Monday, 18 January 2021

Coyote films a howling success

Rising stars, both overhead and on screen, are the specialty of the Coyote Film Festival sponsored by EcoArts of Lake County.

Before the night sky begins to darken over Langtry Estate and Vineyards (formerly Guenoc Winery) outside Middletown,  picnickers gather with their hampers of food to claim tables under a lush arbor of trumpet vine. The tasting room is open to dispense free tastes and paid glasses to take to the picnic table or to cloths spread on the lawn.

Some moviegoers bring in their mattresses, pillows and folding chairs to set up cozy encampments. And many settle for metal chairs, perhaps with a cushion or blanket to pad the seat.

The festival, now in its second year, is Karen Turcotte's dream come true. Regulars who attended last year's movies observed improvements – a better sound system, a bigger screen.

Turcotte scouts other festivals and their winners for promising films to show on Coyote's 20-foot screen. The skies provide their own show; last weekend, the crescent of a first-quarter moon, and once the passage of the space station.

Last weekend's program featured Jennifer Brett Winston's debut ocumentary film, “Fisher Poets,” a 42-minute reverie centered on the Fisher Poet Gathering, which started in Astoria, Washington, in 1998.

Sometimes moving in its nostalgia over the passing of an era of  independent fishermen and women, sometimes sparkling with light-hearted fun, “Fisher Poets” took six years to make.

Winston, who attended last weekend's festival, got started with National Geographic television, has produced documentaries for CBS, Discovery, A&E, Court TV, The History Channel, WNET (New York), TLC, and VH1. She and her team have won Emmy's for The Learning Channel's "Flight 93" (2002), and the Discovery Channel's "Jerusalem: City of Heaven" (1998).

Work on the last introduced her to famed documentarian Albert Maysles,  who is credited as a consultant on “Fisher Poets”. She said much of the film was produced with in-kind contributions of talent, which kept the cost at about $75,000, far below what it would have been with a paid crew.

It has been featured at San Francisco Independent Film Festival, at the Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, Nev.,  and at film festivals in court, Townsend, Washington, Martha's Vineyard, Woods Hole and Dubrovnik.

The poetry of Billy Collins, former United States poet laureate and now poet laureate of the state of New York, was another highlight of last weekend's Coyote films, set to animation by Betsy deFries of Little Fluffy Clouds Production and Eun-Ha Paek of Milky Elephant Productions.

Comfortable, casual clothes in layers are recommended, as evenings can grow cool. Mosquito repellent may or may not be needed. Popcorn and bottled water are for sale, and the tasting room remains open during the films.

The Coyote Festival helps support EcoArts sculpture walk, now on display at Middletown County Trailside Park, with 35 works along the trail.

More films on this year's schedule will be shown August 17 and 18  and September 14 and 15. Admission is $12 general, $6 for children 12 and younger. Tickets are available from 7 p.m. until dusk, when the films begin.

The Langtry Estate and Vineyards are at 21000 Butts Canyon Road, Middletown.


E-mail Sophie Annan Jensen at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..



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