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Program For Lake Placid Film Forum, June 12-15

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– Jonathan Demme, the Academy Award-winning director of “The Silence of the Lambs,” will be guest of honor at this year’s Lake Placid Film Forum which will take place June 12-15.

Demme will present his latest documentary, “New Home Movies From the Lower 9th Ward,” at the Palace Theater on Friday, June 13 at 8:30 pm. A true labor of love, the documentary consists of a series of inspirational “portraits” of New Orleans residents as they struggle to rebuild their lives and their neighborhoods after Hurricane Katrina. “This is an extremely personal project,” explained Demme. “We started filming four months after the floods. I felt drawn, as an American filmmaker, to contribute somehow to the audio-visual record of what these people were going through in their heroic efforts to jump start their lives in face of this epic, tragic event.”

Following the screening, the director will be interviewed on stage by the co-founder of the Forum, New York’s Author Laureate, Russell Banks.

Two equally well-known novelists, Richard Russo and William Kennedy, will be attending the Film Forum. Russo, who is renowned for his depiction of blue-collar life in the abandoned mill towns in upstate New York, was awarded the 2002 Pulitzer Prize in Fiction for his novel, “Empire Falls.” Kennedy, a native of Albany, also won a Pulitzer Prize for his novel, “Ironweed.”

Russo and Kennedy will teach a master class on screenwriting which will be held at The Whiteface Lodge. They will also participate in a book signing along with Banks whose latest novel, “The Reserve”, is set in the Adirondacks. Presented by The Bookstore Plus, the book signing will take place at the Lake Placid Center for the Arts at 12 pm on Saturday, June 14.

Upstate New York or, to be more specific, Plattsburgh, New York and the surrounding area, also happens to be the setting for “Frozen River,” a film that won the 2008 Grand Jury Prize for best feature at Sundance. Written and directed by Courtney Hunt, this poignant tale contains an unforgettable performance by Melissa Leo as a struggling trailer mom who resorts to smuggling illegal immigrants from Canada to the U.S. to improve her situation. Hunt and Leo will introduce the film at a screening at the Palace Theater on Friday night, June 13.

This year’s program will include other films, among them the great silent film comedy, “Modern Times,” featuring Charles Chaplin and Paulette Goddard. Using Chaplin’s original score as his inspiration, Jeff Barker will provide the music on the Palace Theater’s organ for this special screening on Thursday evening, June 12.

“Before the Rains,” which will also be screened on June 12 at the Palace Theater, is set in 1937 in a picturesque hill station in the south of India. Director Santosh Sivan, who also did the sublime cinematography, creates an increasingly tense atmosphere as his leading character, an English plantation owner, played by Linus Roache, begins an affair with an Indian house maid.

“Little Girl Blue,” an award-winning Czech comedy, will be presented by Owen Shapiro, the artistic director of the Syracuse International Film Festival, on Saturday, June 14 at the Lake Placid Center for the Arts.

“Spirit of the Marathon,” which was filmed on four continents and features a cast of amateur athletes and marathon luminaries, will also be screened at the LPCA on Saturday, June 14 at 4:30 pm as a salute to the Lake Placid Marathon. Director Jon Dunham will be on hand to answer questions about his award-winning documentary.

The closing night selection on Saturday night at the LPCA is Nina Davenport’s exceptional documentary, “Operation Filmmaker,” whichh begins when actor Liev Schreiber invites an Iraqi film student to serve as an intern on his film, a humanitarian gesture that soon backfires. What was supposed to be simply an upbeat story about an American who improves the life of an Iraqi, becomes a thought-provoking metaphor for the war.

More detailed information about the screenings, the student filmmaking competition, an additional master class on directing by Allan Nicholls and the complete program for this year’s Lake Placid Film Forum can be found on our web site at