Film Festivals | Massachusetts

New England’s Hometown Festival

1 Mar , 2001  

Written by Vikki Warner | Posted by:

BF/VF expands the New England Film & Video Festival to 33 films this year, showcasing a diverse collection of local independent filmmaking.

As a yearly Boston film event, the New England Film and Video Festival (NEFVF) shines in its presentation of varied, exciting film and video pieces since 1976. Eligibility requirements are simple: entrants must live in one of the six New England states or upstate New York, attend college in the region, or be a New England resident attending college in another area. This year’s event, which takes place March 26-31, affords filmmakers and film lovers the chance to see an incredible amount of diverse, local, independent filmmaking. 33 new films will be screened over the six-day festival, ranging from four-minute animation shorts to hour-long documentaries to feature-length movies.

Devon Damonte, Program Director for Boston Film/Video Foundation, the organization that sponsors and organizes the event, believes that the festival functions "…as a mirror and barometer of the independent community" that flourishes in Boston and throughout New England.

"This is the independent community’s hometown festival," says Damonte. "People have a strong feeling that being recognized in the NEFVF is being recognized by their peers." The NEFVF is a symbol that the network of local and regional film and video artists is thriving. It is an event organized, funded, entered, and attended by local filmmakers and organizations; it gets recognition from the New England film scene while it contributes to it.

The relatively small size of the festival’s scope makes it more feasible to get all of the filmmakers to the events. "On a practical level, they’re all New England artists, so it’s easier to maintain the NEFVF standard of having virtually every director present for a Q&A, rather than just a few special guests," says Damonte.

The mission of the NEFVF is, in part, based on encouraging artists to stay and work in New England by recognizing their achievements and providing exposure for their work. By inspiring local artists to remain in the region, the NEFVF strengthens the film scene and promotes its growth. And while some of the films screened at the NEFVF are professional feature films, the inclusion of student and other non-professional pieces builds confidence in first-time festival entrants. This enhances the independent film climate and helps to facilitate careers for less well-known artists. According to Damonte, the NEFVF strives to assure first-time filmmakers with "…a tangible example that they can stay here and have a viable film career in this region by having their work shown alongside more established professional films."

A defining characteristic of the NEFVF is that it judges all work on the same level. Regardless of the professional standing of the filmmakers, there is no separate student category to distinguish between those who have begun a professional career and those who are just beginning. "One of the hallmarks of NEFVF," Damonte says, "is that we don’t segregate between student work and professional independent filmmakers." This openness on the part of the festival is a departure from other film fests, where young or inexperienced filmmakers are limited to the student category.

The NEFVF attempts to create a dialogue between its artists and its audience. Damonte notes that this is another central idea behind the festival’s mission, "Logistically, it may be difficult or awkward, but the filmmakers talk between themselves and with the audience, and lots of unexpected and really astonishing things happen." The chance to speak with a filmmaker regarding his or her film is a unique, inspirational opportunity. Not only does this intense interaction produce momentum and energy for the festival, it reduces the intimidation that often separates the artist from the viewer.

While Damonte has a difficult time picking specific films that stand out at this year’s NEFVF, and asserts that he believes strongly in all of the featured films, there are a few that represent a diverse sampling of what the NEFVF has to offer. First, in terms of feature-length New England premieres, or "the biggies" as Damonte calls them, there are two particular notables. "The Blue Diner," by Boston writers/producers/directors Jan Egelson and Natatcha Estebanez, is a bilingual film that innovatively explores the challenging relationship between a Puerto Rican mother and daughter as they confront pressures of language, culture, and romance in their lives. Made in Boston, this is a "beautiful film, with great acting," says Damonte. "Unfinished Symphony," fresh from Sundance 2001, is another anticipated New England premiere.

Of the impressive array of short films to be screened at the NEFVF, Damonte mentioned "The Twin" and "Train." The former, an animated 6-minute piece, explores the story of twins born in pre-war Helsinki in 1945. An amazing example of world-class animation by Milja Ahola of Westboro, MA, this film uses an innovative technique to tell a fascinating tale. "Train" is a quiet, 8-minute piece that, according to Damonte, "works extremely well on its own terms." Made by Masako Miyazaki, a RISD student, the film is an experimental animation that contains a powerful rhythmic quality.

The 2001 NEFVF takes place from Monday, March 26 to Saturday, March 31, with additional events, including the Filmmakers’ Open Studios (Sunday, March 18) and the 5th Annual Vision Awards Gala Dinner (Saturday, March 10), occurring independently. All screenings will be held at the Coolidge Corner Theatre (617/734-2500), 209 Harvard Street in Brookline, or the Museum of Fine Arts (617/369-3370), 465 Huntington Avenue in Boston; for directions see www.coolidge.org or www.mfa.org. Tickets for most festival events are $8 to $10 for the general public and $7 to $8 for BF/VF members; the Filmmakers’ Open Studios event is free and the Vision Awards Gala Dinner is $125 for the general public and $100 for BF/VF members. A Festival Full Pass, allowing admission to all screenings, is $60 for the general public and $50 for BF/VF members.

Check out BF/VF’s web site for more information at http://www.bfvf.org/festival


Check out BF/VF’s web site for more information at http://www.bfvf.org/festival