What a whirlwind of a few days! The 2nd Annual Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival wrapped this past Sunday (Aug 28) and concluded with the VTeddies Awards Ceremony before a packed house at the Town Hall Theater. The Ceremony was followed by a screening of special guest Barbara Kopple’s newest documentary, “Miss Sharon Jones!”
We experienced a huge surge in attendance this year, selling out multiple screenings and panels and packing on-stage conversations, receptions, and social hours at the Middlebury Inn, Edgewater Gallery at the Falls, Sparkling Wine Bar, and other establishments.
“Audiences were even bigger than last year and, again, very appreciative,” said MNFF Artistic Director Jay Craven. “We tried some new ideas this year – the ‘Book to Film conversation between Russell Banks and Jay Parini at Edgewater Gallery was presented to an overflow crowd, and our ‘Coffee With. . .’ conversation with actors Maggie Gyllenhaal and Peter Sarsgaard was also packed, with many people standing in the courtyard at the Middlebury Inn. Our weekend dialogue on media and journalism unfolded in three parts and was also very well-attended. And it included representatives from The New York Times, The Nation, VPR, The Daily Show, Seven Days, and The Addison Independent.”
Panels and discussions were not the only well-attended events of the weekend. The Festival’s Saturday night screenings attracted more than 500 people and nearly 100 were turned away from the Middlebury Marquis screening of “Captain Fantastic.” Several Town Hall Theater screenings were also sold out and the Dana Auditorium films drew consistently large crowds as well. All told, nearly 3,000 people filled the seats at the four screening sites across the span of the weekend.
“A spirit of generosity imbued the whole weekend,” noted Craven, “from the filmmakers, the audiences, the visiting guests, the sponsors, local inns, the host families – all of this combined to create an exhilarating experience, and one that was really quite special. We’re excited to continue forward.”
Lloyd Komesar, MNFF Producer, commented on the notable growth of the Festival.
“As we turn our attention to the fall and winter events under the MNFF banner, we have a lot of wind in our sails coming out of this great August gathering. Festival and Day Pass sales were up a solid 10% over last year. Individual ticket sales were up a rousing 24%. Just about 3,000 folks found their way into our screenings. The feedback we have received from the community has been so genuinely supportive and encouraging. We are really looking forward to extending the MNFF brand in exciting ways in the months ahead. And folks should mark their calendars for August 24-27, 2017, the dates for the 3rd Annual Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival.”