Over the course of five days this past week “The Pit and the Pendulum – a musicabre” screened in film festivals in Cleveland, New York City and Nyack. This blog post is about all three.

I was in New York for the opening of the Chain NYC Film Festival (see previous post), but then made my way to Cleveland for the Indie Gathering International Film Festival to represent my short film Edgar Allan Poe musical adaptation “The Pit and the Pendulum – a musicabre” there as well.

Above is Ray Szuch, who founded the festival 27 years ago, and after this year officially retires as its executive director – but expect him to still be around shmoozing and advising all comers next year.

Below is Christina, who ably manages the festival even when the hotel elevator breaks down. She is so averse to taking the spotlight that a photo portrait wasn’t possible. I finally suspected the mask was less about Covid than a desire to assiduously avoid being the public face of the festival. Because that would be Ray.

This is me with Eric William, host of Saturday Night Theater, where he interviews “the best independent film makers, directors, producers, composers, and actors from all over the world.” So he naturally interviewed me too. 😉

I like his sense of style. The “something orange” is his signature accessory.

I was also interviewed by Zombiepalooza’s Jackie Chin. Here she is interviewing composer Munenori Kishi, winner of a special film scoring competition.

This is Munenori with me at the tailgating party … more on that later.

I went to Cleveland knowing that “The Pit and the Pendulum – a musicabre” was an award winner in its category, Experimental Short, as well as nominated in two crafts categories – Cinematography and Editing for Short Film.

The film screened Friday, August 12, to an enthusiastic audience followed by a lively and detailed Q&A. Among other things we discussed the mirror masks – that I more than once have now heard described as “something I’ve never seen before” – and how those images were achieved. The practical nature of the VFX work was also discussed in length, especially the for pendulum and the eye in the pit.

You can see some of the images I allude to featured in the P&P trailer and read about their creation in some of the on-set diary posts already posted via the P&P home page.

P&P’s Chain NYC screening was August 13. The only way for us to represent at both festivals was to send me to Cleveland and for Ed to do the Q&A in New York. P&P’s editor Stolis Hadjicharalambous joined Ed.

Ed and Stolis doing the Q&A with Chain NYC’s Rick Hamilton. Stolis talked at length about our detailed and meticulous editing process and later reported that the film “played excellent”.

Meanwhile, later that same Saturday night back in Cleveland, Eric generously organized a tailgating party for the festival hardcore in the hotel parking lot – we grilled burgers and drank apple pie moonshine until 4am.

The next day, on little sleep, I accepted our awards for best experimental short and best cinematography for a short film (by Jason Chua, whose medal has been posted in the mail).

Director Craig Bettendorf (at top) and co-producer Kai Morgan won Best Documentary Feature for “Not a Tame Lion”, about the historian John Boswell, whose seminal books about same-sex marriage ceremonies in early Christianity showed that acceptance and even celebration of homosexual relationships lasted longer in the first twelve hundred years of the religion than the intolerance that has dominated in the last 800. Ed and I have three of John Boswell’s books in our shelves. I was moved to tears to finally see a comprehensive documentary on his life and work.

Selfie with Kai and Craig

The stickers on my badge indicate that in addition to being an actor, I am also a director/producer (pink), writer (yellow) and composer (green).

Three days later, on August 17, “The Pit and the Pendulum – a musicabre” screened at the Nyack Film Festival in picturesque Nyack on the Hudson river just a hop and a skip north of New York City.

Ed and me with Richard Quinn, executive director of the Nyack International Film Festival.

L. E. Salas, above and below, moderated the Q&As.

It was another Q&A of detailed questions (and answers) that reflected an engaged and appreciative audience.

At the end of which I was surprised with an award for Best Musical.

Ed and I spent an extra day in Nyack.

Which means we will for a short time exit the Cinema Scope category of this blog post and enter the Two-Fisted Touristing portion:

Nyack is a handsome little town on the Hudson just north of the new Mario Cuomo Bridge (that replaced the Tappan Zee Bridge).

The great American painter Edward Hopper grew up in Nyack.

Ed and I walked along the Hudson and up the Palisade to Hook Summit in Nyack State Park.

The Plateau – halfway up to Hook Summit vertically, but a lot longer still to go by pathway.

On our way up and down we met a family of deer, who were not terribly perturbed by our presence.

Below the selfie shows the actual distance they kept from us, which the zoom shot belies.

This one sat right on the hiking path both on our way up and way down.

There were five deer that stuck together, including two young bucks (you can see the horns on the one photographed above).

We also saw hawks, a badger (not close enough for a decent picture) and this snake who knew how to “find her light”.

Okay, let’s fast forward to Hook Summit, overlooking the Hudson. Looking south you can see the Mario Cuomo Bridge, and New York City skyscrapers rising beyond the horizon.

Looking north:

One last glance at Hook Summit:

We then spent another evening at the film festival before heading back home.

UPDATE 8/23: Indie Gathering just posted official photos from the awards ceremony

About dannyashkenasi

I'm a composer with over 40 years experience creating music theater. I'm also an actor, writer, director, producer, teacher and general enthusiast for the arts.
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