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Adirondack Film Festival: A Virtual Experience in Real Time

Header from Adirondack Film Fest web page

GLENS FALLS – A definition of unique is to experience something that no one else in the world is sharing. In his curtain calls at Adirondack Theatre Festival in Glens Falls, Artistic-Producing Director Chad Rabinovitz always pointed out that this is what made the theater company special. They specialized in offering original work. They were all unique experiences.

That same philosophy is guiding his virtual “In the Box” programming during the Covid-19 pandemic. “I think the public has a craving for new experiences,” he says. It was that thinking guided him to the choice of not streaming old product. Instead ATF is creating new material. He says that separates his work from the pack, because the product is designed for the new delivery system.

In ATF’s Zoom format all theatrical showings are live performances. They are also available only at a specific time. The structure is less of a problem for the theatrical events as they are offered over two weekends.

However the film festival runs for only one weekend. Of all the offerings, perhaps the Film Festival poses the most demands by its structure. Rabinovitz acknowledges that the social isolation of the past several months has accelerated the on-demand culture that rules virtual presentations. He points out that today people are used to streaming things when they want it. His approach asks them to watch at specific times.

However, he defends the choice saying that if he offered the films on-demand, it would be saying they are just like Netflix and other streaming platforms.

His point is that ATF cannot compare with Netflix in terms of inventory. Indeed, by even playing in the same ball park with a streaming giant, it diminishes the uniqueness of the product they are offering. With pride he says of ATF’s catalog, “These are curated films. They are special works.”

To illustrate the quality of the films that are in the series he points to last year, when ATF was offered an unknown work titled “Jo Jo Rabbit.” It was distributed nationally last fall winning many awards, including an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay. Rabinovitz expresses great pride that in only four years the film festival is often rated within the top 10 of national film festivals. For this he gives credit to Jessica Levandoski who curated the festival.

No matter his commitment to live offerings, Rabinovitz is a realist. In a limited appeal to the on-demand culture, on Sunday October 18, the entire festival will be available for live streaming.

He also recognizes that the idea of seeing all the available product or over 100 short and feature films is daunting. To help the process most films will have at least two showings at widely separated times.

To plan the screening, he advises people to go visit the ATF website at atfestival.org and go to the film series. There the films are broken down by categories. He says the best way to plan how to see so many new films is to click on a title. Every film has a trailer, and some have statements from the creators offering insights to the films.

For emphasis, he adds his signature sign-off saying, “This is a one of a kind experience, only available at Adirondack Theatre Festival.”

For information and to purchase all “In the Box” offerings go a atfestival.org or call 518-480-4878

Bob Goepfert is theater reviewer for the Troy Record.

The views expressed by commentators are solely those of the authors. They do not necessarily reflect the views of this station or its management.

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