September 9, 2016


For immediate release


Contact: Alexandra Jacobs Wilke,, 315.212.7418


St. Lawrence International Film Festival Draws Enthusiastic Crowd for Gala Fundraiser

Filmmakers Behind Indie Hit ‘Here Alone’ Honored with 2016 Empire State Filmmaker Award Following Exclusive Screening at SLIFF Gala


(Canton, NY, USA)—The St. Lawrence International Film Festival (SLIFF) drew a passionate crowd of supporters for its first-ever gala fundraiser on Saturday, Sept. 3, raising thousands of dollars to support the organization’s mission of celebrating the best in film while contributing to the cultural and economic development of the region.


“This incredible event embodies everything I love about the North Country—the strong community spirit and welcoming atmosphere that help make this region unique. I couldn’t be more grateful to our guests, our donors and our sponsors, upon whose support we rely, literally, to keep the lights on,” said SLIFF Executive Director Adam Paul.


Thanks to the generous patronage of audience members, sponsors and volunteers, the gala fundraiser provided much-needed support to ensure that the festival can continue to provide boundary-smashing programming in the beautiful St. Lawrence River Valley region.


With film and television star Mark Valley (“CSI”) serving as emcee, more than 200 audience members gathered to watch an exclusive screening of the award-winning independent film “Here Alone” at SUNY Potsdam’s Performing Arts Center—months before the movie appears in worldwide release.


Dr. Brian Hauser, an assistant professor of film at Clarkson University, led a lively panel discussion on stage with the three filmmakers, who discussed the creative process that brought their vision from script to screen.


“Here Alone” director Rod Blackhurst (who also directed the upcoming Netflix documentary “Amanda Knox”), was honored with the 2016 Empire State Filmmaker Award, along with writer David Ebeltoft and producer Noah Lang, immediately following the discussion. The filmmakers each received written commendations from Governor Andrew M. Cuomo along with their awards.


The Empire State Filmmaker Award recognizes boundary-smashing creativity in the cinematic arts, with New York State at its heart. “Here Alone” was produced entirely in upstate New York, with filming locations in and around Ebeltoft’s hometown of Corning, N.Y.


Following the screening and panel discussion, the celebration continued with hors d’oeuvres, cocktails and live jazz music, as guests posed for photos on the red carpet and the “Here Alone” filmmakers signed festival posters.


The following day, signature sponsor SUNY Canton hosted a special workshop with the “Here Alone” filmmakers, which was free to college students. Titled “A Writer, a Producer and a Director Walk into a Bar: How to Make a Champagne Movie on a Beer Budget,” the educational session gave an insider’s view of how Blackhurst, Ebeltoft and Lang produced their thriller on a tiny budget.


After premiering at the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival, “Here Alone” won the coveted Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature. The bleak and convention-defying genre film tells a 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. To learn more, visit


Following an exciting weekend of events, SLIFF is looking toward the future. The festival is currently nearing completion of the process to become a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. In addition to planning for future festival events, SLIFF is also looking to build a schedule of year-round programming, including screenings, filmmaker workshops and educational events.


“Festivals like ours provide a catalyst which creates a halo effect of tremendous impact to a region like ours, multiplying its economic and media impact far, far beyond a mere three-day event,” Paul said. “Our goal has been and always will be to create a sustainable world-class destination event headquartered right here in the North Country.”


The SLIFF gala fundraiser and filmmaker workshop wouldn't have been possible without the support of the signature sponsors, SUNY Canton and St. Lawrence University.


Additional sponsors included: 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