Up the Hudson to Albany and NYSIFF

“The Pit and the Pendulum – a musicabre” wins Best Horror

at the New York State International Film Festival

Yes, my musical Poe adaptation was awarded Best Horror at the New York State International Film Festival, and I will report all about the screening and festival experience.

But this post will also be heavily “two-fisted touristic“, as the train trip up to Albany all along the Hudson river is one of the most lovely trips you can enjoy in a train in New England, if not North America. And Albany also has much worth photographing, including the Schuyler mansion (birthplace of Angelica, Eliza … and Peggy) and Empire State Plaza.

So sit back and scroll – plenty of eye candy to be enjoyed with NYSIFF festival pics in the middle.

On the Amtrak train from NYC, me to the left, husband and co-producer/co-actor Ed Elder to the right.

And views of the Hudson to the West, all the way (two and half hours) up to Albany.

Bannerman Castle.

As we walked from the train station across the Hudson towards downtown Albany, our first views of the city were obscured by the wire mesh on the bridge.

Crew rowing teams racing around a yellow ball.

One more look up the Hudson.

The SUNY Albany University building

Empire State Plaza’s brutalist architecture rearing its forbidding forms.

State Street

New York State Capitol

Philip Henry Sheridan

Continuing up Washington Ave past the Capitol building

State Street by Washington Park

Soldiers and Sailors Memorial

That evening Ed and I attended the 7th New York State International Film Festival at The Linda Performing Arts Studio.

Carl Kinlin welcomed the audience to the second of two evenings of 4 hours worth of screenings.

Greg Aidala was the moderator for the program, Q&As and awards presentations.

“The Pit and the Pendulum – a musicabre” was 4th on the program. The screening conditions were very good. Large screen and excellent sound system. Although NYSIFF played the stereo file, not the 5.1 mix, it still felt like surround sound.

The audience response was very enthusiastic, and a lot of questions were asked during the Q&A.

At the end of the evening I accepted the award for “Best Horror”.

Three more awards were handed out that night (two others – for comedy and drama – had been handed out the previous night). Best Animated went to the very witty “Dragon Poets of Boston”, Best Music Video went to wonderfully deranged “Metube: August Sings ‘Una Furtiva Lagrima'”, and best Documentary went to the moving NYC pandemic panorama “Outside In”. Here director Mark O’Toole accepts his award while festival organizers Nico Altekin and Carl Kinlin look on.

Me with Mark O’Toole

Next day, we touristed some more, starting with Washington Park.

Lark Street

Hilarious window display signs for tuxedo rentals

Martin Luther King Jr memorial in Lincoln Park

Empire State Plaza in the distance

The Schuyler Mansion – i.e. Alexander Hamilton’s father-in-law’s house

By the way, the staff and servants referred to here were all slaves, or, to use the term of our guide, “enslaved people” … NY State didn’t fully abolish slavery until the 1820s.

Philip John Schuyler (1730 – 1804)

Evidently Philip was called back from leading the 1775 invasion of Quebec to marry Catherine Van Rensselaer (1734–1803) upon an urgent letter from her father; 5 months later Philip and Catherine’s eldest, Anjelica, was born…

The main parlor. The level of a vistor’s importance dictated how long they would wait to be led into the main room to see Schuyler. George Washington wouldn’t have to needed to wait long at all…

Reproductions of the “The Ruins of Rome” Schuyler had painted on his parlor walls. Their cost alone was worth 13 months of one tenant farmer’s rent. Altogether “it would take the average laborer over twenty-seven years” to purchase all the items Schuyler acquired for his home in one year alone—”and that’s only if the laborer put all the money they made toward this effort, which would be impossible, as it does not include necessities for survival such as food or clothing”.

Best parlor – where visitors would be met.

A portrait of Hamilton, albeit not one that is considered very good

Dining room

Schuyler’s library was impressively stocked for his day. Some of his books are still present in his original desk.

Upstairs parlor

In the upstairs windows a reproduction of an 18th painting shows close to the exact view of landscape and Hudson river the Schuyler family would have had

The main bedroom – for Philip and Catherine

Yellow bedroom – children had no designated bedrooms but would sleep in any of the family bedrooms.

Blue bedroom – where visitors would sleep

An 18th century version of “Game of Life”

A traveller’s trunk of the time

World War II memorial

Approaching Empire State Plaza

The Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller Empire State Plaza houses several departments of the New York State administration. The complex was built between 1965 and 1976 at an estimated total cost of $2 billion, paid through a rather complex and controversial (aka shady?) financing deal finagled by Rockefeller and Albany’s Mayor Corning. 1200 buildings housing 7000 residents, mostly African-American, were displaced to make room for it.

Rockefeller conceived the basic design of the complex with architect Wallace Harrison, using the vast scope and style of Brasilia, Versailles and Chandigarh as models. Critics lambasted the result as an “outdated notion of what modern architecture, not to mention modern government should stand for”, comparing the buildings to those of fascist governments. (More on all of that here.)

Cultural Education Center

The 44 story Corning Tower at right is the tallest building in NY State outside of NYC.

The Capitol
The Egg – Performance/Meeting Hall
Agency Buildings

The whole plaza complex is connected via an underground grand concourse.

Train ride back to NYC, with the sun setting west of the Hudson

UPDATE: Nico from NYSIFF just sent me a bunch of pics and my award certificate:

During the Q&A after the screening of “The Pit and the Pendulum – a musicabre”

This is probably me saying I intend to cast Ed in all of my films…

Later we won the award for Best Horror.

That looks like I’m acknowledging Ed, who opted to stay in the auditorium to take pictures (the ones I posted above).

The official photographer’s shot of me with Mark O’Toole

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.
This entry was posted in Arts-a-Poppin', Cinema Scope, Poe Musicabres, Two-fisted Touristing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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