Behind the Screen: FilmColumbia

In the latest Behind The Screen — a peek behind the Crandell’s velvet curtain — FilmColumbia managing director Calliope Nicholas discusses our signature annual event.

FilmColumbia celebrated its 20th anniversary last fall with thousands of film lovers attending. How the world has changed since then! All of us involved with the Crandell Theatre & FilmColumbia have been grappling with next steps throughout the pandemic and closely following the film industry in its latest evolutions.

FilmColumbia was created in 1999 to a humble start of a few films over a weekend. In 2000, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon gave our audiences an early screening before going on to win the Oscar for best foreign film. At that time the 35mm projector was the only format available, with large film canisters delivered daily to the theater. It was a fascinating process to watch Tony Quirino, then owner of the Crandell, go through the complex process of weaving the filmstrip through various loops and levers.

As the years went on, we figured out the logistics of running a film festival, which was almost as complex as threading the in-house projector. With our growing confidence plus Co-Artistic Directors Peter Biskind and Larry Kardish’s film industry savvy, many films were given early screenings that went on to garner national and international awards, including Oscar nominations and wins. FilmColumbia grew in an organic way, both in stature and in audience appreciation, becoming a much written about gem as a regional film festival.

FilmColumbia has continued to thrive, in recent years as a 10-day celebration of films and events, with three venues in and around Main Street. Part of the excitement for audiences at FilmColumbia is being among the first to watch a film, sitting in the historic Crandell with like-minded film buffs & afterwards spilling out into the charming streets of Chatham for lively discussions. That is why FilmColumbia was recently awarded as one of the ‘2020 Coolest Film Festivals in the World’ by MovieMaker Magazine.

The pandemic has shut down FilmColumbia this year, but we look forward to coming back in 2021 with the very best offerings to our esteemed audiences and community. We miss seeing all of your beautiful faces.