Showcasing “The best #%$&ing films in the world,” the first St. Lawrence Film Festival allowed directors looking for their break to showcase their feature-length or short films. While the movies shined on the screen, the entire village of Canton was also able to showcase what it had to offer.
“It was a good opportunity for us to highlight that we have got a lot going on for a small town,” said Brooke Rous ’06, Director of the St. Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce. “It’s a good opportunity to show Canton in a different light for the arts and culture that is here.”
Not only did culture flourish, but businesses also saw a boost from the festival. “Our business, like many other businesses in this town, rely on community events,” Laurie Vernsey, co-owner of Buster’s Sports Café, said. “We definitely noticed a little bit of increase in business during the festival.”
The Blackbird Café was one of the many local businesses that contributed to festival events. “The film fest contracted with us to host a VIP lounge for people who bought VIP tickets and filmmakers who many got VIP passes,” Blackbird owner Ken Hebb said. “It helped draw attention that we previously hadn’t had.”
That attention came in the form of a Canadian audience, something the area is trying to build up says Jill Breit, Executive Director of TAUNY (Traditional Arts of Upstate New York). “We are a community organization and we care about community life,” Breit said. “I think the potential of building a Canadian presence with the film festival is huge.”
“The hope is that if Canadians come down to the festival they will say, ‘Oh wow we can see theater here all the time’ or ‘These are great restaurants,’” Rous said.
With dates already announced for the second film festival for Labor Day weekend, business owners such as Hebb agree they are glad they were able to get the experience of how a film festival should work and hope to build their efforts for next year.
Adam Paul, the organizer of the festival, hopes to have a final economic report in the coming weeks.