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Staten Island Kicks Off First Annual Film Festival

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First there was TriBeCa, then there was Sundance at Bam, now Staten Island is getting into the mix. The borough will host its own film festival, featuring highlights from homegrown filmmakers. NY1's Amanda Farinacci filed the following report.

Is the Parsonage restaurant haunted? Rumors have been flying for decades that it is, so a
crew of Staten Island filmmakers spent the night at the famed restaurant, cameras rolling the whole time. Their film, "Scared, Episode 10," will be featured in the first annual Staten Island Film Festival.

"It was quite a night; a lot of the unexpected happened," says the film's director Brian Cano.

One-hundred-thirteen films will light up the silver screen beginning this Thursday at the festival, organized by the Staten Island Economic Development Corporation. Tuesday, participants visited with aspiring filmmakers and answered questions about their projects and how they got involved in cinema.

Many of the entries are by local film makers, drawing from their experiences living on Staten Island.

"I wrote it with the inspiration of the time that I spent with my family, my grandmothers," says Amanda Johnson, director, "Going Up Yonder."

"Growing up here was a great cultural experience. My background is Italian American, but there are all different type of peoples here, and the great thing was is that the neighborhood in the early 70's was so new that it was just a real sense of community," says John Gigant, director, "Cugini."

It took two years to plan the four-day festival and each of the featured films were shot all over Staten Island.

"I think a lot of people want to shoot here because we're still in New York City, but yet we're a borough; it's a borough," says Lance Reha, director, "Dead Man's Hands."

"You can film by the ferry and have a different experience than if you filmed in Tottenville. The island is so small and yet so big that it can accommodate so many different things," says Cano.

The festival runs from June 1 through June 4.

For more information about the films, and how to purchase tickets, log onto www.sifilmfestival.org.

- Amanda Farinacci
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