Just a Thought: A Different Perspective

March 2, 2014 § Leave a comment

Our society tends to be very linear these days. There seems to be a regulation or procedure for everything. Social media is overflowing with people constantly arguing about which side is “right” or “wrong.” Why does there always only have to be just one answer? The beauty in this world comes from the differences. Some of the best things in life came about because first, someone had a little originality.

That’s one of the many things I love about the Arts – they often make you look at things from a different perspective.

The motto at Skidmore College is “Creative Thought Matters.” How true in so many ways! Most of the time there isn’t just one way to do things. There isn’t just one clear answer. And, how you come to your own answer really all depends on how you approach it.

There is not a clear-cut category for every little thing (Thank goodness!). Perhaps that is why a group like the Trans-Siberian Orchestra became so huge over the last several years. From the name, it sounds like they’re just your standard orchestra, but have you ever been to one of their shows?  There is nothing “standard” about them! Go to one of their concerts and you’ll see that their audience includes children right up to senior citizens. Not too many groups can pull that one off!

The below video has been making the rounds on social media lately and does the same type of thing. You are set up with an expectation – 2 cellos, old-fashioned attire. But then you are shocked with a rock & roll sound – looking at things from a different perspective. And what a wonderful, magical, awesome outcome!

That’s how we should approach life – look at things from a different perspective. Use creative thought. Keep everyone around you on their toes and your brain fresh. Always look for another way. Don’t fall into “the standard” trap of doing or thinking about everything in the “usual” way. Have an open mind. Step out. Step up. Make your mark in your own personal world. You’d be surprised how much magic can creep into your life!

Just a thought.


Suddenly I’m Flying

June 12, 2013 § Leave a comment

flying dancer2

I know I’ve said it before – Dance is magic. Theater is magic.
Blah Blah Blah

But true.

If you’ve never felt that feeling – that electric feeling – then I truly feel sorry for you. It is a feeling like no other that I have ever experienced. Nothing can compare to that natural high, that freedom you feel. Even a chemically induced high is just not the same.

I was lucky enough to see Billy Elliot the Musical this past weekend. There were many wonderful things about that show – I could do a whole post just on that. But I’m not going to go into the impressive transitions, the kids, the story, the symbolism of the choreography, or the general choreography of the whole show (the workings of the show was like a ballet itself!). But I do have to talk about the Swan Lake scene where Billy is dancing with his older self.

What a beautiful moment for live theater! The hair on both my arms stood on end the entire scene. I’m not even sure if I breathed until it was over. There was electricity in the whole room. I could hear and feel the reactions of the audience. I could feel the presence of the actors. But at the same time, everything was blocked out as I was transported into this dream world of Billy as he was able, for just those few minutes, to be free. Everything in his life – literally and figuratively – faded into black and he was just dancing. As he lost himself more and more into the song, his dance literally took off – sending him soaring into the sky – free as the highest bird.

I sat and I watched this thinking – wow, that’s exactly what dance, any dance, feels like – like you’re flying. Like you’re free. Nothing else matters. It’s your release. Your escape. Pure freedom. What a wonderful physical representation of a feeling that is so hard to describe. I remember the first time I was able to let go while dancing and first experienced that feeling of flying.  It was one of the most exhilarating things I’ve experienced and a memory I will never forget. I’ve always believed that dancing is the purest form of communication because you don’t have to talk. And that scene in Billy Elliot was a beautiful example of that.

Thinking that scene was my big moment for the show, I sat back feeling like the entire price of my ticket was worth that one scene alone. Then, later in the show, the “Electricity” song came on. The interviewer asks Billy what it feels like to dance. And through the combined power of music and dance, he explains it once again:

“I can’t really explain it,
I haven’t got the words
It’s a feeling that you can’t control
I suppose it’s like forgetting, losing who you are
And at the same time something makes you whole
It’s like that there’s a music playing in your ear
And I’m listening, and I’m listening, and then I disappear.

And then I feel a change
Like a fire deep inside
Something bursting me wide open, impossible to hide
And suddenly I’m flying, flying like a bird
Like electricity, electricity
Sparks inside of me
And I’m free, I’m free….”

Have you ever had that feeling?
That feeling like you’re suddenly flying? I think that’s a very simple and precise way of describing the Arts. What a wonderful feeling. What a way to round out not only the human experience but of humanity itself!

I can’t imagine this world without the Arts. What a sad, boring, and miserable experience it would be. I am sickened every time I hear of yet another Arts venue or program closing. I hate to think that I may someday live in a world where I might not be able to expose my own daughter to these wonderful things.

If you’ve never experienced the power of the Arts – that electricity – try it. You’ll never forget it.

If you have a chance to support an Arts program or institution, please do. Bring your children. Enroll them in a class or group. It’s important that these programs stay around. It’s critical that we have a world that allows our children to experience the full range of the human existence (and not just the bubble sheet tests they’re subjected to at school – Don’t even get me started there).

Everyone should have a chance to spread their wings and Fly….


Photo Credit: torbakhopper via photopin cc

How Do the Performing Arts Serve the Larger Community?

March 26, 2013 § Leave a comment

A while back I posted on here about an interview I participated in for a student’s senior project. I happened upon this again recently and thought I would continue to post a couple of the questions since they are still very relevant today.

2. How do you think dance/teaching/performance/the Performing Arts in general serves the larger community?

I thought this was a great question.  It may seem like an insignificant reason, but I think first and foremost, it gives people a reason to smile. Things are tough all around these days, and in a harried, hurried world, having those couple of hours to allow yourself to forget about life for a while, and lose yourself in something else entirely is priceless these days. The performing arts allow people to have a different life experience and/or to learn something new. It helps keep kids off the street and provides a constructive activity for them to learn and grow. It allows a safe outlet for expression, repression, emotion. The arts force us to look at our lives and experience the world in a different way. They allow our children to grow. They give us a voice when very often we may otherwise feel powerless. The arts allow us to share an experience with other human beings.

Performing Arts can tap into our inner souls and remind us that we are alive and we do have a say in our own lives. Sitting in that audience, we remember that it is ok to cry, laugh, boo, cheer, and live.

The Performing Arts give us a reason to smile.

Interview Question 1 – Advice for Entering the Arts

Deep Breath – The convergence of the 3 worlds of the theater

Live and In Living Color – Removing the touch screen and experiencing live theater

Other Performing Arts related posts on SP

Extended Deadline for Film Entries!

May 2, 2012 § Leave a comment

Due to an influx of films, the Ballston Spa International Film Festival has extended their entry deadline to May 15, 2012.  Get those short films in ASAP to be considered in this fantastic film festival this summer!

See Seeking Short Films! for all the info.

Good luck!

Live & In Living Color

May 1, 2012 § 1 Comment

I might have said it before, and I’m sure I’ll say it again – We are living in an increasingly isolated society.  With all the lightning speed advances in technology, we’re used to having everything at our fingertips.  And adding to whatever amount of ADD we all have, we can have several things at our fingertips at once – chat on Facebook, “Tweet”, watch a favorite TV show, play a game, share videos on YouTube, send an email, do work, download new music, the list goes on and on.  We may be more easily “connected,” but everything we do involves a screen in front of our face – whether it’s a large computer at a desk, or a mobile version.  I think we’re starting to forget what it feels like to be an actual living part of something – live, in real flesh & blood.  No screens involved!

I consider myself a fairly tech-savy person.  I can pick most of it up pretty quickly, despite being part of the generation that did not grow up with a cell phone attached to our hip.  If we had a computer at all, it was only for the occasional word processing.  (Final school papers were still being hand printed!)  And I still think that many of these technological advances are, for the most part, pretty cool.  They allow me to do a job I love and to still feel like I have some clue as to what’s going on in my friends’ lives despite now living many miles away.  But I’m an “Arts” person at heart.  Nothing can beat a good story on the page, a beautiful painting, an awe-inspiring dance, a tranquil sunset, or a live action stage show.  And yet, even I seem to be forgetting what it’s like to see things “live and in living color.”

A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure of seeing two Broadway shows for the first time in a long time.  The first was Newsies, actually on Broadway.  I have a lot of memories that swirl around that show so I was ready for my day of nostalgia.  Plus, I have not been to NYC in years, so I was super excited to hop a train and head down to meet one of my oldest friends.  Being a writer, I’ve always enjoyed people watching, but this day seemed even more amusing than usual.  The day flew by much too quickly and I was back home so fast that the whole thing almost felt like a dream.

Luckily, the following weekend I was privileged to see the touring production of Memphis at Proctor’s Theater.  Obviously, this didn’t involve a whole big day trip, and I knew basically nothing about the show so I had no expectations attached to it, but the excitement was still in the air.  There was a buzz all around me and I could feel it down to my fingertips.

We had incredible seats for both shows.  Only a couple of rows back, we were close enough to see the spit flying out of the actors’ mouths.  The singing, dancing, and acting were fantastic.  Sometimes being involved in theater myself kind of takes away from the magic of a performance because I know the stage tricks, and what it’s like to be onstage in a production.  But this time, I was completely swept up in the story.  I felt like I was part of the world.  The colors were vibrant all around me.  I could feel the rhythms of the music and dancing in my soul.  The scent of the makeup mingled with the old lady perfume and drifted up my nose.  The smoke on the stage enveloped me.  I could feel the spit.  It was breathtaking.  I couldn’t get the stupid grin off my face.  My eyes were glued open like a toddler seeing bubbles for the first time – that innocent wonder when everything around you is magical.

And then it hit me.

This is actual real life – live and in living color.  No touch screen to manipulate and zoom in.  No volume control.  No options to click over to something else.  No doing 50 things at once.  For 2 1/2 hours, I got to sit and concentrate on one thing.  One thing that activated all my senses.  I could hear audience reactions during the show – gasps of surprise, laughter, tapping feet, applause, cheers.  It was a community banded together.  My friend that went with me to Memphis had never sat so close before, so I delighted in watching her reactions and realization of how different it is to sit up front.  I could actually talk to the lead actor after the show.  I could reach out and touch him and feel actual flesh as I congratulated him on a spectacular performance.  I didn’t have to just post a message on a stranger’s “wall.”  There was a human, face-to-face exchange and it made me feel 16 again.

Two full days of human contact, and it was glorious!  I had a complete “high” after I left the theater that was almost as good as the high you get from actually being in a show.  I don’t know about you, but I’ve never had a high after using the computer.

I’ve always loved the theater.  I will be the first person to tell you that nothing compares to a live show.  But even I forgot to some degree just how amazing the whole experience is.  I’ve known for a while now how isolating technology can be, but this mini Broadway adventure proved to me even more than I expected just how bad it has become.  When that isolation sneaks up even on a person like me who thrives on these “live” experiences, I can’t imagine how detached other people are.  We need to make a point every now and then to turn off the electronics and go out and experience the real world.  Live and in living color.  HD just can’t even begin to compare!

Seeking Short Films!

April 4, 2012 § 1 Comment

The Ballston Spa International Film Festival (BSFF) is now seeking short film entries for the 5th annual festival presented on August 3rd & 4th, 2012. All genres will be accepted for independent films ranging from 5-15 minutes (or 3-10 minutes for the student division).

Awards will be presented in 11 categories (with separate categories for High School/College students), including prizes in animation, documentary, local interest and narrative. Previous years’ entries have been received from all around the world, the Capital District, and Hollywood by both amateurs and professionals.

Films are judged by a panel of Hollywood professionals. Past judges include the people behind such films as Silence of the Lambs, Manchurian Candidate, Doc Hollywood, Any Given Sunday, True Lies, Rudy, and Star Trek: The Next Generation. Previous winners have gone on to receive many other honors including 2009’s best animated short winner, “French Roast,” by Fabrice Joubert, nominated for a 2009 Academy Award.

Film entries must be submitted on DVD and play in a standard DVD player. DVDs must be mailed in with a completed application and the entry fee ($5 for students, $25 for non-students) by 4/30/12. To download the application or to learn more about the BSFF, go to http://www.bspafilm.org. For exclusive details and updates on the festival as well as other BSFF events, sign up for the email list and “Like” the Facebook page.

The BSFF is presented by the Ballston Spa Business and Professional Association, a non-profit community organization committed to making the Village of Ballston Spa a better place to live and work, and to bringing quality arts and entertainment events for all ages to the community. Funded in part by the Saratoga Program for Arts Funding (SPAF), part of the Decentralization Program, a regional Program of the NYS Council on the Arts administered by Saratoga Arts. All proceeds go toward future festivals and other community events presented by the Ballston Spa Business & Professional Association. For more information on events, the 2012 film festival, or sponsorship, go to http://www.bspafilm.org.

What Happened to Capital Region Theater?

March 27, 2012 § Leave a comment

Times are tough.  We all know that.  Belts have been tightened, budgets slashed, many places are forced to close up shop.

People deal with tough times in many different ways.  In the past, the arts have been a primary coping outlet.  Some of our best literature, theater, and films have been born out of a difficult era or an individual’s own hard times.  Granted, there are a few other outlets in this day in age, but still, when people need an escape from reality, they turn to a good book, a night at the theater, a favorite movie, or mindless television.

The Capital Region has always been a hotspot for the theater arts.  We have some wonderful professional theaters as well as numerous community theater venues.  Several of our local colleges have highly regarded theater and arts programs (with many graduates going on to “make it” in Hollywood or on Broadway).  But in less than 2 years, The New York State Theater Institute closed, SUNY shut down its theater department, Proctors took over Capital Rep’s administration, and Schenectady Community College just announced they’re closing their theater department as well.  Despite this turmoil, other areas of the Capital Region’s theater scene are thriving.  Excellent shows are being produced each weekend on stages throughout the area.  Yet, many of these shows are not visible on local news coverage. And more specifically, in the Metroland, which was recently voted as the “Best in the 2012 Poll for Arts Coverage.”  What??  How does the “Best Arts Coverage” magazine not actually have any reviews or listings of some of the most wonderful shows recently produced in the area?

Despite the growing challenges, our local arts venues are persevering and doing their best with more and more limited resources.  Think about what our world would be like without the arts. I know there are some out there that would say, No Big Deal (That’s a debate for another posting!).  But let’s say it IS a big deal.  If there are no arts outlets left, will there ever be another Hemingway, Miller, Spielberg, or gasp, dare I say Shakespeare?  What about us common folk that just need a cheap, entertaining night out?  Please don’t tell me that the only “entertainment” that we’ll be forced to endure is Jersey Shore!

I know that unfortunately there are a lot of things our hands are tied on.  However, there is one thing we can do to make our voices heard.  There’s a petition going around urging the Metroland to support Capital Region theater by providing comprehensive coverage of the local theater scene, and to truly live up to its title of “Best Arts Coverage.”

Please help by signing the petition at: http://www.change.org/petitions/metroland-editor-publisher-cover-capital-region-theater

Let’s make an effort to keep the Arts here in the Capital Region!

Patti Rothberg Performing at Ballston Spa Film Festival

July 27, 2011 § 1 Comment

As part of the three day long festival, the Ballston Spa (International) Film Festival (BSFF) is pleased to announce the performance of chart topping musician, Patti Rothberg, on Friday, August 5, 2011, 11:00pm at Sunset Cafe in Ballston Spa.

Patti Rothberg exploded onto the music scene with her 1996 debut album, Between the 1 and the 9. The critically acclaimed album was an instant hit with songs that defied traditional genre lines and provided her audience with a unique mix of classic rock, pop, and new wave. Touring with such well-known groups as the Wallflowers, Chris Isaak, Midnight Oil, Garbage, and Black Crowes, Patti also performed on Late Night with David Letterman, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, and The Oprah Winfrey Show. Her song, “Inside,” was #25 on the American Billboard, and “Treat Me Like Dirt” went all the way to #1 on the European billboard.

Patti made her way into the film world when a cover of her song, “Kung Fu Fighting” was featured in the 1997 movie, Beverly Hills Ninja, and “Forgive Me” was featured in the 1998 film, The Misadventures of Margaret.

Patti’s latest album, Overnight Sensation (2011), marks the reunion of Patti with her original producer, Dave Greenberg, and was mastered by industry legend, Herb Powers, Jr. (Mary J. Blige, Mariah Carey, Lauryn Hill, Justin Timberlake).

Other BSFF events include free film screenings, fire dancers, Q&A session, panel discussions, live music, award ceremony, and after parties. The featured films include local entries as well as professional and amateur entries from Australia, Russia, Poland, England, Germany, Spain, and India. The short films are judged by a panel of Hollywood professionals with credits that include Silence of the Lambs, Mystic Pizza, Rudy, So I Married An Ax-Murderer, O, Illusion, The Skeptic, Big Brother, Oprah Behind the Scenes, Hell’s Kitchen, Bugs Bunny Superstar, and Dorian Blues. All events are free and open to the public. For more information on the films, talents, events, or sponsorship, go to http://www.bspafilm.com.

Hollywood Comes to Town at the Ballston Spa Film Festival

July 27, 2011 § Leave a comment


As Bradley Cooper, Ryan Gosling, and Eva Mendes roll into town to shoot their movie, The Place Beyond the Pines, in Schenectady County, we are reminded once again how much Hollywood loves the Capital District.

Many films have been shot throughout the area over the years, including Seabiscuit, Salt, Scent of a Woman, The Other Guys, The Horse Whisperer, The Time Machine, Ironweed, The Age of Innocence, and Taking Woodstock (just to name a few!). And the historic village of Ballston Spa certainly has had its taste of Hollywood as well, with the 1973 Oscar winning movie, The Way We Were, partially filmed downtown and starring Robert Redford and Barbara Streisand. Olympic bobsled coach, Pat Brown, a native of Ballston Spa, was portrayed by John Candy in the 1994 movie, Cool Runnings, about the historic 1988 Olympic Jamaican bobsled team. And since Daniel DeFabio started the Ballston Spa (International) Film Festival (BSFF) four years ago, Hollywood has been taking even more of an interest in the area.

2009’s festival saw its winner of the Best Animated Short, French Roast, by Fabrice Joubert, win several international awards before garnering an Oscar nomination for the Academy Awards. This year’s festival again includes an Oscar nominee. The Gruffalo from Magic Light Pictures, features the voices of Helena Bonham Carter and John Hurt. Aardman Animation (Wallace & Grommet) also shows up this year with 2 new submissions. For the first time, the BSFF will screen a feature film. Mineville, shot in Essex County, NY stars Paul Sorvino, Michael Sorvino, and William Sadler in a period piece about miners fighting for safer work conditions.
This year’s festival features professional, amateur, and student films from around the world (including Mexico, England, Poland, Australia, Argentina, Spain, Russia, India, Germany, New York, and California) and right here in the Capital District. Locally, audiences will see submissions from festival veterans Dan Masucci, high school student Jacob MacAuliffe, Kevin Craig West, and Michael Feurstein among several other local names. Entries are in a variety of genres including animations, documentary, drama, and comedy.

The finalists will be judged by a panel of Hollywood professionals with a list of credits that include Silence of the Lambs, Mystic Pizza, Rudy, So I Married An Ax-Murderer, O, Illusion, The Skeptic, Big Brother, Oprah Behind the Scenes, Hell’s Kitchen, Bugs Bunny Superstar, and Dorian Blues.

The festival runs August 4-6 and is free and open to the public. In addition to the screenings, other festival events include fire dancers, panel discussions, photo booth, after parties, and music by Vesper and Billboard recording artist, Patti Rothberg. Plus, you never know who might just show up….


Thursday, 8/4/11
8:00pm Ballston Spa High School

By The Score – Mikhail Kanaev
Know Candy – Jon Russell Cring
Extinction II – Fernando Uson
Elephant Room – Silvana Jakich
Mineville – Lori Bailey

Friday, 8/5/11
9:00pm Wiswall Park

The Grufallo – Jakob Schuh, Max Lang
Olivia Explorer – Francesca Sophia
Montgomery – Rob Fried, Chris Common
Laybabb – Mike Feurstein
Frog and Buddha – Ron Taylor
The Astronaut on The Roof – Sergi Portabella
Grasshoppers – Julian Gorski
The Beauty Inside – Kevin Craig West
Woodstock – Kerri Rubino
Phenomenon – Shira Siegel, Max Gaba
Salvacion – Pedro Jaen
Coming Home – Aksel Stasny
Oh Sister – Susan Hippen

Saturday, 8/6/11
1:00pm Ballston Spa High School

Serendipitous – Anna Cardillo
Chicken Feed – Kathleen Carey, Kevin Craig West
Fresas – Jason Otenreath
Mindset – Katie Pyne, Carolyn Tan
The Man with the Spying Glass – Magda Olchawska
Fly – Alan Short
Communication Revolution – Chris Finn
Terrible Parkour – Mike Feurstein
The Trampoline – Dan Masucci
The Tale of the Dog Chew Toy – Jacob MacAullife
Resume – Jack Durnin
The Third Rail – Darian Henry, Michael Mejia
Blind Date – Nigel Davies
Phoenix Tears – Alec Acevedo
Men of Mamoni – Amy Seidman
Ven Dimensional – Alex Burnstein, Matt Nicoletta
El Cortejo – Marina Seresesky
Seeds of Hope – Mohamed Gardne, Imani Peterkin
Beyond Words – Armand De Saint-Salvy

Saturday, 8/6/11
9:00pm Wiswall Park (Includes a few words by the directors)

Mirror Image – Emily Foreman
Tale of the Dog Chew Toy – Jacob MacAullife
Seeds of Hope – Mohamed Gardne, Imani Peterkin
The Man with the Spying Glass (Clip) – Magda Olchawska
Bad Conscience – JP Whitehead, Matt Lingenfelter, Manu Berduc
Chicken Feed – Kathleen Carey, Kevin Craig West
By The Score (Clip)– Mikhail Kanaev
Boom – Manu Berduc, Matt Lingenfelter
Azan a Call to Prayer – Meena Bukhari

The BSFF is put on by the Ballston Spa Business and Professional Association, a non-profit community organization committed to making the Village of Ballston Spa a better place to live and work, and to bringing quality arts and entertainment events for all ages to the community.  Funded in part by the Saratoga Program for Arts Funding and by area businesses, all proceeds go toward future festivals and other community events presented by the Ballston Spa Business & Professional Association. For more information on the films, talents, events, or sponsorship, go to http://www.bspafilm.com.

Ballston Spa Film Festival – A Mini Hollywood Event with Surprise Results Revealed

August 11, 2010 § 2 Comments


The Capital District area in upstate NY has long been a landing spot for Hollywood filmmakers (Salt, Seabiscuit, Scent of a Woman, Taking Woodstock, The Other Guys, The Horse Whisperer, Ironweed, The Time Machine – to name just a few!). And with the added help of the Capital-Saratoga Film Commission, it’s even easier for Hollywood to settle in.  And why not? With an area rich in varied landscapes and stunning historical settings, not to mention numerous resources and local talent, it’s an ideal area for the arts enthusiast.

Ballston Spa, NY may be one of the smaller towns in the area, but the picturesque village is very much on the map when it comes to the film world. The 1973 Oscar winning movie, The Way We Were, starring Barbara Streisand and Robert Redford, was partially filmed right in downtown Ballston Spa.  Olympic bobsled coach, Pat Brown, a native of Ballston Spa, was portrayed by John Candy in the 1994 movie, Cool Runnings, about the historic 1988 Olympic Jamaican bobsled team. And recently, Daniel DeFabio decided to keep up the tradition of film in the area by starting the Ballston Spa Film Festival (BSFF).

What appears as a small town, local event is anything but. In only 3 years, the festival has become a world-wide affair and is already the biggest film festival this side of Lake Placid and the Massachusetts border. With over 30 films in this year’s lineup, participants were treated with talented entries from Spain, Hollywood, Ireland, Turkey, England, Canada, Australia, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, New Guinea, Indonesia, the United States, and from right here in the Capital District. Several films are world premieres and feature big name talent including Serguei Kouchnerov (Shrek 2, The Lion King, Madagascar, Bee Movie), Alexa Davalos (Defiance, Clash of the Titans), and Charlie Hofheimer (Numb3rs, Medium, House, Cold Case).

The judges were all Hollywood names, including Daniel Pyne (Doc Hollywood, Any Given Sunday, Manchurian Candidate), Daniel Fried (O, Illusion), Aaron Lipstadt (City Limits, Medium, Law & Order), Julia Gibson (True Lies, RoboCop3, The Abyss), Larry Jackson (Mystic Pizza, Silence of the Lambs), and Nick Sagan (Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Voyager).

Last year’s winner for Best Animated Short, French Roast by Fabrice Joubert, won several international awards before garnering an Oscar nomination for the Academy Awards. Anticipation was high for the entrants in this year’s festival. As Vince Gallagher said, the BSFF is “small town, not small time!”

The festival is open to the public, running the first weekend in August and offers free admission.  All of the films were screened in two locations right in town. Along with various live entertainment (including fire dancers) and food choices (Stewarts Ice Cream Truck was available for all to enjoy, as well as all the wonderful restaurants in the area), other festival highlights included:

•    Hands on Editor’s workshop in Final Cut Pro with producers from YNN
•    Rockin’ after parties at The Brickyard and Brookside Museum with live music from battle of the bands winner Vesper (8/6) and The Broken (8/7)
•    Video art interaction in the Electric Heliotrope Theater (http://www.noirflux.com/)
•    Live broadcast Friday night from Jeff from WEQX’s morning show
•     Live web simulcast at http://escapetheseries.com

Each night in this year’s festival saw an audience of over 400 people.  Returning judges Fried, Pyne, and Lizzi commented that the level of quality in the films shown have increased each year, and was especially high this year. This year was the first year of judging for Larry Jackson – who discovered Julia Roberts, directed Buggs Bunny Superstar, is a former Exec VP for Miramax, and advisor in the creation of the Sundance Institute.  He told the BSFF committee, “I thought you put on a terrific event for the community – and for the filmmakers – where you were well organized and your choice of films was really, really good in quality,  variety, and reach.  Ballston Spa is certainly a place we’d love to see again.”

Dan Masucci, writer/director of this year’s contender, Beneath the Same Sky commented, “What great venues and events and the gift bag was the best I’ve gotten…. I love that you build up quite an audience.  It is one of the better attended festivals I’ve been to. It was an honor to be shown among so many great films.” Charlie Lyons, a doctor of theater and film from Columbia, and former film reporter for Variety and the NY Times, as well as one of the favorites for this year’s best film, also commented on the quality of his competition this year. “I thought Signs was the best film.  It was one of the best short films I’ve ever seen!”

Signs did indeed steal the show – along with three of the top prizes. Winners included:

Best Picture: Patrick Hughes for “Signs” (Australia)
Best Director: Paul Besson “True Beauty This Night” (Hollywood)
Best Animated Film: Holly Klein “Maggie and Mildred” (London)
Best Film College: Caner Apis “Shoes” (Turkey)
Best Film High School: Alex Gilmet “The Drum Set” (Niskayuna)
Best Screenplay: Patrick Hughes and Karl Fleet “Signs” (Australia)
Best New Film: Ed Hartwell “The Day The Robots Woke Up” (London)
Best Comedy: Brian Billow “Bodega” (Chicago)
Best Editing: Jo Scott “Signs” (Australia)
Best Sound: Diego Sanchidrian Rubio “El Rayo y La Sirena” (Spain)
Of Local Interest: Mike Feurstein “Greatest Man Alive” (Schenectady)
Special Achievement Award: Rich Lounello “The Loop” (Albany)

Pyne commented that the performances in Bodega, “were outstanding, and the clear-headed whimsy carried me through. Best last line in the festival!” He also stated that Greatest Man Alive was a “powerful idea, well-rendered,” and Shoes was, “extremely contained and well proportioned. There is an elegant economy to the sequences, and the repetition, and the direction of the little boys is nice and understated.” After such a successful and entertaining event, anticipation is already high for next year’s festival. Details about 2011’s events and submission information will be released soon.

The BSFF is put on by the Ballston Spa Business and Professional Association, a non-profit community organization committed to making the Village of Ballston Spa a better place to live and work, as well as to bringing quality arts and entertainment events for all ages to the community.  Funded in part by the Saratoga Program for Arts Funding, Saratoga Gaming & Raceway Foundation, and by area businesses, all proceeds go toward future festivals and other community events presented by the Ballston Spa Business & Professional Association. For more information on the films & their websites, talents, events, or sponsorship, go to http://bspafilm.com.

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