Popular SBU film fest curtain rises again


By Chadwick Roy
Campus Magnet High School

The Stony Brook film festival is back for people to enjoy in-person (Photo by Miles Reese)

Movie lovers can again enjoy the in-person experience of a 1,000-seat theater at the annual Stony Brook Film Festival, offering a post-pandemic treat that can draw spectators from far beyond the Long Island venue.

Spectators and moviegoers have a lot to look forward to during the festival, which runs from July 22 to July 31. It features 35 new, independent flicks ranging from opening night’s documentary The 5th Man — about local and legendary track coach, Paul Limmer — to closing night’s French-language feature film, Final Set.

This year, each of the films will be available for virtual viewing — but only after the in-person film-watching ends. The Virtual Festival runs from August 5 through August 30.

“There’s nothing like the in-person experience,” said Festival Director Alan Inkles, who has high hopes for attendance at the week-long event at the Staller Center for the Arts on SBU’s campus.

Despite the fanfare of the return of the festival, some uncertainties remain. After all, it’s been two years since the Festival hosted a live audience. How will social distancing work? Will the movie buffs return like they did in years past?

Inkles is optimistic that they will.

When discussing the difficulty of creating such a big event year to year, Inkles made it clear that hard work always pays off in the end when it’s something you love to do.

“It’s definitely not easy,” he said during an interview over Zoom. “But with the help of my team, and the work we put in, it always pays off.”

Inkles said he always has a great time picking movies to put into the festival, adding that he and his team watch up to almost 3,000 thousand movies.

However, he said he becomes indecisive when it comes to selecting movies.

“There’s always movies that are easily decided, but there are like 300 that are so, so tough to decide on,” he said. “I wish I could add them all!”

“Can’t wait to see you there!,” said one lover of the annual film festival who chose to remain anonymous as she walked by the theater on opening day.

Rafer Guzman, a Newsday film critic who covers the film festival, is also excited for the revamp, and he credits Alan Inkles and his team for the hard work they put into making the Film Festival after such a rough two years trapped in a pandemic.

“I credit Alan Inkles for the labor of love him and his team put into making this all happen,” said Guzman.

He also says Inkles’ creative scheme is much different from other Film Festivals.

“He uses a lot of foreign films,” said Guzman. “Films that you would never see anywhere else except at the Stony Brook Film Festival. It’s a smart and creative way to get people to come out to the film festival.”

Guzman also notes that Inkles puts “one hundred percent effort” into the annual festival, “like it’s his baby.” Guzman expects that the attendance will still be big even though the pandemic put a pause on the event.

“The event so far has been a huge success,” Guzman said. “The comeback of the Film Festival goes to show how dedicated Inkles and his team to make a huge come back after such a difficult COVID-19 pandemic.”