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THE 'ACT' OF KISSING: Jocelyne Castellano shares a briefly restful moment with her husband, Richard, during this past weekend’s Narrowsburg International Independent Film Festival.

Film Festival Founders
Forge On in Face of Flubs

By Ted Waddell
NARROWSBURG — August 8, 2000 – The second annual Narrowsburg International Independent Film Festival (NIIFF) played to mixed reviews this year.
Beset by a series of glitches and opening with an image tarnished by the legal hassles of actor Richard Castellano – including getting arrested for a Wednesday afternoon fight on Main Street in front of the festival’s headquarters – NIIFF founder and executive producer Jocelyne Castellano said attendance at this year’s edition of the local film fest was down about a third from 1999. The festival was held August 2-6.
According to Castellano, about 1,500 people attended the festival last year. This time, an estimated 1,000 attendees came to the event, a fledgling film festival with dreams of becoming another Sundance on the banks of the Delaware River.
“They really angered a lot of people” was the general consensus of several people who asked not to be named when queried about the on-screen brevity of what was originally billed as the “world premiere” of “Four Deadly Reasons,” a film starring Richard Castellano and featuring lots of locals as extras.
By the time the offical program was published and distributed, the premiere had been scaled back to the “world preview” due to post-production delays.
But that still left a lot of local folks – who plunked down 25 bucks to see themselves on the silver screen and afterwards enjoy an “evening with the stars” – wondering if they’d gotten ripped off.
“People saw excerpts of the film,” said Jocelyne Castellano, founder of Atlantia Films. “This is filmmaking. There are delays, there are glitches. Not only for small film companies like Atlantia Films [producer of “Four Deadly Reasons”], but also the big studios.”
According to Castellano, the post-production phase of filmmaking can either “make or break” a film. She said director Paul Borghese called her on July 17 to tell her the film’s editor had “taken off for Greece” and completion of the film would be delayed.
So instead of a 90-minute film, folks got to see about 15 minutes of excerpts.
“I believe some locals were shown, but not all of them,” said Castellano. “The ones that saw themselves on the screen were happy, and the ones that didn’t were not happy.”
According to Castellano, the completed film will be screened (free of charge) at the Tusten Theatre sometime in late September.
Castellano said she was generally pleased with the festival.
“The festival was challenging,” she said. “There were a few little glitches here and there . . . I was expecting worse.”
Early morning screenings at the Tusten Theatre played to minimal audiences – one film lured four people into the seats – but screenings held during evening hours attracted larger numbers of independent film buffs.
“We made a lot of mistakes,” said Jocelyne Castellano. “As producer, I should have been more on top of it.
“I wish that people wouldn’t focus on the negative but concentrate on the positive,” she added. “The films were great – it was a great selection of films.”
What about the future of the Narrowsburg International Indepen-dent Film Festival?
“I would like to continue the film festival,” replied Jocelyne Castellano. “But I’m going to need the support of the community. Film festivals are not about profit. They are about a cultural organization . . . promoting a state, a town, an industry and attracting tourists.
“We had very little support from the community, and that was disappointing . . . outside of the Delaware Valley Arts Alliance,” she said. “I am giving my 15 years’ worth of experience, donating my time and money to a cause that is not supported.”
Richard Castellano, falling into his role of an unrepentant bad-boy actor, said of the future of NIIFF, “We’re very unappreciated in this town, but you know what? My wife loves Sullivan County and the Delaware Valley. If it was up to me, I’d leave town. But I’m staying because my wife has a good heart, and we’re going to give this town a chance.
“Everybody’s talking about the ‘falling star’,” said Castellano. “How about Richard Castellano buying an old lady a cup of coffee from his heart?”
The Festival
On Sunday, filmmakers and actors were honored at an awards gala.
Michael Rodrick was picked as best actor for his role in “Under Hellgate Bridge,” a film about the mean streets that run beneath NYC’s Hellgate Bridge. The film was directed by Michael Sergio (Best Director Award) and produced by Isil Bagdadi and Sergio. It also garnered the Best Feature Film award.
Rita Moreno was selected as Best Actress for “Blue Moon,” a drama directed by John Gallagher. The Best Documentary award went to “Shadow Boxers,” a film about women in boxing directed, produced, written, filmed and edited by Katya Bakowsky.
“The Terrorist,” a film by Santosh Sivan, received the award for Best International Film. Wendy Bednara got the Best Screenplay award for “Aurora.” The People’s Choice Award went to “A Rumor of Angels,” a drama by Peter O’Fallon.
“Hitman’s Handbook,” an action/suspense film directed by Gil Green and Javier Rodriguez, was selected as Best Short Film. Tripp and Michael Swanhaus received the Young Filmmakers Award for “Pigeonholed,” their work about a group of patients in a rehab center. The action/suspense film “Last Chance” picked up the special “Recognition Award.”

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