A seemingly laid-back Eric P. Granger, the Director of the Lake Placid Film Festival’s (LPFF) 2021 Shorts Program, welcomed those who made the trek out to the storied festival. Considering the pandemic, the unfavorable weather conditions and the massive construction underway on Main Street, it would be understandable if those like Granger and Festival Coordinator, Susan O’Brien, were nervous. No matter they may be feeling internally though, the entire LPFF team exude hospitality and bubbly excitement.
Those in attendance were buzzing about the latest films to be shown from companies like A24 (Stephen Karam’s The Humans) and IFC Films (Lauren Hadaway’s The Novice and Jim Cummings & PJ McCabe’s The Beta Test) , as well as up-and-coming talent like those whose features are showcased in the “Your Shorts Are Showing” program.
The cleverly titled short film selection featured a number of compelling features on day one that signal bright futures for some of the promising young filmmakers. Rebecca Ozer’s Collectors’ Item and Marco Baratta’s Two Days find fascinating new angles into the revenge thriller and experimental drama genres, respectively. At the same time, Maren Lavelle’s Keeper and Derrick Benton’s Wasted Talent remind us that some of the best films are those that provoke intense emotional responses instead of attempting to reinvent the wheel. With 40 shorts spanning a plethora of genres and visual styles, it’s easy to find one that is important to you.
As the celebration continued into the evening’s 20th Anniversary Reception, the intense conversations covering everything from the biggest blockbusters to niche foreign titles from the 1950s, were refreshing to witness after a year of socially disconnecting virtual festivals. For many of the filmmakers in attendance, LPFF marks their first in-person film festival. Derrick Benton, the writer-director of Wasted Talent and whose films have been selected to screen everywhere from California to London, is no stranger to the virtual festival circuit. However, Derrick believes that there’s something in the Adirondack air that marks the start of his blossoming career.
After a year of having my films screened virtually, It was an incredible experience to see Wasted Talent on the big screen.Derrick Benton
After twenty years of establishing itself as a cultural institution in the Upstate New York region, there’s a host of factors that have proved integral to the Lake Placid Film Festival’s success. Whether it’s the dedicated organizers and volunteers, the passionate filmmakers, or even the picturesque landscapes, it’s clear that there’s a cinematic buzz in the air in Lake Placid this weekend; one that will hopefully continue for many years to come.
Silver Linings’ Recommendations for CIFF 2021
THE BETA TEST
United States | 2021 | 91 Min | Jim Cummings, PJ McCabe
When hot-shot Hollywood talent agent Jordan Hines receives a mysterious purple envelope containing an invitation for an anonymous sexual encounter, the offer proves too tempting to resist. But the liaison has surprising ramifications. Jordan becomes ensnared in a web of conspiracy, paranoia, and guilt that threatens to upend both his career and his personal life.
When: Friday, October 22nd at 6PM (Palace Theater)
United States | 2021 | 108 Min | Stephen Karam
Set inside a pre-war duplex in downtown Manhattan, The Humans follows the course of an evening in which the Blake family gathers to celebrate Thanksgiving. As darkness falls outside the crumbling building, mysterious things start to go bump in the night and family tensions reach a boiling point.
When: Saturday, October 23rd at 2pm (Palace Theater), Encore Sunday, October 24th at 2pm (Palace Theater)
I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO
United States | 2016 | 93 Min | Raoul Peck
Writer James Baldwin tells the story of race in modern America with his unfinished novel, Remember This House. Jeffrey Brown, Senior Correspondent for the PBS Newshour and Director, Raoul Peck, will introduce this powerful documentary and lead Q&A after the screening.
When: Saturday, October 23rd at 7:30PM (Palace Theater)
United States | 2021 | 94 Min | Lauren Hadaway
A queer college freshman joins her university’s rowing team and undertakes an obsessive physical and psychological journey to make it to the top varsity boat, no matter the cost.
When: Saturday, October 22nd at 4:30 PM (Palace Theater)