'Notte Italiana' ­— Perfetta

Dingmans Ferry. An evening of Italian food, music, wine, and film — guests at Saturday's fundraiser for the Black Bear Film Festival felt like they were transported from the woods of Pennsylvania to an Italian villa.

Aug 19 2019 | 01:02 PM

Turn into the woods, away from the cars whizzing by on Route 2001, and enter a magical place — the Governors Retreat, home of Lee and Sonda Miller.

The Millers hosted Saturday evening's "La Notte Italiana," a fundraiser for the Black Bear Film Festival that transported guests from the woods of Pennsylvania to an Italian villa. Every detail was "perfetta" (perfect), executed with brilliance and grace.

Enveloped by humongous hemlocks, the venue accommodated 75 guests. Yet, the event had the feeling of an intimate dinner at a friend’s house. The guests said they felt as if they really were in Italy that evening.

The gala featured Italian music, Italian food, and, in addition to red and white wine, Italian beer.

Doug Cosh prepared the sumptuous feast, which was beautifully presented, as if for just a few guests. He served exquisite filet mignon with portobello mushrooms in port wine sauce, farfalle with pesto and pine nuts, and shrimp with penne pasta in a tomato-tuna sauce.

Lee Miller gave a short talk about their cottage, built as a retreat for Pennsylvania Governor William Cameron Sproul in the early 20th century. Dr. Joe Ferry and his band, Big Ska, entertained with a variety of rhythms, including some wonderfully melodic Italian music.

One to watch

Everyone got to preview "Profondo," an Italian film with English subtitles that will debut at the Black Bear Film Festival this fall. It stars 12-year-old Millie, the Millers' precocious granddaughter, who was only 10 when the movie was filmed. Millie is bilingual in Italian and English. On screen she portrays a combination of innocence, sophistication, and charm.

To debut soon is Millie’s second film, "L’Odio L’Estate," in which she performs with three comedians. Her mother, Kiersten Miller, is a producer and director in Rome, where they live during the winter.

Also shown at the gala was Kiersten's short film "The Performance: Sex like Birth," which compares men's performance pressure during sex to the pressure women are under when giving birth. Charm runs in the DNA of both Kiersten and Millie. The warmth between them, and the rest of the Miller family, is evident.

Kiersten said she really didn’t want Millie to be an actress, knowing the film business as she does. But, she said, an independent force is propelling her daughter to become a success in this difficult industry.

Max Brinson, president of the Black Bear Film Festival, thanked the Millers for their support. Also in attendance were board members Darrell Berger, Veronica Coyne, Jerry Weinstock, Michelle Marquis, and Renee Hoover, who were thrilled with this festival prelude.

The film festival will be held at the Milford Theatre from Oct. 18 to 20. For more information visit blackbearfilmfestival.squarespace.com.