Blackbird Film Festival at SUNY Cortland highlights female filmmakers


CORTLAND, N.Y. — The Blackbird Film Festival returned to SUNY Cortland this weekend, bringing experienced and amateur filmmakers together for the festival's fourth annual event.

The 2018 festival’s focus is “Women in Film”, with at least 50 percent of the films in the lineup made by women. There was also be a special “Women in Film” screening followed by a moderated panel discussion. Originally meant solely for student filmmakers, the festival has since opened its doors to all types of filmmakers.

The first event in the festival this year was a roundtable discussion with Jerry Stoeffhaas, deputy director at the New York State Governor’s Office of Motion Picture and Television.

The panel discussed "all things production" in New York State, including tax credits, location scouting, finding stages, and selecting cast and crew members.

“We work on several different levels,” Stoeffhaas said. “We help explain the credit and answer any questions about the credit.”

Stoeffhaas gave attendees a crash course on tax credits and films. He explained the rules and guidelines that need to be followed in order to receive the tax credit.

After the round table was the welcome ceremony, which opened with a performance of the song “Blackbird” by the Beatles by one of SUNY Cortland’s a cappella groups, Treble in Paradise.

Samuel Avery, Executive Director & Lead Festival Programmer, said the festival was online-only in its first year, but it had heart to it.

“It’s really cool to see how this festival has grown” Avery said. “I am proud to say that I would be honored and pleased to be part of this festival as a filmmaker.”

“I’m excited for this year because it’s a lot bigger” said Alyssa Marley, Assistant Director of Digital Content & Marketing for Blackbird and a senior at SUNY Cortland. “This is my second year interning and the festival has gotten a lot bigger since last year.”

Nolan Harp, an event coordinator intern at Blackbird and also a senior at SUNY Cortland, had the chance to meet with some of the filmmakers.

“The community is really supportive at Blackbird” he said. “As an intern, I got to meet with people from the industry which is really cool.”

The Blackbird Film Festival is happening all weekend. For a full list of events, visit