L’Max Film Fest: both feel-good favorite and tearjerker ending (heating donations still sought)

If Friday evening went spectacularly better than hoped for organizers of the 4th annual Lake Maxinkuckee Film Festival “Gift of Warmth” event, which raises funds and collects winter wear for area needy children and their families, the weather rained on the proverbial parade of Saturday evening’s offerings to the community.
Making its debut at this year’s event was Friday evening’s student film competition, during which seven short films created by students in Purdue University’s Film Studies program were screened, and attending sponsors -- whose contributions not only made possible the events of Saturday, but will be used to offset heating bills for needy families this winter -- could vote for their favorite.
The evening included what has become the traditional wine and meet and greet, lantern-lit dinner outside the theater (catered by the Victorian Pantry of South Bend), and a well-received performance by a pianist and singers from the Indiana University School of Music (Culver’s own Mary Weirich accompanied the earlier meet and greet on piano).
The fan favorite was Daniel Skubal’s “The Hustler and the Blind Man,” which presented a philosophically parable-like morality tale -- which stood out in large part due to the strong acting of its leads) in contrast to several comedic (and one other dramatic) shorts, many of which were also well-received. Skubal won the “gold” prize of $1,000, while Samantha Braden’s humorous “The Bet” won the silver (second place) award of $500.
While Friday evening’s events were the best-attended sponsor’s evening since the inception of the festival, according to event chair Gary Shaffer, Saturday’s were surely the worst-attended, through no fault of organizers.
Following a day’s worth of 1950s-themed movies screened at the Uptown Cinema (and viewable for donation of new or lightly used winter wear or heating bill money), the giant screen in the park was erected and stage space readied for musical performances, while local organizations including the Lions Club, Antiquarian and Historical Society of Culver, and Trinity Lutheran Church set up shop to feed and assist guests. By 6:30, however, the screen had been blown down by the terrific force of wind which hit the area, and rain delayed efforts to jump-start the events, even as the few attendees huddled under the awning of the Lions’ depot and shared the food and company.
Shaffer notes Kathy Overmyer and Quintin Flagg did take to the stage to perform a few numbers following the rain, and while delayed, the show did go on with the movie, shortly after 9 p.m., for the 40 or so in attendance.
As a result, organizers are especially seeking the coats and winter wear planned for donation by those who didn’t attend the event Saturday, and hope the word can be spread that they’re markedly short of such items for distribution this winter.
Those with items to donate are encouraged to do so this Saturday, Sept. 10, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the train station - depot on Lake Shore Drive, or to contact Gary Shaffer at 574-842-8926.