Christina M. Hinke


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Rural Route Film Festival: New York Gets a Glimpse of the Simple Life
Thursday, July 21 - Sunday, July 24, Anthology Film Archives


By Christina M. Hinke
New York Cool
July 2005

It’s that time of the year when film festivals are in full swing. And on July 21, 2005, New Yorkers will see yet another kind of festival, the Rural Route Film Festival - an annual festival which features films with rural themes. But "Rural" is about more than just film. “We’re about a cultural experience,” said Michael Schmidt, festival founder and co-director.

The festival shows films, but it also brings a down-home party to Manhattan. Following the opening night’s screening of Jim Jarmusch’s Dead Man (starring Johnny Depp), the Akron/Family band will perform a live two-hour set. Dubbed “Freaky Folk”, this folk alternative band will kick up the pace. “It makes it more of an event,” Michael Schmidt said. As an added treat for this year’s film-goers, the festival is having musicians perform live acoustic sets before most of the evening screenings.

Alan Webber and Michael Schmidt, who grew up in small towns in Iowa, founded the festival three years ago. “We appreciate small-town life. The simple life. We wanted to bring it here. There is like this Iowa mafia in New York; everyone who moved here from Iowa seems to know each other,” said Schmidt. Midwesterners, southerners, even the Polish community in NewYork come out to the festival so they can gather with the other formerly rural inhabitants of the city.

Webber and Schmidt want "city folk" to experience the rural side of life. A New Yorker, who attended the first festival, noted that she feels so many people in New York are disconnected from places outside the city. And it’s not just American rural areas that are being explored in the festival’s films, but rural life world-wide.

This year the festival has twenty nine shorts films, of which nine were filmed outside the Unites States. The Euro Route shorts program is made up of three films that deal with the economic issues family farmers in Northern Europe are facing since the development of the European Union and its many regulations.

The festival is proud to present six feature-length films this year, up from only two last year. According to Schmidt, the highlights of the festival will be Stranger with a Camera, B Movie, Barbecue as a Noun, Spring Night Summer Night, Rain, and the shorts programs Euro Route, and Hens, Drugs, ‘n Techno. And of course the before mentioned Jim Jarmusch’s Dead Man.

Released in 1968 and unseen for thirty-five years, Spring Night Summer Night, directed by J. L. Anderson, tackles the rural stereotype of incest. Set on a farm in Southern Ohio, a brother and sister, who may share the same father, try to cope with their love for each other. Shot entirely in black and white, this film was part of a sixties movement in cinema which explored America beyond Hollywood.

Executive Producer Martin Scorsese and Writer/Director Katherine Lindberg teamed up for the film Rain. Featuring a compelling story of marital troubles in the Midwest, blessed by impeccable acting, and winner of Best Cinematography at the Stockholm International Film Festival, it is a must-see during the festival.

This year Rural Route received two hundred and fifty film submissions from the United States and ten other countries. The festival is showing four shorts programs, of approximately ninety minutes each, and six feature-length films. “You don’t have to have a cornfield and a tractor to get into the festival,” Michael Schmidt said. Television is a short film about kids going to the Mojave Desert for a rave. But there are tractors too. Tractor Promenade is a six and a half minute short film about tractor square dancing.

Don’t mosey on into this festival, slide that Metro Card to the V train and boogie on down before it blows out of town.


The festival begins Thursday, July 21 through Sunday, July 24 at Anthology Film Archives, 32 Second Avenue (at 2nd St.). Tickets are available at the Anthology box-office and online at All films are $8.00, the
Akron/Family concert is $10.00.

© Copyright Christina M. Hinke 2005. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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