Lights, Camera, Syracuse

While Dacko and others have made Syracuse a part of their films, they also strive to make independent films a bigger part of Syracuse.

The B-Movie Film Festival is one such attempt, an annual celebration of alternative films in Central New York. Founder Ron Bonk, 37, of Liverpool, came up with the concept when he noticed larger film festivals snubbing low-budget, subversive and celebrity-lacking feature films.

"My original goal," Bonk said, "was to make an Academy Awards of sorts for the B-movies." He wanted to give local filmmakers -- himself included -- an opportunity to share their talent, even without a Hollywood budget. The B-Movie Hall of Fame soon followed, recognizing favorites of the festival.

So what exactly is a B-movie? The term goes back to drive-ins and double features of the 1940s, Bonk explains, when the main or "A" feature was followed by a lower-budget "B" film, often the cheesy science-fiction or horror films that people typically associate with the B-movie label today.

The term has become more versatile within the film community. Online B-movie critic and editor of RogueCinema.com, Duane L. Martin, 35, said the B-movie is a genre within itself, with a variety of subgenres.

"It tends to come down to more of a feel," Martin said, adding that a tight budget and gimmicks often inspire this "feel."

"'B' doesn't mean 'Bad,'" Bonk said. "It might mean lesser production values a different sort of subject, but it always means that it's something different from the norm." The festival features independent films that both embrace and break from the genre's reputation, Bonk said.

Dacko has entered his own films to the festival. "They accept a whole range of movies," he says. "It's not just splatter films or a horror film." His film, "And I Lived," is a modern telling of West Side Story. "(A drama) was so unexpected, that people raved about it," he said, "and it was playing after a zombie film. That's what's so cool, is the variety you get."

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