In the early hours of May 27, Christian Pruitt, a projectionist at Montpelier’s Savoy Theater, heard his home sump pump start working. Concerned about flooding at his workplace, he rushed there and found chairs floating in the Savoy’s recently renovated basement.
Backed-up storm drains resulted in a “geyser coming out of our bar sink,” says Savoy owner Terrence Youk, who, alerted by Pruitt, sped to the theater. When the river finally crested, the water retreated, leaving a foot-high coating of sludge on the space that Youk, with the help of community donations, had transformed from a video store and storage area into a cozy, hip second screening room with a bar and tables crafted from film reels.
Now Youk is again going to the community to raise $12,000 to repair the damage. So far, the response has been strong: An appeal in the Savoy’s email newsletter resulted in nearly $7000 donated in two and a half days, says Youk. He’s offering donors the choice of having their name inscribed on a theater brick or a new basement chair.
The evening after the flood, the Savoy suffered a new loss: “We were determined to show the upstairs film,” says Youk. A power outage damaged the surround-sound system and left him “wrangling with the insurance companies.”
As far as the basement goes, “we’re getting there,” says Youk, who hopes to have the space ready for use in a week. He still plans to host a concert-style live music series down there, at some point. Also on the Savoy’s horizon is a transition to digital projection, which would allow the upstairs theater to show cultural broadcasts such as live theater and opera. Youk wants it to be a beaming site for the California-based Bioneers Conference in October.
Youk says the community response to the theater’s plight has been “very heartening and humbling.” Noting that many Montpelier businesses lost more, he says, “I think we’re gonna be OK.”
For information on donating to the Savoy Theater Flood Fund, go to savoytheater.com or call 229-0598.
Programming at the annual Lake Placid Film Forum always has an out-of-left-field quality, and this year is no exception. In a nod to Lake Placid’s Olympic glories, the June 16 to 19 festival includes the documentaries Rise, about the plane crash that devastated American figure skating; and 110%, chronicling the efforts of female ski jumpers to join Olympic competition.
In a different vein, there’s Raiders of the Lost Ark: The Adaptation, a shot-for-shot remake of Steven Spielberg’s blockbuster crafted by three cash-strapped but very obsessed young Mississippi fans. Two of the filmmakers — who were 12 when they undertook their quixotic seven-year project, in 1982 — will be at the fest, all grown up, for a Q&A.
In the 1990s, critics called New York filmmaker Whit Stillman (Barcelona) the heir to Woody Allen. Find out what he’s been doing lately when Stillman appears at the LPFF to screen scenes from his upcoming film alongside his last one, The Last Days of Disco (1998), a love song to Manhattan nightlife in the early ’80s.
Vermont isn’t represented this year at the Sleepless in Lake Placid 24-hour film competition. But expect to see Rutland on film in The Blood in This Town, the doc about a record-breaking blood drive that’s been making the rounds of local fests and sparking discussions of Rutland’s renewed community spirit. In the North Country Shorts Showcase, look for “Organ,” by Michael Fisher of Burlington, in which local actress Jane Beaumont Snyder plays a woman scorned. You can preview it on his Vimeo page.
Lake Placid Film Forum, Thursday through Sunday, June 16 to 19, various times and locations in Lake Placid, N.Y. $10 to $12 per film or $85 for festival pass. Info, 518-523-3456. lakeplacidfilmforum.com