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Can you help us create a mini virtual film festival this weekend?

By Paul Grondahl, DIrector, NYS Writers Institute

We know that you are as disappointed as we are that we had to postpone the Writers Institute’s inaugural Albany Film Festival scheduled for today [Saturday] at the University at Albany because of the coronavirus pandemic. We are rescheduling and committed to hosting the event in spring 2021 and making it even better and stronger. We appreciate all our filmmakers, sponsors and supporters who have pledged to support us and be back next year.

In the meantime, how about trying a 'virtual film festival' via The Conversation? Share a comment here about films you plan to watch this weekend or film recommendations for others. It could be a new film, a classic film, or a film in any genre, from a feature to a documentary.


We reached out to some of the filmmakers who were scheduled to be in Albany today for the (postponed) film festival and asked for their weekend picks ...

Kasi Lemmons

Director and screenwriter of "Harriet," the 2020 Oscar-nominated biography of Underground Railroad hero Harriet Tubman. Her previous credits as director include "Eve's Bayou" (1997), "The Caveman's Valentine" (2001); "Talk to Me" (2007); and "Black Nativity" (2013).

Lemmons began her career as an actress, with roles in "Silence of the Lambs" (1991), "Candyman" (1992) and "Fear of a Black Hat"(1993). She also designed and hosted the tribute to actor Sidney Poitier at the 2002 Academy Awards. As an educator, she mentors the next generation of filmmakers at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. Kasi Lemmons on IMDB

"A couple of new films that I think were underrated this past season, that I’ve been showing my grad students: "Waves" and "A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood"
A classic: "All About Eve" I like to discuss how the director and his star, Bette Davis tracked her performance during the party scene.
And what about:
Julie Dash’s seminal film "Daughters of the Dust" 
A doc:
"Remembering the Friedmans" One of my favorites
or:
"Darwin's Nightmare" Which haunted me for years


Darnell Martin

Landmark figure of U.S. cinema history, the first African American woman to direct a film for a major Hollywood Studio -- "I Like it Like That" (1994). The film was nominated for the Palme d’Or at Cannes. She went on to direct Oprah Winfrey’s production of Zora Neale Hurston’s "Their Eyes Were Watching God" (2005), and wrote and directed "Prison Song" (2001), and "Cadillac Records" (2008), starring Beyoncé. Darnell Martin on IMDB


A new film:  "Jojo Rabbit"
A classic:  "One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest"
Documentary:  "The Cove"  

Paul Grondahl's picks

A new film: “Uncut Gems.” Because I’ve only seen Adam Sandler in sophomoric crude humor films and I hear great things about his performance in this thriller about a Jewish jeweler with a gambling addiction in New York’s Diamond District.


A classic: “Cinema Paradiso.” Because it is magical, it reminds us of the transformative power of film and director Giuseppe Tornatore captures the beauty of Italian culture in a happier time. It received a much-deserved Oscar for Best Foreign Film in 1988.


A documentary: “Tiger King.” I have been hearing a lot of buzz from friends and I’m reading stories about this breakout hit seven-part docuseries on Netflix about Joe Exotic, a big cat breeder in Oklahoma, his bizarre cult following and the sordid underworld of a sketchy cohort of big cat fetishists. Plus it got 100% on Rotten Tomatoes, which is a once-in-a-blue moon consensus pick.


OK, your turn.

What films do you suggest for this (maybe rainy) weekend?

NYS Writers Institute

Science Library 320

University at Albany

1400 Washington Avenue
Albany, NY 12222

(518) 442-5620

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