The idea was born on a snowy night in February 1997.
Over 300 people braved a raging blizzard to come to the Palace Theatre in Lake Placid for a screening of Atom Egoyan’s new film The Sweet Hereafter. The film was based on a novel by local author Russell Banks, who was on hand to present the film, along with Mr Egoyan and New York Daily News Film Critic and Lake Placid native Kathleen Carroll.Russell and Kathleen delightedly remarked to themselves after the screening ”with this kind of enthusiasm, we could hold a film festival here!”
Indeed.Enter local artist Naj Wikoff, Palace Theatre owner Reg Clark and guardian of its vintage 1926 Robert Morton theater organ, New Jersey theater impresario Nelson Page, and local CPA John Huttlinger, and the Adirondack Film Society was born in September 1999.The mission was broad and included an independent film festival, year-round screenings of independent films, classic films, silent films, films of local filmmakers. A student filmmaking competition was envisioned, along with providing support for filmmakers who were looking to bring their productions to the Adirondacks.In October 1999, the Society hosted four successive Thursday evening screenings of classic silent films at The Palace Theatre, all with live accompaniment by Jeffrey Barker on the Robert Morton theater organ. The income from this event provided the seed money to launch the inaugural Lake Placid Film Forum in June 2000.
Artistic Director Kathleen Carroll insisted that our festival would bear the name “Forum.” She envisioned an event designed for filmmakers and film aficionados. As its moniker suggests, forum’s focus is on the interchange of ideas, accomplished via talks, roundtable discussions and intimate master classes. Over 80 independent films were shown. Filmmakers were invited to attend and they participated in seminars, workshops, master classes, and other opportunities for attendees to interact with them in an informal atmosphere. Kathleen’s “Forum” vision had been achieved and Filmmaker Norman Jewison called the Lake Placid Film Forum “…just a little bit more intelligent.” Over the years the Forum, which recently changed its name to The Lake Placid Film Festival, has hosted numerous film luminaries, including directors, screenwriters, actors, educators, film critics and others devoted to independent film and diverse and cutting edge film projects.
Guests have included Milos Forman, Paul Schrader, Jay Craven, Cliff Robertson, Buck Henry, Willem Dafoe, Raoul Peck, John Cameron Mitchell, Norman Jewison, John Sayles, Mira Nair, Campbell Scott, Frank McCourt, George Romero, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Stephen Trask, Martin Scorsese, Jon Favreau, Guillermo del Toro, Ray Harryhausen, Peter Riegert, Mathew Modine, Steve Buscemi, Jimmy Tolkan, Kyra Sedgwick, Parker Posey, Sarah Polley, Jonathan Demme, Elvis Mitchell, Debra Winger, Michael Barker, Hal Holbrook, and many others.
The Society maintains its connection with the national and international independent film scene, and actively collaborates with local and regional filmmakers.
Opportunities are provided for student and emerging filmmakers to showcase their work. The Society is a resource for film producers who are looking for local shooting opportunities in the Adirondacks and North Country.The Society remains active on a year-round basis, collaborating with our friends at The Lake Placid Center for the Arts, the Palace Theatre, and numerous arts and culture organizations and venues to bring quality and diverse film programming to Essex County and the Adirondacks. Whether it be silent film at The Palace, “Sleepless in Lake Placid” student film competitions at LPCA, classic films at The Strand in Schroon Lake, celebrations of diversity with John Brown Lives!, or presenting a steady stream of first-run independent film, the Adirondack Film Society is committed to advancing the art and appreciation of film and filmmaking in the Adirondack Region.