The seventh annual Blackbird Film & Arts Festival is slated to go from this Thursday to Sunday.
Sam Avery, executive director of the festival, will take place in the general area of Greek Peak Mountain Resort. The “true address” is 1856 New York state route 392 — the location of The Adventure Center in Virgil.
“We’re calling this area the ‘arts village,’” Avery said, who is also a professor in the Communication and Media Studies department at SUNY Cortland.
Held at the Brown Auditorium at SUNY Cortland in previous years, 2021 is the first year this event will be “entirely outdoors,” Avery said.
More importantly, Avery added, the admission to this year’s festival is free.
The festival event in 2020, which was held in October at Greek Peak as opposed to the summer due to the COVID-19 pandemic, was completely in a drive-in format.
“Despite it being freezing, the event ended up being pretty successful,” Avery said. “It’s what prompted us to have it in the same place this year.”
This year’s festival will feature 104 independent films each day, mixing between short and feature-length showings. Films during the day will be set up in tents for spectators to enjoy in person. At night, films will be displayed in a drive-in format.
Eleven total local musicians and bands are performing on Saturday and Sunday between 10 a.m. and 9 p.m., with each act putting on a performance around two hours.
Other activities part of the festival include an artisan craft fair — which highlights local artists — craft beer and wine tasting, a Father’s Day barbecue at Greek Peak and more.
From the film portion, Avery and the festival team recruited independent filmmakers throughout the world. Avery added that these are films “you won’t be able to see in the theaters.”
“People are not used to seeing films like this,” he said. “I think people are going to be pretty surprised at the level of production quality. It’s going to be higher than an actual cinema.”
A handful of filmmakers will be in attendance to answer questions and talk about the production process, casting and more.
“It’s always a neat aspect of the film festival process,” Avery said.
The festival sees between 600-800 people come through every year, Avery said. This year with the “whole thing re-invented” and a new format, Avery is expecting a larger turnout.
“There’s a lot more to do,” he said. “I also think people are a bit stir crazy from a year of quarantine.”
In terms of COVID-19 guidelines, Avery said spectators who are vaccinated are not required to wear a mask. He is, however, still encouraging social distancing.
For more information on this year’s festival, go to the Blackbird Film & Arts Festival website.