Story by Lourice Angie
The Hoboken International Film Festival (HIFF), named by Time Warner and other media as “one of the ten biggest film festivals in the world,” is set to take place on the scenic beach of the Thomas P. Morahan Waterfront Park in Greenwood Lake and at the Greenwood Lake Elks Lodge from Fri., May 19 to Thurs., May 25.
Filmmaker, author, former Judge and HIFF chairman, Kenneth Del Vecchio, who believes, “Loyalty is the most important word in the dictionary,” invites all to experience the magic and magnitude of the film festival this year.
During the Opening Night Celebrations on Fri., May 19, four-time Golden Globe and two-time Emmy winner and nominee, Armand Assante, who appeared in “Gotti,” “Mambo Kings,” and “Private Benjamin” among many others, will be personally accepting HIFF’s 2017 Lifetime Achievement Award.
This honor will be paired with the worldwide premiere of “The Savant,” written and produced by Kenneth Del Vecchio and Directed by Sherri Kauk. The movie is an action-packed thriller about an autistic savant high school student who has prodigious fighting and language skills. The movie offers a powerful climatic twist ending.
Celebrity cast members include Academy Award nominee Robert Loggia (“Scarface” and “Big”), along with Martin Kove (“The Karate Kid”), Eric Roberts (Academy Award nominee for “The Expendables”), Eric Etabari (“Witchblade” and “The Lincoln Lawyer”), Julie McCullough (“Growing Pains” and “Sharknado”), and legendary TV star Joyce Dewitt (“Three’s Company”) who, in addition, will also be personally accepting HIFF’s Excellence in Acting Award at the Gala Awards Ceremony to be held on Thurs., May 25. This event will be hosted by superstar stand-up comedian, Gilbert Gottfried.
HIFF’s celebrated finale will offer all the glitz and glamour of the Oscars, with clips from the nominated films and live presentations from celebrities/industry personnel to HIFF -nominated filmmakers and actors.
Both the Opening Night Celebrations and the Gala Awards Ceremony will feature a red carpet pre-party that will feature the finest cuisine, cocktails, music and fun.
Interview with Julia McCullough
Warwick Valley Dispatch reporter Lourice Angie recently had the privilege of scheduling phone interviews with some of the VIP celebrities who will be making their way to Greenwood Lake in time for the festival.
The first interview conducted was with actor/comedian Julia McCullough (“Growing Pains,” “Golden Girls” and “Sharknado”), who took time off to travel the world doing stand-up comedy and touring war zones in Afghanistan, providing stand-up comedy to the U.S Military. In addition, for the last few years she has been working on a few smaller roles for independent filmmakers, including the HIFF opening day feature film, “The Savant,” in which she plays the role of a Judge.
Through her work with independent films, she was led to HIFF. She believes that young, independent filmmakers leave their heart and soul for generations to come, sharing their ideas, vision, and voice for others to experience through their films. Unfortunately, not everyone gets to see them.
“We’d be lost without independent films. Without them we would be force-fed what the mainstream studios give us,” says McCullough. When asked about her thoughts on this year’s HIFF location she said, “I’ve been to Greenwood Lake a couple of times while filming a few independent films. I absolutely love it up there. The people are so welcoming and nice; it’s just so beautiful”.
She went on to describe her amazing experience at the lakefront bed and breakfast, the Waterstone Inn, owned and operated by the Mulcahy family.
“This is certainly going to be a nice new venture for the community and for business in Greenwood Lake. People can buy a pass for a day or everyday. It will give them a chance to see these films they might never get to see again. I will be presenting the Lifetime Achievement to acclaimed actor Armand Assante. It’s going to be fun, interesting, and entertaining,” said McCullough.
Martin Kove: Independent Films are ‘Great Movies with Great Subject Matter’
Martin Kove (“Karate kid” and “Rambo”), is a Brooklyn native who currently lives in L.A to be close to his children and family. Kove has been working on a number of independent films and movies, including some projects with his son, Jesse Kove. The prominent actor mentioned how he enjoys working with HIFF Chairman Ken Del Vecchio, being a part of the film festival, and the perks that come along with it.
Kove personally feels that the reason Independent films don’t get the recognition or attention they deserve is because their budget allowances don’t compare to bigger name and corporate industry films.
“People often miss out on great movies because they aren’t aware that these films are created or released,” said Kove. “I’ve done so many Independent films. I think a lot of times these films go right to cable TV or DVD because they don’t have the right promotional budget. It’s a shame because they are great movies with great subject matter. Most of the time independent films finish shooting and they don’t have a post production budget and if they do have a production budget, most times they don’t have a post production budget in order, and it’s hard. The key is to get it out there to the public. Radio, TV, and advertising help spread the word and increase the anticipation of the audience. If it doesn’t have a big name they won’t pick it up.”
In addition, Kove added, “I think that is the focus that independent people should consider from a much greater standpoint…that without a promotional budget, it doesn’t matter how good your movies are. Most franchise movies have a following before they’re released, but original independent film doesn’t come with a ready made audience.”
When asked about his thoughts on HIFF’s location, Kove said, “I love that area. It’s so rich and green. I plan to stay a few extra days and take in the sights.”
He also indicated that anyone who cannot make it out to the film festival can come meet him at the “Garden State Megafest,” to be held from Jun. 17 to 18 for a Karate Kid Cobra Kai Reunion. For tickets and additional information, visit www.gardenstatemegafest.com
Joyce DeWitt Discusses Roles in Two Films
This reporter was excited to have the opportunity to speak with Joyce Dewitt (“Three’s Company”), who, despite handling personal family affairs, agreed to do the interview. Dewitt has a role in “The Savant” and “Rock Story,” a surprise-filled rock opus that delivers magnetic original music and a shocking twist ending that Dewitt says the audience must watch entirely not to miss.
She spoke of HIFF Chairman Kenneth Del Vecchio, who she addressed as “Kenny.” “Those who know him or have worked with him in one way or another absolutely adores him. He’s adorable. He’s such a good guy. He’s smart and has such a good heart. He cares about all of the things that matter to human beings. Working with him in any circumstance, you always know you are going to be taken care of, provided for, and someone will be watching your back,” said Dewitt.
2017 Lifetime Achievement Recipient Armand Assante
Four-time Golden Globe and two-time Emmy Award winner and nominee, Armand Assante is known to possess unique charisma and claims one of the greatest sets of range in film (as described by Del Vecchio). The legendary Assante, now in his 50th year of film globally, was raised in Cornwall, NY and has been a resident of Orange County for 33 years. He’s an incredible human being who appreciates and loves family.
Assante is currently working on several projects and traveling the world, while making time to visit his ailing father. He is looking forward to the festival in Greenwood Lake and says he is very surprised by the amount of submissions.
“Independent films come from an independent idea as opposed to these Hollywood-made films. They are the most rewarding and done creatively, these people think outside the box,” said Assante.
He will be personally receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award at HIFF and is looking forward to reaching out and thanking the people who actually have supported the film festival and the ones who bought tickets to attend.
The biggest challenge he faces, as an actor and someone well ensconced in his industry, is locating content worth working on.
“This industry is not always kind to everyone,” said Assante, “You have to develop and read constantly and determine what is necessary and what isn’t.”
He describes Ken Del Vecchio as “having a deep love for what he does.” Assante admires Del Vecchio for all of his dedication and hard work in putting the festival together, adding that it took Del Vecchio an entire year to plan.
“It’s a real opportunity. I wish him well; to be that focused to launch something this massive that’s sincerely impressive,” said Assante.
He went on to describe how a film festival of this magnitude will also benefit Greenwood Lake in so many ways. People from all over the world will attend and it can be great for business and tourism.