Adirondack Film Society Screening Series: “First Reformed”

A late-career masterpiece by Paul Schrader, writer of “Taxi Driver” & director of “Affliction”

View the official movie trailer here

From writer-director Paul Schrader —whose films include "Taxi Driver," "Affliction," "American Gigolo," "Blue Collar," "Hardcore," "Raging Bull" and "The Canyons"—comes a gripping thriller about a crisis of faith that is at once personal, political and planetary. "First Reformed" is the opening film of the 2018-2019 Adirondack Film Society (AFS) Screening Series at the Lake Placid Center for the Arts (LPCA), now in its fifth year.

Reverend Ernst Toller (Ethan Hawke) is a solitary, middle-aged parish pastor at a small Dutch Reform church in upstate New York on the cusp of celebrating its 250th anniversary. Once a stop on the Underground Railroad, the church is now a tourist attraction catering to a dwindling congregation, eclipsed by its nearby parent church, Abundant Life, with its state-of-the-art facilities and 5,000-strong flock.

When a pregnant parishioner (Amanda Seyfried) asks Reverend Toller to counsel her husband (Philip Ettinger), a radical environmentalist, the clergyman finds himself plunged into his own tormented past and equally despairing future, until he finds redemption in an act of grandiose violence. Cedric the Entertainer (billed as "Cedric Antonio Kyles) is featured as Reverend Joel Jeffers.

What the critics are saying:

"This mesmerizing drama of a pastor's crisis of faith feels like the movie Paul Schrader was put on this planet to make." — Ann Hornaday, Washington Post

"The searching loss-of-faith drama 'First Reformed' is the happy result of Paul Schrader's entering the what-the-hell-let's-go-for-it stage of his long and bravely self-lacerating career." — David Edelstein, Vulture

"...A fierce film; Schrader, one of the crucial creators of the modern cinema (among his many achievements, he wrote 'Taxi Driver' and directed 'American Gigolo'), seems to have made it in a state of anger, passion, pain, mourning, and desire, held together by the conflicted religious fury—blending exaltation and torment—that runs through all of his films.
"Schrader is only seventy-one, and I trust that he has many years of artistic creation ahead of him. But 'First Reformed' nonetheless has the feeling of a summation, of a teeming and roiling avowal of his longtime obsessions, from the distant pressure of family life as a child to the repellent politics currently unfolding daily. In his most recent films, Schrader has been showing what the later years of a career are meant for: freedom, the lack of inhibition. He hasn't worked in studios for a while. Instead, thrown back on his own resources as an independent filmmaker malgré lui, he has made 'The Canyons' (financed through Kickstarter), a fierce reckoning with Hollywood, and 'Dog Eat Dog,' in which he dug into the cinematic mythology that has nourished, and sometimes deluded, him and more or less everyone else. Now, in 'First Reformed' (which is co-produced by Killer Films, the company co-founded by Christine Vachon, one of the crucial behind-the-scenes forces of modern independent cinema), Schrader excavates deep personal history and bares present-day anger and pain with a rare, wondrous intensity.
"'First Reformed' is a devil-may-care film, made with the sort of reckless abandon, the desire to slam the cards of his anger face up on the table, that only an established filmmaker who's still in a hurry will yield to...." — Richard Brody, The New Yorker; to read the rest of the review, please visit:

Rated R (for some disturbing violent images) • running time: 1 hr., 53 mins.

The 2018-19 AFS Screening Series at LPCA (Version 5.0) continues on Fridays and Saturdays, November 9-10, January 25-26, February 15-16 and March 15-16 and on Thursday and Saturday, May 2 & 4 (films TBA). And save the dates for the 17th Annual Lake Placid Film Festival (LPFF; recently renamed from the "Lake Placid Film Forum"), with screenings and related programs such as panel discussions taking place Friday through Sunday, October 26-28, 2018 at venues that include the LPCA and the historic Palace Theatre on Main Street—to be kicked off Thursday evening, October 25th, by a special gala tribute to AFS-LPFF co-founder and current Artistic Director Kathleen Carroll, longtime film critic Kathleen Carroll, who was ahead of her time in recognizing the importance of such film directors as Federico Fellini, Francois Truffaut, Martin Scorsese, Woody Allen and Clint Eastwood. To learn more about the 2018 LPFF, please visit; to learn more about the AFS Screening Series at LPCA or other AFS programs and activities, please contact Operations Manager Fred Balzac at 518-523-3456/518-588-7275 or or by visiting

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Lake Placid Center for the Arts

The Lake Placid Center for the Arts is a year-round performing and visual Arts Facility.  Located in the Adirondack Park of Northern New York, the LPCA consistently presents arts of the highest caliber in music, dance and theatre performances, film exhibitions and visual arts presentations. 

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