The 20th annual Black Bear festival held October 18-20 was more than just 12 interesting, sometimes quirky dramas, comedies, and thrillers on the mainstage at the Milford Theatre. It was more than the 13 fascinating short films shown at the salons at the Good Shepherd Episcopal Church featuring social issues, comedy, animation, and experimental films.
Board members were noticeably around. They often conducted the Q&A after each film with its producer or actor and encouraged audience participation. The board members are Jerry Weinstock, Tim Smith, Michelle Marquis, Darrell Berger, Susan Sanchez-Fontaine, Veronica Coyne, Max Brinson, and Renee Hoover.
Liz Steen, the festival's office administrator, has been a volunteer with Black Bear for five years.
“There is something for everyone, but everything isn’t for everyone," she said. "The diversity is amazing.”
There was a buzz and excitement on the streets of Milford as people talked about the films. And there was a sense of community and belonging, which was exactly what the president, Max Brinson, and his board wanted to create.
The Friday night gala dinner-dance was at the historic Forrest Hall, hosted by its owner, Reggie Cheong-Leen. Hot jazz was played by The Mostly Jazz Trio +1, featuring bassist Mike Gelato, drummer Richard Cantor, guitarist Butch Campbell, plus violinist Yuri Turchyn.
The fabulous food was catered by local celebrity chef Doug Cosh. One hundred and eighty-five people chatted, dined, laughed and swayed to the music, which wafted through the beautiful high-ceilinged room.
On Saturday morning, Bill Rosado, owner of Milford Chrysler Sales, brought a unique car show to the closed-off Catherine Street, including some fantastic antique cars. This made the festival more of a total weekend experience. Rosado is also is the writer/producer of the film "Living Treasures of the Yucatan." He hopes to make the car show a permanent part of the festival.
The Black Bear tent had a wonderful selection of goodies, including bottles of wine and whisky for sale, popcorn and candy, a silent auction, cups, T-shirts, and sweatshirts. Key Food’s Junior Zayed produced scrumptious food for the hungry moviegoers. Mike Giordano and Ryan Hammond served up the food with big smiles.
And so another Black Bear Film Festival was a success.