g The Film Panel Notetaker: Rooftop Films - "October Country" Sneak Preview Screening

Friday, September 19, 2008

Rooftop Films - "October Country" Sneak Preview Screening

Sneak Preview Screening at Open Road Rooftop
October Country
New York, NY
Sept. 18, 2008

(October Country directors Michael Palmieri & Donal Mosher and Rooftop Films' Mark Elijah Rosenberg at after party held at Fontana's) Photo by Brian Geldin

Thursday night in New York, I attended the previously announced sneak preview screening of Michael Palmieri's and Donal Mosher's documentary October Country at Rooftop Films. October Country is a haunting and intimate portrait of a working-class family dealing with everything from the ghosts of war to teen pregnancy to foster care and child abuse. The film is set in Herkimer, NY, and was filmed over the period of a year from one Halloween to the next, based on Mosher's essays and photographs. Both Palmieri and Mosher were on hand after the screening for a Q&A with the audience.

When asked how the theme of ghosts came about, Mosher explained that the character of Denise in the film, his aunt with whom he grew up, told him that the Mohawk Valley (where the documentary is set) is haunted. Mosher went back there every year for six years and photographed Denise and his family, which then lead to a year of filming the documentary.

As to how the family is doing since the making of the film, Mosher said he told Denise that it would open a lot of wounds, to which she replied, "Don't worry, they're still open."

How much did the process of filmmaking help the family, one audience member asked. Mosher said as they were winding down filming, everyone said it really helped them. There was a different articulation. Ultimately, when the filming was done, not a whole lot changed for them, but it brought out a certain awareness for them. It might change even further once the film is shown to them, Palmieri added. "We're terrified," he said.

Be on the look out soon for October Country on the festival circuit.

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