SUNY’s Studley Theatre hosts New Paltz Film Festival

New Paltz Film Fest founders Allyson Ferrara and Danny Asis (photo by Lauren Thomas)

Now in its second year, the New Paltz Film Festival takes place on Saturday, September 28 at the Studley Theatre on the SUNY-New Paltz campus. After a successful freshman campaign in the summer of 2018, with more than 15 short films screened to an audience of over 300 at the Water Street Market, the organizers have moved the event to the larger venue on the SUNY campus. Predictably, submissions have greatly increased as well, topping 100 this year, coming from a wider range of independent filmmakers across the Hudson Valley.

The brainchild of New Paltz filmmaker and general cultural agitator Allyson Ferrara, this free festival aims to create a space in which artists and community can join together. Ferrara’s goal is to grow the festival into a year-round schedule of events. She took a minute to answer a few questions about the festival, about New Paltz and more:


How did you manage to pull this ambitious DIY undertaking together? It’s really impressive.

I started out as a solitary filmmaker and found enough satisfaction in creating my own projects that I would write, shoot and edit. However, three years ago I met Danny Asis, a local composer and filmmaker, who asked me to team up on a project with him and his music partner, Josh Kopit, for a project that involved the both of them and a poet, May Lewis. Danny and I found that we had fantastic creative chemistry and started making a bunch of short films together. I realized that as much as I could do alone, I could do so much more – and better – with a collaborative partner who was on my wavelength. This discovery also led to more of an audience for my – our – art together. Now I had Danny’s audience and he had mine. Collaboration brings forth something that solitary art has a harder time at doing: building an audience, growing your support network and having an accountable buddy to push you further to create.

Danny was right there with me when the idea for New Paltz Film Festival struck me. He was a driving force for me to realize that this wasn’t a silly little dream, but a passion project worth investing in. As far as the financial aspect, we expected to pay this all out-of-pocket because it is something we both really believe in. However, it turns out that it is something that our community also believes in. We reached out to local artists and businesses with our idea, and have found so many supportive people who are behind this project. We believe as it grows bigger, we will have more recognition and have more folks in our community that see this project as sustainable and wish to join us on this journey.

You are well-known to the New Paltz community. Why New Paltz? What’s your story here, and why this great commitment to its cultural life?

New Paltz is so important to me for so many reasons. I have been up here for more than 12 years now, and this is the most potent hub of creativity, support and inspiration that I have found. Everyone in this community is creative. Everyone in this community has been super- supportive. I find now that my favorite bands are local musicians (It’s Not Night: It’s Space, Schmave). My favorite filmmakers are my friends. My favorite painters, collage artists, chefs et cetera are all in this town. This is the first place where I realized that supporting those that surround you is so potent and cyclical. Big dream goals seem easily achievable in a town like this. I never would have believed a project like this was achievable where I grew up on Long Island. Up here it is. The clothes I wear are from my friends at Crust and Magic, the music I buy is from my friends in local bands, the restaurants I eat at aren’t chains, but local businesses like McFoxlin’s or the Parish and more. I think we are a great example of what is starting to happen in general on a larger scale.

New Paltz Film Festival, Saturday, Sept. 28, 7:30 p.m., Studley Theatre, SUNY-New Paltz,