April 7, 2015

Rochester Film Commissioner Nora Brown named
executive director of High Falls Film Festival

Festival efforts align in focus with work of film commission, which celebrates 25 years this year; key collaboration also announced
ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- The High Falls Film Festival has named a new executive director -- Nora Brown, who is Rochester's film commissioner and executive director of the newly renamed Rochester/Finger Lakes Film Commission (founded 25 years ago as the Rochester/Finger Lakes Film & Video Office).

Brown previously has served on the festival's board of directors, as its operations director, and chair of the 2014 programming committee. This year's festival will take place Nov. 12 to 16 in Rochester.

"The High Falls Film Festival is the ideal vehicle for us to invite filmmakers to Rochester, and that is already what we do as a film commission - we work to showcase the Rochester and Finger Lakes region for film and video projects," Brown said. "This alignment makes perfect sense."

Brown and her team are currently working on a five-year plan for High Falls Film Festival, which recently has returned to its roots of celebrating women in film - after having adopted a different focus for a period of time from the original mission it had when debuting in 2001. The festival also announces Kathy Goll is the new chair of the board of directors. Goll, who is an award-winning film producer, served as the festival's manager in 2013, manager of ticket sales and web content in 2014, and this year also chairs the programming committee.

Major festival collaboration
Although new to the position, Brown already has secured a key collaboration for High Falls Film Festival with the new Bentonville Film Festival (BFF), founded by Academy Award®-winning actress Geena Davis and film-business executive Trevor Drinkwater. The theme of BFF is "championing women and diversity in film."

Brown has been named to BFF's Board of Advisors, which also includes Angela Bassett, Viola Davis, Bruce Dern, Emilio Estevez, Samuel L. Jackson, Eva Langoria, Julianne Moore, Rosie O'Donnell, and Natalie Portman, as well as executives from United Pictures, NBC, and AMC.

Brown also has been invited to present the panel "The Art of the Biz" at BFF and to recreate a presentation from the 2014 High Falls Film Festival involving the restored feature film of a female pioneer in filmmaking, Rochester's Marion Gleason, who tested film for Kodak founder George Eastman and also wrote and directed her own scripts.

The inaugural BFF runs May 5 to 9 and is presented by Coca-Cola and Wal-Mart, the latter of which has its corporate headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas. The festival will then travel with its A-list film team to various cities, spreading awareness regarding diversity in filmmaking. Rochester, N.Y. has been chosen as the final stop on that tour.

Geena Davis is best known for her lead film roles, such as Thelma & Louise, Accidental Tourist, Beetlejuice, A League of Their Own, and TV's "Commander in Chief" and "Gray's Anatomy." She also is recognized for her advocacy of women and girls and is founder and chair of the non-profit Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media.

About Nora Brown
Nora Brown joined the Rochester/Finger Lakes Film Commission in 2008 and was appointed executive director and film commissioner in 2011. She "speaks film" in that she brings to the position more 25 years of professional experience in the film and video industry. She was involved in in physical production of numerous major and indie features, music videos, and documentary and commercial projects.

Under Brown's leadership, the multi-county region she represents has experienced a sharp increase in production activity. Her interaction with state lawmakers contributed to the enactment of an increase in the New York Sate's film incentive program for filmmakers who choose Upstate New York as their location destination. She also serves as an adjunct lecturer and professor in the Visual and Performing Arts program at Monroe Community College and the School of Film and Animation at Rochester Institute of Technology.

About High Falls Film Festival
The High Falls Film Festival in Rochester, N.Y. is one of the few festivals worldwide focused on the artistry and innovation of female cinematic visionaries. Each year, the festival provides thousands of film lovers with a slate of the finest independent films made by women, films that feature women in a leading role, and films that focus on women and their life experiences. With its screenings, panels, and workshops, the festival provides a forum for discussions and actions designed to help remove the obstacles women face, both in front of, and behind the camera.

About the Rochester/Finger Lakes Film Commission
Cityscapes and countrysides are as plentiful as the experienced film crews you will find in the Rochester and Finger Lakes region in upstate New York. This is where film was born, the home of Kodak, and where many filmmakers cut their teeth testing the film that was ultimately projected on movie screens across the globe for decades. Rochester holds the largest crew base in New York State outside of New York City, more than all the other upstate cities combined. On average more than 100 productions are shot in the film commission's 20-county Rochester and Finger Lakes region each year.

Attn. Media
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