the following is a reprint from the november issue of short takes, the newsletter of the lake placid film forum.
It is axiomatic: Truth is stranger than fiction. When you think about it, the fact that a New York Daily News critic, an artist, and an author whose novel had been adapted into a film, all gathered for the screening of said film, it sounds like the beginnings of a story—and it is.
CUT TO: Ten years after the first Film Forum in 2000, the event has been named one of the top 25 coolest festivals in the world by Moviemaker Magazine. Everyone from Milos Forman to Steve Buscemi to Martin Scorsese has been here. But to truly understand the history, you have to go back even further than a decade.
In the 1920s, a company called Pathe Freres shot silent adventure films in the region, using the rugged mountains as backdrop. This pre-“talkies” era is honored today by the Film Forum. During the Film Forum, or at off-season Adirondack Film Society Silent Film events, organ music can be heard drifting out from the Palace Theatre as black and white faces flicker with silver screen emotion inside. The Palace Theatre’s restored 1926 Robert Morton Theater Organ is one of only three such organs in the country still in its original site.
Over the years, the Forum has manifested different incarnations, at one point boasting over 60 films and an “international” program. At other times it has been quiet and understated. But always with the same talent, always with the same love. Feature films, documentaries, shorts programs, panel discussions, workshops, master classes, receptions, special events, and tributes have combined to create the intimate think-tank atmosphere that makes the event unique and, according to Moviemaker, quite “cool.”
It’s hard to believe ten years have come and gone since the 1999 premiere event of the Adirondack Film Society—a screening of the silent film “The Thief of Bagdad.” A decade of spectacular films, glittering guests, and hard-working volunteers and staff that make it possible. Today, as we celebrate that rich history, we see a resurgence of activity as more productions come north, filmmakers seeking to shape their visions with the best our mountains have to offer, along side—as Pathe’s manager Handworth said—“friendly natives.” We look forward to the future, as new markets open up for film distribution, and new ways of creating the moving image are developed and perfected.
In 2000, the first Film Forum opened to great success, with tributee Milos Forman. In 2001 the event offered another fantastic program. 2002 saw John Sayles as honored guest, and brought together creature-feature guru Ray Harryhausen with director Guillermo Del Toro. Legendary documentarian Albert Maysles graced us as well that year. 2003 boasted Jennifer Jason Leigh and Debra Winger as we celebrated Women in Film, and in 2004, Scorsese sat center stage, interviewed by Jon Favreau for IFC’s “Dinner for Five.” In 2006, the Film Forum returned with Matthew Modine presenting “Kettle of Fish,” and 2007 introduced the Sleepless in Lake Placid 24-hour filmmaking competition with the Robin Pell Emerging Filmmaker Award as top prize. “Frozen River,” shown in 2008, went on to garner two Academy Award nominations, one for its leading actress, Melissa Leo. Last year, Paul Schrader brought his film “Adam Resurrected.” These are just the highlights. Over the ten year span, we’ve shown hundreds of films, we’ve had numerous celebrated guests. It’s been an amazing story.
Humbled by our roots, gladdened by our many successes, the Film Forum looks forward to new horizons that await us. The one thing that remains, a continuum throughout all the exciting changes—the impetus of the Lake Placid Film Forum—YOU.
We’ll see you at our ten year anniversary, June 2010.