Mark Bridges, a Niagara Falls native and two-time Academy Award winner, will be among Hollywood filmmaking celebrities being honored at the upcoming inaugural Niagara Falls International Film Festival.
The festival, an outgrowth of the 15-year-old Buffalo Niagara Film Festival, is claiming Niagara Falls as its new home base and will share a large schedule of events in three Niagara County locations, including the Rapids Theatre in Niagara Falls and the Riviera Theatre in North Tonawanda.
The four-day event, which runs Sept. 26-29, will kick off with a red-carpet gala on Sept. 26 at The Rapids Theatre, celebrating Bridges, who won Academy Awards for "The Artist" and "Phantom Thread." He will receive a key to the city from Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster and a star to be placed on a yet-to-be-created Niagara Falls Walk of Fame.
Bridges will also participate in a panel discussion titled "Conversation on Film."
Craig Barron, a visual effects artist who won an Academy Award for "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," will receive the festival's first Legacy Award. Barron, who was also nominated for an Academy Award for the visual effects on "Batman Returns," will participate in a special F/X seminar/workshop on Sept. 28 at the Regal Cinemas, 720 Builders Way, Niagara Falls, prior to a screening of "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button."
Opening night celebrations will close with a viewing of Matthew J. Weiss's documentary, "Man in the Red Bandana," about Welles Remy Crowther, a man who saved many lives during the 9/11 attack on New York City. The film is narrated by Gwyneth Paltrow.
On Sept. 29 at the Riviera Theatre, following a day of movie screenings, there will be a special tribute with a portion of the proceeds going to charities benefitting firefighters and first responders. There will also be an award presented to the family of Crowther during the filmmakers' awards ceremony.
"It's exciting to bring the best of Hollywood - in the person of our two Academy Award-winning film artist guests — to preside over a wonderful four-day schedule of films, panels, parties, and events that will bring outstanding independent films from around the country and the world, together with the best work that local filmmakers have created over the past year," festival founder Bill Cowell said. "The schedule is jam-packed for film lovers that are hungry for more than they can routinely get at the multiplex."
Highlights among the film lineup will include the East Coast premiere of Melora Walters's drama "Waterlily Jaguar," starring Mira Sorvino and James Le Gros. Walters is best known for her appearances onscreen in Paul Thomas Anderson's classic films, "Boogie Nights" and "Magnolia." Walters makes her feature film writing and directing debut telling the story of a writer whose life spirals out of control as he attempts to reclaim his fame as a novelist by writing something more serious.
Ari Gold's "The Song of Sway Lake" stars Rory Culkin as a music collector who recruits his friend to help him steal a rare record from his own family. The film also stars Robert Sheehan, Elisabeth Peña and Brian Dennehy.
Justin Foia's "Doe" is a thriller about a man who wakes up not knowing who he is, but with the ability to speak dozens of languages who must race against time to discover his true identity.
Friday will also include a filmmakers' panel "From Concept to Completion" for filmmakers and film fans that will include industry pros.
The NFIFF panels and seminars will be designed to be entertaining for people who love movies and to send aspiring filmmakers home with tangible knowledge they can put to use right away.
More information and tickets, visit the Niagara Falls International Film Festival at www.nfiff.com