Black Bear announces film line-up

| 01 Oct 2015 | 11:40

By Anya Tikka
— The Black Bear Film Festival, now in its 16th year, "needed to be refreshed," said founder Jerry Beaver.

At a recent press conference he reflected on how the festival — to be held the weekend after Columbus Day, Oct. 16-18, at the Milford Theatre and other venues — has evolved over the years, and what’s new this year. The new line-up will include some Hollywood films, with a real movie star coming to Milford for an interview with a prominent film critic.

Many of the films in the line-up have social significance. The choice for the usual Friday Gala dinner and opening film night, which will take place at St. Patrick’s Church on East High Street, is “I’ll See You in My Dreams." It stars Blythe Danner as a widow who discovers that life can begin anew at any age.

“It’s a funny and very important film,” Beaver said.

The lineup includes nine feature films, four documentaries, and three question-and-answer sessions at the Milford Theatre. New this year are two film salons, one at the Milford Library with short films shown hourly, and the filmmakers present to talk about their work; and the second one at the Middletown Community Health Center in Milford featuring a health-related film.

Life before 9/11One film was shot by chance the day before the day that changed so many lives — 9/11. The film is called “9/10: The Final Hours.”

The tenth of September, 2001, was just a regular day in Manhattan. Film crews were at work, walking around the Big Apple and documenting city life as it unfolded around them.

Beaver spoke movingly about the nostalgia he felt when he saw the film, and how noticeably our lives have changed since then.

“It’s the day our country lost its innocence," he said. "No one saw it coming. There were people filming all around New York, in Manhattan that day. It was a project. What it was like — everyone was very happy — what our country was like then, and what it’s like now.”

Director Erik Nelson recreated this ordinary day, bringing it back to life.

Beaver’s friend George Delgado, who worked at the Windows of the World, the restaurant on top of the World Trade Center, appears briefly in the opening sequences. He’ll be available for questions after the showing.

“George now lives in Blairstown," Beaver said. "He used to hire everyone in the Windows of the World. He was there for six or seven years."

Delgado usually got to work at 10 a.m. He and his wife had a small baby at the time.

That morning, while George was in the shower, his wife watched the news.

“I don’t think you’re going to go to work today,” she told him when he emerged from the shower.

“His world was now gone, everyone he loved and worked with was now gone,” said Beaver.

Delgado had invented a drink called the Rumba that was number one favorite drink at Windows on the World.

“During the weekend in the bar, we’d be offering the Rumba drink to everyone," said Beaver. "The movie opens up with George at the bar.

The film's producer, Amy Brianmonte, will also be available before and after the screening.

Illness and awarenessBeaver also got emotional talking about the new salon at the Middletown Community Health Center called “Under Our Skin 2 — Emergence,” to be held Sunday at 1 p.m.

“It’s about tick-born disease, and it aims to educate people about how common and widely spread it has become,” Beaver said.

A very high percentage of people now have the infection, “higher than aids ever was," said Beaver.

"I’m not sure insurance companies are willing to pay for the research and drugs needed to stop this all over the world," he said. "It’s very much like AIDS in the '80s. I hope the whole community will start to focus on tick-borne disease.”

Saturday morning’s “23 Blast," directed by Dylan Baker, also explores social and health issues. The story focuses on small-town football, and a high school star player who comes down with a virus that blinds him. He learns to play football as a blind person with the support of the team, cheerleaders, and community.

“DV football team will be in attendance,” Beaver said.

He said the director acted in "Superman 3" and "Good Wife."

"Everybody loves him," Beaver said.

Baker will be present for a Q&A.

Hollywood and rock royaltyA classic movie star will add glamour to the line-up. Jane Powell, who starred in 1940s and '50s musicals, most famously in “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers,” will come to the festival.

"Seven Brides" was huge in its time.

"She’s Hollywood royalty," said Beaver. "Not many are left from that era."

Most people over 40 all know "Seven Brides," he said, adding, "I wish everyone saw it."

Powell is now in her 80s, he said.

"One person’s life affected so many people around the world, and she was only 25 at the time," he said. "Seventy years from now, who are we going to be talking about?”

The movie will be shown at 12:15 p.m. on Saturday. Film historian John DiLeo will host an interview with Powell following the film.

On Saturday at 3 p.m., “The End of the Tour,” about a Rolling Stone reporter starring Jessie Eisenberg, will be shown.

“He’s a Hollywood star, and I’m trying to get him to come here to meet us," said Beaver. "No confirmation. The film is one of the most talked about films of the years."

He called it a poignant account of the human condition.”

More than moviesThe Black Bear Film Festival has a liquor license, and a sky tent to “celebrate the beauty of Pike County.”

Beaver said the festival depends on volunteers and has been backed by the business community, which appreciates the influx of people into Milford. About 2,500 people came last year, staying in hotels, he said. The Milford diner and Bar Louis were packed. Many people come back year after year from faraway places.

The county, however, has not shown much support, he said.

“This is economic development for Pike County, and one of the purposes we have all our elected officials," he said. "Why don’t they participate at all in this event? People are buzzing, all kinds of people visit, it’s something very special. They might come and see one film. I have approached them, and we’re not in their budget. Why? This is economic development.”

He said the film festival extends the season after Columbus Day by one weekend. After it’s done, he said, the town generally speaking goes into hibernation.

“There could be a dance festival, and so on," he said. "What if there were six more of these? It would take support from Commissioners to do that. We don’t get that. It’s disappointing.”

There will be silent auction with 25 gifts each valued at minimum $400 dollars. Bidding starts at $25.

Single tickets cost $10 for Saturday and Sunday films if purchased online, or $12 at the box office. Packages are available for $75 and $150. For a full schedule of films and events or to purchase tickets, visit or call the festival office at 570-409-0909.