Story by Lourice Angie
The legendary Emmy Award-winning actor Armand Assante joined organizers and directors of the Hoboken International Film Festival (HIFF), elected officials, local Chamber and community members on Wed., Jan. 25 to make a special announcement during a press conference at the Greenwood Lakes Elks Lodge in Greenwood Lake.
Greenwood Lake will host the 12th annual Hoboken International Film Festival, which is set to take place at the beautiful and scenic Thomas P. Morahan Waterfront Park from Fri., May 19 to Thurs., May 25. The overall excitement and anticipation for what is considered to be one of the ten biggest film festivals in the world is increasingly growing as the debut of the grand film gala approaches.
This year, the festival is expected to bring about 15,000 people from near and far. Filmmaker, bestselling author, former New Jersey judge, HIFF Founder and Chairman Kenneth Del Vecchio was joined by his wife, Francine, and their 10-year-old son, Mario, who wowed the crowd by reciting the last ten presidents in order over the microphone.
Del Vecchio announced that on Fri., May 19 during the opening night red carpet ceremony, the 2017 HIFF Lifetime Achievement Award will be presented and personally accepted by his good friend, four-time Golden Globe and two-time Emmy Award winner and nominee, Armand Assante.
Assante, an actor with a unique charisma, is described by Del Vecchio as having one of the greatest sets of range in film. The legendary actor, now in his 50th year of film globally, was raised in Cornwall, NY, and has been a resident of Orange County for 33 years.
Assante has successfully portrayed a wide range of intriguing characters from numerous ethnic backgrounds, both on screen and in theatre. He is known for roles in film and on TV such as, “The Mambo Kings” (1992), where he played the role of Cesar Castillo. His Emmy Award winning roles include his portrayal of mobster John Gotti in the 1996 HBO miniseries “Gotti,” and his appearances in such movies as “Judge Dredd,” “American Gangster,” “Striptease” starring Demi Moore, and the role of Henri Tremont, the love interest of Goldie Hawn in the 1980 film “Private Benjamin.”
Assante was humbled and extremely grateful to be considered for HIFF Lifetime Achievement Award. He has been a part of many film festivals throughout his life.
“I really want to stress that the importance of a festival for this region could be a winner for everyone involved; it can really create commerce, it will create labor, create jobs, and above all, it will bring a tremendous cultural exchange to the area for people from all over the world,” Assante said. He applauded HIFF Chairman Del Vecchio for his “tremendous unrecognized effort and everyone it takes to put a film festival of this caliber together. I have great enthusiasm and my blessings to all doing this.” He encourages all the businesses, sponsors and outreach programs to support HIFF.
Film Festival’s First Choice
“The relocation from Middletown to the festival’s new venue, the Thomas P. Morahan Waterfront Park on the north end of Greenwood Lake, will make the event even bigger, better and more accessible to a wider area including northern New Jersey and New York City,” said Del Vecchio. Although there were many cities and towns that showed interest in hosting the grand event, Greenwood Lake became his number one choice for the film festival’s debut.
“The fact that you will be able to get to see your movies shown on a beach overlooking a beautiful lake is just amazing,” said Del Vecchio. “People can go jet skiing, they can go boating, they can dine right on the lake, it’s just an amazing and beautiful locale. For people who are attending from other parts of the world, this will be exciting.”
Del Vecchio expressed respect for the leadership of Greenwood Lake Mayor Jesse Dwyer, saying that he is very progressive and that the entire Board is very economically minded, constantly looking for ways to boost the economy. In the past, HIFF has infused millions of dollars into local economy and created hundreds of jobs, one of the many things Del Vecchio takes pride in.
“Greenwood Lake is a part of Warwick. As a Warwick resident, if I can help Greenwood Lake in that area then it is personally gratifying,” said Del Vecchio.
The thing that makes this event so special to both Del Vecchio and to this year’s Lifetime Achievement recipient, Armand Assante, is that they both live in Orange County and they are both excited to see how this year’s new location can be a positive change for the Village.
“It will open the world to Orange County and open Orange County to the world. It must have a very focused growth. It can’t be panicked growth. It can’t be about favors. It can’t be about political machinations. This county needs extremely, extremely careful planning. We are the last. We’re it. After Manhattan,” said Assante, “there’s nothing left.”
Community & Elected Officials Come Together
Greenwood Lake Mayor Jesse Dwyer shared a few words with the crowd at the press conference, expressing how extremely proud he was to be a part of this tremendous event. He said that for the last couple of years he’s had the privilege of getting to know Del Vecchio and the spirit he has. Dwyer described Del Vecchio saying, “He’s absolutely dynamic; that’s an understatement. He has confidence that no one has seen.”
In addition, Dwyer recognized and thanked all who have shown support and contributed to the society and economy of Greenwood Lake, including: members of the G.L. Board, the G.L. School Superintendent and the school administration, local businesses, the Warwick and Greenwood Lake Chambers of Commerce, local residents, local fans of film, local artists, Assemblyman Karl Brabenec, Warwick Town Supervisor Michael Sweeton, County Executive Steve Neuhaus, and Buddy Fitzpatrick.
He concluded by saying, “There have been many great stars and award recipients, but none of them come close to Mr. Armand Assante, Thank you all for your support and for coming out.”
County Executive Steve Neuhaus shared a few words during the conference, saying, “We’re so excited that Mr. Assante, who has Orange County roots, is getting this huge honor. We support Kenneth Del Vecchio and the film festival.”
He also noted that Greenwood Lake Mayor Dwyer is a great young mayor who is making great and interesting changes across the board, who is not afraid to take risks, one of the biggest recipes for success.
Warwick Town Supervisor Michael Sweeton also had a chance to share a few words during the conference. He congratulated Mayor Dwyer and the Village Board for their daily economic development. He thanked Ken Del Vecchio for seeing the beauty of the Village that we see and live everyday and hopefully can share with the world. He welcomed and thanked Mr. Assante saying, “We are deeply honored that you will be the highlight of this event. I think this film festival is going to cement this place as the premiere recreational place in all of New York State,” said Sweeton.
NY State Assemblyman Karl Brabenic also shared saying, “I do represent Warwick in the State Assembly. It’s just so great to see things come to Western Orange County. We’re always trying to promote economic development and tourism and trying to show the beauty of this area. Ken does a fantastic job every year. Congratulations Mr. Assante.”