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Black Bear Film Festival; Reaching out to the library

Black Bear Film Festival’s founding president, Jerry Beaver. talks about the upcoming festival at the Milford Theater, where the main film line-up will be shown in October 18, 19 and 20.
TRR photo by Anya Tikka

By Anya Tikka
September 25, 2013

The 14th annual Black Bear Festival in Milford is not only for film buffs and art lovers; it’s also good for the local economy, said founding president Jerry Beaver at the pre-festival press conference on September 17 in the old Milford Theatre that is once again going to host the event. He was referring to the many visitors who come to use local hotels, restaurants and other facilities during the festival.

The festival has a new venue as well this year: the new Pike County Library in Milford is going to host the two-day, day-long Salon, featuring short films by nine New York University film graduates who are coming to Milford to show their work. It’s part of the festival’s new outreach to college and high school students. “I’m a huge fan of the new library,” said Beaver. “I received a phone call from the library director Ellen Schaffer asking if I wanted to use the library building for the festival.” The brand new library’s second floor is set to host the Salon, with continuous films.

“I’ve sat through over 300 films,” Beaver acknowledged with a smile talking about the difficult selection process. He added that he’s a New York City (as well as Milford) resident, and he gets invites to many film showings. He also viewed many of the films in his home.

The film festival is run entirely by volunteers; new ones are always welcome. The festival is aware and promotes the Milford area’s historic links to conservation and filmmaking, Beaver said, often choosing ecological themes. One of this year’s selections, “Blackfish,” explores the rights of animals in captivity. The description on the website says, “director/producer Gabriela Cowperthwaite compiles shocking footage and emotional interviews to reveal the pressures brought to bear by the multi-billion dollar sea-park industry.” Another selection, “The Adventures of Robin Hood” (1938 version, 75th anniversary), celebrates classic movie icons Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland and the fight against injustice.

Beaver said he’s always open to new ideas about films to show in the festival.

The festival committee, consisting of Beaver; vice president Shirley Masuo; Justin Riddle, who’s in charge of the Salon; and web guru Preston Ehrler, described each movie in short detail. The lineup is available on the festival website blackbearfilm.com, or on Facebook. “We’re hoping for a great turnout,” Beaver concluded. About 2,500 people are expected over the weekend.

The festival is growing, and Beaver attributed this year’s expected increase to the use of social media, particularly Facebook to promote it.