After the Summer Film Festival ended on Thursday, local film enthusiasts met at the Dietrich on Friday to discuss their takes on the 21 films shown in Tunkhannock over the previous three weeks.
Loretta Slowikowski especially enjoyed ‘Pavarotti,’ a documentary about the opera icon Luciana Pavarotti, as well as ‘The Chaperone,’ the story of a rebellious elite dancer who gets an opportunity to dance in New York, but needs to be accompanied by a straightlaced chaperone.
However, she found ‘Echo In The Canyon,’ a documentary about the birth of popular music in Laurel Canyon, Los Angeles during the 1960s, ultimately disappointing.
Sandy Austin commented that four of the 18 films she saw during the festival had a theme of heroism.
This included ‘The Spy Behind Home Plate,’ a documentary about baseball player turned spy Morris ‘Moe’ Berg; ‘Red Joan,’ in which a retired woman must relive her past as an influential spy after being arrested; ‘Woman at War,’ where an environmentalist must decide between her biggest activism plan yet or finally becoming a mother; and ‘The Public,’ a story where homelessness intersects with a public library.
Her least favorite was ‘Amazing Grace,’ a musical documentary featuring concert footage of Aretha Franklin.
Harry Sweppenheiser saw all 21 films and enjoyed ‘The Spy Behind Home Plate,’ as well as ‘Red Joan.’
This season, rather than saying he hated or disliked a film, he chose to focus on the positive aspects of all them instead.
“There’s something about every one that I liked,” he said.
No two film goers had the same likes and dislikes, but the group of 10 still found shared points of interest in many of the 21 films.
One of these films was ‘The Mustang,’ an opening night festival feature that follows a prison inmate who enters a horse training program and develops a bond with a mustang as part of his rehabilitation.
Dietrich Theater film booker Ronnie Harvey called ‘The Mustang’ “one of the best” this season and said he was “fully invested” throughout the entire film.
Anne Davies, who saw a total of eight films, didn’t originally have ‘The Mustang’ on her list, but added it after seeing the trailer, and Dietrich projectionist Esther Harmatz said that out of all the movies she saw, it took the biggest toll on her emotions.
Dietrich Theater Executive Director Erica Rogler and Faye Trgovac agreed that Matthias Schoenaerts’ acting was memorable in the film as well, and Trgovac admires his ability to play different characters.
“That’s real acting,” she said.
Rogler also said that hearing from representatives of Marley’s Mission and Equines for Freedom during a special showing, two local groups that do similar work, enhanced the film.
The group agreed that certain films also gave a look into famous writers, though they noted that the films are still somewhat fictional: “Wild Nights with Emily” about Emily Dickinson; ‘Tolkien’ about J.R.R. Tolkien; and “All Is True” about William Shakespeare.
Many film goers also enjoyed ‘The Chaperone.’
Gary VanVranken called it one of the best that he’s seen because of its excellent acting and storyline.
Harmatz put ‘The Chaperone’ in her top three, calling it fun, pleasant and just a good story overall.
As far as endings go, Harvey called the conclusion of ‘Woman at War’ the most poetic of the festival, where the protagonist learns that her risky actions against the Icelandic government in the name of helping the environment may have been in vain.
Following the discussion, those in attendance encouraged others who felt struck by any of the films to come out for future discussions.
This September, the Dietrich Theater plans to hold its Fall Film Festival, with details to be announced.