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Hunter Mountain Film Festival makes its debut

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    Orpheum Film and Performing Arts Center
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    Actor Hunter Emery, who plays CO Rick Hopper in “Orange is the New Black,” will be recognized at Hunter Mountain’s first film festival this May.
May 15, 2019 05:40 pm

HUNTER — Just three months after the departure of Mountain Jam, Hunter is on the verge of introducing a new kind of festival to the area.

Movies in the Mountains, Hunter’s inaugural film festival, will make its debut Thursday and run through Saturday. Films from across the country will be screened at the Doctorow Center for the Arts and the Orpheum Film and Performing Arts Center.

The event is for everyone, co-director Michele Peacock said.

“We are all about being inclusive,” she said. “It’s important for patrons to know it’s not just for filmmakers but for people who love TV and movies.”

The festival is a family affair, Peacock said, adding that her children, Trevor and Tatum, were a major force behind it.

“In 2012 our family made a short film called “Beyond Here Lies Nothing,” Peacock said.

But the family was disheartened by their experience on the film festival circuit.

“We were hoping for more networking opportunities and press,” Peacock said. “Trevor and Tatum thought, how fun would it be to put on our own?”

Hunter is a special place for the Peacocks.

“I grew up in Hunter,” Peacock said. “My family lives here. I got married on Hunter Mountain. My kids spent their summers here and ski here. Our roots are here.”

Peacock hopes to bring a unique experience to the mountaintop, she said.

“This will be a new experience for them,” she said. “Nothing like this has ever been done at Hunter Mountain.”

Peacock expects patrons will be surprised by how many locals are in the industry, she said.

“I don’t think they realize there are so many people surrounding them,” Peacock said. “I want to bring awareness to that.”

A highlight of the event will be a meet-and-greet with “Orange Is the New Black” star Hunter Emery, which is scheduled for 3 p.m. on Saturday.

Emery, who plays guard Rick Hopper on the prison drama, is being honored with this year’s Rising Star Award, for his exceptional growth in the entertainment industry.

“I’ve never won an award for acting,” Emery said in April. “I’m shocked, humbled and honored, but it’s strange. The idea that I can get paid for it is still pretty wild.”

The Queens native considers himself blessed.

“I auditioned a few times for the show and never got anywhere,” Emery said. “At one point the character for Rick Hopper came up. I was nervous because the character felt really right for me.”

Emery auditioned on a Thursday, got the call Friday and was on the set Monday.

Emery’s acting career began completely by chance.

“My friend, who was involved in high school drama club, dared me to audition for a lead,” Emery said.

He was cast as Chuckie, the role eventually played by Ben Affleck in the film adaptation of “Good Will Hunting.” Emery never looked back.

“I dove right in,” Emery said. “I told my baseball coach I wasn’t coming back next season. I instantly knew it was a game-changer for me. I found my calling.”

The awards ceremony will be the first time Emery has visited Hunter Mountain, he said.

“I haven’t spent much time upstate,” he said. “I’m looking forward to it.”

Betty Aberlin, who starred as Lady Aberlin on “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, will also be recognized, Peacock said.

Peacock hopes the community will come out for a night or day of fun to meet the stars, she said.

The opening ceremony kicks off Thursday at 6 p.m. with entertainment by comic Gabby Bryan. The film for the evening will be the acclaimed “A Bread Factory: Part 1,” about two women (Tyne Daly and Elisabeth Henry) who move to the town of Checkford and buy an abandoned bread factory they transform into an arts space where they host movies, plays, dance, exhibits and artists. “Bread Factory: Part 2” will be screened Friday at the Orpheum Theatre at 2 p.m. An industry mixer will begin at 7 p.m., followed by a screening of “Back to Las Villas.” Musician Gilberto Pulp Colon Jr. will take the stage with his band after the film.

On Saturday, patrons will have the opportunity to participate in the Harley Davidson Kickoff Motorcycle Ride. Event sponsor Bill Nugent will lead the ride. Nugent was part of the first cross-country motorcycle ride captured by producer Brian Darwas in the documentary “Cannonball” (2010).

The ride will begin at 11:30 a.m. at Woodstock Harley Davidson in Kingston and end at the Doctorow Center, where a screening of “Walter’s Ride: The True Harley Davidson Story” will begin at 1 p.m., followed at 1:30 by “White Knuckles.”

The festival will conclude with an awards ceremony at Kaatskill Mountain Club from 8-10 p.m, hosted by Anthoula Katsimatides (star of CBS’ “FBI” and producer of the documentary “Olympia”). The Peacock Awards will be presented for Best Feature Film, Short Film, Documentary, Web Series and Student Film, as well as best Actor, Actress and Director.

Full schedules for each day of the festival can be found at

The festival will provide a new opportunity for residents and tourists, Greene County Director of Tourism Heather Bagshaw said.

“Anything that brings in a new opportunity for visitors and new things for them to do is a great addition to the events in Greene County,” Bagshaw said. “We’re very excited for the event and have no doubt it will be successful.”

Hunter Town Supervisor Daryl Legg predicts the festival will be a big draw.

“Anything that comes into town and brings outsiders in is a benefit,” Legg said.

Next year, the festival is looking to add a music component, Peacock said.

Tickets for the Hunter Mountain Film Festival range from $30 one-day passes to the $250 three-day VIP package. Patrons may also purchase tickets to individual screenings at reduced rates. All of the films are followed by question-and-answer sessions with the cast and crew.