, and actors who rely on success in theaters. The system of financing films may be in for a restructuring, and independent filmmakers could find it more difficult than ever to find individual investors for their work.

December 11, 2020

ROCKLAND FILMMAKERS

The new and acclaimed film by David Fincher now streaming on Netflix, Mank, is the story behind the writing of Citizen Cane, considered to be one of the best films ever made. One aspect of Mank has to do with MGM’s part in propagandizing against socialist Upton Sinclair’s campaign for governor of California in 1934. That’s a subject that local writer and filmmaker Greg Mitchell knows something about, having written a book on the subject, The Campaign of the Century, that the Wall Street Journal called one of the best five books written about a political campaign. Read what Greg Mitchel has to say about Mank in The New York Times or on his own blog.

Marta Renzi has directed a re-imagined version of The Nutcracker that will be shown on PBS Rhode Island on the 18th, 20th and 25th, and it looks like a new direction in filmmaking for Marta. Not only that, she recently made another version of The Nutcracker with Coupe Dance Studios here in Rockland County, exhibition date TBA.

The Rockland in Motion short directed by John Gray and produced by Melissa Jo Peltier, Exit Package, (see the interview above) won Best Quarantine Short at the Studio City Film Festival. And the latest installment of Melissa’s video series, The Game is Up: Disillusioned Trump Voters Tell Their Stories; The Farmer, is streaming now at American Dignity Pac.

A RESTRUCTURING OF THE FILM BUSINESS?

Warner Bros. has announced that all of their films will now open in theaters and on HBO Max on the same day. Writing about Wonder Woman, Slatesums it up this way: “Without theaters, we’re drowning in options, grabbing whatever flotsam is nearest to hand, and while that firehose keeps getting bigger, it hasn’t made it any easier to find a good drop to drink.” Now Warner Bros. star director, Christopher Nolan, is calling the studio that has backed his films “the worst streaming service” and co-financiers of some films are preparing to sue, claiming that big sums were offered by other streaming companies for these same films. When studios send their films to streaming services owned by their own parent companies rather than to theaters, they wipe out the “backend” participation of investors, producers, directors, and actors who rely on success in theaters. The system of financing films may be in for a restructuring, and independent filmmakers could find it more difficult than ever to find individual investors for their work.

November 27, 2020

ROCKLAND FILMMAKERS

The Rockland in Motion short directed by John Gray and Produced by Melissa Jo Peltier, Exit Package, won Best Quarantine Short at the Studio City Film Festival. The latest installment of Melissa’s video series, The Game is Up: Disillusioned Trump Voters Tell Their Stories; The Farmer, is streaming now at American Dignity Pac.

GRANTS FOR LOCAL ARTISTS (FILMMAKERS INCLUDED)

The Arts Council of Rockland (ACOR) and the Rockland Community Foundation (RCF) have established an Artist’s Support Fund to provide grants directly to practicing Rockland County artists in need of funds to support their ongoing work. The application deadline is Dec. 4.

INTERESTING READING

Wonder Woman 1984, one of the most anticipated films of the year, will open in theaters and HBO Max on the same day. That decision was made with “the audience in mind,” but really, who even has HBO Max? Slatesums it up: “Without theaters, we’re drowning in options, grabbing whatever flotsam is nearest to hand, and while that firehose keeps getting bigger, it hasn’t made it any easier to find a good drop to drink.”

Hollywood’s 20 Favorite Films of the Decade” is a year old now, but if you are interested in what 3,500 industry professionals thought, check it out. It’s probably not much different than the favorite films of many people who don’t work in Hollywood, and if you love movies, you’ve seen a lot of them.

Actress Brooke Smith, the Blauvelt raised daughter of trailblazing publicist Lois Smith (Marilyn Monroe, Martin Scorsese, Meryl Streep, Robert Redford, etc), played Catherine Martin in Jonathan Demme’s The Silence of the Lambs. Vulture just asked her everything you want to know about forever being known as “the girl in the pit.”

THE END OF AN ERA IN ROCKLAND COUNTY

There are no more Drive-Ins in Rockland County. There’s never really been an arthouse. The Lafayette Theater will not reopen as a dedicated movie theater. The New City Cinema didn’t make an official announcement but we hear it is permanently closed. The companies that own Regal Nanuet and the AMC Palisades 21 are known to be struggling badly. The troubles of multiplexes could be over-hyped to give them bargaining leverage with studios and landlords, but it is also possible that every theater in our county will close – until someone else takes their place. Who might that be? As suggested in the Rockland County Business Journal, maybe Netflix or Amazon. Now that studios can also be exhibitors, Disney or any of the rest could look for opportunities to create cinema / entertainment centers as well. No matter what, it’s the end of an era. Let’s make the next one better

November 20, 2020

AT THE YoFiFEST IN YONKERS, IN WESTCHESTER

Every year YoFi programs a handful of films from Rockland County. This year they include Marta Renzi’s Dancing is an Old Friend(one of the films in Rivertown Film’s Rockland in Motion), and two films from John Gray and Melissa Jo Peltier (whose Exit Package played in Rockland in Motion), The Desecrated and Extra Innings. 11/7 through 11/22.

AT THE TEANECK INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL, IN BERGEN

Streaming on Monday, 11/23, from Bergen County’s Teaneck Film Festival: Song For Our People, featuring Teaneck native son Norman Burns. An intimate look inside a collaborative musical creation, and into the soul of a new kind of Black consciousness. Afterward there will be a talkback with director Mustapha Khan, and Norman Burns.

INTERESTING READING

Actress Brooke Smith, the Blauvelt raised daughter of trailblazing publicist Lois Smith (Marilan Monroe, Martin Scorsese, Meryl Streep, Robert Redford, etc), played Catherine Martin in Jonathan Demme’s The Silence of the Lambs. Vulture just asked her everything you want to know about forever being known as “the girl in the pit.”

THE END OF AN ERA IN ROCKLAND COUNTY

Suffern’s venerable Lafayette Theater will reopen eventually, but with live events and specialized film screenings, not as a first run theater. Here is a statement from the owner.

There are no more Drive-Ins in Rockland County. There’s never really been an arthouse. The Lafayette Theater will not reopen as a dedicated movie theater. The New City Cinema didn’t make an official announcement but we hear it is permanently closed. The companies that own Regal Nanuet and the AMC Palisades 21 are known to be struggling badly. The troubles of multiplexes could be over-hyped to give them bargaining leverage with studios and landlords, but it is also possible that every theater in our county will close – until someone else takes their place. Who might that be? As suggested in the Rockland County Business Journal, maybe Netflix or Amazon. Now that studios can also be exhibitors, Disney or any of the rest could look for opportunities to create cinema / entertainment centers as well. No matter what, it’s the end of an era. Let’s make the next one better.

November 13, 2020

AT THE YoFiFEST IN YONKERS, IN WESTCHESTER

Every year YoFi programs a handful of films from Rockland County. This year they include Marta Renzi’s Dancing is an Old Friend(one of the films in Rivertown Film’s Rockland in Motion), and two films from John Gray and Melissa Jo Peltier (whose Exit Package played in Rockland in Motion), The Desecrated and Extra Innings. 11/7 through 11/22.

AT THE TEANECK INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL, IN BERGEN

Streaming on Monday, 11/23, from Bergen County’s Teaneck Film Festival: Song For Our People, featuring Teaneck native son Norman Burns. An intimate look inside a collaborative musical creation, and into the soul of a new kind of Black consciousness. Afterward there will be a talkback with director Mustapha Khan, and Norman Burns.

NEW FILMS BY ROCKLAND FILMMAKERS

The Game Is Up profiles a young disillusioned conservative activist in New York, by Rockland filmmaker Melissa Jo Peltier. Among many other films, Melissa produced Exit Package, which appeared in our short film series, Rockland in Motion. This one is the first in a series.

INTERESTING READING

Actress Brooke Smith, the Blauvelt raised daughter of trailblazing publicist Lois Smith (Marilan Monroe, Martin Scorsese, Meryl Streep, Robert Redford, etc), played Catherine Martin in Jonathan Demme’s The Silence of the Lambs. Vulture just asked her everything you want to know about forever being known as “the girl in the pit.”

THE END OF AN ERA IN ROCKLAND COUNTY

This is the end of an era in Rockland County.

Suffern’s venerable Lafayette Theater will reopen eventually, but with live events and specialized film screenings, not as a first run theater. Here is a statement from the owner.

Mike Hayes wrote a nice story about a long lost local movie theater from another era of Rockland film culture, The Nyack Drive-In, published in Nyack News and Views.

There are no more Drive-Ins in Rockland County. There’s never really been an arthouse. The Lafayette Theater will not reopen as a dedicated movie theater. The New City Cinema didn’t make an official announcement but we hear it is permanently closed. The companies that own Regal Nanuet and the AMC Palisades 21 are known to be struggling badly. The troubles of multiplexes could be over-hyped to give them bargaining leverage with studios and landlords, but it is also possible that every theater in our county will close – until someone else takes their place. Who might that be? As suggested in the Rockland County Business Journal, maybe Netflix or Amazon. Now that studios can also be exhibitors, Disney or any of the rest could look for opportunities to create cinema / entertainment centers as well. No matter what, it’s the end of an era. Let’s make the next one better.

IT’S VIRTUALLY 2021

You can help make the next era of local film exhibition a better era.

It’s virtually 2021, and we are ending an era here at Rivertown Film, the end of our first two decades. Please make sure that’s not all that’s ending by making an year-end donation.

October 30

NEW FILMS BY ROCKLAND FILMMAKERS

The Game Is Up profiles a young disillusioned conservative activist in New York, by Rockland, New York, Cape Cod filmmaker Melissa Jo Peltier. Among many other films, Melissa produced Exit Package, which appeared in our short film series, Rockland in Motion. This one is the first in a series.

Local editor Pascal Akesson (Easy Riders, Raging Bulls, among numerous others) has made a great series of short films in support of the US Post Office, their workers, and voting by mail, often with local Rocklanders. Check them out, and Pascal’s other films, on his Vimeo channel.

Independent narrative feature films are not often made by Rockland County filmmakers, but here’s a new one. The Erotic Fire of the Unattainable, by Frank Vitale, a wry look at relationships and love over a certain age, was in two recent festivals: Cinequest (Oct. 1-14, virtual only) and Reading (Oct. 8 – 11, live and virtual). Frank’s short film, Night at the Carnival, appeared in Rockland in Motion, Program 1.

INTERESTING READING

From The New York Times, How New York’s Small Cinemas Are Hanging On: Film Forum on Houston Street has offered 50 or 60 movies on its site since the pandemic began, said its director, Karen Cooper, bringing in a total of $90,000, which was just $10,000 more, she said, than the Aretha Franklin documentary Amazing Grace made in a week. Mhiripiri of Anthology Film Archives said that streaming has brought in about 5 percent of normal box-office income, but that they had to keep doing it. “We need to stay engaged with our audiences,” he said.

ROCKLAND COUNTY MOVIE THEATERS

It’s the end of an era in Rockland County.

Suffern’s venerable Lafayette Theater will reopen, eventually, with live events as well as specialized film screenings, not as a first run theater. Here is a statement from the owner.

Mike Hayes wrote a nice story about a long lost local movie theater from another era of Rockland film culture, The Nyack Drive-In, published in Nyack News and Views.

There are no more Drive-Ins in Rockland County. There’s never really been an arthouse movie theater. The Lafayette Theater will not return as a dedicated movie theater with first run films. The New City Cinema (formally Main Street Cinema) didn’t make an official announcement but some say it is permanently closed. The companies that own Regal Nanuet and the AMC Palisades 21 are known to be struggling badly. The troubles of multiplexes could be over-hyped to give them bargaining leverage, but it is also possible that every theater in the county will close their doors – until someone else comes in to take their place. Who might that be? As suggested in the Rockland County Business Journal, maybe Netflix or Amazon. Now that studios can get into the exhibition business, Disney or any of the rest could look for opportunities to create cinema / entertainment centers as well. As we were saying, it’s the end of an era, and the dawn of a new one. Let’s hope it’s better.

JUST IN TIME FOR HALLOWEEN

Horror junkies have a new website to get their fix. ALTER focuses on novel stories exploring the human condition through warped and uncanny perspectives, in features, series, and shorts from twisted, provocative, and innovative minds.

October 23, 2020

NEW SHORT FILMS BY ROCKLAND FILMMAKERS

Local editor Pascal Akesson (Easy Riders, Raging Bulls, among numerous others) has made a great series of short films in support of the US Post Office, their workers, and voting by mail, often with local Rocklanders. Check them out, and Pascal’s other films, on his Vimeo channel.

To celebrate 100 years since women won the right to vote, photographer Susan Stava presents a video montage focusing on women. Part of The Right to Vote: 100 years of Women’s Suffrage – A Worldwide Pandemic – Social Justice – the 2020 Election, exhibit at Garner Arts.

NEW FEATURE FILMS BY ROCKLAND FILMMAKERS

Rockland County producer Melissa Jo Peltier (whose career includes three Emmy nominations and the short film, Exit Package, which streamed in Rockland in Motion: Program 2) is finishing a documentary with America Dignity Pac that is timed for the election (due any day now!), about Republicans who regret their last vote for president. See clips and help Melissa get this film into the world.

Independent narrative feature films are not often made by Rockland County filmmakers, but here’s a new one. The Erotic Fire of the Unattainable, by Frank Vitale, a wry look at relationships and love over a certain age, is in two upcoming festivals: Cinequest (Oct. 1-14, virtual only) and Reading (Oct. 8 – 11, live and virtual). Frank’s short film, Night at the Carnival, was in Rockland in Motion, Program 1.

INTERESTING READING

Especially for documentary fans, Sixty-Two Films that Shaped the Art of Documentary Filmmaking, currently in The New Yorker, is an interesting list with some unique choices.

ROCKLAND COUNTY MOVIE THEATERS

Mike Hayes published a nice story about a long lost local movie theater, The Nyack Drive-In, in Nyack News and Views.

There are no more Drive-Ins in Rockland County. There’s never really been an arthouse movie theater. And now, with the companies that own Regal Nanuet and the AMC Palisades 21 struggling financially, and with the New City Cinema (formally Main Street Cinema, and Bow Tie Cinema) closed and not communicating, it’s not impossible to imagine Rockland County with exactly ONE movie theater – the venerable Lafayette Theater in Suffern. Some are saying the troubles of multiplexes like Regal and AMC are being over-hyped to give them bargaining leverage, but this scenario may not be that far fetched.

October 1, 2020

Rockland County producer Melissa Jo Peltier (whose career includes Exit Package, streaming in Rockland in Motion: Program 2, as well as three Emmy nominations) is finishing a documentary with America Dignity Pac, timed for the election, about Republicans that regret their last vote for president. See clips and help her get this into the world.

To celebrate 100 years since women won the right to vote, photographer Susan Stava presents a video montage focusing on women. Part of The Right to Vote: 100 years of Women’s Suffrage – A Worldwide Pandemic – Social Justice – the 2020 Election, exhibit at Garner Arts.

For actors: Nailing the Audition: A Master Class with Isabelle McCalla of The Prom on Tuesday, October 13th at 7:00 PM EST via Zoom. Learn audition techniques and song or monologue presentations from one of Broadway’s brightest stars! Presented by the Arts Council of Rockland.

No one seems to have noticed, but The Hollywood Reporter and Varietymerged last week, along with IndieWire, Deadline, Rolling Stone, and Billboard. None of them bothered to mention it, and barely anyone else did either. Monopolistic?

Frank Vitale’s new film The Erotic Fire of the Unattainable, a wry look at relationships and love over a certain age, is in two upcoming festivals: Cinequest (Oct. 1-14, virtual only) and Reading (Oct. 8 – 11, live and virtual). Frank’s short film, Chloe, was in Rockland in Motion, Program 1.

Do critics look down on big budget movies? Some seem to more than others. Here’s the story.

September 25, 2020

Santa Fe arts organization Meow Wolf hit a cultural nerve and found massive success. Meow Wolf: Origin Story, screening at Garner Arts Center on Saturday, Sept. 26, tells the story.

Rockland County producer Melissa Jo Peltier (whose career includes Exit Package, streaming in Rockland in Motion: Program 2, and three Emmy nominations) is finishing a documentary with America Dignity Pac, timed for the election, about Republicans that regret their last vote for president. See clips and help her get this into the world.

For actors: Nailing the Audition: A Master Class with Isabelle McCalla of The Prom on Tuesday, October 13th at 7:00 PM EST via Zoom. Learn audition techniques and song or monologue presentations from one of Broadway’s brightest stars! Presented by the Arts Council of Rockland.

Frank Vitale’s new film The Erotic Fire of the Unattainable, a wry look at relationships and love over a certain age, is in two upcoming festivals: Cinequest (Oct. 1-14, virtual only) and Reading (Oct. 8 – 11, live and virtual). It was also invited to American Fringe, in Paris, which was sadly canceled due to Covid-19. You can see Frank’s short film, Chloe, in Rockland in Motion, Program 1.

Drive-In Movies in the parking lot at Palisades Center? On selected Thursday, Friday, and Sunday evenings at 8:30 through October 2. $35 per car. Advance sales only. Films include Grease, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Men in Black, Jurassic Park, and more. All the information can be found at www.palisadesmovies.com.

The Stars and Cars Cinema is in the Pfizer parking lot on Middletown Road in Pearl River, every night through September, with a different film every night. See for yourself: here

September 11, 2020

Drive-In Movies in the parking lot at Palisades Center? On selected Thursday, Friday, and Sunday evenings at 8:30 through October 2. $35 per car. Advance sales only. Films include Grease, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Men in Black, Jurassic Park, and more. All the information can be found at www.palisadesmovies.com.

There are Drive-In Movies in Pearl River too. The Stars and Cars Cinema is in the Pfizer parking lot on Middletown Road in Pearl River, every night through September, with a different film every night. See for yourself: here.

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August 12, 2020

In John Lewis: Good Trouble, the congressman and civil rights activist reminds us that freedom, democracy, and civil rights are always being threatened and must always be defended. Local filmmaker Brooklyn Demme brings this home in his one minute film, Fly Away Falco.

Writer and filmmaker Greg Mitchell, who brought the Ode to Joy flashmob to Rivertown Film after a screening of Following the Ninth, just published The Beginning or the End: How Hollywood–and America–Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. It’s a fascinating Hollywood story and sadly true American history.

Garner Arts Center presents its 4th annual Outdoor Shorts program, THIS IS NOW, curated by Wayne Cobham, Susanna Styron, and Kristi Zea, on Friday, August 14th, and Saturday, August 15th. In the past this program has taken place in multiple locations at the Garner facility, but this year it will be held in one spot in order to best control social distancing. Doors open at 7pm, screening at 8pm.Food by Hudson’s Mill, beverages by Industrial Arts Brewing.

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July 18, 2020

Writer and filmmaker Greg Mitchell, who brought the Ode to Joy flashmob to Rivertown Film after a screening of Following the Ninth, just published The Beginning or the End: How Hollywood–and America–Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. It’s a fascinating Hollywood story and sadly true American history.

Garner Arts Center presents its 4th annual Outdoor Shorts program, THIS IS NOW, curated by Wayne Cobham, Susanna Styron, and Kristi Zea, on Friday, August 14th, and Saturday, August 15th. In the past this program has taken place in multiple locations at the Garner facility, but this year it will be held in one spot in order to best control social distancing. Doors open at 7pm, screening at 8pm. Food by Hudson’s Mill, beverages by Industrial Arts Brewing.

The Rockland Jewish Film Festival, online in 2020, continues through July 29. Streaming today (Saturday) is The Crossing, the story of two children in Norway during WWII whose parents are in the resistance.

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June 25, 2020

We were sad to hear that Rockland comic book icon Denny O’Neil has passed away. He took Batman from a silly 60s character back to his roots and to how he’s known today (and the Joker too), developed complex characters and introduced social issues, and scripted stories for Iron Man, Spider-Man, and dozens of others. He belongs in the Rockland County Hall of Fame.

Sam Waymon, another shoe-in for the Rockland Hall of Fame (he already had a day named in his honor by the County Legislature), sings his new composition, Freedom is My Name, in a new video, to acknowledge Black Lives Matter.

The Rockland Jewish Film Festival is going virtual, from June 27 to July 29. Check out the 14 titles, including Fiddler: A Miracle of Miracles (on Wednesday, July 1) at https://jccrockland.org/film-festival/

Ever have a migraine? 12% of Americans get this mysterious neurological disease. Learn all about it in Rockland filmmaker Susanna Styron’s documentary, Out of My Head, available to rent or buy online from Kino Now.

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April 30, 2020

ArtsRock’s Elliott Forrest is making short films of and for the local community. In the first, he interviews Rockland expat actor and clown Bill Irwin about his play, Old Hats. Filmed by PBS, Old Hats is now available to stream for free! Other short films produced in this series so far include profiles on the Nyack Mask Makers, Nyack Nourishes, and the recent work that has been going on at the home of Rivertown Film, Nyack Center. As they point out, without rentals to groups like ours, they have lost an important part of their income just as the community needs them the most. Visit nyackcenter.org and donate!

Filmmaker/choreographer Marta Renzi and writer/poet Daniel Wolff collaborated on The House That Doesn’t House, a five minute film set to a poem by, and interview with, poet William Bronk.

Frank Vitale’s new feature film, Erotic Fire of the Unattainable, “a late-in-life coming of age story,” just had its premier at the Sarasota Film Festival, with more festival dates on the horizon. Congratulations, Frank!

Congratulations to Rivertown Film advisory board member Ellen Kuras, who just received an Emmy Award for cinematography on JANE, the story of Jane Goodall. Ellen remains one of very few women working in cinematography, and she said Jane Goodall was one of her role models.

Sam Waymon would have a place in our hearts if all he had ever done was write and perform music for, and appear in, the seminal independent film Ganja & Hess, but that’s a small part of his life’s work. Here he is performing a thank you for healthcare workers, first responders, and essential service workers. As always, he nails it.

Watch One Good Story, interviews with nine Nyack Creatives conducted by Bill Batson for Rockland Center for the Arts. “These pre-COVID-19 vignettes include a kitchen table chat with Malcolm X, a couple of brushes with death, an international pen-pal romance, and some local African American history.” Then tell your own story and post it on RoCA’s Facebook or Instagram pages

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4/16/20

We note with sadness the passing of arts lover, longtime member and community activist, Toni Fallon

Watch One Good Story, interviews with nine Nyack Creatives conducted by Bill Batson for Rockland Center for the Arts. “These pre-COVID-19 vignettes include a kitchen table chat with Malcolm X, a couple of brushes with death, an international pen-pal romance, and some local African American history.” Then tell your own story and post it on RoCA’s Facebook or Instagram pages.

4/4/20

Rockland County director Deborah Kampmeier’s TAPE premiered at the Female Eye Film Festival on March 8th, where it was the Closing Night Gala screening, and where three more of her films were presented in a retrospective. TAPE had been set to open in NY March 27 and LA on April 3, but instead is having a virtual run that is still going on. You can purchase tickets to see it, here. Every evening there is a new discussion. Deborah’s other recent work includes directing episodes of Queen Sugar and Cherish the Day for Ava DuVernay.

People to People is making great use of the internet at a crucial time. Join them on Facebook and YouTube next Saturday, April 11 for a free concert with great local musicians such as Grace VanderWaal, Tom Chapin, Neal Berg, Rita Harvey, Joe D’Urso, and many others. Then make a donation to People to People, Rockland County’s largest hunger relief organization.

3/21/20

Rockland County director Deborah Kampmeier’s TAPE premiered at the Female Eye Film Festival on March 8th (the Closing Night Gala) where three more of her films played in a retrospective. TAPE had been set to open in NY March 27 and LA on April 3, but will now have a virtual premier that you can purchase tickets to, here. Deborah’s recent work includes directing episodes of Queen Sugar and Cherish the Day for Ava DuVernay.

This week’s episode of NBC’s New Amsterdam, directed by Kristi Zea (Everybody Knows… Elizabeth Murray), is now streaming on NBC. Watch episode #217, The Liftoff, here: https://www.nbc.com/new-amsterdam

3/11/20

Coronavirus Update: Varda by Agnes is Canceled Tonight

Yesterday we sent you a heartfelt email about what Rivertown Film is doing, what Nyack Center is doing, and what our audiences can do to attend our films and stay healthy. Sadly, today we came to the conclusion that we should cancel Varda by Agnes. Tickets that were purchased in advance are being refunded now.

The information that we are all receiving has been changing quickly. Soon we hope there are better guidelines for us all, as well as a better understanding of our risks and how to evaluate and mitigate them. As this happens we will be reconsidering this decision. Right now, we are only canceling tonight’s film.

The audience for independent and foreign films includes many senior citizens, a demographic that is particularly hard hit by the coronavirus, and that is an important factor in this decision. Facilitating transmission is the last thing we want to do.

As we wrote just yesterday in a much different message, stay healthy and safe, and be mindful of the health and safety of others. We look forward to seeing you soon. Thank you for your support of Rivertown Film.

3/10/20

Coronavirus: A Message to Our Audience and Volunteers

By now, you are well aware of the concern over the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). So far, arts organizations like Rivertown Film have no more guidance than you do. We read the media and study best practices as they evolve. Someday soon it may be necessary to suspend our screenings, even tomorrow evening, but right now we are continuing – with a few precautions. Should that change, we will respond accordingly and communicate our plans to you.

What Rivertown Film is Doing Now:

  • Hand sanitizer will be available at ticketing. Please use them when entering and leaving.
  • The Nyack Center has hand sanitizer at the back door, and they are requesting that everyone use it who enters during the day.
  • Gloves will be available for volunteers handling money at the door.
  • We will hold off on selling refreshments for now.
  • Good ventilation is important in places where people gather, and the Nyack Center has plenty of room, so we will put extra space between chairs.
  • We love seeing you, but let’s all stop shaking hands and hugging when we say hello.

What You Can Do:

  • If you don’t feel well or have been with someone who is ill, avoid others.
  • Keep washing your hands.
  • Keep tissues to sneeze or cough into, or sneeze in your elbow crease.
  • Stay informed by visiting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website: coronavirus.gov
  • Be aware that older people and people with chronic illnesses are especially vulnerable to this disease.

If you have purchased a ticket to Varda by Agnes but cannot attend, we will happily supply a refund. In the meantime, we feel a responsibility to continue to present culture to meet our human needs; albeit, in the most healthy and sanitary way possible.

Stay healthy and safe, and be mindful of the health and safety of others. We look forward to seeing you soon. Thank you for your support of Rivertown Film.

3/5/20

This year we are joining the celebration of the centennial of the 19th Amendment, and in March, Women’s History Month. Nonetheless, we recognize continuing issues of gender discrimination in the film culture we are part of, just as elsewhere. Movies are a powerful inspiration, and the lack of women in front of and behind the cameras has become a focal point of criticism. In 2019, only 12% of top film directors and 34% of speaking characters were women. In contrast, on our March/April calendar listed above, 75% of the programs are by and about women. Many of the short films in the Wild & Scenic Film Festival are made by women as well.

# # #

There is no filmmaker more fitting to acknowledge during Women’s History Month or the centennial of the 19th Amendment than Agnes Varda. In her own words, “I did all that—my photos, my craft, my film, my life—on my terms, my own terms, and not to do it like a man.” View her films, often focused on women’s issues and never crafted to be conventional, and you will see something unique. Known as the mother of the French New Wave (her own films predate that movement), she is the recipient of an honorary Academy Award, an honorary Palm d’Or from Cannes, and a Golden Lion from the Venice Film Festival. In a poll of 368 film critics from 84 countries naming the 100 most important films by women, Agnes Varda had six films on the list, more than anyone else. The second most frequently cited film on the list was hers, Cleo From 5 to 7. Her other films on that list are The Beaches of Agnes, One Sings, the Other Doesn’t, The Gleaners and I, Le Bonheur, and Vagabond. See Varda By Agnes at Rivertown Film on March 11.

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Rockland County director Deborah Kampmeier’s TAPE will be premiering at the Female Eye Film Festival on March 8th (the Closing Night Gala) where three more of her films are playing in a retrospective. TAPE opens in NY March 27 and LA on April 3. Deborah’s recent work includes directing episodes of Queen Sugar and Cherish the Day for Ava DuVernay. She will be discussing Varda By Agnes at Rivertown Film on March 11, with Susanna Styron.

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Submissions are open to these two new Rockland County film festivals:

*Piermont Film Festival, running June 12 to 14.

*Northwest of NYC Film Festival, running October 9 to 11.

We welcome them to film culture in Rockland County.

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2/20/20

To the record number of you who responded to our year-end fundraising appeal, and to all who are new and renewing members or members of our expanded business sponsorship program, thank you. Your support gave Rivertown Film a great start in 2020.

This year we are joining the celebration of the centennial of the 19th Amendment. Nonetheless, we recognize continuing issues of gender discrimination in the film culture we are part of, just as elsewhere. Movies are a powerful inspiration, and the lack of women in front of and behind the cameras has become a focal point of criticism. In 2019, only 12% of top film directors and 34% of speaking characters were women. In contrast, on our March/April calendar, 75% of the programs are by and about women. More will follow.

2/6/20

Submissions are open to these two new Rockland County film festivals:
*Piermont Film Festival, running June 12 to 14.
*Northwest of NYC Film Festival, running October 9 to 11.

We welcome them to film culture in Rockland County!

What we’re reading…

Amy

Maybe we don’t see those things as

important because people don’t

write about them.

Jo

No, writing doesn’t confer

importance, it reflects it.

 Amy

I’m not sure. Perhaps writing will

make them more important

These lines from Greta Gerwig’s recent film Little Women, are some of the few in the film not written by Luisa May Alcott. In a recent Vanity Fair article written by Greta Gerwig, she said, “I’m saying, it matters what we write. It matters what we make films about. I can because Louisa May Alcott did.” That’s an evolution of culture that can be frustratingly slow. Little Women was nominated this year for Best Picture, but not Best Director. No women were nominated in that category.

1/30/20

An article in Lohud on January 16 explains why the historic single screen Lafayette Theater has reduced its days of operation to Thursday through Sunday. In 2005 the Lafayette Theater was honored by USA Today as one of the “10 Great Places to Revel in Cinematic Grandeur.” It is 96 years old in February, and is an important Rockland County historical landmark, attracting movie palace devotees from all over the region, country, and world. We hope they resolve their problems and can expand their offerings again quickly.

Speaking of the difficulties of keeping theaters alive for movies and everything else, last week the Journal News published a front page story by Peter Kramer about the theater on Main Street that was once known as “Riverspace,” a performing arts center where Rivertown Film presented films on 35mm every week. It’s a pretty sad story, and it needs a happy ending. In case you missed it, here is a link.

12/5/19

On December 14 take the whole family to the annual Holiday Show at Suffern’s Lafayette Theater for the Hand Bell Choir, Holiday Sing-A-Long, Laurel and Hardy in Big Business, and of course It’s A Wonderful Life.

11/14/19

Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman comes to the Lafayette Theater this Friday, 11/15. That’s great news for local audiences, but even better is that on Saturday, 11/16, Executive Producer Richard Baratta will take part in a Q&A before the film, at 6:30. Some of the film was shot on Lafayette Avenue, with Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci, two years ago. Information on this special event, here.

10/31/19

On October 20, Maria Luisa Boutique in Nyack recognizes Fair Trade Month with a screening of The True Cost, about our clothes, the people who make them, and the impact of this industry is on our world. Clothing prices can be very inexpensive, but there are human and environmental costs that must be paid. The true cost of this screening is FREE.

Read the profile of Rockland filmmaker Joe Allen in the Nyack Sketch Log. Joe’s films include Two Schools in Hillburn, about a local civil rights case that helped launch the career of Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, 20 Million Minutes, about the struggle to commemorate the massacre of 11 Jewish athletes at the 1972 Olympics, and an upcoming sequel to 20 Million Minutes as well as a film about hunger in America. Good reading about local filmmaking.

10/10/19

Local singer and Broadway star Rita Harvey (The Phantom of the Opera and Fiddler on the Roof) will be performing Linda Ronstadt: Heart Like a Wheel, her tribute to one of the most versatile and beloved singers of the last five decades, at The Turning Point in Piermont, on October 12. Tonight is your last chance to catch the documentary film Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice, at New City Cinemas. Watch the Rivertown Film Enews for further information on local screenings.

On October 20, Maria Luisa Boutique in Nyack recognizes Fair Trade Month with a screening of The True Cost, about our clothes, the people who make them, and the impact of this industry is on our world. Clothing prices can be very inexpensive, but there are human and environmental costs that must be paid. The true cost of this screeing is FREE.

Rockland documentarian Joe Allen was the subject of an interesting profile in the Nyack Sketch Log. Joe’s films include Two Schools in Hillburn, about a local civil rights case that launched the career of Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, 20 Million Minutes, about the struggle to commemorate the massacre of 11 Jewish athletes at the 1972 Olympics, and an upcoming sequel to 20 Million Minutes as well as a film about hunger in America. Good reading about local filmmaking.

The Fall Classics at Suffern’s Lafayette Theater are in full swing. Fitting for the season are the upcoming Beetlejuice (Oct. 12), Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (Oct. 19), and The Addams Family (Oct. 26).

9/19/19

This Saturday at the Carson McCullers House, 131 S. Broadway in Nyack, A Short Evening of Short Animation, at 8:00 PM.

The timely short film Riding with Sunshine by Kristian Comer is currently streaming on amazon in the US, UK and Germany. Congratulations to Kristian!

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The Village of Nyack and Rivertown Film are proud to be sponsors of the 8th Annual OCADA Community Party and Big Screen Movie in Memorial Park, Nyack, on Saturday, September 7. Presenting COCO (rained out last year) at dusk. BYO blanket and lawn chairs.

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A fine cut of Brooklyn Demme’s film about the Ramapaugh-Lenape Nation, Akuy Eenda Maawehlaang: The Place Where People Gather, will be shown at the Stony Point Center on Thursday, September 5, at 7:00. Akuy Eenda Maawehlaang was inspired by Brooklyn’s father Jonathan, and the Standing Rock occupation in North Dakota.

There Was No Silence, by Joe Allen (Two Schools in Hillburn), documenting JCC Rockland’s efforts to get a minute of silence for the 11 Israeli athletes murdered at the Munich Olympics in 1972, has its premier at the Lafayette Theater in Suffern on September 5.

The timely short film Riding with Sunshi by Kristian Comer is currently streaming on amazon in the US, UK and Germany. Congratulations to Kristian!

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Hudson Valley Shorts Fest, presented by Hudson Valley Film: An evening of short films in diverse genres and styles created by rising indy filmmakers, Saturday, July 27 at 8 pm at the Carson McCuller House. Information here.

Garner Arts Film Under the Stars presents the Outdoor Shorts – Short Film Festival (indoors if it rains) at the Garner Arts Center on July 26 and July 27. The same films will screen each night. Information and tickets here.

The 8th annual Nyack Film Festival is presented by Modern Metro Studios from August 15 to 18. Information here.

Arts Alive grants are available for Rockland County art (and media) projects, individual artists, and arts education. The grant application deadline is Oct. 2, and participation in a pre-application workshop is encouraged. The next workshops in Rockland County are tonight (July 18) at New City Library, Thursday, July 25 at Arts Council of Rockland, and Wednesday, August 14, at Rockland Music Conservatory. Information here.

New York Foundation for the Arts is accepting applications for their Immigrant Artist Mentoring Program: Performing & Literary Arts, for artists in the metropolitan NY area.

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Hudson Valley Shorts Fest, presented by Hudson Valley Film: An evening of short films in diverse genres and styles created by rising indy filmmakers, Saturday, July 27 at 8 pm – Carson McCuller House, 131 South Broadway. Nyack Suggested donation $5.00. Information here.

The deadline for submissions to the 8th annual Nyack Film Festival presented by Modern Metro Studios was July 4, but maybe check to see if there is an extension. All lengths and genres are accepted to this 4 day festival, August 15 to 18. Information here.

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Congratulations to local filmmaker Deborah Kampmeier, making her TV directing debut on Ava DuVernay’s Queen Sugar, on OWN. We are proud to say that Rivertown Film screened Ava’s first feature, Middle of Nowhere, and Deborah’s first feature, Virgin (staring then unknown Elizabeth Moss). Ava has gone on to make many more, including Selma and A Wrinkle in Time, while Deborah’s other films include Hounddog (with Dakota Fanning) and the upcoming film, Tape.

The Rockland County Business Journal covers Megamall and Backpack Full of Cash, both by the same team of Rockland County filmmakers, here. Backpack Full of Cash, their latest film, has been playing widely and is having an impact on the “education reform” conversation. Rivertown Film shows Megamall on July 10.

Rockland resident, award winning cinematographer, director, and Rivertown Film Advisory Board member Ellen Kuras has directed episodes of Catch 22, coming to Hulu on May 17. George Clooney stars (and produces). Check out Ellen’s brief appearance in the “making of” featurette, (and her documentary cinematography in Martin Scorsese’s Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story).

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Saturday, June 8, 2 PM to 3 PM: Nyack Library and Rivertown Film present the American Creed Film Festival, short films by Hudson Valley filmmakers. What is an American? What ideals unite us as a nation? What does being an American mean to you? How we can make a difference in our immediate community? Prizes will be awarded at the screening.

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June 1 is the deadline to enter Nyack Library’s American Creed Film Festival, presented with Rivertown Film. Submit your 2 to 8 minute film that addresses: What is an American? What ideals unite us as a nation? What does being an American mean to you? How we can make a difference in our immediate community? Get creative! Prizes will be awarded at a screening on 6/8. Guidlines and submission forms at here.

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Currently at the Edward Hopper House – an exhibit by multimedia artist Holly Zausner that includes her short film, Unsettled Matter, a dream-like refection on the loneliness of modern life, or of being an artist. Running continuously.

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Rockland resident, award winning cinematographer, director, and Rivertown Film Advisory Board member Ellen Kuras has directed episodes of Catch 22, coming to Hulu on May 17. George Clooney stars (and produces). Check out Ellen’s brief appearance in the “making of” featurette.

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Rockland Youth Film Festival returns to the Spring Valley Cultural Center on June 1. Presented by the youth from Spring Valley Commons, the EELEF Center, and associated sponsors, RYFF is a yearly international film festival showcasing movies made by filmmakers 21 years old and younger from the Rockland County area and around the world. Free!

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Considering Matthew Shepard, a screening of the PBS Special directed Elliott Forrest, will be shown by ArtsRock on Saturday, May 4th, at 7:00 PM at the Nyack Center. It will be followed with a discussion about the production and Matthew’s story 20 years later. Congratulations to Elliott!

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SHAMAN vs HAYNO, THE JUDGE OF BLOOD
Created by Ivan Szendro
“The Movie That Was a Legend Before it Was Made.”

In Transylvania there is a legend told about a tyrannical monster called Hayno, the Judge of Blood. A film-ritual to triumph over darkness, demons and dictators, told with stunning graphics.

A spring celebration with an Early Birds jam session beginning at 5:00, followed by screenings at 8:00 and 10:00, on April 26 at the Nyack Center.

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A JCC Rockland Jewish Film Festival Screening
sponsored by Rivertown Film
Tuesday, April 16 – 7:30 PM at Regal Cinemas, Nanuet

WALDHEIM WALTZ
Directed by Ruth Beckermann
Austria’s official entry for the Best Foreign Language Film in the 2018 Oscars, this timely documentary revisits the chilling case of Kurt Waldheim, the former United Nations Secretary-General who faced serious allegations surrounding his military exploits for Germany during WWII.

For Women’s History Month, IndieWire chose the “100 All Time Greatest Films Directed by Women.” Among the 100 is Losing Ground  by Kathleen Collins. When it was made in 1982 it was the first feature film by a black woman made since the 1920s. It was one of two films the director made while she was living in Piermont.

Unfortunately missing from that IndieWire list of “100 All Time Greatest Films Directed by Women” (above) are any films by Rockland ex-pat and a founder of Rivertown Film Society, Nancy Savoca. “True Love (1989) won the Sundance Grand Prize, was listed by Entertainment Weekly as one of the 50 best indie films of all time, and made the year’s 10 best list of NY Times critics Vincent Canby and Janet Maslin. And what about Household Saints, Dogfight, and 24 Hour Woman – all great films, all of them about women.

Support Rockland raised filmmaker Juliana Roth’s Seed & Spark fundraising campaign for What We Know, a film about an assault on a college campus, the role the school plays in protecting abusers from facing the impact of their actions, the import of advocacy, and the individual effects of trauma. See for yourself and contribute, here.

Currently at the Edward Hopper House – an exhibit by multimedia artist Holly Zausner that includes her short film, Unsettled Matter, a dream-like refection on the loneliness of modern life, or of being an artist. Running continuously.

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On March 9, the Arts Council of Rockland hosts “The Mechanics and Business of the Film Industry,” presented by J.D. Zeik., a stage and screen veteran and currently Assistant Professor of Playwriting and Screenwriting at SUNY Purchase College (who often leads discussions at Rivertown Film). $10 or free for ACOR members. Register in advance.

On February 28, The Nyack Library presents The Furious Force of Rhymes, a documentary about the international spread of Hip-Hop, by Rockland Filmmaker Joshua Atesh Litle, at 7:00 pm. This film played in film festivals all over the world, won numerous accolades, and was a New York Times Critics’ Pick. Discussion with the filmmaker after the film. Register for this event here.

Congratulations to Rockland filmmakers John Gray (director) and Melissa Jo Peltier (producer) for Best Picture and Best Director wins at the Grave Plot Film Festival. Their short horror film, The Desecrated, has now been in over 40 film festivals. Next is the L.A. Short Scares Film Festival.

Support Rockland raised filmmaker Juliana Roth’s Seed & Spark fundraising campaign for What We Know, a film about an assault on a college campus, the role the school plays in protecting abusers from facing the impact of their actions, the import of advocacy, and the individual effects of trauma. See for yourself, here.

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Riverkeeper presents: Hope on the Hudson Film Screening and Discussion, on Wednesday, Dec. 5, 6:30 at Nyack Center. Join Riverkeeper for three short films: Restoring the Clearwater, Seeds of Hope, and Source to Sea, and a panel discussion with:
Maija Niemisto – Education Director, Hudson River Sloop Clearwater
Brooke Pickering-Cole – Director, Hudson Valley Farm Hub
Dan Shapley – Director of Water Quality Program, Riverkeeper
Moderated by Jon Bowermaster, filmmaker, Oceans 8

This is a free event, but your rsvp is requested ! For more information and to rsvp: Click  HERE

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Save the Date to see Studio 54, playing only once at the Lafayette Theatre in Suffern: January 17. Doors at 6:30, film at 7:30. This documentary features never before seen footage of the club shot by Rockland County filmmaker and Rivertown Film Board Member, attorney Susan Shapiro, who along with her producing partner, Glenn Albin, received remarkable access to the club during its heyday in the late ’70s. The screening is a benefit for L.E.A.F. (Legal Environmental Advocacy Fund), which Susan recently founded. More details coming soon.

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The 6th Annual YoFiFest in Yonkers continues through November. Congratulations to the Rockland County filmmakers who are participating.

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Last May at Rivertown Film’s “Unseen Demme” program, Brooklyn Demme showed a brief clip from the last film his father was working on, about the Ramapo Lenape Nation of Bergen and Rockland Counties, inspired by a short film he made about the Dakota Access Pipeline protests (Protection Not Protest, The People of Standing Rock). Brooklyn is finishing that film now, and you can help him make it by contributing to his crowdfunding campaign. With 17 days before the fundraising campaign ends, he has raised over $35,000 and has set a new goal of $45,000. Help make this film happen by donating here.

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Tuesday, October 16 – 8:00 PM at Nyack Center

THE BLIND DATE World Premier!
Written and Directed by Peter Danish
A.D./Creative Director, Anthony Geathers; Cinematography, Roger Grange; Sound Mixer, Tom Fleishman; Costume Design, Liz Prince; Music, Jordan Rudess; Still Photography, Lynn Cosci

Nyack’s own Peter Danish has adapted his award-wining short play into a powerful new film. The Blind Date is a story about the effects of voter apathy in the not-to-distant future, as a young woman is forced, by changes in the law, to make a harrowing decision.

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Everybody Knows… Elizabeth Murray, by two-time Oscar nominated Rockland filmmaker Kristi Zea is now streaming on the American Masters / PBS website, here. And their interview with Kristi about the making of the film is posted here.

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For Filmmakers: Rivertown Film director Matthew Seig produced a series of video interviews between Film Society of Lincoln Center deputy director Eugene Hernandez and three early-career filmmakers on the subject of audience building. Produced for New York Foundation for the Arts with funding by the National Endowment for the Arts. Featured on IndieWire.

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TONIGHT, Thursday, September 6 at 8:00PM: NYC-ARTS (PBS/Wnet/Channel 13, will feature a profile of filmmaker Kristi Zea, the director and producer of the upcoming American Masters documentary, Everybody Knows… Elizabeth Murray.

TOMORROW, Friday, September 7: Everybody Knows… Elizabeth Murray, by two-time Oscar nominated Rockland filmmaker Kristi Zea (profiled last month in Nyack News & Views), plays on the PBS series American Masters, at 9:00 PM.

Did you know that only one in five Americans actually cast a vote for this president? Rockland playwright Peter Danish wrote The Blind Date as a cautionary tale for young people about the consequences of not voting. Now there is a crowdfunding campaign to turn it into a short film in time for the next election. Donate!

For Filmmakers: Rivertown Film director Matthew Seig produced a series of video interviews between Film Society of Lincoln Center deputy director Eugene Hernandez and three early-career filmmakers on the subject of audience building. Produced for New York Foundation for the Arts, funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, and featured on IndieWire.

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The Nyack Film Festival at the Nyack Village Theater begins tonight, August 16, and runs through Sunday. Check out the schedule and purchase tickets here.

Film in the Garden at the Edward Hopper House presents Harold and Maude on Friday, August 17 (August 18 if it rains). Preceded by live music by Amy Bezunartea of Main Street Beat Record Store. $5 donation.

Artists – including filmmakers – learn about Arts Alive 2019 Grants for Westchester and Rockland: August 29 at Garner Art Center, 5:30 PM. Learn more at artsw.org/artsalive

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The Nyack Film Festival at the Nyack Village Theater returns for another year on August 16, 17, 18, and 19. Check out the schedule and purchase tickets here.

Film in the Garden at the Edward Hopper House presents Harold and Maude on Friday, August 17 (August 18 if it rains). Preceeded by live music by Amy Bezunartea of Main Street Beat Record Store. $5 donation.

Artists – including filmmakers – learn about Arts Alive 2019 Grants for Westchester and Rockland: August 2 at Nyack Library, 10:30 AM; August 29 at Garner Art Center, 5:30 PM. Learn more at artsw.org/artsalive

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Marta Renzi’s Her Magnum Opus receives it’s Manhattan premier at Lincoln Center this Saturday, July 21 at 3:00 PM, in the Dance on Camera Festival. There’s no better theater to watch a film in than the Walter Reade.

Film in the Garden at the Edward Hopper House presents Joel and Ethen Coen’s Blood Simple, on Friday, July 27 (July 28 if it rains). Introduced by guest curator Bill Batson. $5 donation.

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Submissions are still being accepted for Nyack Village Theatre’s 7th Annual Nyack Film Festival, which will be held August 16th, 17th, 18th, and 19th. The submission deadline has been extended to July 11. All movie entries must have been completed within the last 48 months.