Great lineup for Lake Placid Film Forum

“Maudie,” a movie about Nova Scotian folk painter Maud Lewis starring Sally Hawkins and Ethan Hawke, will be shown at 7 p.m. today at the Palace Theatre in downtown Lake Placid as part of the Lake Placid Film Forum. It’s the second consecutive year Hawke has been on screen at the Film Forum; last year he was seen playing jazz trumpter Chet Baker in “Born to Be Blue.”

“Maudie,” a movie about Nova Scotian folk painter Maud Lewis starring Sally Hawkins and Ethan Hawke, will be shown at 7 p.m. today at the Palace Theatre in downtown Lake Placid as part of the Lake Placid Film Forum. It’s the second consecutive year Hawke has been on screen at the Film Forum; last year he was seen playing jazz trumpter Chet Baker in “Born to Be Blue.”

The Lake Placid Film Forum lineup has been getting better every year, and this year’s looks like it may be the best since its early 2000s glory days.

It seems especially full of films local people are likely to have heard of and would likely be interested in seeing. This makes sense: The Forum is trying to pay its bills by appealing to regular people. Since the tourist season won’t kick in until school gets out at the end of June, local residents are the target audience.

The Forum has upped the ante on screening classics linked with special guests, panel discussions and tributes. For instance, “The Silence of the Lambs” and “Stop Making Sense” will be screened in honor of director Jonathan Demme, who died in April and came to Lake Placid as the Film Forum’s honoree in 2008. “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” will be introduced by Dr. Peter Ostrum, who starred as Charlie as a boy and now works as a veterinarian in Lowville. And film historian Jonathan Arnold, author of “The Essentials: 52 Must-See Movies and Why they Matter,” will present the Audrey Hepburn-Gregory Peck gem “Roman Holiday.”

This year’s Forum also has a strong showing of critically acclaimed hits from 2016 and fresh new movies from 2017. It upholds its “forum” name by having discussions after each one, often with the movies’ directors or local guest panelists. For instance, on Saturday, directors will be present to discuss “We are Unarmed,” a documentary of the Dakota Access Pipeline protests, as well as 2017’s drama about a black business woman “Title VII,” Irish surf doc “The Crest” and Cuban drama “Esteban.” On Sunday, Elizabethtown filmmaker, tavern owner and former Congress candidate Aaron Woolf will present his latest documentary, “Denial.”

Writing and race are themes that pervade this year’s Forum. The Adirondack Center for Writing provided panelists to discuss Thursday night’s poetry-themed “Paterson,” directed by Jim Jarmush and starring Adam Driver, and will also do so Sunday for “Neruda,” about a Chilean poet and communist senator, and “A Quiet Passion,” about famous poet Emily Dickinson. Meanwhile, John Brown Lives! will present the interracial couple historical drama “Loving” on Saturday, and the Adirondack Diversity Initiative will present “I Am Not Your Negro,” something of a completion of writer James Baldwin’s work, with a panel discussion moderated by author Russell Banks of Keene.

There are a bunch of other great movies as well, plus a “North Country Shorts” compilation of local short films and the “Sleepless in Lake Placid” college student speed-filmmaking competition, this year including a team from our own Paul Smith’s College. It all opened with local flavor with Wednesday night’s free screening of “Eddie the Eagle,” about the English ski jumper from the 1988 Winter Olympics who learned the sport in Lake Placid (although the movie changed that to Germany).

This is a great few days for movie lovers, and we strongly encourage you to take advantage of it. Screenings cost just $10 each — great value, considering these are movies you wouldn’t get to see on the big screen otherwise, and/or are being presented with great special guests and thought-provoking commentary. It’s not just a movie; it’s an experience. Those who know how good it is have to spread the word — as we’re trying to do here.

Movies are probably the definitive art form of the last 100 years, and there’s nothing like seeing them on the big screen. The local movie devotees who founded, revived and pour their souls into the Film Forum have done a great thing for this community.

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