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July 20, 2013

Local festival to showcase regional films

By Joe Mahoney
The Daily Star

---- — Other film festivals may make bigger splashes, with their A-list of producers and directors and paparazzi on the hunt for celebrities.

But that’s all right with the people behind the Catskill Mountains Film Festival. Their goal is not to challenge the Sundance Film Festival or the Woodstock Film Festival.

Rather, their objective is to click with the people of the region, and give local filmmakers, including local college students, a realistic shot of having their work screened.

So says Jessica Vecchione, a prime organizer of the festival based at the State University at Delhi campus.

A former advertising industry whiz, Vecchione is working with the folks at the Greater Delhi Area Chamber of Commerce and the top administrators at SUNY Delhi to tap the talents and story-telling abilities of local people who simply need an outlet for their video production work.

While the next festival isn’t until early May, the organizers are preparing for a day of film-making workshops that will be held at SUNY Delhi on Sept. 21. That is considered one of the two big events of the organization, the second being the three-day festival itself.

Volunteer committees have been formed to ensure the events are a success. People such as Joe Piasek, the general manager of community radio station WIOX in Roxbury, and Phil Lenihan, proprietor of the Orphic Gallery in Roxbury, are plugging away to promote the festivities.

The film festival, Vecchione said, is an outgrowth of the Art and Soul of the Catskills Festival that the chamber had been promoting. “I suggested we try a film festival associated with it,” she recalled. “We have local regional filmmakers here and we got 42 entries. This is a new cultural event that is sweeping the nation. And there are students in New York State who need venues to show their films. We decided to put our energies into the film festival, and not to do the Art and Soul Festival again.”

The festival is scheduled to take place in early May in order to give students at the Delhi campus an opportunity to participate in the event before they graduate or leave the area for the summer. But the event is not limited to students, Vecchione stressed.

When it comes to festivals, Vecchione has been around the block, and has felt the disappointment of having had her work rejected by Sundance as well as the joy of winning a top honor at an Orlando festival for her acclaimed 2009 documentary on local Mexican immigrants, “Bienvenidos a Fleischmanns — An Immigrant Community in Rural America.”

For those interested in submitting a project for the next Catskill Mountains Film Festival, we’re giving you plenty of advance notice: the cutoff date for entries is April 1, 2014.

“We really see this as an event that is going to grow,” said Vecchione, who owns her own video production and marketing company, Vecc Videography. “And we want to keep it regional.”

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GOP sources say Republican leaders are delighted with a recent New York Times profile on Democrat Sean Eldridge, who is married to wealthy Facebook cofounder Chris Hughes and is exploring a run against second-term Rep. Chris Gibson, R-Kinderhook.

This week, the National Republican Congressional Committee even posted the Times story on one of its web sites, calling its link “Lifestyles of the Rich and the Out of Touch.” The story, written by my old state Capitol colleague Raymond Hernandez, now based in Washington, ran under the headline, “Young, Rich and Relocating Yet Again in Hunt for Political Office.”

It was the first time Eldridge — who has never before run for public office — spoke to a reporter about his interest in the seat. Other reporters have been referred to a Manhattan-based public relations firm.

While Republicans say they are preparing to paint Eldridge as a carpetbagger, they indicate they do not take his potential candidacy lightly, because of what they expect will be his ability to raise huge sums of campaign cash from wealthy donors.

Last year, Gibson overcame a challenge from Democrat challenger Julian Schreibman of Stone Ridge, despite the fact President Barack Obama easily defeated GOP nominee Mitt Romney in the district.

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In Schoharie County, incumbent Jefferson Town Supervisor Dan Singletary and Sean Jordan, a former county employee, are squaring off in a contest for the GOP nomination for the job Singletary has now.

Singletary says he already has the Conservative and Independence lines but is not sure if will end up with the GOP nod. Jordan, who is not a registered Republican, said he thinks he has a shot of winning the backing of the Republicans. 

JOE MAHONEY is a staff writer for The Daily Star. Contact him at jmahoney@thedailystar.com.