The St. Lawrence International Film Festival is coming to the St. Lawrence River Valley. The festival screens across the border, from Ottawa to Potsdam, and Canton to Brockville. Executive Director Adam Paul talked about the festival and about film-making.

Adam Paul: I always wanted to be an actor. I grew up in upstate New York in Schenectady, and then I found my way to L.A. I think I always wanted to be in film and television. One way or another—and it made sense. So I sort of secretly wrote this pilot that a friend and I at the time produced. We shot it. We ended up selling it to Stars, the cable movie network. They picked it up for eight episodes and all of a sudden, I was not just an actor, I was a hyphenate, right? I was a writer, and a producer, and I happened to also star in the show, and that was really an amazing experience for me. Afterwards, after we didn’t get picked up for a second season, I realized there’s so much more to do.

Bobby Baird: Actor, writer, producer, and now you’re a film fest organizer. How did you get into that?

AP: I also wanted to start a business. I wanted to own something. As an actor you don’t own anything except your own work, which is great, but I wanted to create something that maybe created jobs, and was good for a community. So I just jumped in; it’s how I do a lot of stuff. We’re putting something together that has a life of its own, and I kind of knew that would happen. I knew that if we did it right, if we got the right people involved and the right components, that the festival would drive itself a little bit, and that’s happening.

BB: Why Canton, New York?

AP: Certainly the concentration of schools, the four associated colleges in the area. We have a Main Street that is on the national register of historic places. It really is a spectacular little community, and I think also has the potential for growth. As it turned out, I was right; we had an event a little over a year ago now, at TAUNY, which is just up the street, and invited business leaders and civic leaders to come and just talk about what a film festival is. I made a little presentation. It was encouraging enough to keep going, and of course the support that we’ve gotten from the village, from the town, from the universities, from the local business community, from the merchants association, from the chambers of commerce, has been outstanding and tremendous So there’s a thirst for something like this.

BB: There’s a bunch of film fests in this area. There’s the Lake Placid Film Fest, There’s a film fest in Vermont, there’s a film fest in Ottawa. What’s unique about this film festival?

AP: The St. Lawrence International Film festival is the only festival in the world that has events on two sides of an international border. It’s an ambitious project; it’s one that is in its very early stages, but we are truly presenting in two different countries over four days. Canton, Potsdam, Brockville, Ottawa. The program in Brockville is very strong. It is a great group of movies and we’re bringing great film-makers there. Our opening gala in Ottawa is world class and the events in Canton and Potsdam are also world class. We have film-makers, like I said, from all over the world who are very excited to come here, who are excited to show their films to this part of the world.

BB: Could you just run me through the highlights, what are the big films that are coming?

AP: Obviously the opening gala, which is the big highlight which kicks off the festival. It’s the 35th anniversary screening of the “Blues Brothers.” Dan Aykroyd will be live in attendance; he’s one of the co-creators and stars of the film. It’s one of the great American musical comedy films of the twentieth century, if not the great. Then everything moves south to Brockville and to Canton and Potsdam. So the American Theater on Main Street is where all our competition films are screening, and those are 25 films from all around the world. A world premier film called “Killing Poe.”

There’s a central hub here in Canton, but there are also events happening in Potsdam and in Brockville. On Friday for example, at SUNY Potsdam, at Snell theater at the Crane School, is a panel—well first of all a master class with Joe Kraemer, who is the composer from “Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation.” He’s going to be teaching Crane students about the process of composing for film, and that’s open to any pass holders, and free to any students with an ID. As it turns out, all students are able to attend the entire festival for free now. A very generous benefactor has picked up that tab. All students have to do is register on our website at, and they get free admittance to all of the films at the festival. Not the opening gala, but everything else, which is pretty good.

We want them to turn up, and we were very blessed to have a generous sponsor support that. So as long as the register, they get in.

St. Lawrence International Film Festival runs October 22 through October 25.

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