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Rockland WWII Documentary Captures People's Interest, Award

Patti Panayotidis and Betsy Frano Feeney hold the People's Choice award, which they received at the 2016 Nyack Film Festival. Photo Credit: Betsy Franco Feeney
The list of winners from the 2016 Nyack Film Festival. Photo Credit: Nyack Film Festival

PIERMONT, N.Y. - What "Last Stop USA: Piermont's Role During World War II" lacked technically as a documentary it made up for with a compelling account of local history.

The documentary about the village of Piermont’s role as a military debarkation camp in WWII--including Camp Shanks in Orangeburg --saw first-time documentary makers Betsy Franco Feeney and Patti Panayotidis take home the People’s Choice award at the 2016 Nyack Film Festival, held in August.

The People’s Choice award was based on a write-in ballot and was not decided by the panel of judges so the result was encouraging considering the quality of other films at the festival.

“It was a labor of love and confirms that all our hard work was worth it,” Feeney said recently.

The impetus for the 39-minute documentary was a 2015 Piermont Historical Society fundraiser. Initially it was supposed to be a short video to galvanize residents to get involved with the historical society. But as Feeney and Panayotidis’ research progressed the short video turned into a documentary.

When it was screened at the Nyack Film Festival in August, "Last Stop" received “a warm reception, and lots of applause,” with people commenting to the filmmakers they didn’t realize Piermont and Orangeburg had such history from that period, Feeney said.

Now, the pair have turned their attention to their next documentary “Piermont’s Paper Mill: Stories from the Factory,” which will explore the history of the old paper mill that used to sit in Flywheel Park.

A criticism the pair mentioned of "Last Stop" was the quality of the film, specifically the audio. So, they hired Anthony Bellov Video Productions in Manhattan to handle the more technical aspects for "Piermont's Paper Mill."

"Last Stop" will be screened at the Piermont Firehouse in November on Veteran’s Day.

For more information on the Piermont Historical Society, click here.

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