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Inaugural Flickers North Country Film Festival a Success

Thursday, October 7th, 2010

It’s always nice to be able to pass on good news about an inaugural event that finds success in the Granite State. With that in mind, I bring you the following press release from our friends at The Balsams Grand Resort which recently held the First Annual Flickers North Country Film Festival. Great job by Gary Armitage and the staff of the Balsams and special thanks to Public Service of NH for splitting a sponsorship package with the Division of Economic Development to support this economic development diversification project in the North Country.


Dixville Notch, N.H. – (Oct. 6, 2010) – The inaugural FLICKERS North Country Film Festival (FNCFF) was a major success on all fronts. The first-time event exceeded expectations of the organizers, while attracting hundreds of visitors over four days; including filmgoers from throughout New England and filmmakers from Canada.  

flickers1The non-profit festival aims to promote New Hampshire’s Great North Woods as a regional center for the arts, and also benefits The Brattleboro Retreat, a mental health and addiction treatment center that provides a wide array of services for children and adults. 

“For a first-time event the film festival was an amazing success. We had filmgoers from across the New England region attending. People traveled from Montreal specifically for the festival,” said Gary Armitage, VP of Sales and New Business Development, and one of the festival’s organizers.  “Our goal is to continue to grow this festival so that it spreads out into local communities like Colebrook and throughout Coos County.” 

FNCFF is in partnership with the Rhode Island International Film Festival (RIIFF) one of the largest and most respected in the country.  Sixty films were screened at FNCFF, including 37 short films, 6 feature narrative films and 18 documentaries.  The international flavor of the Festival was reflected with 21 countries being represented.   

Highlights of the weekend included a presentation from Hollywood screenwriter Chris Sparling, whose credits include the recently released and critically acclaimed suspense thriller BURIED starring Ryan Reynolds, and an upcoming film produced by M. Night Shyamalan.  Sparling gave a presentation called “Making It” in the film industry that included the ups and downs of more than a decade of perseverance that paid off with his “overnight success” with BURIED.  (Portions of Sparling’s presentation can be seen on The BALSAMS Grand Resort Hotel and FLICKERS North Country Film Festival Facebook Pages). 

Other special guests at NCFF included actress and filmmaker Marlyn Mason, who has appeared in more than100 films and television shows with stars like Elvis Presley and Bruce Lee, as well as well-known filmmaker Paul Sanderson III of “Our Town Films” who created the PBS documentary “Augustus Saint-Gaudens: Master of American Sculpture.”  

“The FLICKERS North Country Film Festival built immediate momentum,” said George T. Marshall, one of the FNCFF organizers and founder/director of the Rhode Island International Film Festival.  “I have been organizing film festivals for nearly 30 years and this event has such amazing potential. This first year makes it clear that the FNCFF can grow to become a ‘destination’ festival.’ People will travel not only to see the incredible films, but experience the foliage and world-class cuisine in a relaxed atmosphere that you don’t find at other festival.”

Next year’s festival has already been scheduled for Thursday, September 29 through Sunday, October 2, 2011.  Plans to expand the festival that are being discussed include student judges from local schools and other community educational and cultural events.

Flickers North Country Film Festival – 2010 Awards

(Portions of the Awards Presentations with filmmaker speeches can be seen on The BALSAMS Grand Resort Hotel and FLICKERS North Country Film Festival Facebook Pages). 

Louise and Neil Tillotson Flickers North Country Film Festival Award

Celebrating the passion of creativity within the world of cinema and the arts: Flickers North Country Film Festival recognizes outstanding writers, directors, actors, and film talent for their contributions to this vital art form and who embody the spirit of Louise and Neil Tillotson.  Neil Tillotson was an entrepreneur and owner of The BALSAMS who started out by selling penny balloons during the Depression and built a business empire.  Neil and Louise were also generous philanthropists who supported a variety of causes including the Arts, children and education, and were dedicated supporters of the prosperity of the North Country of New Hampshire.

–          Chris Sparling – Writer/director

Sparling is the first recipient of this award, in part for his perseverance in overcoming a number of obstacles in his quest to become a writer/director and for his continued support of the Arts and student writers and filmmakers in his home state of Rhode Island through teaching and speaking engagements.


Presented to an emerging artist whose outstanding work and vision epitomizes a new voice that must be heard; a filmmaker whose talent will have a positive impact in the future.

–          Sandra Boynton, Author/director


Presented semi-annually to an outstanding artist whose vision promotes tolerance, compassion and understanding. Named after the founder of Rhode Island, Roger Williams, who established an American tradition of religious freedom and individual liberty that was encoded in The Bill of Rights. This award honors a truly unique American whose ethics, philosophy and conscience reflects that of Roger Williams, who provided a refuge from rampant religious persecution, an open door to all people; a safe harbor in a vast sea of tyranny and oppression

–          Marlyn Mason, Actor/Writer

 Best Feature

GRAND: Cup Cake, Directed by Colin McIvor, Ireland/United Kingdom, 2010

Best Documentary

GRAND: Afghanistan: Defying Silence, Directed by Stacia Teele & Ed Robbins, U S A / Afghanistan, 2009

Best Short

GRAND: Toute Ma Vie (The Story Of My Life), Directed by Pierre Ferriere FRANCE, 2009

FNCFF Emerging Filmmaker- Rhonda J Zabinsky, Vancouver, B.C, Canada
Healing on The Edge – 100m, Canada, Poland, 2010


Best Feature

GRAND: “Listen to Your Heart ” Directed by Matt Thompson, Produced by Luke Moran and Kent Moran, USA, 2010 

Best Documentary

GRAND:  Just Like Us, Directed by Ahmed Ahmed, Egypt, Kuwait, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, U S A, United Arab Emirates, 2010

Diversification Leading to a New North Country Economy

Friday, August 20th, 2010

Economic diversification is the key to building a world class state economy. To that end, the New Hampshire Division of Economic Development would very much like to tip its hat to The Balsams Vice President of Sales and New Business Development Gary Armitage, a visionary thinker who is bringing a world class film festival to the North Country.

For years, we have been preaching the gospel of communities taking a community inventory of assets that are unique to their region, and through the creation of this festival, Gary has embraced that message. The North Country economy isn’t just about paper mills and machine shops (though they are certainly a big piece of the puzzle); it’s also about the Jericho Park ATV Festival in July that brought 2,000 visitors into the region and gave a quick boost to local stores, restaurants and motels; it’s about entrepreneurs with great ideas choosing the scenic North Country as a great launching pad for their business; and yes, it’s now about the First Annual FLICKERS North Country Film Festival as well.

The Balsams' Gary ArmitageI was fortunate enough to join Gary at lunch along with WTPL’s Jack Heath and Shelly Breer who have been spreading the word about this great event. I was incredibly impressed with everyone’s enthusiasm for creating a festival that would develop a new regional awareness of the beauty of the North Country as well as the untapped opportunities for its economic potential.

Good luck to Gary and the rest of The Balsam’s team for great success with the Festival. We at Economic Development and the “No Bull Business Blog” stand firmly behind this effort and will do our best to make it as successful as possible. By giving new visitors a ticket to a first class event, Gary is doing his part to build a new economic reality in an area that is about to learn how positive and profitable diversification can be.

– Steve Boucher, Communications & Legislative Director


Dixville Notch, N.H. – The BALSAMS Grand Resort Hotel is pleased to announce that it will host the first annual FLICKERS North Country Film Festival.  The non-profit festival aims to promote New Hampshire’s Great North Woods as a regional center for the arts, and is expected to bring celebrities, audiences and international filmmakers to the area.  This exciting event will be held September 30 – October 3, 2010 with screenings of a variety of films in multiple locations and gala events.

The FLICKERS North Country Film Festival is in partnership with the Rhode Island International Film Festival (RIIF) one of the most respected in the country, and is a qualifying event for Academy Award short film submissions. 

north_country_film_festival_logo“We are thrilled to be bringing this film festival to the North Country,” said Gary Armitage, Vice President of Sales and New Business Development at The BALSAMS.  “Through this unique event, we hope to encourage cultural tourism and support area businesses.  The beauty of our area is a natural draw for filmmakers and producers, and we aim to bring them here.  The film festival is a first step in what we hope to grow over time, spreading the event into our local communities.  Also, the date allows us to extend the tourism calendar beyond the end of the typical season and our goal is to attract visitors to experience Coös County and the North Country of New Hampshire.”

There are multiple events planned during the festival.  Audiences will be treated to the world premier screening of “Indian Stream Schoolhouse,” produced by Pittsburg, NH resident Roy Amey.  The “best of” winners from the August 2010 RIIF will also be screened along with the work of outstanding independent filmmakers from across the globe. As many as five films will be projected at once in areas throughout The BALSAMS, including the Ballot Room and The Switzerland of America Ballroom.  Shorts, feature length films and animated films across several genres including comedy, drama, fantasy and romance, to North Country and Franco-American culture will be screened. Watch for updates and announcements at http://northcountryfilmfestival.org/index.htm.

The non-profit festival is seeking individual and corporate sponsors. Contact Gary Armitage at 603-255-2669 or garmitage@thebalsams.com for more details. 

A black-tie gala event will also be held on Saturday, October 1 to benefit the Brattleboro Retreat, a mental health and addiction treatment center that provides a wide array of services for children and adults. Its newest program for uniformed service professionals is designed for police, firefighters, correctional officers, EMTs and military personnel who struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder as a consequence of their duty.  The Retreat works with patients from Hollywood, CA to Hallowell, ME.  (www.brattlebororetreat.org)

For more information about the first annual FLICKERS North Country Film Festival, visit http://northcountryfilmfestival.org/index.htm.  The BALSAMS is pleased to be joined by Public Television of New Hampshire in supporting this first-ever event. 

The BALSAMS is a premier New Hampshire resort hotel, featuring award-winning dining, outdoor wilderness adventures, unique events, endless activities, and fun for the entire family.  Our 8,000-acre mountain resort features everything from golfing on a Top 100 ranked, Donald Ross designed course, a Top 25 ranked tennis program, hiking and biking, whitewater rafting, kids’ summer camp, private alpine and cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling and more.  For more information go to www.thebalsams.com or call 800-255-0600.

The FLICKERS: Rhode Island International Film Festival (RIIFF), has secured its place in the global community as the portal for the best in international independent cinema, earning the respect of domestic and foreign filmmakers, filmgoers and trend watchers. This confluence of art and commerce brought together world-class celebrities, award-winning filmmakers, new talent and audience members in record numbers last year. Ranked as one of the top 12 Festivals in the United States, RIIFF is also a qualifying festival for the Short Film Academy Award through its affiliation with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences. There are 65 film festivals worldwide which share this distinction and RIIFF is the only festival in New England. The next Festival will take place August 10-15, 2010. For more information about the festival, please visit www.rifilmfest.org.