In 2009, Easton Mayor, Sal Panto got together with filmmaker Gershon Hinkson and created an idea to bring more attention to the city-owned Simon Silk Mill located off Bushkill Drive and North 13th Street in Easton, Pennsylvania. The Mill had been run down for quite some time, and Panto and Hinkson were looking to generate more growth to not only the Mill area, but to Easton as a whole. What ensued was a film festival called “Movies at the Mill Easton” (MME).
In it’s first year, MME attracted over 900 guests; the second year, over 2,000 guests, and it only grew from there. The event took months to plan and needed the help from many generous sponsors and volunteers to pull it off. While the festival has focuses on promoting the art and beauty of filmmaking, it also celebrates the greatness of Easton and the greater Lehigh Valley. The festival provides opportunities to local Easton restaurants to showcase the variety of goods and services they offer. In attendance at this year’s festival was Sweet Girlz Bakery, Bank Street Creamery (formerly known as the Purple Cow Creamery to Eastonians), Maxim’s 22, and Ocean, to name a few. These fine restaurants get the chance to sell some of their popular items in hopes to bring in more future businesses from the attendees at the festival.
One highlight of the first MME in 2009 afforded attendees the opportunity to visit the city of Easton in a different spotlight at the Mill. For the 2013 festival, MME moved from the Mill to Easton’s Hugh Moore Park. As the Mill is under renovation in order to change it into a new complex called Silk: A Creative Community. Silk hopes to include a variety of new establishments including retail shops, fine restaurants, a hotel, and cultural and educational experiences that will all together bring hundreds of visitors a year to the Easton area. The move from the Mill to Hugh Moore helped to bring acknowledgement to a once forgotten Easton park. In an interview with Easton’s Express-Times, Hirkson is quoted saying, “There are so many people who don't know Hugh Moore Park exists. This year, again, people get to satisfy their curiosities.”
As an attendee of the festival this year, one would have enjoyed the beautiful setting at Hugh Moore Park. Sponsored by Merchant’s Bank, they made it easy to pay for tickets at the door with either cash or plastic, same for when buying tickets to purchase food or drinks from vendors. The park was set up with seating arrangements on picnic tables, but they added to the feel of the outdoor park environment. There was light Jazz music played by Floyd King Quartet to relax the mood for the night. The films started promptly at dark, following a quick “surprise” wedding ceremony that took place during the festival. Although the weather was less than expected and guests had to sit under umbrellas, the films were a great source of entertainment. Two major films that stuck out were Quick Shop, a thriller filmed by Martin Binder about two college boys who find themselves in trouble at a Quick Shop one night. The ending was an interesting twist that took the audience by surprise. The second film, Silent Dance, was a first time filmmaking experience for Lindsay Schaefer who also starred in her film. The story was told through dance and score about a woman who wants to become fulfilled and complete with herself. Other films shown were Make It A Great Day by Joshua Jones, Lighthouse Lady by Jaccii Farris and Amy Unger, Ode to Solace by Mayra, and To The Market by Maciek Albrecht. Earlier in the day, Director Morgan Spurlock conducted MME’s first filmmaking seminar at the City Council Chambers from 1pm to 3pm. This seminar, titled “Getting the Film Made” was a look into how Spurlock came about making his well-known documentary Supersize Me and left a Q&A for aspiring filmmakers to get specific insights.
All in all, despite the faulty weather, MME 5 was a great experience that brought together filmmakers, film lovers, and anyone else who attended together for one night to enjoy the festivities and elegance Easton has to offer. MME was just another great way to bring much needed attention to the historic city.