First Snowtown Film Festival deemed a success

The success of the inaugural Snowtown Film Festival has organizers and presenters looking toward next year and the expectation that it could become a permanent part of the north country winter landscape.

The two-day event, which kicked off with a red carpet, Hollywood-style reception Friday evening and the showing of the Academy Award-nominated winter-themed “Fargo,” was presented as part of the six-week-long Snowtown USA winter celebration.

Featuring locally and internationally produced full-length and short films, the festival is designed to foster appreciation for the art of filmmaking and to encourage independently produced films that celebrate both the north country and its winter.

“For a first-time event, we were happy with the way people turned out,” said Kylie S. Peck, an event organizer and employee of the Greater Watertown-North Country Chamber of Commerce. “We were competing with the really cold weather.”

Director Clay J. Dumaw, a Carthage native, said that when he began working on films about five years ago, he was completely unaware that there were other independent filmmakers in the area and it has “been a total surprise that other people are doing this,” including enough others to justify the creation of a film festival.

“We had no idea that anybody locally would be involved,” Mr. Dumaw said. “You’re seeing more and more independent filmmakers getting involved. That has been exciting.”

Ms. Peck said attendees told her they were pleased with the quality of the films selected for the festival and the variety of themes.

“We’ve been told by several people who did attend that they want us to continue with it,” she said. “They were very happy with it, so that’s encouraging.”

Mr. Dumaw, whose movie “Hold’Em,” received a Filmmaker’s Award from the festival’s committee, said he is changing gears somewhat in his filmmaking, going from predominantly horror themes to a Western theme in his next movie, and he plans to be return to the festival with his film next year.

“Even if I’m not living here, I’ll be flying back here for it,” he said.

In addition to “Hold’Em,” which was written by Richard E. Cooke, Carthage, recipients of the festival’s Filmmaker’s Award are: “Coldest Winter,” a full-length action film about the December 1944 Battle of the Bulge written and directed by Michael E. Mustizer, Watertown; “Even the Birds Need To Be Loved,” a short Japanese-language film directed by Watertown native Ian Thomas Nash, who now lives in Japan; “Adirondack Ice Bowl,” directed by Zach Suprenant of the Utica area, and a rough cut of “Annulment,” a 2015 film directed by Cape Vincent native Bryan W. Stumpf.

The North Country Film Appreciation Award was given to Jason Comet, owner of Comet Music Studio, Watertown, a classically trained organist and pianist who provided live organ accompaniment to “For Heaven’s Sake,” a 1926 silent Harold LLoyd film. The Snowtown Film Festival Award for short films was presented to “Snowdysseus,” directed by Evan Curtis.

 

 

By Brian Kelly, Times Staff Writer