Syracuse International Film Festival once again welcomes moviegoers from around the world

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A harmony of laughter, tears and cheers. Annoying buzz from a member of the audience who did not silence their phone. Applause in the credits. These types of shared experiences were lost when the pandemic began, and theaters and film festivals around the world shut down in-person screenings.

“There’s something about being in person and that visceral experience of watching a movie together, laughing together and crying together and just sharing together that you just don’t (when you are) sitting on your couch watching on your phone. Said John Ginty, President of the Syracuse International Film Festival.

The Syracuse International Film Festival, established in 2003, brings together filmmakers, film experts and creators from around the world to the community of Syracuse. Its mission is to captivate, entertain and educate the community by organizing events related to or involving films.

In 2020, the festival has gone completely virtual due to the pandemic. But this year’s film festival will be held in person from October 22-24. The theme is “The intermission is now over. You can now return to your love of cinema.

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In-person film screenings begin Friday at 5 p.m. and continue through Sunday at 7 p.m. at the Redhouse Theater on South Salina Street. Students at Syracuse University and SUNY-ESF can attend Sunday’s screenings for free, which will be held on the campus of the Shemin Auditorium in Shaffer Hall, said Jeff Meyer, a member of the SIFF board of directors.

Ginty thinks the theme sums up the general public’s feelings about watching movies in person now that more and more theaters are reopening. He recalled watching a YouTube clip of an audience reaction to the movie “Avengers: Endgame” and realizing how much these experiences were lacking in the age of streaming and virtual movie screenings.

“We all kind of took a break from what (we considered to be) the norm,” Ginty said. “But once those things were gone, we all missed them dearly.”

SIFF’s lineup for the 2021 festival will bring those feelings and experiences back to cinema audiences, Ginty said. The program is full of films of different genres made by a diverse group of filmmakers.

Meyer, who is considered SIFF’s resident genre film expert, said there was one movie horror fans could be excited about at this year’s screenings: “Willy’s Wonderland”. Genre films are generally horror, fantasy, western and other genres that do not receive mainstream awards or recognition at film festivals.

“Willy’s Wonderland” features Nicolas Cage in his first non-speaking lead role. The SIFF program describes Cage’s character as a disgruntled janitor at an abandoned amusement park who fights “demonic animatronics” to get out of the park alive.

The film will screen Friday at 9 p.m. at Theater 1, followed by a live Q&A with film director Kevin Lewis. Meyer met Lewis this spring after showing his film at Finger Lakes Drive-In.

“I got movie posters from the studio, and I actually sold one on eBay, and the person who bought that poster was the director of the movie,” Meyer said.

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Festival passes are sold on the SIFF website for day, event or screening increments. A “block” ticket, valid for any 2-hour block during the weekend, costs $ 15. A pass for full access to each film presented is $ 50.

In addition to film screenings, SIFF hosts workshops for aspiring screenwriters, directors, producers and anyone else looking to break into the film and television industries. One of the highlights of this year’s workshops is a writers’ workshop with Nick Bernardone on October 23 at 3 p.m. at the Redhouse Theater.

Bernardone is an Emmy-nominated writer from Syracuse who has worked on shows like “30 Rock”, “Unbreakable Kimmy Schimdt” and “Fear the Walking Dead”. He also taught drama writing at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts during the 2018-19 academic year.

The workshop will end with a screening of one of Bernardone’s episodes from “Fear the Walking Dead”. Admission to the seminar is $ 50, and attendees also receive an original signed limited poster designed by artist James P. McCampbell.

Any aspiring film students attending this weekend’s workshops or screenings should talk to as many people as possible when attending these events, Meyer said.

“You will find people that you could potentially partner with on the road, either by making a movie here, making a music video or whatever,” he said.

Ginty thinks that hosting a huge film festival is a special opportunity for a small town like Syracuse. He said it was important for community members to take advantage of the wide range of global talent that is about to arrive on their doorstep.

“(SIFF presents) the talent of artists to people who wouldn’t normally get the chance to see it,” Ginty said. “Ultimately, the goal of every filmmaker is to share this story, this experience, these moments they’ve created, with the world.”

Contact Dakota: [email protected]

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