A State Honor for a Shepherdstown Filmmaker
Shepherdstown resident and owner of the historic Opera House, Larry Cumbo, has recently been honored as West Virginia’s Filmmaker of the Year.
Cumbo was awarded the title by the West Virginia FILMFest during its 15th festival held in October.
According to festival spokesperson Caitlin Renee Campbell, Cumbo was chosen for the prize by a panel of expert filmmakers and judges.
Campbell explained that the filmmaker of the year award is given to an artist for their collection and catalogue of work rather than one single film.
Campbell called Cumbo “a well-rounded filmmaker.”
Larry Cumbo is a producer, director and cinematographer. He’s been nominated for an Emmy as well as multiple Cine Golden Eagles awards.
This past year Cumbo produced a series for the Smithsonian Channel called “Rocking the Opera House: Dr. John,” chronicling the performance of the legendary rock musician as he took the stage for the first time in Shepherdstown.
Cumbo, who was nominated for the award by Cut to the Chase Film Festival organizer Natoma Vargason, said he was shocked to receive the prize.
“I was surprised I love West Virginia, so it’s an honor,” he said.
Cumbo said he disappointed he couldn’t attend the Oct. 5 ceremony in person due to a production currently underway in Japan.
“If I couldn’t be there, I guess it was best that I was making films,” he said.
Cumbo said he appreciates the award and the West Virginia film community’s commitment to celebrating documentary filmmaking.
“It’s harder and harder in television to make documentaries,” he said.
Cumbo said the market for the type of television documentaries that he and many other filmmakers produce has dwindled with the rise of reality TV.
“Especially in this state, these filmmakers are the real voices of the people,” he said.
Cumbo said his work continues to be inspired by people around the world who society has written off or misunderstood.
Cumbo’s many film credits include 2012’s “American Transgender,” and 2003’s, “Search for the Afghan Girl,” a documentary following a National Geographic magazine team as they search for the real-life afghan girl featured in the world famous 1985 cover photograph by Steve McCurry.
“I make a lot of films about people who are often overlooked,” he said.
The West Virginia FILMfest also honored individual films and filmmakers in categories including, best feature film, best cinematography and best student film, among others.
According to Campbell, plans for the 2015 festival are already underway. Screenings for festival’s films are slated to take place throughout the state, including Shepherdstown’s Opera House.
More information about Larry Cumbo and upcoming film events can be found by visiting the Opera House web site at www.operahouselive.com.