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ON THE SCENE: The question was: ‘Where were you?’

July 8, 2011
“Where were you?” said Anitra Pell on Monday morning. “I didn’t see you at the Film Forum.”

“I was in Seattle,” I said.


“No, I mean San Diego, Seattle is next weekend. I was speaking at the annual conference of Americans for the Arts.”

“And what about?”

“Arts in healthcare.”

“Of course.”

“How did it go?”

“Sleepless in Lake Placid was fantastic. (teams of students from several film schools have 24 hours to write, cast, direct, shoot, edit and screen a film that must incorporate some common elements such as a phrase, a space and a person). It was wonderful. And, the Forum made some really great changes.”

“Such as?”

“They had the filmmakers introduce the film and after the screening, they got back up on stage and were questioned by the judges. Then on Sunday morning all the filmmakers got together in a large circle and had a conversation with the judges. They got a chance to talk with these experts more in depth about their work and what the judges felt they could do to improve the work.”

“Which of the regular screenings did you like best?”

“Well, it wasn’t one of the major films, but I really enjoyed the remake of the Raiders of the Lost Ark. It was made over seven years by a bunch of young boys. Their dedication and ingenuity was amazing and they got in all the highpoints. They funded it using their allowances and asking for various props they needed as Christmas or birthday presents, like the bullwhip.”


“Yup. You will never guess where they got all the snakes. They borrowed them from a pet shop. When they went to return them one was missing. They found it curled up inside the jacket of the guy who played Indiana Jones. It was asleep around his waist. The quality of the film was a little uneven as it was a copy of a copy that was originally shot in Beta, but it drew you in. It took you away. It worked.”

“How did Juneteenth go?” I asked Brendan Mills, site manager for John Brown’s Farm. Juneteenth is a growing national celebration of the day when Federal Troops freed the slaves in Galveston, Texas in 1865, and in so doing ended the Civil War and slavery. It is a major annual celebration by the African-American community, which is growing in popularity and many hope will become a national holiday. One of the outcomes of the 150th commemoration of John Brown’s death held in Lake Placid in December 2009 was a decision to create an annual Juneteenth event. Mills decided to make it a celebration of not only the end of slavery, but African American culture.

“It was a great success,” said Mills. “The weather was perfect and we had a great turnout. Over 100 people came on top of the 30 performers and volunteers. I wanted it to be a celebration, which is more in keeping with how the event is organized across the country. We normally present lectures, and we did that as part of the activities, but I wanted it to be more of a family affair and we pulled it off.”

“I think it went very, very well,” said Dave Bruno, the owner of the Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream shop in Lake Placid, which helped sponsor the event. “I rolled in to John Brown’s Farm at about 12:30 and was pleased to hear a lot of drumming, music and laughter. They had a really good turnout. The musicians were really great and they let anyone who wanted to join in and try out the drums. They were great teachers and I was pleased that it was so interactive. The performance was absolutely stellar. The dancing was incredible.”

“Brendan felt that had about a 100 people,” I said.

“They did much better than that. We served a lot of ice cream. They had a pig roast, good food, good eats. I had a blast. They did a good job of tying in the African American culture. I know that Brendan was biting his nails early on but the turnout was great. We loved it and look forward to supporting it again. It was a great family event. I had a blast.”

“How was the Kite Fest?” I asked Monica Bradbury.

“I thought it was a perfect day. They had a good breeze at ground level so lots of kites got up in the air. I thought it was the best.”

“They had at least 30 kits up in the air at a time,” said Brad Bradbury. “They were in all shapes and sizes, and flown by kite fliers of all ages. I have never seen so many different versions of kites before. There was a huge cumbersome red, white and blue one that looked like an upside down U but they got it up.”

“I was a wonderful day,” said Pat Anderson. “The weather was perfect. At one point they had 36 in the air flown by little kids to grandmothers like me. I was there for four hours. I hated to leave but you can’t spend all your time flying kites as much as you might want to.”

“How did it compare to others in the past?”

“It was good, really good. Others have been good, but this time the wind was there. Do you remember last year that someone won a large dragon-shaped kite in a raffle?”

“Yes, that was Jerliea Zempel.”

“Well, she brought that kite and it looked spectacular.”

“Paul Matthews brought his beautiful sky-scape kite he painted two years ago. The NYKE pros helped him get it ready for flight and it was outstanding how long and high it flew. We had wind all day with only a few brief lulls. Once the kites got above the tree line they went up and up,” said Kite Fest founder Leslie Shipps, president of East Branch Friends on the Arts, which organized the event.”



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