GLENS FALLS, N.Y. (NEWS10) – It takes a lot of time to put a film festival together.
That’s true as ever for the Adirondack Film Festival, about to return for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic, starting this Thursday. Bringing together and selecting over 70 films, and working with the venues showing them in the small city, is a huge task.
Miriam Weisfeld is the festival’s new artistic director, and has been in charge of the tall task at hand for all of six weeks.
“It’s been a bit of a scramble,” Weisfeld said with a laugh on Monday.
That scramble is the lead-up to this year’s festival, where the Charles R. Wood Theater and the Park Theater will host features and shorts alike. And this year, audiences can get a look into the city’s slice of cinema from theaters, or the comfort of their own home.
It’s one way the festival, and the group behind it, has been touched by the changes of the pandemic. And it’s a decision made with more than just unvaccinated adults in mind.
“If you have children who can’t yet be vaccinated and want to still be involved, we’ve even curated a family movie night to include those with little ones,” Weisfeld explained.
That family night is on Thursday, when the festival kicks off, the same day that an opening celebration will be held at the Queensbury Hotel.
The festival comes with an all-access pass – $85 for an individual, $140 for a household – that will let audiences choose by the day, and even by the film, which way they want to tune in.
Choosing those films, which include features, shorts, documentaries and more, was a process that started a lot more than six quick weeks ago.
Not every film was submitted by a producer or small filmmaker. Some were curated specifically by Weisfeld and her team at the Adirondack Theatre Festival.
One of those is “Language Lessons,” a romantic comedy starring Natalie Morales (“Parks & Recreation,” “Dead to Me”) and Mark Duplass (“Creep,” “Safety Not Guaranteed”), which will be screened by the festival during opening ceremonies on Thursday night.
Another film on the roster is “The Russian Five,” which Weisfeld called a must-see for hockey fans; who, in the hometown of the Adirondack Thunder, are plenty.
“If you remember back when the local teams were the Adirondack Red Wings, this is going to be very special to you,” she said.
“The Russian Five” is a documentary, telling a story of the then-Red Wings’ major league affiliate of the same name – the Detroit Red Wings. It chronicles five Russian players who were brought to America in the 1990s, who eventually helped the team get their first Stanley Cup win in decades.
Telling the story are sports icons like Wayne Gretsky; and actor Jeff Daniels, an avid hockey fan himself.
“That’s sort of one of the special things about the festival,” Weisfeld said. “If you watch out, you’re gonna see faces you recognize from really big films and TV shows who still make the time for little, close-to-the-ground emerging filmmakers.”
For Weisfeld, although those films are some of the standouts, making the festival’s sixth and comeback year a success is about more than the quality of one particular movie.
“We want to make sure we have a variety of films, for every kind of taste.”
That means everything from documentaries like “The Russian Five” to romantic comedies like “Language Lessons,” and a list from there that includes science fiction, experimental shorts, family film and music videos.
As exciting as the star power is, there’s power, too, in celebrating local. A series of films at this year’s festival titled “Homegrown” does exactly that.
Another series is “Stage to Screen,” showcasing films by theater artists who have moved from one to the other.
That’s a trend Weisfeld has seen a lot in the last year and a half and expects to continue.
“At this moment, theater and film are talking to each other in a way they never have before,” she said. “You can really see the way that artists from one world are enriching the work of artists from the other.”
The Adirondack Film Festival started in 2016, a more recent arm of the Adirondack Theatre Festival. That means the marriage of stage and screen this year mirrors the festival’s own roots.
Past this weekend, Weisfeld sees this new chapter as a time to become more inclusive in what’s curated and screened in town; creating more meetings of minds along the way.
“I love that we’ve found a way to include families and multigenerational audiences in the film festival,” she said. “I think there are a lot of ways that we can serve underserved stakeholders.”
The Adirondack Film Festival runs from Oct. 14-17. A full festival schedule, and links to buy tickets, can be found online.