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Madison Theater hosts Knickerbocker Film Festival

March 29, 2011

by Alicia Legg-Karaskiewicz

Eight independent films will be showcased at the Knickerbocker Film Festival taking place at the Madison Theatre tonight through Thursday.  Filmmakers will compete for the six awards that will be presented by the end of the week.

“Film festivals allow the audience a way to see personal stories in a way that you won’t at the big cinema-plex,” said Dan Masucci, one of the filmmakers whose film “Beneath the Same Sky,” will appear this week. “They are often attended by the artists who make them and they can speak to the audience about the production.”

“Sky” was created with the help of the  109th Air Lift Wing of New York National Guard in Schenectady New York.

Old Projectors on Display in Madison Theater (Alicia Legg-Display of old fashioned film equipment at Madison Theater (Alicia Legg-Karaskiewicz)

Each of the short films was locally generated and will be shown from 7 p.m. until 9:30 p.m. tonight, Wednesday and Thursday.  The eight films range in length from three minutes to just over 20 minutes.  The other films and artists are: Matthew Hopkins: Witch Finder General by Matt Bellinger; The Chicken Coup by Nathan Meltz; Confinement by John McCarty; The Loop by Rich Lounello; Laybab: A Story in Gibberish by Mike Feurstein; Reel Adventures: Phenomenon by Middle Schoolers from Across the Capital Region and Idiot with a Tripod by Jamie Stuart.

Now in its second year, The Knickerbocker Film Festival  received 40 submissions this season from as far away as Poland and Bulgaria, though  the majority of entrants were from the Capital Region.

Independent filmmakers submit their “shorts” to the Knickerbocker Film Festival in the hopes of being selected for viewing and to possibly receive an award for short film competition.  “Shorts” are films that are typically under 20 minutes in duration. Film makers will be recognized for Best Art Direction, Best Story, Best Director, People’s Choice, Best Performance and Best Picture.

Inscape newspaper excerpt – August 28th, 1987

By showcasing the efforts of filmmakers, audiences have an opportunity to see emerging talent, said Joseph Bonilla, Jr., the chief executive officer of the event.  “The Festival is one way of bringing the City of Albany and the Pine Hills to life through film.”

The owner of the Madison Theater, Jay Pregent has a lifelong love of film making.  This love lead him to buy the theater and ultimately to help aspiring film makers by offering his theater to film festivals that feature them. A display of old projectors, editing machines and even a vintage popcorn machine dons the theater’s entrance.  Even the “film” festival is a bit of a misnomer when you consider that contestants use computer files or DVD’s to enter their submissions to the contests.  The Madison Avenue Theatre is equipped to show these “films” during the festival by using HD projection equipment.

The Madison Avenue Theater is rich in a history of its own and has been a cornerstone of the Pine Hills since 1929.  During this time, the theatre has changed hands several times and has undergone a series of upgrades and renovations.

Display of old fashioned film equipment at Madison Theater (Alicia Legg-Karaskiewicz)

Since 1989, one of the most significant changes was the addition of an HD- 3D projector to show Disney movies that were no longer released as 35 mm films. In the mid 1990’s the theater expanded by taking over an adjoining business that was previously occupied by Clapp’s Bookstore.  Acquiring that space allowed the theatre to add two small theatres, making the Madison Theater a seven auditorium theater.

Pregent continues to restore the Madison Theatre and is currently replacing chairs and flooring in a way that preserves the old time theatre feel.  Pregent will continue to feature independent films through festivals and working with the film makers themselves.  Pregent will work with any artist to show their film in his theatre free of charge in between his scheduled showings.  Admission to the film festival this week is $10 at the door.  For more information,  visit or -30-


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