ERIE, Pa. — There were lights, cameras, and action. This time is was not a movie set, but it was One Night in Hollywood.
The Film Society of Northwestern Pennsylvania hosted its sixth annual Oscars party at the Sheraton Erie Bayfront on Sunday night. The event sold-out with 130 tickets purchased.
John C. Lyon, executive director of the Film Society, said, “We have about 25 more people than we had last year. So, the event keeps growing, which is fantastic. And it helps us accomplish everything that our 501(c)(3) is trying to do every year for Erie.”
As our Dave Belmondo hosted the event, there was dinner, music, silent auctions, and ballots for the crowd to cast their own votes for the best of the industry.
Actor-filmmaker Jesse James said, “Predictions: I’m thinking ‘Lady Bird’ or ‘Three Billboards,’ but I’m really holding out for ‘Get Out.'”
Independent filmmaker Britty Lea said, “I am predicting ‘The Shape of Water’ is going to win. That’s not my favorite, but I think that is going to win.” Before the night ended, it was indeed named Best Picture.
“I loved ‘The Shape of Water,’ said Erie resident Joe Butoryak.
Lyons said the gala raised funds for the Film Society and the Greater Erie Film Office. This year, he said, half of proceeds would go toward a filmmakers fund to help finance a local project.
“So, we want to have economic development here based around film production; and then, people have a good time. Watch some movies. Throw some parties,” he said.
This gala was not just about Hollywood. It was about celebrating the local industry, as well.
James said northwestern Pennsylvania offers diverse and “unique” settings, because “we have the bay. We have the lake. We have urban cities. We have farmlands. We have forests.”
Lea said, “We’re all here to celebrate these films, but also we have our own film industry here in Erie, and it’s just growing and getting bigger and better. And I’m really excited to see where it’s going to go.”