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International Film Festival Planned for Canton; Details Will Be Unveiled Aug. 7

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CANTON - A filmmaker from Los Angeles with family ties to the north country is planning to launch an international film festival in the village of Canton that local officials hope will become an annual event that spurs commerce and tourism.

Adam M. Paul, a native of Schenectady who has 20 years experience in filmmaking and acting, plans to outline plans for the St. Lawrence International Film Festival during an Aug. 7 unveiling event at Traditional Arts in Upstate New York, Main Street.

“We are in the planning stages for starting a world-class film festival that would reach across the Canadian border,” Mr. Paul said Tuesday. “We would be screening new independent films from all over the world. These are films that are not seen by the general public.”

Mr. Paul is also seeking corporate sponsors for the festival. Ticket sales would also generate revenue. He has submitted a proposal to the St. Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce and is working to establish partnerships with area colleges. He has also created an advisory board that includes film and television actor Mark Valley, an Ogdensburg native who has maintained strong ties to the north country.

The idea is to have independent filmakers showcase their work in Canton each year, starting in the fall of 2015 with a Friday through Sunday event. Film venues could include the downtown American Theatre, area colleges and Ottawa. The festival would include a competition and possibly a showing of one well-known legacy film.

Mr. Paul’s wife, Dr. Michelle Gendebien-Paul, grew up in Lisbon and still has family here including her brother, Blake Gendebien and his wife, Carmen, who operate a dairy farm in Lisbon. Mrs. Gendebien also owns The Glow Skincare and Spa, 75 Main St.

Mr. Paul said he feels Canton’s proximity to Ottawa and four area colleges make it an ideal community to host an international festival. The festival could also draw filmakers from other eastern cities including Boston, Montreal, New York City and Syracuse.

“I’ve spent a lot of time up there, and I’m charmed by the region,” Mr. Paul said.

Mr. Paul said he and his wife frequently visit the north country and plan to move to the Canton area within three to five years.

Over time, the film festival could evolve into a week-long event that would be similar to the Sundance Film Festival. He said it will be a for-profit venture that over time should become self sustaining.

Canton Mayor Mary Ann Ashley said the village contributes $1,500 each year for the Remington Art Festival, and she will recommend the village also make a financial contribution to the film festival.

“I think this is an exciting new idea that could increase tourism for our village and connect us internationally with Ottawa,” Ms. Ashley said. “I would certainly recommend to our board that we invest in this.”

Town Supervisor David T. Button said a film festival would work well in Canton.

“I think it matches the character of our community. We’re a community that supports the arts, and I think his (Mr. Paul’s) objectives and our goals line up with each other,” he said.

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