This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Big Eddy Film Festival, which will be held this year from September 30 through October 3. Ten years of bringing innovative filmmakers and films to the Town …
This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Big Eddy Film Festival, which will be held this year from September 30 through October 3. Ten years of bringing innovative filmmakers and films to the Town of Tusten, NY. Congratulations to all who have been involved.
As someone who has worked on film festivals for nearly two decades, I can tell you that the Big Eddy is one of the best.
At a good film festival, the audience counts more than the stars.
One year at the Doha Tribeca film festival, our cornerstone event was “Secretariat,” a film about the bond between a woman and the iconic racehorse. The director, several producers and some of the stars attended. I helped facilitate a panel interview in front of an international audience of 5,000 people, with the help of an incredible translator.
Four of my best friends were stationed around the stadium to field audience questions, to represent as many points of view and cultures as possible. The last person to speak was a woman wearing an abaya. She seemed agitated. I didn’t know what to expect, but she deserved her chance to speak.
“I don’t have a question. I just have something I want to say. To me,” she said, “this film is jihad. Not the definition the world media gives us. I mean jihad as I was raised to think of it—acting beyond all reason on behalf of something you love. That the film comes from America gives me hope for all of us.” The audience rose to its feet and cheered her.
The best moment of my film festival career happened at the Big Eddy Film Festival, which was showing “Keep the Change,” a charming film about two young people living with autism, who fall in love. I was excited for this film because as the brother of two challenged siblings, I know representation is critical, and is rare.
The film starred Jessica Walter. She wasn’t there. Neither of the young actors playing the leads was in the audience. Tibor Feldman, who played the father, attended. He was very proud, but for the most part was content to be in the audience and watch people enjoy the work.
Tina Spangler arranged for a panel discussion with a social worker and the parent of a challenged daughter. The social worker was eloquent and spoke beautifully about services that are available in Sullivan County. She was informative, passionate and constructive.
The mother said that she appreciated the film and then proceeded to list everything the filmmakers got wrong. Fair enough. Her truth. One with which I had common ground. I might be paraphrasing, but she ended with something like, “And calling those characters autistic. No. My daughter is many things, one of which is she happens to be living with autism.”
Living with autism versus autistic.
The way I used language changed that night. My brother and sister are not challenged. They are living with challenges. Challenges don’t have to separate us. They can unite us if we let them. We can live with and conquer challenges together.
I learned that at a film festival. In the town in which we are lucky enough to live.
Details for the 2021 festival are still being worked out. Be sure to check http://www.bigeddyfilmfest.com for the latest updates.