Film Festivals | Massachusetts

More than Just Movies

1 Nov , 2000  

Written by Natasha Lardera | Posted by:

This month, the 2000 Northampton Film Festival offers a wonderful assortment of over 50 films as well as workshops, seminars, Q&A sessions, and more.

Northampton is a charming rural city situated in western Massachusetts near New York, Boston and the Berkshires. It is a growing center for the arts and entertainment, hosting museums, theatres, crafts shops, galleries, Emily Dickinson’s home, and, from November 1st to November 5th, the Northampton Film Festival.

The purpose of this gathering is to evaluate new or outstanding motion pictures and to provide an opportunity to filmmakers, distributors, critics and other interested people to meet and discuss their artistic developments. The Festival showcases more than 50 original independent shorts, features, documentaries, animation and experimental films at the various theatres on the Smith College campus and at the spectacular, historic Academy of Music.

Quite a few films shown have been shot in New England by local filmmakers. "Forever Young at Heart" is a 59-minute video that focuses on aging and living life at full speed. Director Barbara Allen reveals the humor, vitality and spirit of the twenty-five members of the Northampton’s Young at Heart Chorus. The filmmaker, who lives in Northampton, admits that she saw them perform and "fell in love with them." During our interview Barbara let me know that "there is an 85-year old that does splits, and a 72-year old drag queen." Each and every member of the group is amazing in their own special way. The documentary covers four years in the life of the Chorus, with footage from their performances, their trip to Holland called "Eternal Youth," and eight intimate interviews.

"There Once was a Man from Pawtucket" is Ted Page and Fred Surr’s latest work, shot in and around Lexington, MA. It is a 15-minute dark comedy that follows Sherry Wingtight, her husband Al, and Kate Mayer, an insurance detective who is on their trail, around the country. Al is dead, he’s been dead for the past five years with a rare condition called "Ambulatory Mortosis" (it was so important for the filmmakers to raise the public’s awareness on this issue that they added a public message at the end of their film) but Sherry was too busy to notice. Upon her discovering she collects Al’s insurance and travels the country hoping to make more money off his condition. If you are not able to attend the festival and still would like to see the film, it can be viewed online at More importantly, for additional information on "Ambulatory Mortosis" please visit the official web site at

"American Odyssey," by Christina Monnier, is a 35-minute film that was shot in June and July of 1995 during the week-long International Wally Byam Caravan Club rally. The WBCCI is a social club of elderly Airstream trailer owners, named after the Airstream’s inventor Wally Byam. The filmmaker caravanned with the Akron unit of the club from Akron, Ohio, to the University of Massachusetts where 2,500 shiny trailers came together. The film focuses on the care and attention that these older people pay to their silver pods and the carefree spirit of life on the road.

"Look Back, Don’t Look Back" by Randy Bell and Justin Rice is a black and white short that narrates the story of two students obsessed with Bob Dylan that head to New York to meet him in person. The film was shot in Cambridge, MA, New York City, and Amherst, MA.

More than just movies, the Film Festival also features workshops, seminars, and Q&A sessions with the filmmaker after the screening of many films. The Northampton Film Festival’s Filmmaking Forum features presentations by industry leaders and celebrity guest speakers covering a variety of topics concerning the art and craft of film and video. This year’s forum consists of three exciting panels: Musical Scoring and Composition for Films; Women in the Movie Business; "The Critics’ Picks: What Makes a Winning Film"; and the special screening of "Disney’s Unseen Treasures." Guest speakers include Scott MacQueen, Disney’s manager of Library Restoration, composer Mason Daring and Boston Phoenix critic Geary Peary.

Advance tickets are available by phone at the Northampton Box Office by calling 1-800- the-tick or also at the door of each event. Individual films cost $6 but a full NFF pass or a four-show pass are also available for $125 and $20 respectively. To view the complete schedule of the festival go to