Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival

BARBARA KOPPLE’S DOCUMENTARY film “New Homeland,” screened at the recent Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival, tells the story of five refugees — two brothers and another teen from Syrian, plus a set of brothers from Iraq — who face the totally new experience of summer camp.
MIDDLEBURY — Alan Kurdî died on this day — Sept. 2 — in 2015. The three-year-old Syrian boy drowned in the Mediterranean Sea when his family and other refugees attempted to reach Europe. In a photo that went viral, Kurdî lies face down on the beach near Bodrum, Turkey, wearing a red T-shirt, blue shorts and tiny brown-soled shoes. If it weren’t for the surf lapping at his cheek we might have mistaken him for a toddler felled by sleep. Because of the impact it had on some of the subjects of Barbara Kopple’s new documentary film, she features “the photo of the dead boy on the beach” near the...

MNFF ARTISTIC DIRECTOR Jay Craven, right, asks legendary film director and screenwriter Paul Schrader a question about his career during a Q&A after the screening of his film “First Reformed” at Town Hall Theater during the recent Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival. Schrader, writer of “Taxi Driver” and “Raging Bull,” was given a VTeddy Award for Sustained Excellence in Cutting Edge Filmmaking. Independent photo/Steve James
MIDDLEBURY — The fifth annual Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival (MNFF5) was a rousing success by virtually all barometers. It broke attendance records and drew some of the best quality films in the history of the four-day event that has become a major attraction for Addison County’s shire town. Festival Producer Lloyd Komesar said MNFF5, which kicked off with a Kids & Family Day on Aug. 21 and wrapped up with the screen of the documentary film “Ernie & Joe” on Aug. 25, filled more cinema seats than ever. Based on a preliminary count of seats filled at five viewing venues, Komesar...

THE DOCUMENTARY FILM “Reversing Roe,” which screened during the Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival this past weekend, presented protesters on both sides of the abortion debate. Director Ricki Stern told her Middlebury audience that she wanted to show how government has chipped away at women’s rights to abortion.
MIDDLEBURY — People in some groups opposed to abortion are targeting clinics that provide the procedure, even shooting and killing doctors and activists who promote a woman’s right to choose to continue a pregnancy. Dr. Colleen McNicholas, the sole remaining abortion provider in the state of Missouri, explained to a crowd at Middlebury’s Town Hall Theater this past Friday for a screening of the documentary film “Reversing Roe,” that every clinic that provides abortions has a domestic terrorism FBI agent assigned to it. The agent assigned to her clinic in Missouri surveys her house regularly,...

DINK, PLAYED BY Ujon Tokarski in John Melrod’s “Major Arcana,” is a master Vermont carpenter but relentlessly clueless when it comes to relationships. The Vermont film screened at the Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival late last week.
MIDDLEBURY — It’s unlikely that any of the movie stills from Vermont filmmaker Josh Melrod’s first narrative feature, “Major Arcana” (2018), which was screened last Thursday at the Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival, will ever get turned into a Woody Jackson or Sabra Field painting. Melrod’s derelict Windsor County landscapes lack the openness and order such idealism requires, as do his alcoholic characters, who feel as if they’re constantly struggling to deserve what little light shines down on them. All of which, of course, is by design. “The thing about Vermont is that it’s so beautiful,...

HUNDREDS OF PEOPLE are expected at Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival screenings this Thursday through Sunday, as well as after-show talks, like this one last year with director Anna Lueck. Independent file photo/Trent Campbell
MIDDLEBURY — For four years, the Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival (MNFF) has showcased many outstanding movies from folks just breaking into the industry. Now instead of simply giving aspiring filmmakers applause for their great work, the MNFF will be able to give a hand up to young moviemakers seeking to take their scripts from paper to the silver screen. With MNFF5 kicking off with opening night festivities on Thursday, festival founder and Producer Lloyd Komesar this week confirmed creation of the “MNFF Franklin Film Development Fund.” The fund is designed to stimulate the making of...

MIDDLEBURY NEW FILMMAKERS Festival starts today with guest actors and director Paul Schrader.
MIDDLEBURY — The Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival starts today (Aug. 22) and runs through Sunday, Aug. 25.  The festival features first- and second-time filmmakers. We show their work and host them on stage and at events where they mingle with audience members, celebrate each other’s craft and hear from industry pros who discuss distribution strategies and more.  More than 50 filmmakers will join us this year.  Three well-known actors will participate in a special Saturday morning coffee conversation at the Middlebury Inn, 8:30 a.m.  Actor Bruce Greenwood is best known for his performances...

“BE NATURAL: THE Untold Story of Alice Guy-Blaché” will play Aug. 25, at 1 p.m., in Dana Auditorium, during the Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival.
MIDDLEBURY — When Alice Guy-Blaché completed her first film in 1896 Paris, she was not only the first female filmmaker, but one of the first directors ever to make a narrative film. “Be Natural: The Untold Story of Alice Guy-Blaché” follows her rise from Gaumont secretary to her appointment as head of production a year later, and her subsequent illustrious 20-year career in France and in the United States, as the founder of her own studio and as writer, director, and/or producer of 1,000 films — after which she was veritably erased from history. Until now… Directed by Pamela B. Green, the...

PAUL SCHRADER'S WORK as a writer and director can be seen in such classic films as “Taxi Driver,” “Raging Bull” and “The Last Temptation of Christ.” Schrader’s latest film, “First Reformed,” will screen on Saturday, Aug. 24, at 1:30 p.m. at Town Hall Theater. Craven will conduct a Q&A with Schrader onstage from 4-5 p.m., after which he’ll be presented with MNFF’s “Sustained Excellence in Cutting Edge Filmmaking Award.”
MIDDLEBURY — The red carpet will be rolled out not only for the first- or second-time filmmakers screening their creations at the fifth annual Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival (MNFF) this week, but also for some well-established luminaries of the industry. The festival is expected to draw big crowds of cinema creators and enthusiasts from throughout the world to Addison County’s shire town for four days of screenings at multiple venues, Aug. 22 to 25. Organizers whittled down 340 film submissions to what they deemed the 75-85 best entries (to go along with around 20 curated films) that will...

RISING STAR KIMBERLY Townsend performs at Brandon Music on Friday, Aug. 23, at 7:30 p.m.
The Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival is dedicated to the work of first- and second-time filmmakers. The exciting 5th annual MNFF kicks off with a Vermont Film Showcase at 10 a.m. this Thursday, Aug. 22, in Middlebury with films shown at Town Hall Theater (68 S. Pleasant Street), as well as both screens at the Marquis Theater (65 Main Street). Another group of films will show at the same locations at 1:30 p.m. A special Opening Night Party will take place at THT with a welcome at 6:30 p.m., a film, “The Dog Doc,” at 7 p.m., followed by a Q&A with director Cindy Meehl and Dr. Jacqueline...
MIDDLEBURY — The Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival-goers can look forward to many special events this year; including a special cinematic presentation with the VSO, a Saturday Film Symposium, signature festival parties, as well as a new film event, “Late Night at the Marquis.” VSO LIVE For the third consecutive year, MNFF, the Vermont Symphony Orchestra and Middlebury College’s Mahaney Arts Center will partner to present a special live music cinematic event.  This singular event, unique to MNFF in the film-fest world, will feature the world premiere of last year’s VSO Award Winner Jeremy...


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