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  • NYS Writers Institute

One month away... The 2nd Annual Albany Film Festival

The 2nd Annual Albany Film Festival - featuring a number of "bookish" events, and events that emphasize writing - will be presented by the NYS Writers Institute on Saturday, April 2, 2022, at the University at Albany.

The event, free and open to the public, will take place on UAlbany’s Uptown Campus, 1400 Washington Avenue, Albany. Maps, free parking locations, and more information available at

The Albany Film Festival differs from most film festivals, which are usually multi-day events at various locations around a city. This is a very story-focused festival, with conversations about filmmakers as storytellers, book-to-film, writing vs. visual storytelling, screenwriting, criticism, and film history and biography. The emphasis is more on conversation and Q&A with guests than on screenings of full films.

“As a celebration of storytelling on screen, the Albany Film Festival is a natural extension of the Writers Institute’s mission of fostering conversations about the craft of writing in all its forms,” NYS Writers Institute Director Paul Grondahl said. “The niche that makes our film festival different is a focus on stories and books adapted into films, collaborations between fiction writers and directors, and the intersection of writing and cinema.”

“Highlights include a conversation between bestselling novelist Wally Lamb and acclaimed director Derek Cianfrance about his adaptation of Lamb’s novel, I Know This Much Is True,” Grondahl said, “Acclaimed filmmakers Stanley Nelson and Marcia Smith will discuss their Oscar-nominated documentary, “Attica.” Award-winning actor Karen Allen (“Raiders of the Lost Ark”) will discuss her directorial debut, a short film based on a Carson McCuller’s story, A Tree. A Rock. A Cloud. Novelist Russell Banks will join director Michael Caplan in a discussion of Caplan’s film, “Algren,” a documentary about Nelson Algren, one of the most underrated writers of the 20th century who was an important influence on Banks.”

About the Albany Film Festival

Francis Ford Coppola launched our first Albany Film Festival with a preview event in Fall 2019. Coppola received the first Ironweed Award for Exemplary Achievement in Film and talked with Writers Institute founder William Kennedy about his director's cut of “The Cotton Club.” Kennedy wrote the original script of that film. The April 2020 Festival was ultimately cancelled because of COVID. The NYS Writers Institute hosted a virtual version of the Albany Film Festival in April 2021 featuring Kasi Lemmons, James Ivory, Rosie Perez, Darnell Martin and Sam Pollard.

This year, during a closing ceremony at the film festival, The Ironweed Award will be presented to filmmakers Stanley Nelson, Marcia Smith, and Derek Cianfrance. Screenings of the Albany Film Festival’s Short Film Award winners’ films will take place throughout the event and the short film award winners will be announced at the closing ceremony.

“The festival builds on the success of our Classic Film Series, which has featured screenings and conversations with filmmakers for more than 30 years,” said Assistant Director Mark Koplik. “We have long celebrated film as a storytelling art (on an equal footing with books) and we have built a large regional audience for film programming. And in keeping with the mission of the University at Albany, the festival is also very focused on equal opportunity, and on diversity in all its forms.”

Featured Events include:

  • Major American novelist Wally Lamb (She's Come Undone) and noted film director Derek Cianfrance (“The Place Beyond the Pines”) about their recent HBO adaptation of Lamb's novel, I Know This Much is True, starring Mark Ruffalo.

  • Eminent documentary filmmakers Stanley Nelson and Marcia Smith (“The Black Panthers,” “Jonestown,” “Freedom Riders,” “Miles Davis: Birth of Cool”) about their new film “Attica,” nominated for a 2022 Oscar for Best Documentary -- the story of the famous Upstate New York prison uprising.

  • Major American novelist Russell Banks and filmmaker Michael Caplan in conversation about the film “Algren,” a tribute to Banks's mentor, Nelson Algren (The Man with the Golden Arm).

  • Leading film actress Karen Allen (“Raiders of the Lost Ark,” “Animal House”) about her film adaptation of a short story by Southern fiction writer Carson McCullers, "A Tree. A Rock. A Cloud."

  • George McNamee, prominent Albany investor and philanthropist, about “The Trial of the Chicago 7,” a film that was nominated for a 2021 Best Picture Oscar and based on a book of court transcripts that McNamee published as a college student in 1970. Directed by Aaron Sorkin, the film stars Sacha Baron Cohen as '60s radical Abbie Hoffman.

  • A variety of personnel involved in producing the lavish new HBO series filmed in Troy, “The Gilded Age.”

  • Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting survivor Samantha Fuentes and film director Kim Snyder about the new documentary “Us Kids,” about the continued political activism of Parkland school shooting survivors.

  • Distinguished UAlbany alum Glen Trotiner (Assistant Director of “The Untouchables” and “Biloxi Blues”) and director James Camali, about their new film, “The Mental State.”

  • Filmmaker and former NYS Writers Institute videographer Hugo Perez (“Once Upon a Time in Uganda”), with his film “Omara,” about the legendary Afro-Cuban singer.

  • Filmmaker D. W. Young about his critically acclaimed film, “The Booksellers,” a journey into the world of rare books, featuring Fran Lebowitz and Parker Posey.

  • Filmmaker Daniel Swinton about his film “The Hard Places,” the story of Delmar, NY optometrist and humanitarian aid worker Dr. Tom Little, who was killed while helping to provide people with the gift of sight in war-torn Afghanistan.

Events and guests subject to change. For more information and a complete schedule of events, visit

Presenting sponsors:

Steve McKee Foundation

University Auxiliary Services

Supporting sponsors:

Ellen Jabbur

The Foy Fund

The John D. Picotte Family Foundation

NYS Writers Institute’s Classic Film Series Endowment

The Opalka Family Endowment

Friend sponsors:

Guha and Deepa Bala

Skip Casano and Bella Pipas

Pernille Ægidius Dake

Henry Greenberg

Paul & Mary Grondahl

William & Mary Jean Krackeler

Betsy Lopez

Annette Nanes

Servico Inc./ Scott Schuster

Herb and Cynthia Shultz

Carol Swyer


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