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February 22, 2014

Actor Bill Pullman goes to bat for film fest at Delhi

By Joe Mahoney Staff Writer
The Daily Star

---- — A big fish in the film industry is lending a hand to the small but ambitious Catskill Mountains Film Festival, to be staged the first weekend of May at the State University College of Technology at Delhi campus.

That campus happens to be where noted actor Bill Pullman, now 60, was first exposed to the world of theater.

He had enrolled at the school to take advantage of the concentration the school still offers in the construction trades. But the native of Steuben County found a new direction after a random visit to the campus drama club.

Forty years later, his acting credits include roles in such films as “Independence Day,” “Ruthless People,” “Spaceballs,” “The Serpent and the Rainbow,” “While You Were Sleeping,” and “Sleepless in Seattle.”

After Pullman’s interest in acting was whetted by since retired Delhi drama professor William Campbell, he transferred to the State University College at Oneonta, where he would earn his bachelor’s degree in theater.

This week, he agreed to serve as the honorary chairman of the Catskill Mountains Film Festival, after the event’s prime organizer, Jessica Vecchione of Hamden, reached out to him with help from Campbell.

“This is very exciting for us because Bill has such strong ties to our area,” said Vecchione, who owns her own business, Vecc Videography. “The fact that he got his start in the same theater where we will have the festival is very meaningful to us.”

Harkening back to his days at the Delhi campus, Pullman told Vecchione this week: “I was once a student finding my way around Farrell Hall when I was 17 years old. I had no idea that I’d be involved in movies, and maybe filmmakers will be surprised at what happens after this festival.”

Pullman said the region has much to offer for those interested in the arts.

“There are lots of cultural resources in the area around Delhi, Delaware County, and the surrounding counties that remain untapped,” he said. “Along with the scenic surroundings, I think that it’s a fantastic opportunity to share these movies. I look forward to seeing this festival grow and flourish in the years to come.”

The Catskill Mountains Film Festival is sponsored by the university and the Greater Delhi Area Chamber of Commerce.

The event encourages student participation and is open to submissions from all members of local communities as well. It is scheduled to take place in early May in order to give students an opportunity to participate in the event before they graduate or leave the area for the summer.

Vecchione, who has produced several documentaries, said she is delighted that Pullman is supportive of the festival.

“He really recognizes that it’s vitally important that people starting out as filmmakers get to have exposure for what they are doing,” she said.