Above: Video proof that there's talent in them thar hills. (Promo for the Art & Soul of the Catskills Film Festival.)
If you had to guess how many filmmakers were based in the Catskills, what number would you pick? Five? Ten?
Try dozens. This weekend, forty-two films with Catskills connections will hit the silver screen in Delhi at the first-ever Art & Soul of the Catskills Film Festival.
As Jessica Vecchione, the festival's founder, likes to say, filmmaking nowadays has been democratized. Anyone with a computer and a smartphone can make a movie.
This is great news for the Catskills. I'm betting that Delaware County never saw such a flowering of cinematic creativity as it will this weekend.
Just a few of the films showing are antiwar documentary "From Mills River to Babylon and Back: The Jimmy Massey Story," a documentary about the songwriting duo The Swell Season filmed by a Meredith-based team, a history of the Rhinebeck violet industry called "Sweet Violets," a profile of a Margaretville rum-runner called "Demon on Wheels" ... the list is huge.
The festival kicks off on Friday night at 6pm at the Farrel Center at SUNY Delhi. I'll be speaking, along with Salon.com film critic Andrew O'Hehir, Oneonta filmmaker Joe Stillman, Elk Creek Cinema founders Carlo Mirabella & Chris Dapkins, and Big Green TV producer Stephen Blauweiss. There will be awards and a screening. Films will be playing all day Saturday long in two locations. Check out the website for a full schedule -- see the promo below for a taste of what's scheduled.
The film festival is only a part of the annual Art & Soul of the Catskills Festival, which will be happening all day Saturday around Delhi, rain or shine.
Correction: An earlier version of this story mispelled Stephen Blauweiss's first name.