November 2016 NewsFlash


Milford, PA - Sold out shows and overflowing audiences were among the hallmarks of the 17th annual Black Bear Film Festival this past weekend in Milford, PA. “This is truly an amazing event,” said Barbara of “Barbara and Agnes,” two women from Chicago and New City, NY, respectively, who have attended 15 out of the 17 film festivals. “The choices and variety of films and filmmakers this year really made it exciting for us,” added Agnes. “God willing, we’ll all be back next year!”

Barbara and Agnes were among the thousands of enthusiastic filmgoers who swarmed the streets of Milford under sunny skies and starry nights as residents, filmmakers and visitors celebrated the annual festival, which provided “Something for Everyone.”

“We could not have been happier with the turnout, the festival excitement and the weather,” said Will Voelkel, the festival’s Executive Director. “It exceeded all our expectations. This festival has always been about our great communities, and the people of our communities were out in full force to enjoy our 2016 theme, “Celebrating Films and Filmmakers.”

Thirty-six feature-length and short films were accompanied by over 35 actors, directors, producers and other filmmakers who took part in interviews and audience talkback sessions before and after the screenings of their films. They and special guests, the film critic Rex Reed and directors Johnny Greenlaw (“Mommy’s Box”) and Mark Christopher (“54 – The Director’s Cut”) could be seen throughout Milford eateries, in the Milford Theatre and under the iconic Sky Tent all weekend. The crowds enjoyed the Opening Night Gala, the films, the Silent Auction, the wine bar and food, and purchasing a wide array of Black Bear merchandise.

“I grew up summering in Lake Adventure,” explained Greenlaw, whose film opened the festival on Friday evening. “It is a real treat to be back in the area from LA this weekend in such a vibrant town.” Rex Reed also praised Milford for the “wonderful hospitality you have shown me.”

The weekend opened with a festive Gala called “Food, Wine & Filmmakers,” which featured wine and tasty dishes prepared by some of the tri-state area’s best chefs and restaurants. The Gala also featured “Teddy” awards bestowed upon Mr. Reed and Jerry Beaver, former Executive Director of Black Bear. The first Nancy Pitcher Award was given to Ms. Pitcher for her contributions to the community and as a former Executive Director at a special ceremony on Sunday afternoon on “Celebrating Women Filmmakers.”

Other highlights included Wendy and Alan Kaplan’s short film “Fragile Beauty,” a hip-hop music and video segment featuring local resident and executive producer Jay Lozada, the packed-to-the-rafters Student Filmmaker Showcase, and “Bogey Bear,” one of 11 five-foot Artful Bears created by regional artists. The golfing bear, created by students at Dingman Delaware Middle School, fetched the highest of all bids on the art bears at the silent auction on Sunday evening. “Getting the students involved in filmmaking, art, and music is just wonderful,” said the grandmother of one of the students whose work was featured. “It develops the kids’ talents and interests and keeps them off their video and phone games.”

Four of the almost one hundred Black Bear volunteers this year were honored at an awards ceremony at the Opening Gala for their longtime service and contributions. “Volunteers are the heart of this organization, which is non-profit,” explained Carol Needleman, Volunteer Coordinator and Board Member. “We can’t do the festival without them and their hard work, as well as the backing of our wonderful sponsors, patrons and advertisers.”

As for the BBFF team resting on its laurels, that won’t happen. “We’re already gearing up for 2017 with more great films, year-round events, filmmaking classes, and more new initiatives,” explained Amy Bridge, President of the Black Bear Board. Our mantra is ‘Onward and upward!’”

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