Inaugural Catskill Mountains Film Festival Spotlights Local Filmmakers

Movies in the mountains: The Hollywood Hills meet the Catskills



Actor and the fest’s honorary chairman, Bill Pullman, stands with founder and chair Jessica Vecchione

Photograph by Riikka Olsen

Budding regional filmmakers have the chance to showcase their craft on the silver screen at the inaugural Catskill Mountains Film Festival. Held on and near the SUNY Delhi campus, this three-day celebration (May 2-4) was created to expand local interest in independent films, while providing an audience for developing artists of varying ages and experience.

“We’re really trying to be the festival that emerging filmmakers have a shot of getting in to,” says founder and chair Jessica Vecchione. “It’s hard to get a screening with bigger fests, so we felt there was room for one that caters to new and young filmmakers.”

catskill mountains film festival poster

Vecchione, who resides in Hamden, owns Vecc Videography, a company that creates videos for businesses and nonprofits, but she also films documentaries — her favorite genre — on the side. This love of films prompted her to create an event in which other filmmakers with low budgets or unfamiliar names could showcase their work. “So many good films fall by the wayside or are passed over by Woodstock or Sundance,” she says. “We’re filling that vacuum.”

She approached the Greater Delhi Chamber of Commerce and her idea snowballed from there: Committees were formed; judges selected; and actor Bill Pullman (pictured above with Vecchione), who is an alum and former drama teacher at SUNY Delhi, became honorary chairman of the event.

About 160 submissions were received from around the world. Selections will be judged by regional industry professionals, including Academy Award-winning director Roger Ross Williams (God Loves Uganda, which the festival is screening); and festival keynote speaker David France, an author and Oscar-nominated filmmaker (How to Survive a Plague, which is also being screening). Although Pullman won’t be in attendance, the festival lineup includes The Fruit Hunters, a documentary about the loss of rare fruit trees, in which he is featured.

Following a red-carpet event on Saturday evening at SUNY Delhi’s Farrell Hall, the awards will be presented. The entries are divided into three categories — regular, college, and high school — and will be judged in six groupings: narrative feature, narrative short, documentary feature, documentary short, music video, and animation. The remaining two categories, middle school and iPhoneography (films made, and sometimes edited, on mobile devices), contain submissions of 10 minutes or less. To Be Forever Wild — David Becker’s documentary about the Catskill Mountains and the festival’s feature film — screens after the ceremony.

Tickets are available per showing ($3), for the day ($15), or the full weekend ($25). Visit www.catskillmountainsfilmfestival.org for information.

Festival locations

Fri.-Sun. screenings:
SUNY Delhi Campus, 2 Main St., Delhi

Sat.-Sun. only:
Walton Theatre, 30 Gardiner Pl., Walton
Open Eye Theater, 200 Stoneridge Rd., Margaretville

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