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This is the story of how a film from Poland turned a composer from Maine into a lover of Ballston Spa.

First of all, the movie. It’s called The Man With The Spying Glass, and is a 13 minute short film screened at last week’s Fourth Annual Ballston Spa Film Festival. Lest you think it is a local flick, know that it has been also been shown everywhere from its native Poland, to Hollywood and New York City. Polish filmmaker Magda Olchawska directed this story about the struggles of one man in a tough place to be. For the film’s music, she chose Jan Broberg Carter of Portland, Maine to compose.

While having dinner at Sunset Cafe’ last Friday, I overheard a woman, who turned out to be Broberg, on her cell phone telling someone how much she loved her first trip to this area. Being a bit nosy (and clearly seeing the topic of a potential column), I decided to ask her why she was in town.

The conversation that followed could have been a testimonial for the village, the local businesses and the people of Ballston Spa.

Broberg had just gotten into town earlier in the day, having never been in the 12020 before. Like several others have told me in the past she said: “I never knew how great this town was! It is so quaint!”

As I was talking to her it was about 6:30, and somehow during the course of less than half a day, based on what she told me, she had seemingly shopped in every village business, talked to countless locals, checked out the BSFF locales at the high school and Wiswall Park, and had a long lunch at Sunset. She loved the latter restaurant (and their margaritas) so much she was back there for dinner.

She also raved about her lunch partner, BSFF committee member Pam Grandin, who was showing her around.

“She was so friendly; everyone has been friendly.”

Oh, and she also found time to read a newspaper; this newspaper in fact. Or as she called it, “a great local newspaper.”

“Towns like this really need a newspaper like yours to be informed about all the local news and happenings.” (Note to my esteemed publisher: I think we may have our slogan for our next subscriber campaign.)

And, she was not the only one. A few hours later, just prior to the first film of the night being shown (which by the way, was a wonderful animated flick called The Gruffalo; see it if you can) I spoke with two women, one from Schenectady, one from Albany. Their tween-age kids were part of the BSFF staff, as they were part of some film camp at Proctors. Neither woman had ever been to Ballston Spa, except to pass through. And they loved what they saw.

“We never knew this village had so much going for it!” They asked about Whistling Kettle and the Medbury.

They also wanted to know if events such as the film festival took place in town other times during the year. When I said yes, they both talked about coming back soon.

The next night I headed on over to the Brickyard Tavern for the BSFF after party. Vesper, that cello driven rock band was back for a third straight year. Clearly a large portion of the crowd in there was from out of town.

My new found film composer friend from Maine was there as well, with a big smile on her face, and waived me over to her table, where she was sitting with her lunch partner of the day before. It seems as though Day two in town had impressed her even more than Day one, and she was still loving it all. And this was before she found out the film she scored won “Best of the Festival.”

The next day Grandin told me “she was so very excited by winning and very, very appreciative of the warmth of everyone she met.” Not that she tried to hide it or anything. The two moms felt the same way:

“This place is great; we will be back.”

Something tells me they are not alone.


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