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North Salem's First Film Festival Draws Celebs

NORTH SALEM, N.Y. - North Salem High School rolled out the red carpet and the velvet ropes on Friday, October 21 for the premiere of the Erik Nicoletti Film Festival. Paparazzi crowded the walkway as a pink stretch-MINI Cooper, driven by a professional chauffeur, arrived at the door and the stars, screenwriter and director assembled to be photographed and interviewed by a prominent newscaster.

Celebrated film director Jeremy Ramos, 15, remarked that the most difficult thing about directing is “having to stay up all hours of the night.” The greatest reward is “seeing everyone play their parts and making adjustments.”

Paparazza Anna Bartsch, a high school senior, paused for a moment to comment that she had snapped 317 photos so far. “I’m looking for a thousand.” People on the red carpet stopped to describe their outfits to the reporters.

The lobby was abuzz as people mulled around, watching for celebrities. Academy Award nominee, George Bovino, was sighted in the crowd. For the hungry, there was a bake sale, for the stylish, a T-shirt sale. Naturally, popcorn was also available. High school senior Arlie Johansen was on hand with a clapboard in case she was needed.

In reality, the roles of the paparazzi and the film crew were played by members of the North Salem High School Drama Club, explained RoseMaria DosSantos, one of the event’s organizers. Members of the National English Honor Society also pitched in. The stretch-MINI was donated by Silver Star Limousine of Yonkers.

The goal of the evening was to raise funds to finance a film and broadcast studio at the high school in honor of 2007 graduate Erik Nicoletti, who was tragically killed in a hit and run accident two years ago. Erik, who lived in Somers but attended school in North Salem, was a dedicated film lover and hoped to find a career in the industry.

Two of his favorite films were shown on Friday evening. No admission was charged but $10 donations were gratefully received. Three brimming gift baskets were auctioned off. Note cards featuring photographs taken by Erik’s mother, Dorothy, were on sale. The entire event was videoed by members of the high school video club. 

Among the evening’s guests were friends and former classmates of Erik, including Jared Paulvin, Alex Malikian, NIck Langelotti and Ryan Corde. Erik’s elementary school teacher, Diana Paproski, also came to pay tribute.

Jared Paulvin, who made the trip from Bloomsburg University in Pennsylvania, said, “This is a great idea. All we ever did with Erik was go to the movies. I’ll be here every year.”  Ryan Corde added, “I will, too. This is special for me because I saw these two films with Erik when they came out.”

In order to fund the studio, the Erik V. Nicoletti Foundation will need to raise at least $100,000. If you cannot wait until the next film festival to make a donation, checks can be sent to:  Erik Nicoletti Film & Broadcast Studio and Scholarship, North Salem Middle/High School, 230 June Road, North Salem, NY 10560.

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