Editorial: Don't miss the film festival!
If you’ve never been to the festival, do yourself a favor — buy at least one ticket for a single movie, or better yet, pick one of the four days and buy a day pass just this one year to see what it’s all about. The films are scheduled in four venues in town and, for the most part, show at 10 a.m., 1:30 p.m., 4 p.m. and 7:15 p.m.
If you go to just one film, and maybe catch a panel discussion or one of the special Q&As with the producers or directors, you’ll pick up on the excitement of the crowd; you’ll marvel at the power of independent filmmakers telling stories that don’t hone to a Hollywood-like formula; you’ll be surprised by the freshness of ideas and the boldness of the filmmakers’ vision.
There are stories (often documentaries) told of life in this country that will shock you with their poignant truth and revelations, but it’s not all shock and awe. You can also see films that provoke riotous laughter and feel-good moments of personal accomplishment. You can see feature films directed, acted and produced by Vermont artists on the opening day this Thursday, called the Vermont Film Showcase. One film, “The Witch in the Window,” stars Middlebury College theater professor Alexander Draper and was directed by Middlebury alum Andy Mitton (just in case you want to see area folks in a movie that includes scenes throughout the town and area.)
Still haven’t popped up out of your chair to buy that festival or day pass, yet?
Try this: Grab the 40-page MNFF Program inserted in last Thursday’s Addison Independent and flip to any page that lists a few of the almost 100 films to be shown during the four-day festival. Read the nine short paragraphs that describe each of the nine films on that page. We bet you’ll find at least one or two you’ll find fascinating.
Here, for example, are just two of the nine films on page 30 (and there’s another nine on page 31).
• The Pollinators follows migratory beekeepers and their bees throughout a growing season, joining them as they stop at farms to pollinate the myriad of plants and trees that depend upon honey bees…. Throughout the journey, the film will meet farmers, scientists, chefs and academics to give perspective on this complex food system that we all depend on.
• Vermont has 251 towns. Explore them in the movie One Town at a Time, which is a coming of age story that is firmly rooted in the community spirit that makes Vermont so special. You will hear from “251 Club” members of all kinds and, after listening to their stories of traveling through Vermont, you’ll want to start exploring Vermont’s 251 towns as well.
Dozens more will capture your imagination if you give the festival the few moments of your time it deserves; just pick up the program and give it a chance. (The program can also be found on the Addison Independent’s webpage at addisonindependent.com, or go to middfilmfest.org.
Plus, there is more. It’s also a four-day party for the town. The restaurants and pubs in Middlebury are primed to entertain. American Flatbread in the Marbleworks is hosting a MNFF Saturday Night Party will the hot duo, Roscoe & Etta (start’s at 9:15 and is free for Festival passholders), preceded by a happy hour at 5 p.m. on the porch of the Middlebury Inn. There are interviews with filmmakers, panel discussions and one-on-one opportunities to discuss the filmmaking process throughout the festival, and an earlier Festival Happy Hour on Friday at the Sheldon Museum Garden. For those night owls, there’s an adult-oriented movie screening, Ruben Brandt, Collector, on Friday that is a “brilliant, wildly imaginative and utterly original animated feature from Hungarian director Milorad Krstic, sponsored by Drop-In Brewing and their beer is on tap. Proceeding that late show is the Friday Night Party at Notte (below Two Brothers Tavern) for Festival passholders only.
And on and on. It’s not just about going to a movie or two, it’s an adventure in film and filmmaking that is making Middlebury one of the hot spots in the nation for new filmmakers.
The success of the MNFF (this is its fifth year) is due to two unyielding forces: the power of a good idea and the energy and vision of festival founder Lloyd Komesar. Our hats are off to the latter for creating such a notable Middlebury event and the growing prestige that it bestows on the town.