A film about the first spectator sport in North America is part of a special spring edition of the Syracuse International Film Festival. They’re calling SpringFest. It’s focusing on films that have a Central New York connection through subject, filmmaker or local talent working on them. Syracuse University Sport Management Professor Dennis Deninger says his film “America’s First Sport” tells of the first time spectators actually watched a sporting event: a lacrosse game.
“[We] Found some accounts from some of the Jesuit priests who were the ones who first saw this sport. It was radically different from the organized sport we know now; played sometimes over a field that could have been a mile or two long. In many cases it was played through the woods.”
He says Europeans learned that sport could be a way of settling differences without war. Deninger has another film in the festival – “Changing Sport, Changing Lives” – about overcoming disability. Another day of SpringFest focuses on the Onondagas. Filmfest founder and Artistic Director Owen Shapiro says that emerged from the submissions.
“And this year it happened. Several of the films that were submitted dealt with the Native American community, and the focus happens to be the Onondaga Nation. So given the fact that we had four films that dealing with Native American community, issues, life, and culture, it made sense to put them together.”
One of them, the documentary “The Good Mind”, covers Onondaga history as well as contemporary work on the environment and the fight for native lands. Shapiro says year-round events and the recent film hub show the business is growing.
“There’s a film making economy we want to nurture. People in the community will see actors and crew around the community shooting. They’ll be called out for actors. Somebody’s home might be discovered as a really good location, as well as restaurants or an auto dealerships, depending on what kind of locations the film calls for.”
Shapiro notes two feature films recently shot here, and right now an Italian crew is scouting out local film locations. SpringFest continues tonight with “Behind the White Glasses” about iconic filmmaker Lena Wertmuller, and runs through Sunday at the Palace Theater. The film schedule for the weekend:
- April 28 7:00 p.m. Sidewalk Stories
- April 29 7:00 p.m. To and Fro
- April 29 7:00 p.m. Behind The White Glasses
- April 30 12:30 p.m. My Identity
- April 30 12:30 p.m. Iroquois Creation Story
- April 30 12:30 p.m. The Good Mind
- April 30 3:15 p.m. The Other Life Of Charon
- April 30 3:15 p.m. Garwin
- April 30 6:45 p.m. SU College of Visual and Performing Arts Faculty Showcase
- April 30 9:00 p.m. Irrefutable Proof
- May 1 1:00 p.m. Changing Sport, Changing Live
- May 1 3:30 p.m. Fragments of the Living
- May 1 3:30 p.m. Briarwood
- May 1 3:30 p.m. Boom and Bust
- May 1 3:30 p.m. Post-Panoptic Gazing
- May 1 3:30 p.m. A Veterans' Story