The North Fork TV Festival is once again celebrating the evolution and art of television with its fifth annual event, now returning to the location of its first-ever festival—Castello di Borghese Vineyard. With exclusive drive-in pilot screenings, creator conversations, bites and drinks from local eateries and wineries, live music and more, the October 17 event is shaping up to be one of the most exciting nights on the North Fork this fall!
Originally planned to once again take place at the Greenport Theatre, the festival organizers realized the need get creative shortly after COVID hit the East End. “We were looking at [the fifth annual event] to be the next level of growth—maybe adding a day or two to extend the week and doing all these other things,” festival founder Noah Doyle explains. “But COVID absolutely put us back to the drawing board but also gave us the freedom to say, ‘Alright, arts and culture are more important now than any other time, so what are ways in which we can do things to bring the community together?'” The idea of a virtual-only event was quickly thrown out because, as Doyle accurately posits, “There are only so many Zoom calls one can do in a day.” Thus, a drive-in became the obvious choice.
The new format allows patrons to experience the beauty of Borghese Vineyard and the fun of a live screening from the safety of their cars. Guests can taste the bounty of the East End, delivered right to their vehicles by Greenport Harbor Brewing Company, Mattitaco, Blue Duck Bakery, Borghese and other food and drink purveyors. The evening also includes an exhilarating live concert by Rites of Springs, and an award ceremony where Law & Order and FBI star Jeremy Sisto will be honored with the Canopy Award for his continued contributions to the television industry. Gates open at 5:30 p.m.; food trucks and purveyors are open from 6–7 p.m.; and the main event begins right after that.
This year’s four premiere pilots are “Freeze” and “Slayed by Divya,” winners of the 2020 competition for independent pilots, and “Inferno” and “Abadai,” competition honorees. Chosen for their artistic merit and commercial potential, the screenings will be followed by a Q&A with the filmmakers, moderated by News 12’s award-winning entertainment reporter Elisa DiStefano.
“Freeze” is a thriller directed and written by Maya Albanese and produced by Valerie Steinberg and Brock Williams. When lead character Joy’s (Nora Zehetner) fairytale romance crashes and burns on the eve of her 35th birthday, the tick-tock of her biological clock amplifies, provoking wild hallucinations and pushing her into a series of romantic misadventures. The pilot also stars Adrian Grenier, Chris Parnell, Kel Mitchell and Mindy Sterling.
In “Slayed by Divya,” directed and produced by Van Maximilian Carlson and written by Ni Belete, a mobile hair stylist struggles to launch a hair brand until she lands a star client who delivers an unbelievable surprise.
“What really separates episodic from cinema is character development, and I think both of these pilots that are premiering have lead characters that make you want to learn more about their story,” says Doyle. “And the caliber of the actors who are in these independently produced pilots is like night and day from year one!”
Directed by Wendy Roderweiss and written by Michael O’Brien and Wendy Roderweiss, “Inferno” follows the aftermath of a tragic mistake that leaves an altruistic law school graduate desperate for a job. He must now decide whether or not to sacrifice his principles by joining a firm of morally depraved divorce lawyers in order to save his future.
In “Abadai”—created by Sivan Malca, Vladimir Dzyakevich and Orit Nahari Tzipkin—Shlomi is a taxi driver who thinks he can solve his problems and return to his family with money he doesn’t have. Sadly, the opposite is true.
The event also features a special pilot preview of Sudanese-American filmmaker Zuff Idries’s “Superuser Do,” winner of the 2020 Science + Tech Script Competition. With a grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the North Fork TV Festival and Idries are working to transform his screenplay into a full television pilot and have prepared a sneak peek for the festival. “Superuser Do” is an anthology series that focuses on an aspiring Black software engineer struggling to overcome the inequalities and obstacles of his chosen field.
“Bringing an amazing story like this to life this is exactly why we founded the North Fork TV Festival,” says festival co-founder Jonathan Shafter. “The festival’s core mission from the very beginning has been to provide an independent platform for voices and topics, which are historically under-represented in the conventional studio system.”
Tickets to the 2020 North Fork TV Festival on Saturday, October 17 start at $20 per vehicle and are selling out quickly. Visit northfork.tv/tickets to learn more and to purchase tickets.