Vermont International Film Festival
Written by Jen Muehlbauer | Posted by: Anonymous
The goal of the Vermont International Film Festival is "to inform and motivate people, through film and video, to learn to work for peace, justice, and respect for the natural world." That sounds like a tall order for four days of movies, but a look at this year’s lineup shows that this is no ordinary film festival.
What will you see if you head to Burlington this October 22-25? As the "Vermont International" moniker implies, the films come from far and wide and from close to home. There’s a lot to choose from, so here are some of the highlights:
Support Local Filmmaking
The Vermont Filmmakers’ Showcase kicks off Friday, October 23 at 4 pm, so skip out of work early. All the local films that afternoon are documentaries except for "Flood of ’98," a computer-animated short by John Douglas of Charlotte that depicts a house being overtaken by rising waters.
Other films you’ll see that afternoon have Vermont as the main subject. "Man With Teeth" is a glimpse inside the 1994 Bread & Puppet pageant in Glover. The filming of the yearly oversized puppet show/folk theater/effigy burning was directed by Robin Lloyd of Burlington.
The "Making of ‘In Jest’" is an inside look at the film "In Jest," which is currently in production. "In Jest" was written by and made with Vermont high school students, and produced by Kingdom County Productions. "The Making of ‘In Jest’" was directed by Vermont filmmaker Jay Craven.
At 7 pm, catch the family drama "My Mother’s Early Lovers," the first feature by Norwich director Nora Jacobson. It’s set in northern New England and stars Vermont actors Rusty DeWees of Stowe and George Woodard of Waterbury Center.
In case that’s not enough Vermont filmmaking for you, trailers of two new Vermont-made feature films will also be shown. Get your first glimpse of "Mud Season," also starring Rusy DeWees and George Woodard, and "Wedding Band," by Martin Guiguik of South Burlington.
Bring the Whole Family
Maybe you wouldn’t usually bring your kids to a film festival, but this one includes a children’s matinee on Saturday afternoon. Don’t worry; you won’t be driven crazy by cutesy cartoons. These kids’ films are mostly award-winning wildlife documentaries: "Alaska’s Coolest Animals," "Creatures of the Deep," "Safari: Asian Elephants," "Song of the Loon," "Survival in the Sea," and "Touched by a Dolphin." Okay, there’s also "Lower Orders," in which Ratatooey, Fat Albert, and the Blue Baron have a crisis because their favorite garbage can is empty, but it’s only five minutes long. There will also be a magic show by Tom Verner of Lincoln and a puppet show by Chuck Reiss of Hinesburg.
Salute the Past
On Sunday, October 25, you can escape the cutting edge and catch up on your film history. 1953’s "Daybreak Express" is a five-minute snapshot of early morning Manhattan, set to Duke Ellington’s "Take the A Train." "Night Mail" (1936) follows the Postal Special’s overnight trip from London to Glasgow. "Stations of the Elevated" looks at subways, graffiti, and urban life, accompanied by Charles Mingus’ jazz. "Nanook of the North" (1922) documents the traditional life of an Eskimo family fighting nature and modernity. The ten-minute montage "Glass" (1958) shows the technical, artistic, and mechanical aspects of glassblowing. Finally, "Valley Town" takes us to the depressed town of New Castle, PA, for a somewhat prophetic statement about the consequences of automation.
Newsreels, semi-journalistic documentaries of the 1960s, will be screened on both Saturday and Sunday. Topics include such ’60s hot buttons as the Vietnam War, the Black Panthers, "Yippies," and a plantation strike.
Save the World?
Here’s where working for "peace, justice, and respect for the natural world" comes in. Throughout the weekend, you can view films in showcases devoted to War and Peace, Justice and Human Rights, and the Environment. Old subjects like World War I, Vietnam, the Stalin purges are examined anew. Not depressed yet? Films also cover homelessness in Montreal, human rights abuses in Guatemala, female circumcision in Uganda, military dictatorship in Ethiopia, and environmental ruin in New York’s Adirondack Mountains. The showcases’ lighthearted fare comes from a cartoon sea turtle, a family reunion in a Mexican rainforest, and a get-things-done animal rights activist.
Plenty of other films in the festival touch on social and political issues. The festival opens with "Blind Faith," in which a smart, middle-class, young black man is accused of murdering an Irish boy in 1957. The Native American Film Showcase will screen "The Education of Little Tree," a coming-of-age story with a message. The festival closes with "Cyclo," a portrait of the Vietnam War’s lasting effects on the city of Saigon.
For the latest information about the festival, including possible schedule changes, call 802-660-2600.