Saturday, May 09, 2015

The 2nd Forwardian Film Festival

The SOHO in the BURG Gallery in Stroudsburg, PA and The Forwardian Arts Society presented The 2nd Forwardian Film Festival on May 2nd and 3rd. The first festival was held on Friday April 15th, 2011 at a coffeehouse in Stroudsburg, PA called, “The Cheeky Monkey” that has since closed (Read about it at Like the first festival, the second endeavor showcased the work of a number of filmmakers who each demonstrated a variety approaches to film making in regards to subject matter and cinematic style. Although the festival was originally intended to focus on the talents of filmmakers who live in Monroe County, PA and it's surrounding areas, the use of the Internet allowed individuals from various parts of the world to participate which gave the festival a vitality it may not have been able to offer otherwise.

The fist day of the festival focused on films not exceeding 15 minutes in length. The international flavor of the festival was demonstrated in the first film that was shown. It was a short stop motion animation piece titled, “The Journey” from a filmmaker who lives in Bangalore, India named Palden Khar The film was about the inner journey found in meditation which allows one to take and to arrive at the destinations that normally can't be reached or imagined. After the film, Paul Adam Smeltz (yeah that's me), who is the facilitator of The Forwardian Arts Society, welcomed the gathering and introduced the next film.

The Man in a Cardboard Box” was a live action film directed by Kyle Rebar and featured Ronnie Mehalco in the title role. The film dealt with the isolation and personal degradation caused by mass production, TV, and social networking. The film's conclusion led to a number of questions relating to the work along with a great deal of thoughtfully energetic discussion. As the discussion waned, Paul came forward to introduce a number of short films directed by Kevin Vorgrin

The first of these was an experimental, avant-garde film titled, “Happy Halloween” that utilized a great deal of layering and sound editing to create an immersive, hallucinatory world for the viewer to explore. The second film was titled, “Long Time Smoker Episode 1” and focused on the life of a man who spends most of his time collecting, examining, and dignifying stuff he finds on his uncleaned carpet. The third film was titled, “Self Mutilation” which was created between 2011-2012 and displays the absence of self while questioning the presence of film as entertainment. The final film created by Mr. Vorgrin that was shown was titled, “Ask Dr. Lou - Lou The Bingo Kingo” which is part of a short web series concept in conjunction with The Larry Wargo Show in which Lou gives advice and answers to viewer submitted problems and questions.

As each film concluded, Mr. Vorgrin responded to questions from the audience and exchanged thoughts with a number of them. It was at this point did a break ensue allowing the dozen of so film lovers to converse further with the filmmakers and each other about what they had experienced. After a time, Paul invited the gathering to return to their seat to enjoy more films that would be offered throughout the remainder of the evening. The first of these was a suspense thriller involving a hunt for a mysterious cult who have engaged in several ritualistic murders titled, “Black Sun” that was directed by Christian Caputo and was submitted by Gerard Ucelli who portrayed the bartender in the piece. Unfortunately, Mr. Ucelli was not present to respond to any questions but there were some favorable comments from the audience relating the quality of the film and its narrative.

The next films to be presented were a collection of short animated pieces directed by Teddy Hazard collectively refereed to as Krust Toons which is a web comic/web series based on the day to day antics of the citizens of the music scene oriented town of Gutsville. Unfortunately, Mr. Hazard was unable to attend but the animation and their themes led to some discussion after the laughter subsided. The first day of The Forwardian Film Festival concluded with a film directed by Martelle Jones titled, “Tell Me About Your Father” featuring Elizabeth Streczyk. The film proved to be a soul touching recollection filled with thoughtful contemplation originating from both Ms. Streczyk and the members of the audience who connected with her words. Mr. Jones shared his inspirations that led to the film while answering questions and adding his insights to the discussion that ensued. The evening ended as Paul bid the company farewell and invited everyone to return for the second day of the festival.

The second day of the festival saw a much smaller crowd than the previous day. However, the enthusiasm of discovering the treasures that can be found in new original films was not diminished. The afternoon began with some welcoming word shared by Paul Adam Smeltz (Yep, that's still me) followed by the first feature length film that was shown for the day. The film consisted of an interview conducted by Anthony R. Cuttitta (who submitted the film) with members of the Wyckoff family for The Monroe Historical Association The family owed a department store that was a prevalent fixture of the town of Stroudsburg, PA. After 106 years in business, the store closed in 1981 leaving a big economic gap in the local community. The interview served in providing an oral history of the store and all it did to make the community they were a part of a better one.

Mr. Cuttitta was not present to share his insights about the film. However, after the film concluded, Jody Singer (who represented the late Hank Aldrich who directed the film titled, “Robin”) stood before the audience to say he knew more about the history of The Wyckoff family and its business than he did about the film he submitted to the festival. Mr. Singer then proceeded to enhance the film with additional facts he learned about the family and all the community endeavors they pursued that made Stroudsburg, PA not only a nice place to visit, but a wonderful town to call home.

The second film of the day was one directed by the late Hank Aldrich who was an intricate part of the Artistic Community of the Pocono Region. The film was titled, “Robin” (1979) and it stared Monica Tidwell who appeared in a pictorial spread as the playmate of the month in the November 1973 issue of Playboy magazine in the titled role. The film centers around a woman named Robin who is a model running from her abusive husband while forming a relationship with a married district attorney who once sent her to jail for prostitution. The film was followed by a talk given by Jody Singer who is the caretaker of Mr. Aldrich's estate.

While Mr. Singer couldn't speak on the intricacies of the film, he did speak at length about Mr. Aldrich and his continuing effect on the Artistic community. It was at the conclusion of Mr. Singer's remarks did the festival come to a close. Those who were fortunate enough to experience the films presented that day shared their farewells with one another while expressing a desire to attend another Forwardian Film Festival in the future. You'll find photographs taken during The Forwardian Film Festival held at The SOHO in the BURG Gallery in Stroudsburg, PA on May 2nd and 3rd at You'll also find photographs taken in various locations throughout the area in The Pocono Art District 2015 Archive at and those in a wider variety of venues in The Performing Arts 2015 Archive at

If I may say so myself (and I do say so myself), The Forwardian Film Festival was a great festival. And, I would like to take this time to thank The SOHO in the BURG Gallery in Stroudsburg, PA for housing the event and the venue's staff member, Stephen Washington, for supplying the computer that was used to show the films. I also would like to thank Jody Singer and The Origins Gallery for providing the festival with a screen and some additional chairs. And, I would like to thank the filmmakers who shared their wonderful cinematic talents that made what we saw something worth seeing and especially to Kyle Rebar and Kevin Vorgrin who brought the projector used to show the films all the way from Scranton, PA and shared their insights gained from their experience in holding film festivals in their home town with me. Last but not least, I would like to thank those who attended the festival as well as those who helped to promote it for supporting this wonderful endeavor. I am humbled by your love for the arts and your desire to help make our next film festival even better. Thank you all.

The SOHO in the BURG Gallery is located on the corner of 6
th and Main Street in Stroudsburg, PA which was the location of the J. J. Newberry’s store. The gallery opened its doors to the public in April of 2012 and is owned by Andrea Robbins Rimberg who has become well known for her exuberant energies and creativity as many of her pieces are on display in prestigious galleries throughout the United States. In addition to special events like The Forwardian Film Festival, the gallery presents exhibition that feature the work of local artists. The current exhibition features the work of Joe Mooney and Emilio Arostegui along with the accomplishments of local artists in a group exhibit titled, “Springing in The Rain.” The exhibit will on display until May 30th. The next exhibit is titled, “Eye Candy” which will begin with an Artists' Reception on Saturday June 6th beginning at 4pm and will continue to be on display until July 30th. Please explore The SOHO in the BURG Gallery Facebook Page at or their Website at to learn of their future exhibits and all the gallery has to offer the creative community.

The Forwardian Arts Society is a fellowship for people who love the arts which began in the October of 2001. The Basic Art Lover Membership in the group is free and open to anyone who has a love for the arts and a desire to become a member. An advanced Passionate Art Lover Membership is available at an annual fee for those who are able and willing to support the fellowship financially. Please feel free to learn how to be a member by exploring their “We Heart The Forwardian Arts” Facebook Page at

In addition to The Forwardian Film Festival, the fellowship publishes a literary and arts magazine titled, “Forwardian” whose 10th issue is scheduled to be available on line in June 2015. The Forwardian Arts Society recently held their Cover to Cover III exhibit at the Origins Gallery in Stroudsburg, PA to determine which image would appear on the upcoming issue's front and back covers. The Forwardian Arts Society also posts articles and photographs of recently held art related events on their Facebook Page. Please feel free to explore The Forwardian Arts Society Facebook Page at or their Website at for more information.

Photography by Paparazzi Paul

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