BOARD RESIGNATION ANNOUNCEMENTS
It is with regret that we announce the resignation of Barbara Berman as treasurer and board member of the Downbeach Film Festival and Harriet Diamond as board member, effective immediately. In the meantime, we will search for replacements.
Barbara has been instrumental in the success of the film festival. She took on the unenviable task of operating the website for us this past year, and her assistance will be hard to replace.
Harriet has been invaluable in raising money in sponsorships, money that will be sorely missed.
We wish Barbara and Harriet the best of luck in the future.
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE 2013 ATLANTIC CITY CINEFEST HELD OCTOBER 11-13
ATLANTIC CITY "SHOULDERS" FILM FESTIVAL
Story and Photos by Harriet Diamond
Fall is a shoulder season in shore towns. The weather is great for everything but the ocean, so offering options becomes key. For the sixth year, the Downbeach Film Festival’s Atlantic City Cinefest attracted locals and visitors. A grant from the NJ Casino Reinvestment Development Authority made free admission to all screenings possible for the first time.
Thoughtful programming offered a broad spectrum of choices that included film blocks for students and young adults, families, love, horror, humor, and local shorts at four venues.
“The Honour,” the Cinefest’s opening film, produced by Tony Picciotti, is a riveting look at religion, family, and prejudice, driving home the destructive force of intolerance on relationships and on our humanity. The Saturday evening film, “Troupers,” produced by Saratoga Ballantine and Dea Lawrence, is a look at the careers of 12 actors over 80. The film clips are nostalgic, and the interviews are, at times, touching, humorous, and surprising.
On Sunday, Dominique Swain, star (at the age of 15) of the 1997 rewrite of the film, “Lolita”, based on Vladimir Nabokov’s novel, attended a special screening of the film, which co-starred Jeremy Irons and was directed by Adrian Lyne. Dominique received the Cinefest’s most prestigious honor, the Lifesaver Award.
Two features with local flavor were the “The Spe@k Project” and “The Starks Coalition”. The first, written and directed by Devan Blackwell, explored complex challenges that teens face. “The film is meant to encourage dialogue among teens, their families, educators, and youth advocates alike,” says Blackwell. The second, produced, directed, and starred in by Harris Haith, follows the rise and fall of a Wall Street businessman, who finds himself homeless in Atlantic City and uses his skills to help his newfound circle only to face far greater problems.
Ned Eckhardt, professor at Rowan University, which is one of five universities engaged in PACT5, “a national movement to prevent sexual assaults and rapes in colleges. PACT5 believes the documentary form, when produced by students, can create powerful stories that can change potentially tragic behavior patterns.” He brought three Rowan University PACT5 films to the Cinefest: “$5 for Guys,” “Girls Free,” Slutwalk,” and “Katalyst,” as well as Western State Colorado University’s “Invisible Fight,” Northern Illinois University's “In Motion,” “1000 Times No” from California State University Northridge, and Framingham University’s “Shatter the Silence” and “Perspectives”.
A highlight of the festival for both filmmakers and audience members was the Filmmakers Panel, moderated by Eckhardt, who also serves on the board of trustees of the Cinefest. Sam Katz (pictured on right in photo), the youngest panelist, now a student at the University of Delaware, created “Insight” when he was in high school. “We thought we could do it and just jumped in. We didn’t know how much was involved.” Andre Gaumond (pictured on left in photo), a veteran filmmaker from Montreal, whose company is aptly named Awaken Productions, sees each project as an opportunity to influence change. His award-winning short, “Un Fils,” explores a troubled teen’s aftermath of a failed suicide attempt. “Un Fils” makes a strong statement for suicide prevention and the powerful tool of listening. He is now working on a series, “Happiness Seekers”.
In discussing “Troupers,” Dea Lawrence (on right in photo) said that the stories of triumph in the film can apply to anyone. Saratoga Ballantine (middle in photo, with Ned Eckhardt on left)) added that the film’s message would resonate with “anybody who sticks with anything. “ Maurice Paramore (pictured on left in photo), creator of “The Devil and Red Wine,” a gripping short, began as a DJ, then became a hip hop artist, and started making his own music videos before turning to film. “All the songs had a story line, leading me to want to tell stories. Music and visuals came together.” Marc Clebanoff (pictured on right in photo), of Los Angeles, a Cinefest board member, shared, “Making movies is the hardest thing to achieve. Every step is difficult. If you’re fortunate, you get to do it again…and again.” Dominique Swain advised, “Take each film as the experience that it is while you’re making it.” She added, “We’re doing what we love; we’re the lucky ones.” Dominique has several projects on the horizon. Watch for her name.
Shoulder to shoulder, Atlantic City DOes FILMS.
ADMISSION TO ALL SCREENINGS FOR THE ATLANTIC CITY CINEFEST IS FREE THANKS TO A GENEROUS GRANT FROM THE CASINO REINVESTMENT DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY
The Atlantic City Cinefest is holding an opening night after party for filmmakers and casts at the Atlantic City Bottle Shop, 648 N. Albany Avenue in Atlantic City from 10 to 11:30 p.m. Cash bar and food. But we need you to RSVP if you are coming by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
The awards ceremony on Sunday night begins at 9 p.m. at Dante Hall. Open to filmmakers and their cast and crew, again, you need to RSVP to ensure space.
The annual filmmakers panel will take place Sunday at Dante Hall, from 1 to 2 p.m. Please RSVP email@example.com to indicate your attendance.
In celebration of Columbus Day Weekend, Atlantic City Cinefest will screen La Mia Strada (The Road) by filmmaker, Michael Angelo DiLauro. The documentary screens at 5 p.m. Oct. 12 at Dante Hall, 14 N. Mississippi Avenue.
The 71 minute film on ethnicity and tradition links the "ancient traturro" and contemporary Italian culture with its Italian-American counterpart. It's a discovery of how fragile the bonds are that connect a family from generation to generation, from country to country.
A professor at a college in Pittsburgh, DiLauro has earned five regional Emmys, a Blue Ribbon at the American Film Festival, several ADDY awards and the Gabriel award for outstanding television programming.
Because of filming commitments, Chris Mulkey will not be attending this year’s festival.
VOLUNTEERS STILL NEEDED
We have many volunteer positions which include:
• Data collection of visitors name, address and phone numbers • Ticket collection
• Merchandise sales
• Ambassadors answering questions
Please contact William Sokolic by email: firstname.lastname@example.org and put Volunteer Positions in the subject line for more information or to sign up to volunteer at the festival.
SOME HIGHLIGHTS OF THE 2013 ATLANTIC CITY CINEFEST FILMS
"Insight" – A Film by Two High School Seniors
One of the aims of the Atlantic City Cinefest is to support and nurture tomorrow's filmmakers. The vitality of this movement, the result of the wide availability of high resolution video cameras and computer editing, is personified in the first feature by two high school seniors from Newark, Delaware.
Jonah Green and Sam Katz wrote, directed and produced "Insight" shot on a budget for roughly $1,000. The movie used locations around New Castle County, Delaware and Chester County, Pennsylvania.
Green plays 17 year-old Eli who recounts his summer romance with a new girl in town. He also learned about rapid-induction hypnosis from a mysterious neighbor. What Eli doesn't know is that his best friend Tommy, played by Katz, works with another mystery man who was an old student of Walker's. Deception, betrayal and death are the results in this psychological nightmare.
Green and Katz will be on hand to introduce "Insight" and lead a Q & A from 4:15 P.M. to 6:00 P.M., Saturday, Oct. 12 at Carnegie Center. They will also be participating in the filmmakers discussion on Oct. 13 at 1 p.m. to share the young person’s perspective to filmmaking.
Documentaries Focus on Sexual Assault on College Campuses
As part of this year's Cinefest, we will program a block of nine short documentaries from five universities across the nation that focus on sexual assault on campus. The movies will be screened at the Carnegie Center from 1:00 P.M. to 4:00 P.M.
"The films are part of a national campaign to address the current epidemic of such assaults," said Ned Eckhardt, a festival board member, professor at Rowan University and the person who put this series together. "They were all made this past spring by college students."
The program will last three hours with a Q & A discussion. Here is a breakdown of each film:
“Slutwalk. A Day in Her Heels” (16 min. Lauren Stroz and Eric Cheavers. Rowan) A look at the global phenomenon of Slutwalk. After a local police chief accused college women of dressing like sluts, the students created a demonstration movement called Slutwalk. It is growing and getting attention.
“Red Blooded Men” (15 min. Jacob Johnson. Northern Illinois University) This documentary covers multiple aspects of college life through a male's perspective. We hope to enlighten audiences about notions of masculinity and femininity and create awareness about sexual assault on campuses.
“Shatter the Silence” (20 min. Sarah Giansanti, Siobhan, and Hanna Harris. Framingham State University MA) The film focuses on the processes that occur after one has been raped or sexually assaulted. The film provides a concise look at the legal process.
“Leading A New Response” (15 min. Dan Aberghini and Kristin Devereaux. Framingham State University MA) The documentary profiles one of the oldest not-for-profit legal resources in New England: The Victim Rights Law Center of Boston.
“Invisible Fight” (14 min. Shannon Lynoff, Christie Henson, and Abi Rike. Western State Colorado University) Part documentary and part fictional film, "Invisible Fight” highlights the stupidity and injustice of victim blaming.
“1000 Times No: Students Giving Voice To A Silent Epidemic” (10 min. Tony Incorvia and Brenda Salgado. California State University Northridge) Follow a group of college students taking action against the prevalence of sexual assault on college campuses by educating and raising awareness.
“Katalyst” (21 min. Zak Vesely, Meredith Carroll, and Matt Wood. Rowan.) Katya, an amateur artist and survivor of sexual assault, goes on a journey of healing. She comes in contact with other survivors and takes steps with them to overcome the trauma caused by her assault years earlier.
“Perspectives” (13 min. Daniel Aberghini and William Oxtoby. Framingham State University MA) The film begs the question: Given all that we know, why does sexual assault happen? Look at different levels of knowledge in the greater Boston area.
“In Motion” (14 min. Alexandra Forni. Northern Illinois University) After a sexual assault, a college aged woman is faced with difficult decisions regarding her health and her future. This short narrative film engages with the question of consent and the quick response of friends who blame the victim.
“$5 For Guys. Girls Free.” (15 min. Dee Lugo and John Breitling. Rowan) A re-enacted close-up of the college generation and how quickly a typical night out can go wrong. The national web site is pact5.org where all of the documentaries can be accessed, along with important awareness and prevention information.
“Troupers” – A New Documentary by Sara Ballantine and Dea Lawrence
You'll find out what's the craziest career choice anyone can make and why they commit their lives to perusing it in "Troupers," a new documentary by Sara Ballantine and Dea Lawrence. The film looks at the career of 12 actors in Hollywood over 80 and how they managed to survived parental disapproval, the black list, poverty, divorce, rejection, nasty casting directors and decades of auditions.
Ballantine and Lawrence - both working actresses - investigate how anyone can spend a lifetime pursuing their passion of acting, the theater, and experiencing the pain and misery that all too often accompanies any accolades. The co-directors will present the East Coast premiere at this year's Cinefest at Dante Hall on Saturday, Oct. 12, from 6:45 P.M to 9:00 P.M.
You'll see Sara Ballantine's father, the comic magician The Amazing Ballantine (who's tricks inevitably failed). You may remember him better as the tall, lanky sailor and con man Lester Gruber in the hit series "McHale's Navy." Comedians Kaye Ballard, Pat Carroll, Marvin Kaplan and more all offer fascinating insights of what it's like to be a supporting player, a character actor and in many instances, the most interesting performer in many a lackluster project. Ballantine and Lawrence will also be participating in the Filmmaker's Roundtable at 1 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 13.
If you missed the 2012 Atlantic City Cinefest, you missed a lot. You missed the legendary Bob Downey Sr., who gave his kid his start in the film business, playing a puppy destined to be euthanized in his 1970 film Pound. Downey Sr. joined us to screen Putney Swope, his 1969 comic take on the advertising industry, like Mad Men made by someone who really was one at the time. Downey sold out the room at Showboat Atlantic City
You missed the room fill of laughter as one outlandish barb after another skewered more sacred cows than there are in India. Afterwards Downey talked with the audience about how the film came about, how he got it funded and how anyone can make a film nowadays thanks to digital videos and home computers. Over a half hour later he was still chatting one-on-one, encouraging everyone to make a film of their own. "Nowadays it's easy. Just grab a camera and a bunch of friends and do it!"
You also missed Terry Winter, the creator and head writer of Boardwalk Empire. Winter packed the auditorium at the Dante Hall Theater with a sneak- screening of an upcoming episode of the Atlantic City-based series. He also drew an overflow crowd for the filmmaking panel directly afterwards. Joining him on the panel were Jersey native, actor and director Peter Dobson, and Boardwalk Empire co-star, Chris Caldovino.
You missed both Winter and Dobson, who directed the short, White Mule, receiving Lifesaver Awards. Most of all, you missed dozens of films, from horror to comedy to drama, from documentary to short to feature.
You certainly DON'T want to miss the 2013 festival, to be held Oct. 11 to 13. We can't tell you yet who will be joining us for one-on-one conversations, socializing and screenings. How about Robert Davi, whose work in such films as The Goonies, Die Hard and License to Kill, among other films, makes him a fan favorite? Marc Clebanoff expects to have a new film he directed in the festival, The Mourning. His lead actress, Dominique Swain also hopes to be here. Keith Collins, who won awards for The Meat Puppet at last year's fest, will be back to premiere Gravedigger. Dea Lawrence and Sara Ballantine anticipate screening their documentary, Troupers about 12 working actors in Hollywood over 80 and who managed to survive this crazy business, including Kaye Ballard and Sara's father, Carl Ballantine, co-star of the TV hit, McHale's Navy.
Stay tuned for details and mark you calendar now so you won't miss a day of this year's Atlantic City Cinefest.