Guest Speakers


Leslie Von Pless presenting: Hopped Upstate

Thursday, November 6, 6pm. Complimentary Local Beer and Cheese Tasting. Jones Center, Farmers' Museum. One drink included with ticket. $15.

Leslie is a video producer and photographer based in Brooklyn and Syracuse, NY. She works full-time as the Communications and Multimedia Strategist for Lambda Legal, a national LGBT rights organization. As a freelancer, she works with mission-driven organizations and businesses to tell simple, moving stories about people and issues. She won the Grand Jury Award for Documentary Short Film at the 2014 Outfest LGBT Film Festival and my video work has also been featured in NewFest: The NYC LGBT Film Festival, the Chicago International Social Change Film Festival, Translations: The Seattle Trans Film Fest, and the Lights. Camera. Help. Nonprofit Film Festival in Austin, TX. In 2010, she won 1st Place in the YouTube Video Volunteers contest for a video about the Women’s Media Center, where she previously worked as the Multimedia Manager. Last year she completed her first independent documentary project called HOPPED UPSTATE, about the rise of hop farming and the craft beer boom in Upstate New York. It was most recently screened at the 2014 Chatham Farm Film Fest. Learn more here.

As a photographer, she is mostly interested in landscape and nature digital photography. She likes hiking, boating, and has always loved the outdoors. Her work is exhibited at L & J Von Pless Fine Art and Photography, a gallery she runs with her mother. She belongs to the Central New York Art Guild and the Cooperstown Art Association. She received my B.S. in Communications/Digital Video Production from Fredonia State University.

Ann-Marie Mitroff, River Program Director: Lost Rivers

Sunday, November 9, 3 pm. Fenimore Art Museum. $5 advance/$6 at door.


B.A., University of Washington, Sociology, M.P.A., Seattle University, National Conference of States on Building Codes and Standards, Certified Energy Auditor, Potomac Electric Power Company, Certified Quality Circle Facilitator, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Water Auditor

Ann-Marie Mitroff is Groundwork Hudson Valley’s Director of River Programs. She coordinates the Saw Mill River Coalition, conducting volunteer river cleanups and invasive vine cutting, planning and implementing river restoration efforts, promoting best-management-practices, conducting land use and wetlands studies with college and high school interns, creating partnerships and working with municipalities on river protection. Ms. Mitroff is deeply engaged in projects involving the opening up of the Saw Mill River. Ms. Mitroff has worked most of her career on water and energy conservation projects for municipal governments, public and private utilities, and consulting to municipal, state, and federal governments.

Kalyanee Mam presenting: A River Changes Course

Saturday, November 8, 3:30 pm. Fenimore Art Museum. $5 advance/$6 at door.


Award-winning filmmaker, lawyer, and born storyteller, Kalyanee Mam, is committed to combining her passion for art and advocacy to tell compelling and universal stories. Born in Battambang, Cambodia during the Khmer Rouge Regime, she and her family fled the refugee camps at the Thai-Cambodian border and eventually immigrated to the United States in 1981. Even to this day her mother recounts stories of their flight through jungles laden with land mines.

These stories and many others inspired Kalyanee to return to her native homeland and to make films about atrocities occurring in Cambodia even today. Most recently, Kalyanee has directed, produced and shot winner of the World Cinema Grand Jury Prize: Documentary at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival,A River Changes Course, which charts the radical changes in Cambodia today that are transforming not only the country’s landscape – but also the dreams of its people. Kalyanee has also worked on 2011 Oscar-winning documentary, Inside Job (Cinematographer, Associate Producer, and Researcher) about the global financial crisis and documentary short Between Earth & Sky (Director, Producer, Cinematographer) about three young Iraqi refugee artists living in Syria, Jordan, and Egypt. A graduate of Yale University and UCLA Law School, Kalyanee has also worked as a legal consultant in Mozambique and Iraq.

Pegi Vail (Director/Producer) and Melvin Estrella (Director of Photography/Producer) presenting: Gringo Trails

Saturday, November 8, 11 am. Fenimore Art Museum. $5 advance/$6 at door


Pegi Vail is an anthropologist and Associate Director of the Center for Media, Culture, and History at NYU. She has taught at NYU and Columbia University on Film, Culture, and Tourism. Her book, Right of Passage, based on her research among backpackers in Bolivia as a Fulbright scholar, is forthcoming (Duke University Press). Vail has additionally served as lecturer for Columbia Alumni Travel Study Tours, National Geographic and Soros Open Society and as a judge for the World Travel and Tourism Council’s Tourism for Tomorrow Awards. As a curator, she has collaborated with organizations such as the Museum of the American Indian, American Museum of Natural History, Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), and The Moth, the storytelling collective she was a founding board member and curator for. Vail currently serves on the Moth’s General Council and Curatorial Committee. She directed the award-winning short documentary, The Dodger’s Symphony. Gringo Trails is her first feature-length documentary.


Melvin Estrella has worked in numerous capacities within the independent film arena as well as within commercial, television, and non-profit production. Clients have included ESPN (It’s the Shoes), Filmlance Sweden (The Last Contract), Daniel Fridell (Beneath the Surface), Galavision, 3rd Edge Communications, Hock Films, House Films, Make a Wish, and TV-One. Melvin shot and produced the documentary, The Dodgers Sym-Phony and is the director of photography on the documentary-in-progress Wall Street in the Black. His short film Firebird premiered at Jazz at Lincoln Center during the New York Indian Film Festival. He serves on the curatorial committee for The Moth.

Bill Morrison presenting: The Great Flood

Sunday, November 9, 1 pm. Fenimore Art Museum. $5 advance/$6 at door.

"One of the most adventurous American filmmakers" - Variety, 12/11/11


Bill Morrison‘s films often combine archival film material set to contemporary music. He has collaborated with some of the most influential composers of our time, including John Adams, Laurie Anderson, Gavin Bryars, Dave Douglas, Richard Einhorn, Philip Glass, Michael Gordon, Henryk Gørecki, Bill Frisell, Vijay Iyer, Jóhann Jóhannsson, David Lang, Julia Wolfe, and Steve Reich, among many others.

 “Decasia” (67 min, 2002), a collaboration with the composer Michael Gordon, was selected to the US Library of Congress’ 2013 National Film Registry, becoming the most modern film named to the list that preserves works of “great cultural, historic or aesthetic significance to the nation’s cinematic heritage.” Morrison's films are also in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art, Walker Art Center, and the EYE Film Institute. He is a Guggenheim fellow and has received the Alpert Award for the Arts, an NEA Creativity Grant, Creative Capital, and a fellowship from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts. His theatrical projection design has been recognized with two Bessie awards and an Obie Award.

 In 2013, Morrison was honored with retrospective programs in four different countries: the Walker Art Museum, Minneapolis; the Vila Do Conde Short Film Festival, Portugal; the Adelaide Film Festival, Australia; and the Aarhus Film Festival, Denmark.

 In 2014 “The Great Flood” opened theatrically in the US, and was released on DVD by Icarus Films. “The Miners Hymns” was screened with live musical performances as part of a seven city tour of the US, Amsterdam, and the UK, produced by Forma Arts & Media.

Morrison will have a mid-career retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art, NY in October – November 2014.

 Morrison’s work is distributed by Icarus Films in North America, and the BFI in the UK.

Jane Steuerwald presenting: A selection of short films from the 33rd Black Maria Film Festival

Saturday, November 8, 6:30 pm. Templeton Hall. Local Foods Buffet, Local Beer, Signature Cocktails. One drink included with ticket. $40.


NJ City University film and video Professor Jane Steuerwald, is the Executive Director of the Thomas A. Edison Media Arts Consortium - Black Maria Film Festival.  As an undergraduate and graduate she studied art, film, photo, and video at Syracuse University.  Her MFA in film production is from Bard College.  Steuerwald’s films have been exhibited at MoMA, the National Gallery of Art, Anthology Film Archives, Millennium Film, Athens International Film Festival, Atlanta Film Festival, and other notable venues across the country.  She is the founder/director/curator of the Urban Image Showcase, a collective of emerging media artists based at the Media Arts Department of NJ City University, exhibiting film and video in arts venues throughout New Jersey.  She served as the chair of the Media Arts Department for seventeen years.  Steuerwald was a long-time member of the Board of Trustees of the Edison Media Arts Consortium prior to becoming the Executive Director.

Professor Peter Rutkoff, presenting: The River: New Deal Art and Environmental Politics

Sunday, November 9, 10:00 am, Templeton Hall.


Chair, Department of American Studies, Kenyon University. Peter Rutkoff chairs the Department of American Studies at Kenyon University in Ohio. He is the author of recent non-fiction works that examine African-American art and culture, as well as two novels, most recently Irish Eyes. He is a regular summer visitor to Cooperstown, which is also the setting of his book of short stores, Cooperstown Chronicles.