By ROBIN CAUDELL Press-Republican
---- — LAKE PLACID — “A Band Called Death,” a feature-length film about a pre-punk ’70s band, is the first offering today at the 13th-annual Lake Placid Film Forum.
“I’m very delighted we are doing the program and that we have films that I really like, as usual, that have moved me in one way or another,” said Kathleen Carroll, forum artistic director.
‘AT ANY PRICE’
Forum returnees include “At Any Price” director Ramin Bahrani.
“He’s a very gifted, in-depth filmmaker who makes very small, intimate projects featuring immigrant characters,” Carroll said. “This new film is a major step for him. His leading actor is Dennis Quaid. The story is a much broader story about modern-day farming, really, which, depicted in this film, looks more ruthless than Wall Street.”
A former high-school/college jock’s return to his Massachusetts fishing-village roots is the premise of “Fairhaven,” directed by Tom O’Brien.
In it, Jon and his 30-something friends are adrift.
“They haven’t been quite able to figure out who they are,” Carroll said. “They haven’t met the right woman or are not attached at this time in their lives. It’s a very charming, small-town environment and (it looks at) what happens when these young men, who have been friends forever, have this reunion. It gives you a revealing look of a generation of young people still struggling to find themselves, particularly in this environment we’re in now.”
‘MAKE A NOISE’
Carroll selected “American Masters – Mel Brooks: Make A Noise” for purely selfish reasons.
“I wanted to see it myself,” she said. “I had a desperate need for a good laugh after some of the films I’ve been seeing.”
“Whitewash,” directed by Emanuel Hoss-Desmarais and starring Thomas Hayden Church, is a French-Canadian film that screened at the Tribeca Film Festival.
“It really is quite unique,” Carroll said. “I don’t remember seeing a film quite like it. It all takes place in the woods, in very deep snow and bad weather. It’s one of the films you don’t want to say too much about. It’s more fun to let it just unfold in front of you. You’re pulled in and just going with it.”
Another forum returnee is Ohio University professor Frederick Lewis and a new crew of film students. “Monhegan Light” screens 3 p.m. Saturday at the Lake Placid Center for the Arts.
Lewis premiered his Rockwell Kent documentary in 2005 and returned four years later with “Trailerpark,” based on a short-story collection by Russell Banks. At the 2009 forum, Lewis met Richard Russo and discussed adapting his work. The result is “Monhegan Light,” an adaptation of Russo’s short story about a cinematographer named Martin (portrayed by Marcus DeAnda), who travels to Maine to confront a painter about his relationship with his deceased wife. The film is directed by Joe Battaglia, who co-wrote the script with Dan Wainio.
“Once the story was brought to my attention by one of my students, the wheels started to turn,” Lewis said.
The students raised $18,500 for the project, which evolved over an academic year. Lewis negotiated a sweet deal with the owner of Monhegan House for lodging for 19 students in April.
“Artist Alison Hill allowed us to use her studio with all the paintings about. It’s a strong film. We make films every year, but I felt this was a special one. Richard Russo is flying in from Maine for Saturday,” Lewis said.
At 6:30 p.m. Friday, a special presentation featuring “Nathan Farb’s Home Movies” will be presented at the Lake Placid Center for the Arts.
The internationally renowned photographer’s film foray includes “iJay,” a video/photographic account of Hurricane Irene’s impact on his neighbors and the landscape; “Eisen,” an intimate glimpse of Farb’s exploration for his birth father and his father’s suicide; and “Karaoke at Sea with Roger Ebert,” which features the late Ebert rapping “Union Maid” on a luxury cruise. Farb created the short in collaboration with cinematographer/director Haskell Wexler.
Hurricane Irene didn’t touch Farb’s Jay residence, but for his neighbors, it was a different story. He celebrates their grit and resilience that led to next-day recovery efforts.
“The other thing I was interested in is what happened high in the mountains. The Jay Range got hit the worst. You have a few square miles of area and 12 to 15 inches of rain with absolutely no place to go. You have it taking the soil and everything straight down to glacial time. Time was exposed that hadn’t seen the light of day in 10,000 to 12,000 years,” Farb said.
He was a photographer of the historical record and lucky to witness such a cataclysmic event.
In “Eisen,” Farb sought to break Jewish stereotypes by airing his familial history, which includes infanticide and police cover-ups. His friend, the artist/Keene Valley resident Frank Owen remarked: “I never knew there was Jewish trailer trash.”
“That’s my people,” Farb said. “I love the language they speak. It’s so beautiful. It’s so truthful. The language we speak is meant to cover up what we’re really feeling. It’s not a terribly coherent film. You just have to relax and not make too much sense of it. It’s like a foreign film. Just relax. You’ll get it.”
“Karaoke at Sea with Roger Ebert” offers an unimaginable glimpse of the great film critic.
“That one is really a home-movie kind of thing,” Farb said.
For the uber perfectionist, filmmaking was hard, hard, hard and more hard.
“I’ve always been such a control freak,” Farb said. “To let something out that I cannot control is hard for me.”
Email Robin Caudell:email@example.comIF YOU GO WHAT: 13th-annual Lake Placid Film Forum. WHEN: Various times through Sunday. WHERE: Lake Placid Center for the Arts and Palace Theatre in Lake Placid. ADMISSION: $85 inclusive pass; $10 single films. CONTACT: For more information, including a complete event schedule, visit www.lakeplacidfilmforum.org.