St. Lawrence International Film Festival announces exciting additional global selections featuring Rene Russo, Oliver Platt & Johnny Simmons

(Canton, NY, USA/Ottawa, ON, CANADA—September 25, 2015) The first annual St. Lawrence International Film Festival, running October 22-25, 2015, today announced its second wave of programming, including the Closing Night film, Empire State Filmmaker Award film, shorts programs, as well as additional marquee screenings and panels.

Featuring films in this year’s line-up span the globe bringing diverse talent across borders to the Festival. Feature films in this year’s slate include renowned casts: Rene Russo (Outbreak, Thor), Oliver Platt (X-Men: First Class, Love & Other Drugs,), Thomas Mann (Project X), Lucy Fry (Vampire Academy), joining the already announced casts: Timothy Spall (Harry Potter series, Mr. Turner,), Johnny Simmons (The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World), Michael Nyqvist (John Wick, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), Eric Christian Olsen (NCIS: Los Angeles, Community), Matthew Gray Gubler (Criminal Minds, 500 Days of Summer), Melissa Benoist (Whiplash, Supergirl), Stephen Lang (Avatar, Conan the Barbarian), Lucas Bryant (Haven, The Vow), Kyle Gallner (American Sniper, A Nightmare on Elm Street), Adam Nee (Drunk History), Matt Bush (The Trouble with the Curve, Adventureland), Johnny Pemberton (21 Jump Street, The Watch), Beth Grant (No Country for Old Men, The Artist),  Julianna Guill (Crazy, Stupid, Love, Friday the 13th), Stephen Lord (EastEnders, Judge Dredd), and Brian Gleeson (Snow White and the Huntsman, The Eagle), among others.

“We are thrilled with the vastly diverse line-up for this year’s festival and the groundbreaking talent we are showcasing,” states Bears Fonte, Director of Programming for the St. Lawrence International Film Festival.

The St. Lawrence International Film Festival, will run October 22-25, 2015 and will feature an incredible 60+ screenings with over 25 features, 5 shorts programs and live performances in four cities in two countries for it’s debut.  With the theme “Beyond Borders” the Festival will present films from all over the world to screen at five different venues.  The Festival Opening Gala will feature a 35th Anniversary Screening of “The Blues Brothers” with Dan Aykroyd in attendance to benefit the RCMP Foundation.  The Friday Night Block Party sponsored by SUNY Canton will fill the streets of Canton, NY and feature a special cinematic edition of NYC’s ultimate multimedia live game show, The Big Quiz Thing.



Writer/Director: Joseph Castelo
Co-Writer: Ashley Rudden
Cast: Thomas Mann, Lucy Fry, Sam Page, and Bill Sage

Synopsis: This true story follows a New York private school student who ran a drug trafficking ring to make friends with the popular kids in the early 80s. Toby (Mann), a lower-class scholarship student, finds himself in over his head as he delves into the dangerous world of Colombian drug cartels. St. Lawrence International Film Festival is awarding this film and its director the inaugural Empire State Filmmaker Award for Excellence in Filmmaking for either a New York Story or a New York Filmmaker.  Castelo’s first feature, The War Within, was an Independent Spirit Award nominee.


FRANK AND CINDY (East Coast Premiere), USA

Writer/Director: G.J. Echternkamp 
Cast: Rene Russo, Oliver Platt, and Johnny Simmons
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Coming-of-Age

Synopsis: Based on his documentary about coming home to live with his mother and stepfather, Echternkamp mines his own family’s imperfections for a touching and hilarious story of failure and denial. G.J.’s mother Cindy (Russo), was the ultimate groupie of one-hit wonder 80’s new wave band OXO, and married G.J.’s stepfather Frank (Platt) with dreams of glamor and awards shows.  It didn’t quite work out. 



Synopsis: Covering everything film from what it all means, to who,what, when, where and why things get made... all with animation and a laissez faire attitude. Because history already happened, so what's the rush? A live multimedia presentation from one of the most influential group of film geeks on the internet, Cinefix debuts their popular series live and on stage for the first time ever, here at the St. Lawrence International Film Festival. Prepare to be ‘school’d’ on the way comedy has poured over our northern border like fast moving molasses.

IN THE SHADOW OF WAR (North American Premiere, Sweden/Croatia/Bosnia and Herzegovina/UK)

Directors: Georgia and Sophie Scott

Synopsis: Four teens struggle to survive a war that ended nearly twenty years ago. Like thousands of other children born at the end of the war in Bosnia, they have grown up in orphanages or live with parents suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. In the Shadow of War follows them as they grapple with turning 18 - coming to terms with how they were conceived, healing mental and physical scars and attempting to rebuild broken relationships. The physical conflict is over - but its psychological impact continues. Can they break the cycle of violence?

UNLEASHED: A DOG DANCING STORY (Ontario Premiere), Canada

Director: Justin Turcotte

Synopsis: An amateur Dog Dancing Troupe (yes, that’s a thing) plans a gala full-length theatrical live performance. The performers (and their dogs) face challenges along the way but overcome them in this uplifting story about love between man and dog and our innate desire to perform. The group spends over two years realizing their first time director’s vision as they write scripts, build sets, raise funds and rehearse to the point of exhaustion. As tension mounts and hurdles pile on, the resolve of these spirited women and their dogs is constantly tested.


The Film Frontieré section brings together films from all over the world, in languages other than English, with a special emphasis on films that push boundaries of genre and content.

THE BREAK-IN (New York Premiere), Sweden

Writer/Director: Marcus Ovnell 
Cast: Jenny Lampa, Lukas Loughran, and Richard Ulfsäter

Synopsis: A married couple on the verge of falling apart finds a reason to work together when someone breaks into their house and they accidentally kill him.  Only, like every relationship, the situation is way more complicated than that, as each of them is intimately connected to the dead body they’ve hidden in a chest in the garage. A slow burn drama with nuanced performances and maddening tension.

BRIGHT NIGHT (NACHTHELLE) (East Coast Premiere), Germany

Writer/Director: Florian Gottschick 
Co-Writer: Carsten Happe
Cast: Anna Grisebach, Benno Fürmann, Vladimir Burlakov, and Kai Ivo Baulitz

Synopsis: A drama with a supernatural edge, this genre-crossing gem finds two couples visiting a home from their past, and sexual tension that brings out the worst in each other. Long-buried grudges resurface and it seems unlikely the couples will return intact. Faced with an outcome that will upset their delicate balance of happiness, the world offers them a bizarre opportunity to correct it. 

LISTOPAD (New York Premiere), USA/Czech Republic/Slovakia

Writer/Director: Gary Griffin 
Co-Writer: Arnost Lustig
Cast: Filip Cíl, Filip Tomsa, David Novotný, Pavel Richta, and Igor Bares

Synopsis: Three teenage boys crossing borders to exchange records over the iron curtain find themselves on the front line of the ‘Velvet Revolution’ of 1989. An artist, a hockey player and a music trader survive the last gasps of Communism in Prague. Based on true stories, this true ‘Beyond Borders’ selection was made by a US director after a career of work in Eastern Europe.

PRINCESS (East Coast Premiere), Israel

Writer/Director: Tali Shalom-Ezer 
Cast: Ori Pfeffer, Shira Haas, Keren Mor, and Adar Zohar-Hanetz

Synopsis: In this disturbing breakout from Sundance, 12-year-old Adar engages in dangerous role-play with her stepfather, until she meets Alan, a boy from the streets who strangely resembles her.  When she brings him into their family, her dark journey from childhood to adolescence reaches its breaking point. Sometimes the fantasy is just as disquieting as reality.


The Write/Rec section focuses on great stories told without the benefit of huge budgets, films that went from great script to fully-realized film outside of the studio system, rough edges and all.


Director: Patrick Biesemans 
Writers: Kate Murdoch & Casey Nelson 
Cast: Kate Murdoch, Casey Nelson, Jeff Grace, and Charles Hoyes

Synopsis: Two estranged siblings find they must work together to unlock the secrets of their father’s will, the final act of an eccentric man who raised his children on treasure hunts. A heartfelt, family adventure story filmed on Fisher’s Island NY, writers Murdoch and Nelson star as Lucy and Oliver who have to put years of differences aside to get their inheritance. 

LOST CONQUEST (New York Premiere), USA

Director: Mike Scholtz

Synopsis: In this not-quite-ready-for-the-History-Channel film, a documentarian interviews locals in Minnesota desperate to prove the Vikings made it all the way to the land of 10,000 lakes in their original conquest of the Americas. Armed with runestones and swords of spurious origin, these believers connect their heritage with history, whether or not the facts line up. Producer and Cinematographer Michael Pickering will be in attendance.  Bring your horned helmets!

THE NYMPHETS (East Coast Premiere), USA

Writer/Director: Gary Gardner (in attendance)
Cast: Kip Pardue, Jordan Lane Price, Annabelle, and Dexter-Jones

Synopsis: Joe, in a Good Samaritan moment, comes to the ‘rescue’ of two (very young) girls who have had an ID confiscated by a bouncer.  When Brittany and Allyson come home with him, he must be pretty sure he’s getting laid – but things like that don’t really work out for a guy like Joe. Fantasy turns to frustration as the girls play with their new toy, from titillation to torture. As the night wears on, they seem to challenge each other on how far they can push Joe, revealing his deepest secrets and insecurities and unraveling his life.

SOLEDAD (East Coast Premiere), USA

Writer/Directors: Wayne Mitchell & Eduardo Maytorena
Cast: Jesse Celedon, Montana Gillis, and Chase Austin

Synopsis: A lonely limousine driver’s isolated existence is interrupted after he comes to the aid of his female passenger. Victor saves Raquel’s prom night when her rich boyfriend Preston takes their celebrations a little too far in the limo back seat. Striking up an odd friendship, Victor tries to give her some good memories of the evening, but Preston is not about to let this low-class driver get the best of him.


SHORTS 1 - DUSK: Stories from the Shadows

Running Time: 89 Minutes
Six shorts from the darker side of life, genre films, black comedies and mysteries that give the filmmaker the opportunity to pull back the curtains on what lies hidden.

I, the WORST of ALL (USA)
Writer/Director: Francisco Lupini Basagoiti
Synopsis: A woman decides that today is the day she’ll finally break up with her loser of a boyfriend. 

Reed (USA)
Writer/Directors: Spencer Allred, Benjamin Allred
Synopsis: While on a nightly walk with only a flashlight to see, a man searches for his dog through a maze of reeds and soon realizes he is not alone.

Liberty Teeth (USA)
Directors: Jim Powers, Steve Powers
Writer: Jim Powers
Synopsis: Rick gets deeper in trouble when an old friend stumbles onto his already compromised drug deal.

Ganymede (USA)
Writer/Director: Greg Ivan Smith
Synopsis: High school dynamics never change – even when the students turn into zombies.    

Victor (France)
Writer/Director: Paul Menville
Synopsis: Why is it that wherever Victor goes, he always seems to leave behind a trail of dead women’s bodies?

Helio (USA)
Writer/Director: Teddy Cecil
Synopsis: One worker sparks an uprising when he attempts to break free of his dystopian underworld.    

SHORTS 2 - DAWN: Stories out of the Light

Running Time: 91 minutes
Seven shorts about revelations and realizations, some acknowledged, others silenced, all of them unafraid to confront the world with powerful tales of people put in impossible situations.

Standing8 (USA)
Writer/Director: Michael Molina Minard
Synopsis: A journeyman boxer raised to fight and win kills an opponent in the ring. Now he must confront his greatest enemy - himself.

Unspoken (USA)
Writer/Director: George Zaverdas
Synopsis: While out to dinner, a family struggles with a deep, dark secret.          

Plus One Cut One (USA)
Writer/Director: Kyle Trainor
Co-Writer: Chris Demaras
Synopsis: Nick and Jim have met the woman of their dreams. Now if they could only catch her name…

Girl in a Green Dress (USA)
Director: Johanna Golstein
Writers: Sara Fletcher, Leah McKendrick
Synopsis: The lines between reality and fantasy blur when a shy housewife joins the neighborhood book club.

Dig to China (Canada)
Writer/Director: Robert Tinkler
Co-Writer: Amanda Joy Lim
Synopsis: With their mother away at work, two Chinese Canadian girls decide to find their own way to China with some help from their grandfather.  

The Time Traveler (Canada)
Writer/Director: RT!
Co-Writer: Huse Madhavji
Synopsis: Basil, an amnesiac, is forced to confront his dark past when an old acquaintance re-enters the picture. 

Schnitzel (Israel)
Writer/Director: Asaf Epstein    
Synopsis: A boy wins the heart of the girl he adores with a little help from extraterrestrials and fried food.


Running Time: 77 minutes
Six short films that offer snapshots of the world around us, what it is, what it was, and what we would like it to be.  These films prove that exciting stories can be found all over the world, and in your own backyard.

The Sun Is Heavy (USA)
Director: Jared Jakins, Carly Jakins
Synopsis: What does the American Dream look like? These three working families hope to find out.  

See Me Now (UK)
Director: Glen MacKay
Synopsis: Models and designers of color showcase the beauty of dark skin and challenge an industry that constantly suggests otherwise.

Finding Beauty in the Rubble (Japan)
Director: Matthew T. Burns
Synopsis: The 2011 tsunami hasn’t stopped a Japanese woman from continuing her hobby of turning beach debris into jewelry.

The Art House (USA)
Director: Laura P. Valtorta
Synopsis: Ginger, a retired school teacher, uses her entire house as a canvas for her painting and sculpture.

A Conscious Dream (Italy/Argentina)
Directors: Federico Telerman, Nicolas Uboldi
Synopsis: Every year a group of photographers travels across South America, using their medium to explore culture and contemporary society.

The Rat Slayer of Hillside NJ (USA)
Director: Andrew Keogh Ruotolo
Synopsis: A true crime story about a bizarre 1994 murder case. The victim? A rat.         

WEBSTORIES: The Best of Streaming Series

Running Time: 87 minutes

Some of the best serial stories aren’t even on television anymore, because they are streaming on Netflix and Amazon and all over the web.  These seven selections offer a great sampling of the diversity speeding along the information superhighway.

Not Looking (USA)    

Director: Jason Looney    
Writers: Jason Looney, Drew Droege, Jeremy Shane, and Justin Martindale

Synopsis: This spoof of HBO’s Looking follows four “twentysomething” gay men trying to find love.  Unfortunately the dating scene’s pretty tough, especially in Los Angeles. 

Haphead (Canada)

Director: Tate Young
Writer: Jim Munroe

Synopsis: Ten years from now, videogames are so immersive that teenagers learn lethal skills just by playing. They’re called hapheads. This neo-noir follows Maxine, a worker in the factory that makes the games, who gradually discovers the dark side of the company she works for. 

Nasty Habits (USA)

Director: Christina de Leon
Writers: Christina de Leon, Katie Lee Harper

Synopsis: This collection of two-character vignettes focuses on the dramas and conversations that emerge from sharing a cigarette, having a coffee, and other addictive bonds.

Whatever, Linda. (Canada)

Director: Matt Eastman
Writer: Hannah Cheesman, Julian De Zotti

Synopsis: It's 1978 and Linda Thoroughbred is broke, divorced, and pushing 30. But life can’t keep a good girl down - she ends up using her new lowly office job to challenge Wall Street in this Ponzi scheme dramedy.

Those Damn Canadians (USA)

Directors: Sara Botsford, Christopher Brown
Writer: Sara Botsford    

Synopsis: A small town Canadian talent agent drags her best client, Dirk, to Hollywood to make him a star! He's gay and over 40, but how hard could it be?

Pete Winning & the Pirates (Canada)

Directors: Mike Donis, Jason Leaver, Navin Ramaswaran
Writers: James Christopher, Mike Donis    

Synopsis: Pete Winning and his crew navigate a global-warming flooded Canada in the year 2035 in this tongue-in-cheek web series styled after classic Errol Flynn swashbuckler tales.   

Frankenstein, MD (USA)

Director: Brett Register
Writers: Brett Register, Lon Harris, Bernie Su

Synopsis: Adapted from the classic novel, this Gothic horror comedy follows Victoria Frankenstein, a modern-day med student determined to prove herself in the male-dominated fields of science and medicine.  Assisted by her colleague, Iggy, she hosts a web series and soon gets more than she bargained for with the projects she broadcasts.        


Daring. Edgy. Stylistically freewheeling. This is animation like you’ve never seen before! This special cross-border program of animated shorts features works by Canadian and American animators working the St. Lawrence region. Award-winning works by Canadians Theodore Ushev, Chris Dainty, and Steven Woloshen will be presented, as well as recent works by celebrated American independent animators Steven Subotnik, Leah Shore, and Conner Griffith. Several animators will be present at the screening. Curated and presented in collaboration with the Canadian Film Institute’s Ottawa International Animation Festival.


This quick program of four student shorts compiles together the winners of The St. Lawrence International Film Festival Associated College Film Competition.  Students of SUNY Canton, St Lawrence University, SUNY Potsdam and Clarkson University were encouraged to submit their work, up to five minutes in length and compete to represent their college at the festival.  One filmmaker overall will be selected as a Grand Prize Winner.


Writer/Director: Odiri Igbayo
College: SUNY Canton

Synopsis: A music video for Smalls (Sean Khannery) finds the artists wandering through the forest of life searching for love and the unobtainable.  Igbayo is a graphic and multimedia design major. 


Writer/Director: James Corbett
College: St. Lawrence University

Synopsis: In this surreal horror comedy, a man living in a surreal dream world deals with the terrifying things that reside there. Corbett is a psychology and film studies major.


Writer/Director: Elissa Murphy
College: SUNY Potsdam

Synopsis: Documenting one second of every day in the director’s 20th year. Murphy is a music performance major at Crane School of Music, so plenty of sheet music and performances, punctuated by cats, capture one year of growth.

FACE VALUE (USA/Singapore)

Writer/Director: Sharlene Lee
College:  Clarkson University

Synopsis: Examining the intricacies of humans separated geographically, specifically the isolation endured by the people left behind and the people leaving, the film asks how we can form a bond or connection with someone while having a wide cultural, language and lifestyle difference?


MAN AND EMPIRE: James Bond as the Face of British Relevancy

Featuring Sean O’Brien, Assistant Professor of Humanities, SUNY Canton

With the 24th film in the franchise about to be released, James Bond may be the once mighty British Empire’s best international spokesman. Trace the character from his initial inception in the Ian Fleming novels through the all-star roster of actors called on to play him (David Niven, Sean Connery, Roger Moore, Pierce Brosnan, Daniel Craig, etc.). What does the man in 007’s shoes say about the British perception of national power? Would Idris Elba shake not stir things up at MI6?  Is James Bond the remnant of Britain’s stubborn denial of its prominence in the post-imperial world?

MASTER CLASS: Joe Kraemer, Craft and Career

Featuring Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation and Jack Reacher composer Joe Kraemer

Hollywood composer Kraemer will show different versions of cues from Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation (and Jack Reacher time permitting) and discuss the process of writing music from first idea to final recording. Learn about working with or against temp music, writing to style, synths versus live instruments and any question you can come up with to ask.  Don’t miss out on this rare chance to get in depth into the craft of composition. 


Meet the team from the New York State Governor’s Office of Motion Picture and Television Development for a roundtable discussion of all things productive re: producing in New York State – tax credits, location scouting, finding stages and crew, and more.  Whether you’re a first time filmmaker wondering where to start or a veteran producer looking to catch up on the latest, this informal face-to-face Q&A is an invaluable opportunity to meet Team NY and hear firsthand about all the great things New York State has to offer.

POE: A Cultural Outlier Nevermore

Featuring Bruce Weiner, Professor of English Emeritus, Nathan Jacob, writer/director of Killing Poe, and Marcus Ovnell, writer/director of The Break-In

The first maestro of the macabre, Edgar Allan Poe’s writing laid the groundwork for our modern conception of Noir, Thriller, SciFi, and Horror. Though he never achieved the critical acclaim his work deserved in his own lifetime, his influence has undeniably shaped the last hundred and fifty years of popular fiction, including innumerable films. Dive into the dark with one of the foremost authorities on Poe and two festival filmmakers creating in the shadow of the master.

SUBMISSION: Filmmakers and the Festival Circuit

Featuring Wild and Scenic Film Festival Director Melinda Booth, Seattle International Film Festival Programmer and Catalyst Director Brad Wilke, Canadian Film Institute Programmer Jerrett Zaroski, and moderated by St. Lawrence International Film Festival and Other Worlds Austin Director of Programming Bears Fonté.

Thousands of Film Festivals, Tens of Thousands of Films, how can filmmakers best prepare their work to impress film festival programmers?  What are festivals looking for? What aren’t theylooking for? Learn how filmmakers can maximize their film’s potential, how to keep submission fees under budget, and what to do when the film is selected.

Strategically located at the center of the St. Lawrence River Valley with events in Ottawa and Brockville, ON and Canton and Potsdam, NY, St. Lawrence International Film Festival is a first-of-its-kind celebration of film, with related events on both sides of the international border between the US and Canada.

A limited number of All-Access VIP Passes for the Festival weekend include guaranteed seating for the Opening Gala screening and reception, as well as admission to all Festival screenings, panel discussions, parties and VIP lounge. All passes are available now through the Festival website 

ABOUT the St. Lawrence International Film Festival

Founded by Adam Paul, St. Lawrence International Film Festival has assembled an extraordinary team of festival professionals from all over North America to bring the best in film to a fertile new destination: The Fourth Coast. No other event in the world plays simultaneously in two countries, offering a highly-visible promotional and partnership opportunity featuring 25+ international films, an Opening Gala, the Empire State Filmmaker Award, parties and competition awards during a 4-day event in the US and Canada. The Festival advisory board is lead by industry notables Sara E. Johnson (Oscar-winning Executive Producer of “Birdman”), Mark Valley (“CSI”), Aaron Woolf (“King Corn, Peabody Award-winner), Drea Clark (Programmer Slamdance Film Festival & Los Angeles Film Festival), Gloria Campbell (Managing Director of the American Pavillion at Cannes), Ann Marie Gardinier Halstead, Brian Hauser (Co-Editor of The Journal of Short Film), and Bob Penski (Founder of Penski, Inc).


Annie Jeeves& Melanie Marquez / Cinematic Red &