Vito [Friscia] After [being a 9/11 first responder]

My first film at The Rochester High Falls International Film Festival (RHFIFF) was Vito After — the documentary about Vito Friscia and his battle with health issues following being a first-responder at the 9/11 attacks. It was a very nice film about the man and increased awareness of the scope of the problem: both in the cops' unwillingness to answer surveys honestly from their self-sufficient tough-guy personae (Friscia is shown marking "no affect on quality of life" despite a nagging cough), and in the mystified medical professionals who have been unable to decipher solid answers from the deluge of illness and conditions. During the question-and-answer, Friscia was there along with filmmaker Maria Pusateri. She said that the group shown doing the research was running out of money and the federal government was not supplying more — in fact, this was the only mention in the film or the Q-and-A of the government; the movie refreshingly doesn't target blame on any group as it's simply not really knowable who is "to blame".

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Coffee With … Beautiful Chaos

I headed out to Spot Coffee (200 East Ave.) this morning to catch the Coffee With … event of The Rochester High Falls International Film Festival (RHFIFF). This event is one of the most consistent winners in my book — I enjoy getting to sit down and talk with creative people. It's always semi-controlled chaos as it's never certain who (among the filmmakers) will show up and who (among the festival goers) will show up so it might be just a handful, or it could be hundreds.

This time it was in-between. The meeting area was the upper balcony at Spot and there were about 40 people there total of which there were (I think) about 8 filmmakers. It was crowded and challenging — but so personal. I got to chat with a bunch of people including Donald Pusateri who was having a ball at the festival as the husband of filmmaker Maria Pusateri (whom I also met later) — she made Vito After about her brother-in-law Vito Friscia and his battle with health issues following being a first-responder at the 9/11 attacks. I also got to meet Alex Miltsch, the president of Rochester Park Studios (789 Elmgrove Rd.) — hopefully they'll do well, even if it's a risky venture.

And — as certain as I am to run into festival director Catherine Wyler herself was Jerry Stoeffhaas, Deputy Director of The New York Governor's Office for Motion Picture and Television Development and Nora Brown, Assistant Director of The Rochester/Finger Lakes Film and Video Office.

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