Poloncarz should back film festival


Director Bill Cowell’s network of relationships in the Los Angeles film industry spans the upper echelon of American media. That he maintains roots in Western New York is an opportunity to leverage his talents and networks as the  region continues to try, mightily, to cultivate the film and content production industry here in Western New York.

Cuomo administration tax credits, local funding for the film commission, and political pronouncements do little to cultivate a permanent industry presence. The only viable way to do that is to support home grown directors like Cowell whose talent can make Buffalo Niagara relevant on the global stage.

Cowell founded the Buffalo Niagara Film Festival nearly 11 years ago. That event attracts hundreds of leading independent filmakers to the region for a week long symposium on the craft. The event represents an enormous opportunity for the region to market itself as an incredible place to produce all kinds of content.

Cowell filming The Natural: The Best There Ever Was with famed songwriter and composer Randy Newman. 

The county would be wise to offer the event institutional support, like use of the county-owned convention center; promotional and marketing support from the visitors bueauru and the film commission; and the presence of politicians and economic development officials at the annual event.

The county would also be wise to provide aspiring filmmakers with access to grant monies for endogenously developed projects that promote homegrown talent. The region has a wealth of talent in the field and it is beyond time that we begin investing in our human capital.

Bill Cowell and the Buffalo Niagara Film Festival are a good place to start.

Local economic development officials must also end the slander that suggests that our region lacks the talent to be relevant in film and content production. That is a revealingly stupid lie that denigrates our region in incalculably costly ways. That our region’s chief marketers would suggest as much is unconscionable.

“With all of the schools locally, there are lots of young people who are talented and eager to work,” Cowell told The Chronicle. “Out talent is our biggest strength.”


Cowell with actor James Franco. 

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