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SYRFILM's October Surprise, Pt. 1: Steadicam rules

(Garrett Brown revolutionized film-making with the invention of the Steadicam. Nearly 100 people packed his talk and demo here last week, part of SYRFILM's October Expo/Forum on Sound and Music in Film.)

Last week, the Syracuse International Film Festival (SYRFILM) took the first step toward moving its annual program from its late April time-slot of the last six years to mid-October. Partnering with LeMoyne College, the Mellon Corridor, the Society for New Music, the Syracuse Film Office and Syracuse University's Transmedia and Visual and Performing Arts departments, Humanities Center and Newhouse School, SYRFILM hosted first a two-day expo of still and moving camera and film, digital and video production equipment at the Renaissance Hotel with vendors from six countries, including Angenieux, Transvideo, AATON, Cartoni, Tiffen, Steadicam, Exordia and B&H Photo.

The Expo was co-produced by Rome-based Jacques Lipkau Goyard, who arranged for many of the European vendors to attend. Presenters also included cinematographer Jon Fauer, who also edits and publishes "Film and Digital Times," and cinematographer and Steadicam inventor Garrett Brown.

After the Expo, A two-day Forum on Sound and Music in Film followed the Expo, produced by SYRFILM's Owen Shapiro, who also teaches film studies at SU, and faculty colleagues Theo Cateforis and Stephen Meyer of Department of Art and Music History. The forum included talks by leading scholars and a master class in sound design by Italy's Mirco Mencacci. Richard Dyer of King's College, London, did triple duty, delivering a Syracuse Symposium lecture (on the Italian horror film), conducting a morning seminar and speaking at the forum as well. (See Pt. 2 of this article, which focuses on Dyer, also on this site.)

Screenings on four evening tied all together. These began with Cristiano Bortone's Red Like the Sky, which took a number of honors at last springs film festival here and is the dramatized account of sound designer Mirco Mencacci's childhood discovery of filmmaking while a student in an Italian state school for the blind. The screening of Fritz Lang's classic Metropolis (1927) was a co-production with the Society for new music and accompanied by a live improvisational musical performance. A previous SYRFILM award-winning film, Laura Muscardin's Billo, il grand Dakhaar (which SYRFILM will soon distribute on DVD), is also a Mencacci film. On Saturday night SYRFILM moved proceedings to Hotel Syracuse's Persian Terrace for a screening of the extraordinary Steadicam version of Verdi's La Traviata, which Zubin Mehta conducting, shot live in Paris for the Millennium. Garrett Brown was on hand to talk about the months-long rehearsal and filming.

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