Every year as the spring equinox rolls around, the Syracuse Cinephile Society rolls its projectors over to the Holiday Inn on Electronics Park in Salina where nearly 500 vintage film fans from all over the world turn out for its annual Cinefest.
While the classic movie buffs get their fill of forgotten film stars such as Zasu Pitts, DeWolf Hopper and Gilda Gray, Syracuse hoteliers and restaurateurs fill their cash registers with boffo bucks.
Famished film fans
Cinefest attendees regularly patronize Liverpool-area restaurants such as The Retreat, the Gardenview Diner and Santangelo's. A few "in the know" globetrotters even stand in line at Heid's for franks and coneys.
And since the Holiday Inn is already filled up with 350 or so pre-registered Cinefesters, the other 150 or so who turn out this Thursday will sack out at other area motels on Electronic Parkway or Buckley Road and 7th North Street.
The Syracuse Convention and Visitors Bureau applies a formula used by the International Association of Convention and Visitors Bureaus which estimates that those who attend such events spend an average of $231 per day in the area. If that's anywhere near accurate, the Cinefest should generate more than $450,000.
Next time some party pooper tries to tell you that the arts aren't worthy of government and corporate support, drop that persuasive factoid into the conversation.
Silents and talkies
Founded in 1980 by the late Phil Serling, Cinefest is now into its third decade here. Cinefest 31 - which runs from 9 a.m. Thursday March 17 through 5 p.m. Sunday March 20 - will screen silent films such as "Music in the Air" starring Gloria Swanson and "What Price Glory" starring Victor McLaglen. Many of the silents will be accompanied by pianists just as they were in pre-sound theaters.
Besides the dialogue-less oldies, Cinefest 31 will screen early talkies like 1941's "Hellzapoppin'" with Martha Raye, 1931's "Alice in Wonderland" with Ruth Gilbert and 1932's "The Phantom President" with George M. Cohan.