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Lily Dale film draws a big crowd

There was standing room only at the Fredonia Opera House on Friday night for the world premiere of the new HBO documentary "No One Dies in Lily Dale."

The 90-minute HBO special airs at 9 p.m. July 5. Rick Davis, executive director of the Opera House, said he had to turn 75 people away due to a lack of room. There were 459 people in attendance. Lily Dale is one of the county's premiere centers for learning, Davis said.

"It is a treasure right here in our county," he said.

The Lily Dale documentary was shot during last summer's season there and follows a few visitors on their spiritual journeys.

New York City Film Director Steven Cantor explained that he decided to make the film following a trip to the community about three years ago. Cantor, who has completed several films for HBO and has had one Oscar nomination, said he came to Lily Dale "with an open mind and let the people tell their own stories."

Canter termed Lily Dale "a special, interesting, magical place" where the people are "lovely." Lily Dale, he said, provides "water for people who thirst."

Lynne Wiltsie, president of the Lily Dale Assembly, said she felt the documentary represents "fair and balanced reporting."

The Lily Dale Assembly rented the Opera House on Friday night, and admission was free.

Lily Dale's 131st summer season will run June 25 -- Aug. 29. For information about its program, lodging accommodations or other information, go to www.lilydaleassembly.com or call (716) 595-8721.

e-mail: citydesk@buffnews.com