Support of innovative and independent films, artistic expression, education, diversity, and cultural enhancement; promotion of the region’s clean air and water, abundant wildlife, natural beauty and the entities that protect them. Recognition of the area’s history as the birthplace of the American conservation movement and as a popular filmmaking location.
Early in the year 2000, an extraordinary group of culturally minded, die-hard creative types huddled around a smoldering fire in an attempt to survive the frightful February freeze. Actually, the bit about the creative types is true but it really took place in a cozy tavern (by the fire) over a bottle of wine and some buffalo burgers. The scene was Milford, Pennsylvania, a mountainside Mecca for cutting-edge professionals and vacationers alike, on the Delaware River only an hour and a half northwest of New York City. And the idea hatched on that frigid February afternoon was a film festival. The Black Bear Film Festival. Their mission: To support and promote innovative, independent films.
Black Bear’s mandate is compelling … its programming unique … and its coordinators comprised of influential, thought-leading individualists who would rather face death than sacrifice the integrity of a film or venue. Generational to the area, relatively new to the area, or weekenders, they are committed to producing a program that is only pure in spirit and thought-provoking in content.
Unlike the majority of upstart film festivals, the Black Bear Film Festival packed the town and sold out every showing the first year. Featuring underseen classics and current independents, the local theaters have not experienced such tremendous turnouts and enthusiasm in decades. The heart, souls & psyches of thousands continue to fall spellbound by the profound screen images and the pure entertainment of the festival’s programming. In celebration of Milford’s rich heritage as a filmmaking location, also featured are silent & historical films originally shot in this beautiful country setting. Zane Grey, D.W. Griffith, Mary Pickford, Lillian Gish and John Barrymore are just a few of the celebrities who have graced Milford’s alleys long before us. Milford is also the home of Gifford Pinchot, a leader in the American conservation movement, and Black Bear pays tribute to this movement by also featuring films which celebrate the preservation of the natural world.
Not only are the movies engaging, the parties wonderful and the entire weekend a smash hit, with many free events and films in addition to the ticketed main features, the nurturing effects of this event have been much more far-reaching. The creative nature of the subject matter, together with the team effort required to pull it off, have propelled the entire community into a much deeper and heartfelt commitment to the artistic integrity of this area we call home.
Educational programs, ecological and historic preservation efforts, additional film venues during the festival and throughout the year, are just a few of the ways in which the Black Bear Film Festival has continued to promote the cultural enhancement of this beautiful pristine region.