August 19, 2016
For immediate release
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St. Lawrence International Film Festival to Honor On-The-Rise Indie Filmmakers Behind ‘Here Alone’
North Country Audiences Can See Award-Winning Indie Flick “Here Alone,” Months Before Worldwide Release, During Gala Fundraiser on Sept. 3
(Canton, NY, USA)—The St. Lawrence International Film Festival will honor the up-and-coming filmmakers behind the award-winning independent film “Here Alone” at an exclusive screening during the festival’s upcoming gala fundraiser on Saturday, Sept. 3.
At the gala event, Director/Producer Rod Blackhurst, a native of North River, N.Y., will be honored with SLIFF’s 2016 Empire State Filmmaker Award, along with Writer/Producer David Ebeltoft and Producer Noah Lang. The Empire State Filmmaker Award recognizes boundary-smashing creativity in the cinematic arts, with New York State at its heart.
“We are proud to present this year’s Empire State Filmmaker Award to the ‘Here Alone’ creative team for their extraordinary artistry and dedication in the production of a film wholly made in New York State,” said SLIFF Executive Director Adam Paul. “Rod Blackhurst, Noah Lang and David Ebeltoft have orchestrated a low-budget project with a DIY spirit that exceeds every standard of cinematic excellence, resulting in a powerful, entertaining and lasting movie experience.”
Hosted by film and television star Mark Valley (“CSI”), the gala fundraiser will kick off at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 3, with the exclusive screening of “Here Alone” and an audience Q&A with the filmmakers, followed by a reception featuring live music, hors d’oeuvres and cocktails. The gala will be held in the Performing Arts Center at SUNY Potsdam. Gala fundraiser tickets are $50 each, available online now at stlawrencefilm.com/ticketing.
After premiering at the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival, “Here Alone” won the coveted Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature. The dramatic horror film follows Ann, a woman in her late twenties struggling to exist alone in the woods, after a mysterious epidemic decimates society. The bleak and convention-defying genre film tells the story of survival and emotional redemption, set in a post-apocalyptic landscape. “Here Alone” stars Lucy Walters, Adam David Thompson, Gina Piersanti and Shane West.
Just months after its award-winning Tribeca premiere, “Here Alone” was picked up by Vertical Entertainment, and is set for a worldwide release in 2017. North Country audiences will get a chance to view the post-apocalyptic thriller months before its general release, at the exclusive screening during the gala fundraiser to benefit the St. Lawrence International Film Festival. To learn more, visit herealonefilm.com.
“As we all call New York home, it's an incredible honor to receive the Empire State Filmmaker Award. Creating in your backyard comes with a ton of benefits but an equal amount of challenges. Having SLIFF, an exceptionally curated festival, present us with this accommodation makes us forget about our past challenges and inspires us to set future projects in varying parts of the state. We couldn't be more thankful and look forward to sharing our film and passion with the SLIFF community,” Ebeltoft said.
The film’s director, Rod Blackhurst, is also on a rising trajectory. In addition to the accolades for “Here Alone,” Blackhurst has also directed a new Netflix Original Documentary that is set to premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival. Titled “Amanda Knox,” the film explores the notorious Italian murder case—and the American exchange student at its center—that made headlines around the world. “Amanda Knox” will debut on Netflix on Sept. 30.
“Since growing up in the Adirondacks, I've always been attracted to the woods, mountains, and back roads of rural New York and wanted to use it to emotionally connect with the characters in ‘Here Alone’. The area’s settings are often seen as a sanctuary for those seeking to escape and decompress. In our film, these woods are not choices of tranquility for our main character. This natural solitude and beauty becomes her prison, one of torment and no escape,” Blackhurst said.
“Here Alone” is a truly independent film, funded in part by a successful Kickstarter campaign. With no agents or managers, the team self-produced and shot the feature near Ebeltoft’s hometown of Corning, N.Y. The filmmakers also cast the movie themselves, with Blackhurst initially reaching out to the two female leads via Twitter.
“Upstate and Western New York is cinematic gold. You have forests, rivers, waterfalls, lakes, big towns, small towns, fields and everything in between, all within minutes of one another. We couldn’t think of a better region to contrast natural beauty with our film’s dark narrative,” Ebeltoft said.
About the filmmakers:
An Adirondack native, Rod Blackhurst is the award-winning director and producer behind “Here Alone,” which premiered to acclaim at the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival. Previously, Rod directed the 2012 SXSW short film, “Would You,” starring Dave Franco and Chris Mintz-Plasse. Rod’s other films have screened at the Palm Springs International Shorts Fest, Starz Denver Film Festival, Vail Film Festival, Phoenix Film Festival, Woods Hole, Sidewalk, Waterfront and Boston Film Festival. Rod’s commercial work includes the visual rebranding of Airbnb in 2014 and three Vimeo Staff Picks, including the short, “Alone Time,” which was a 2013 Best of Vimeo winner and one of the most viewed narrative shorts on Vimeo.com. Rod is also the director of a feature-length Netflix Original Documentary about accused murderer Amanda Knox, produced by Mette Heide (“Taxi to the Dark Side,” “Queen of Versailles”) and edited by Matthew Hamachek (“Cartel Land,” “If a Tree Falls,” “Racing Dreams,” “Mistaken for Strangers”), which will be released in September 2016. Rod is also developing the dramatic feature “North,” based on the short story by Matthew Wade Jordan. Co-written with “Here Alone” and frequent collaborator David Ebeltoft, and Sundance Lab + Festival Alum Elgin James, “North” was a 2013 finalist for a San Francisco Film Society/KRF Grant.
Prior to penning and producing “Here Alone,” David Ebeltoft co-wrote the dramatic feature “North” with Rod Blackhurst and writer/director Elgin James. Also with Blackhurst, David executive produced the short film “Night Swim,” produced the short film “Life,” co-wrote the dramatic short “Alone Time” and co-wrote the short documentary “The Only Band in Town.” His first foray into feature screenwriting, the dark comedy “You Were Once Called Queen City,” was awarded the Grand Prize at the Philadelphia Screenplay Festival and a Feature Development Award in the Bluecat Screenwriting Lab Competition.
Noah Lang has produced and/or worked on films that have been distributed and broadcast worldwide, with partners such as Chiller/NBC Universal, Eagle Rock Entertainment, BOND/360, Monterey Media, Gravitas Ventures, Netflix and MarVista Entertainment.
His films include “Diverge,” a micro-budget sci-fi drama that was shot over the course of nearly two years (and won the Top Prize at US in Progress); “Band of Robbers,” a modern day Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn fable, and the award-winning “Sun Belt Express,” a film which is very likely the only comedy about undocumented immigration out there. He has also produced branded series and campaigns for Knob Creek, OnStar, Infiniti, The Colors Network, Dior, Applebee's, Eater.com, and Chase. In 2015, he produced “Beyond Glory,” starring his father, actor Stephen Lang (“Avatar”), which James Cameron and Lightstorm Entertainment recently partnered on as executive producers. The film is currently touring festivals nationwide. This is the second time that Lang has had one of his films featured by SLIFF. During the inaugural festival last year, “Band of Robbers” was an official selection and a fan favorite.
SLIFF is hosting the gala benefit event to raise funds and thank supporters, as the group prepares for its second full festival, to be held in 2017. To purchase tickets or find out more, visit stlawrencefilm.com.
The SLIFF gala fundraiser wouldn't be possible without the support of the signature sponsors, SUNY Canton and St. Lawrence University. Additional gala sponsors include: A Wholesome Glow, Clarkson University, Community Bank, N.A., Elks Lodge of Potsdam, Guide Boat Realty, Northern Lights Energy, SeaComm Federal Credit Union, St. Lawrence Health System and the Village of Canton.
Mountain Lake PBS is an official media sponsor of the St. Lawrence International Film Festival.
About the St. Lawrence International Film Festival:
Founded in 2015 to celebrate the best films and filmmakers in the world, while attracting new visitors to the beauty of the St. Lawrence River Valley region in the U.S. and Canada, the St. Lawrence International Film Festival continues to contribute to the cultural and economic development of this very special place. This year’s exclusive gala will support the festival’s ambitious goal of creating a year-round institution that feeds the annual festival—one that educates and inspires filmmakers of all stripes, and enriches the community in which it resides. For more information, visit stlawrencefilm.com.