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INSIDE THE FLX: Geneva Winter Arts and Film Festival, with Michael Mills from the BID (podcast)

In this episode, we talk with Geneva BID Executive Director Michael Mills about downtown Geneva’s newest event, the Winter Arts and Film Festival, beginning Saturday, February 5.


The Geneva BID (GBID) is partnering with multiple community groups to host a winter arts festival February 5th through 12th that will drive traffic to downtown merchants during one of the slowest times of the year. Embracing winter, the festival will offer a series of activities throughout the week to celebrate the season and the burgeoning local arts culture. The festival is anchored by two exciting events, the Geneva Downtown Film Festival, and the Winter Lantern Parade. The week-long celebration is made possible by our generous sponsors: Vinifera; The Summit Federal Credit Union; and Lake Drum Brewing.


Geneva Downtown Winter Lantern Parade

The parade is a chance for the community to come together and celebrate each other, while driving creativity and arts with local schools, community groups, and other partners. GBID executive director Michael Mills lived in Atlanta for nearly 20 years and was struck by the beauty of their Beltline Lantern Parade, which was launched in 2010 with a few hundred participants and now hosts tens of thousands of revelers each year. The GBID wanted to adopt this event locally, as a centerpiece of our winter celebration. The half-mile parade route runs from Genesee Park to Exchange Street and concludes in the Seneca Street parking lot at Paradise Alley.

“The annual Atlanta Lantern Parade has become this incredible opportunity for people to celebrate neighbors and their physical place through creative expression and marching collectively in the spirit of art, music and positivity,” said Mills. “Truly all-inclusive events are rare in our community, so we envisioned creating something where everyone is invited to participate, whether that’s purchasing a pre-made lantern, wrapping themselves in lights, collaborating on a lighted balloon like Mardi Gras, or banging a drum.”

Like all parades, spectators are encouraged to line-up along Exchange Street and take in the sights and sounds of this festive new event. Participants can begin lining up at Genesee Park as early as 5:30pm, before stepping off for the march at 6:30pm. The Dove Block Project will host a lantern making workshop Sunday, February 6th from noon to 2:00pm. Limited lanterns and supplies will be provided and volunteers from the Hobart and William Smith Art and Architecture program will lead this hands-on session.


Geneva Downtown Film Festival

The GBID is partnering with Hobart and William Smith Colleges (HWS) and The Smith Center for the Arts to launch the Geneva Downtown Film Festival taking place February 11th, 7:00pm at The Smith (admission is free).

The Geneva Downtown Film Festival celebrates innovative ideas and a passion for storytelling, we’re hoping to cultivate a community of film lovers and filmmakers at any stage of their careers: students to experienced filmmakers; emerging artists to established professionals,” said Rebecca Burditt, Assistant Professor of Media and Society, HWS. “We’re proud to bring all of these interesting works together in downtown Geneva and to be able to screen them in such a spectacular venue.”

Almost 100 filmmakers from around the world submitted content, representing the U.S., Spain, Iran, U.K., Portugal, Italy, Ukraine, Tunisia, Russia, Canada, Turkey, Israel, Indonesia, India, Germany, China, Brazil, Belgium, and Armenia.

The Smith is excited to be a part of the launch of the first ever Downtown Geneva Arts Festival,” said Susan Monagan, Executive Director, Smith Center for the Arts. “The film festival will focus on emerging filmmakers and The Smith values cultivating artistic expression across the spectrum of experience and ability. It will be a great opportunity for the community to gather together and view the films and see what stories these filmmakers have pulled from these years of constant change and upheaval.”

Film festival judges include: Marilyn Jimenez, Professor Emerita of Media and Society and Africana Studies at Hobart and William Smith Colleges; Nora Brown, director of the Rochester/Finger Lakes Film Commission; Diana Riesman, executive director and co-founder of the Wharton Studio Museum; and Rebecca Burditt, Assistant Professor of Media and Society at Hobart and William Smith.

The Geneva Downtown Film Festival invited filmmakers to submit their short works in any genre, including but not limited to animation, documentary, live action narrative, and video essay. There are four categories for submission: High School, College, General, and 5-minute Micro Films (open to all levels). Judges will select the best films and runners up from each category, and these will be screened at The Smith Opera House. Prizes will be awarded for the best film in each category.


Art Walk

The Geneva Downtown Winter Arts Festival will also bring back an Art Walk Feb. 9th from 5:30 to 8:30pm. Multiple venues will host art, music, and beverages (including beer from Lake Drum Brewing). More than 70 people visited Art Walk exhibits at Left Bank and Dove Gallery during Jingle in Geneva Week this past holiday season. The Winter Art Walk takes place at Dove Gallery and Left Bank.

Restaurant Passport Contest

This inaugural festival is designed to celebrate the best of our community during the cold winter, while promoting our businesses during the “quiet months.” And the GBID is hosting a Restaurant Passport contest to entice people to dine out at local establishments from the 5th through 12th.

Participation is simple and free: get the passport stamped after meals at three participating restaurants; turn in the passport (at the GBID 1 Franklin Square lobby drop box, direct message on GBID Facebook, or email a photo of the passport to [email protected]) by Monday, February 14th (9:00am); and submitted passports are entered into a random drawing of downtown goodies: gift baskets; gift cards; or Geneva downtown t-shirts and stickers.


Passports are available at 1 Franklin Square vestibule, participating restaurants, and RIGHT HERE on the GBID website.

Participating restaurants and bars include:

  • B&D Market

  • Beef & Brew

  • Bella’s Sicilian Ristorante

  • Cam’s New York Pizzeria

  • Captain’s Cafe

  • El Morro Restaurant

  • F.L.X. Fry Bird

  • F.L.X. Provisions

  • Geneva Gelato

  • Halsey’s Restaurant

  • Hog Wallow Tavern

  • Main Moon Chinese Restaurant

  • Parker’s Grille & Tap House

  • Simple Sweets Cafe

  • The Rusty Pig

  • Water St. Cafe

Thanks again to our generous sponsors: Vinifera; The Summit Federal Credit Union; and Lake Drum Brewing!



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