2018 Schedule

Here are the films, panels and parties of the 4th Annual Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival, August 23-26, 2018.  To learn more details about any film or event, just click or tap on the title.

An asterisk (*) denoted that a filmmaker attended MNFF4.

And thanks to everyone who attended our inaugural Kids & Family Day on Wednesday August 22. We will back with a whole new Kids & Family lineup on Wednesday August 21, 2019.

Venue Legend

THT: Town Hall Theater
MQM: Marquis Theater Main Screen
MQS: Marquis Theater Screening Room
DANA: Dana Auditorium
TWI: Twilight Hall

10:30 am

THT: Aliens of Extraordinary Ability | Vermont Fancy

Aliens of Extraordinary Ability | 14m | Documentary | Molmol Kuo

US Premiere

An Alien of Extraordinary Ability, the O-1 nonimmigrant visa, is for an alien who possesses extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics. But the feeling one has as a stranger sometimes exists within all of us. In this innovative short, the filmmaker morphed into the body of an alien and asked others what their extraordinary abilities were.

Vermont Fancy | 47m | Documentary, VT Collection | Kathleen Dougherty Huxley

New England Premiere

Candid and articulate, Doug Densmore is a single farmer in rural Vermont, struggling with the consequences of his choice of life style and the existential problem of what happens in the future as he ages and faces losing the ability to maintain his farm.  Over the course of a year,  Doug reveals much about what his life has amounted to.

MQM: For the Love of Mary | Meeting George | Wild and Precious

For the Love of Mary | 6m | Documentary | Simon Perkins, Kirk Horton

97-year-old runner George Etzweiler has completed the race up Mount Washington every year since he was 69. Despite having a pacemaker, George continues to compete in the 7.6-mile race up 4,700 feet, breaking his own record for oldest finisher. In addition to his lucky, green running shorts, Etzweiler carries something else special with him: his late wife of 68 years, Mary.

Meeting George | 20m | Documentary | Matt Lennon

World Premiere

A son searches to reconnect with his deceased dad through old home movies and conversations with the past.

Wild and Precious | 60m | Documentary | Steve Cadwell*

A musical, magical realism documentary that presents one man’s narrative of 60 years of gay liberation: from sissy boy on the family farm in Vermont, to tender teen discovering sexuality, to the trauma of the closet, to bursting out and proud on the wings of Stonewall, to the crushing tragedy of AIDS, to finding power and hope in activism, love, parenting, and the freedom to marry…or not.

MQS: Are You Holding Me or Am I Holding Myself | Endure | In the Name of...

Are You Holding Me or Am I Holding Myself | 12m | Narrative | César Brodermann

An experimental film that visually examines the relationship between our minds and our bodies, our thoughts and our actions and the gaps between what we want to feel and what we actually experience.

Endure | 12m | Narrative | Walter Mirkss

Endure chronicles a young man’s struggle to return to his normal life after the loss of a loved one.

In the Name of… | 58m | Documentary | Erlynee Kardany

US Premiere

The man you love converts to Islam for you…but you try to escape Islam. In a search for compromise, the filmmaker shares with the world a universal story: what will you sacrifice for love?

1:30 pm

THT: Fings | Pickle | Big Wata

Fings | 3m | Narrative | Adam McHattie

Vermont Premiere

A spoken word poem about a man’s battle with challenging philosophical concepts. He begins to question everything around him and even himself. Is he real? What if everything is just in his head?

Pickle | 21m | Narrative | Grant Moore

Vermont Premiere

After accidentally freezing the family dog to death, Oscar attempts to make good with his soon-to-be stepson by driving the lad and the family pet’s ashes across the country.

Big Wata | 79m | Documentary | Gugi Van Der Velden

Vermont Premiere

Big Wata is an entertaining documentary about the first and only surf club in Sierra Leone. During an Ebola outbreak, the younger members of a West African fishing community discover surfing as their identity and purpose in life.

MQM: When We Can | To Let

When We Can | 20m | Narrative | Miguel Cardoso Faria

World Premiere

David, a young freelancer lives with his girlfriend and their newborn child who suffers an unexpected medical emergency. Without the money to buy medication and nobody to turn to, David is forced to sell an object of great sentimental value.

To Let | 99m | Narrative | Chezhiyan Ra

Vermont Premiere

Based on real life incidents that took place in 2007 in the Indian city of Chennai, a small family is confronted with the fallout from a real estate boom when their landlord greedily seeks a much higher rent.  Unable to pay, they have only 30 days to find new housing with their modest middle-class income. On their mopeds, they start a race against time and all kinds of prejudice.

MQS: Eden | Kupal

Eden | 5m | Narrative [Animation] | Julie Caty

Adam and Eve are bored to death in the Garden of Eden. One night, they run off in God’s Cabriolet. Early the next morning, God notices their absence. Furious, he summons a Dinosaur, his henchman, and sends him to get the fugitives.

Kupal | 81m | Narrative | Kazem Mollaie

Vermont Premiere

Made in Iran, this is the unusual story of a hunter and a taxidermist, named Dr. Ahmad Kupal, who, on the last day of the year, faces an unexpected challenge.

Opening Night

6:00 pm | THT | Doors Open

Opening Night ticket holders only

Introductions by Festival Producer, Lloyd Komesar and Artistic Director, Jay Craven.

6:30 pm | THT | Personal Statement | On-Stage Conversation w/ Director Juliane Dressner and Producer Beth Levison, hosted by Jay Craven

Opening Night ticket holders only

Personal Statement | 87m | Documentary | Juliane Dressner*, Edwin Martinez

New England Premiere

Three seniors at Brooklyn high schools are determined to get their entire classes to college, even though they aren’t even sure they are going to make it there themselves. They are working as peer college counselors in their three schools because many of their friends have nowhere else to turn for support. They work tirelessly to realize better futures for themselves and their peers. They struggle and they stumble, but refuse to succumb to the barriers that prevent so many low-income students from attending and graduating from college.

9:00 pm | Swift House Inn | Opening Night Party

Opening Night ticket holders only

The festivities continue at one of Middlebury’s most beautiful settings.

Venue Legend

THT: Town Hall Theater
MQM: Marquis Theater Main Screen
MQS: Marquis Theater Screening Room
DANA: Dana Auditorium
TWI: Twilight Hall

10:30 am

THT: Vignette | All the Wild Horses

Vignette | 19m | Documentary | G.G. Alves*

Vignette is a compilation of four portraits that delve into the journeys of Patti, Rashad, Grace, and Kaitlyn as they share their stories about relationships, love, identity, and family.

All the Wild Horses | 89m | Documentary | Ivo Marloh*

Vermont Premiere

A dramatic and beautiful film that follows five international riders from the USA, Canada, South Africa, Ireland and the UK as they compete in the Mongol Derby horse race in Mongolia. This multi-horse, multi-station race over a 1000 kilometers of Mongolian steppe is the longest and toughest horse race on the planet. The riders are out on their own and navigate with GPS from horse station to horse station, where they change their horses every 40 kilometers, staying the nights out in the wild or with nomad families along the way.

MQM: Goodbye Sirena | My Son. My Moon. | Touched

Goodbye Sirena | 7m | Narrative | Melissa Dailey

New England Premiere

It’s Molly’s last day, and her mom is having a hard time letting go. The two women navigate memory and grief, finding an unexpected way to say goodbye. Lyrical and haunting, Goodbye Sirena wears its heart on its sleeve, but still surprises.

My Son. My Moon. | 8m | Narrative | Shaya Mulcahy*

North American Premiere

A mother and son struggle with the many dimensions of her Alzheimer’s.

Touched | 78m | Narrative | Karl Hearne*

New England Premiere

Part ghost story, part psychological drama. Touched is about a tenement landlord who investigates the disappearance of one of his tenants who communicates with him in the form of a nine-year-old girl.

MQS: Straws | Kim Swims

Straws | 32m | Documentary | Linda Booker

Vermont Premiere

Used once and tossed, billions of plastic straws wind up in landfills and streets and oceans. Actor Tim Robbins narrates the history and story of marine researchers, citizen activists, and business owners who discuss how to make a sea of change, one straw at a time.

Kim Swims | 75m | Documentary | Kate Webber*

New England Premiere

Kim Swims tells the story of an open water swimmer’s attempt to become the first woman to swim 30 miles through a stretch of cold, rough and shark-inhabited water off of the San Francisco coast.

DANA: America to Me | Honoree Event/On-Stage Conversation with Director Steve James

America to Me | 120m | Documentary | Steve James*

Vermont Premiere

A year-long immersion into one of Chicago’s most progressive and diverse public schools, located in suburban Oak Park, America To Me explores America’s charged state of race, culture and education today with unprecedented depth and scope. MNFF will screen the first two episodes of Steve James’ upcoming 10-part series.

Honoree Event/On-Stage Conversation with Director Steve James

Q&A with Mr. James, hosted by local writer Alex Wolff.

TWI: Phulsiri | Balian

Phulsiri | 29m | Narrative | Ngima Gelu Lama, Sange Sherpa*

New England Premiere

One and a half months after an earthquake reduced a village to rubble, a ten-year old longs for normalcy. School reopens in a day and she is overjoyed. However, there is a hitch: according to school rules, she must locate her shoes, which are lost in the debris that was once her home.

Balian | 82m | Documentary | Daniel McGuire*

World Premiere

A visually provocative film shot over 20 years, Balian is an engrossing fable of globalization. It tracks the remarkable rise and fall of a Balinese healer and priest after he is discovered by Western tourists. Note: there is nudity in the film.

1:30 pm

THT: Dateline-Saigon | Special Event/On-Stage Conversation with Director Tom Herman and Special Guests

Dateline-Saigon | 96m | Documentary | Thomas D. Herman*

Dateline: Saigon profiles five Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists’ groundbreaking reporting during the early years of the Vietnam War – David Halberstam, Malcolm Browne, Neil Sheehan, Peter Arnett and photographer Horst Faas. Narrated by Sam Waterston, this remarkable documentary shows the impact of speaking truth to power.

Honoree Event/On-Stage Conversation w/ Director Tom Herman and Special Guests

Director Tom Herman will be joined on stage for a Q&A by Le Lieu Browne, Malcolm Browne’s widow, and Thomas Vallely, Marine Corps Vietnam veteran and Senior Advisor to Ken Burns’ epic documentary The Vietnam War. MNFF Artistic Director Jay Craven will moderate.

Please join Le Lieu Browne and Tom Herman for a post-screening reception at the Vermont Book Shop immediately following the on-stage event. Le Lieu Browne will sign copies of her recent memoir, Bend the Willow, copies of which will be available for purchase.

MQM: Paleonaut | Silent Night

Paleonaut | 16m | Narrative | Eric McEver*

Vermont Premiere

A scientist studying the first human time traveller falls in love with her subject. But if her research succeeds, they will become separated by eons of history. She must find a way to connect with him across the ages or lose him forever.

Silent Night | 100m | Narrative | Piotr Domalewski

Adam, who lives and works abroad, visits his family home in the Polish provinces on Christmas Eve. At first, he keeps the real reason for his visit to himself, but it isn’t long before he starts letting one relative after another in on his plans.

MQS: Raising Son | Dancing in Limbo | Yasuni Man

Raising Son | 10m | Documentary | Ben Bishop*

World Premiere

Raising Son follows balloonist, Brian Boland, and his mentee, Jordan Long. Anchored around the art of flying and building hot air balloons, the film explores the dynamics of mentorship and the concept of fatherhood.

Dancing in Limbo | 14m | Documentary | Amanda Larsh

Vermont Premiere

When dance becomes the only way to express yourself and forget your troubles as a refugee, true passion emerges.

Yasuni Man | 92m | Documentary | Ryan Patrick Killackey*

Vermont Premiere

Yasuni Man is a compelling documentary feature about the Yasuni Biosphere of Amazonian Ecuador, the worlds most biodiverse forest, and the Waorani, an indigenous Amazonian tribe plagued by deception, exploitation and murder. Note: there is nudity in this film.

DANA: Hidden Blueprints: The Story of Mikey | A Murder in Mansfield

Hidden Blueprints | 16m | Documentary | Jeremy Lee Mackenzie

An innovative film that tells the story of an art collection hidden in the prison system for years. Interrelated to this is a story, told through expert re-creations, of a champion fighting praying mantis named Mikey that won all of its prison fights before being martyred in a corporate prison riot.

A Murder in Mansfield | 87m | Documentary | Barbara Kopple*

After nearly 30 years, Collier Boyle returns to his hometown of Mansfield, Ohio where as a 12-year-old he served as a prosecution witness in the trial of his father, John Boyle, who was convicted of murdering his wife and Collier’s mother. Another profound piece of documentary journalism from the great Barbara Kopple. Q&A with Ms. Koppleand Producer John Morrissey to follow.

TWI: Coming of Age | Man Made

Coming of Age | 8m | Narrative | Doug Tompos

Vermont Premiere

The loss of innocence can come at any age. In the afterglow of sex, a generation gap opens between two men as they struggle to define trust in the age of open marriage and No-Strings-Attached hookups.

Man Made | 97m | Documentary | T Cooper

New England Premiere

Four transgender men prepare to compete at TransFitCon, the only all trans-bodybuilding competition in the world—held in Atlanta, GA. What precedes this triumphant moment are a set of diverse journeys taken on the path to self-identity and empowerment. Told through the intimate and authentic lens of trans filmmaker T Cooper, this stirring film intertwines the nuances of manhood, the drive for social justice, and the competitive desire to forge one’s own path.

4:00 pm

Town Office Building: The Producers - What Do They Do and How Do They Do It? A Two-Part Workshop --OPEN TO ALL--

Open to All! 77 Street St | 1st Floor Meeting Room | Part One. What is the role of a film producer? How do they find material to acquire?  When should a producer attach to a film that may have already started development? Do documentaries require a different approach than dramas? Join successful producers Beth Levison and John Morrissey as they address these and other questions in a lively session on this integral aspect of movie making.

5:00 pm

FRIDAY FESTIVAL HAPPY HOUR @ The Garden of the Sheldon Museum

Passholders only, please. 1 Park St | Enjoy the light food and array of beverages in the Garden at the Sheldon Museum. MNFF thanks Bill Brooks and the Sheldon Museum team for their generosity.

Champagne Reception @ Marquis Theater Cafe --Filmmakers Only--

Filmmakers only, please. 65 Main St | An informal opportunity for filmmakers to meet, mingle, eat and drink in one of Middlebury’s iconic film spaces.

7:15 pm

THT: Abacus: Small Enough to Jail | Honoree Event/On-Stage Conversation with Director Steve James

Abacus: Small Enough to Jail | 88m | Documentary | Steve James*

From acclaimed director Steve James comes Abacus, the little-known story of the only U.S. bank prosecuted in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis and a 2017 Academy Award nominee for Best Documentary Feature.

Honoree Event/On-Stage Conversation with Director Steve James

Two-time Academy Award nominee Steve James will discuss the making of Abacus: Small Enough to Jail and the cultural and historical context that the film lives in. Mr. James will also share his thoughts about the storied and exceptional career he has forged as a filmmaker. Hosted by MNFF Artistic Director Jay Craven.

MQM: The Yellow Room | Bless Me Father | The Guilty

The Yellow Room | 5m | Narrative | Kitty McNamee

New England Premiere

In a series of increasingly lush and intimate encounters, two dancers are forced to confront each other and themselves, exploring the expansion of identity beyond solely masculine or feminine.

Bless Me Father | 16m | Narrative | Paul Horan

Vermont Premiere

A parish priest is faced with a moral dilemma when a local parishioner comes to deliver a confession which directly affects the priest’s life and that of his extended family. The priest is torn between his duty to offer forgiveness and his personal reaction to such a life changing revelation.

The Guilty | 85m | Narrative | Gustav Moller

Vermont Premiere

A suspended police officer, assigned alarm dispatch duty, enters a race against time when he answers an emergency call from a kidnapped woman. When the call is suddenly disconnected, the search for the woman and her kidnapper begins. Armed only with a phone, he soon realizes that the crime is far more complex than he first thought.

MQS: Rodney | I Was Here | Everything's More Fun In Costume | Moroni for President

Rodney | 4m | Narrative [Animated] | Will Lupica*

The very amusing story of Rodney, a young penguin, who aspires to make it in the human world.

I Was Here | 5m | Documentary | Julian Dalrymple*

Artist or curated hoarder? For the past forty years, Louis Zoellar Bickett has operated an archive out of his home in Lexington, KY. From q-tips and stamps to urine and semen samples, Louis’ archive documents all aspects of his daily life.

Everything’s More Fun In Costume | 14m | Documentary | Megan Wilde

Helen’s Pacific Costumers has been dressing up Easter bunnies, gangsters, beavers, and Medieval wenches in Portland, Oregon for 128 years. Helen’s talented staff make playing dress up fun for even the most reluctant party goers. But the shop has struggled as Portland and the costume industry change.

Moroni for President | 76m | Documentary | Saila Huusko*, Jasper Rischen

Vermont Premiere

Moroni Benally runs for the presidency of the Navajo Nation, the largest Native American nation in the United States. Young, gay, Mormon, and armed with a degree in public policy, he wants to shake up the status quo and kick out old leadership. An eye-opening and humorous portrait of a political race that runs surprisingly parallel to the current political landscape of the US at large.

DANA: Sonja | Late Afternoon | Puzzle

Sonja | 5m | Documentary | Maros Milcik

A poetic portrayal of the story of the sightless potter Sonja Zeliskova, who despite an adverse fate found her life’s journey in art and ceramics.

Late Afternoon | 10m | Narrative [Animation] | Louise Bagnall

New England Premiere

Emily finds herself disconnected from the world around her. She goes on a journey through her memories to relive different moments from her life.

Puzzle | 103m | Narrative | Marc Turtletaub

Vermont Premiere

Agnes, taken for granted as a suburban mother, discovers a passion for solving jigsaw puzzles which unexpectedly draws her into a new world – where her life unfolds in ways she could never have imagined. Features the luminous Kelly Macdonald.

TWI: Dormancy | The Providers

Dormancy | 16m | Narrative | Luke Becker-Lowe*

A young French Canadian couple living in rural Vermont confronts a strange new reality after the passage of the 1931 Vermont Law, “An Act for Human Betterment by Voluntary Sterilization.”  The woman, Emily Cloutier, struggles to hold onto the future that she dreams of.

The Providers | 85m | Documentary | Anna Moot-Levin*, Laura Green

New England Premiere

Set against the backdrop of the physician shortage and opioid epidemic in rural America, this moving film follows three healthcare providers in northern New Mexico. Amidst personal struggles that reflect those of their patients, the journeys of the providers unfold as they work to reach rural Americans who would otherwise be left out of the healthcare system. With intimate access, the documentary portrays the transformative power of providers’ relationships with marginalized patients.

9:15 pm


Passholders only, please. 86 Main St | Gather for a great finale to Festival Friday with food and drink at Middlebury’s newest restaurant, Notte. Food courtesy of the chefs at Two Brothers Tavern and Notte.

Venue Legend

THT: Town Hall Theater
MQM: Marquis Theater Main Screen
MQS: Marquis Theater Screening Room
DANA: Dana Auditorium
TWI: Twilight Hall

8:30 am

Middlebury Inn Patio: Coffee with... The Great Documentarians: Steve James, Barbara Kopple, Peter Davis And Mo Naqvi --OPEN TO ALL--

Open to All! 16 Court Sq | MNFF Artistic Director Jay Craven talks candidly over coffee with prominent documentary filmmakers about identifying a compelling subject and building a truthful real-life narrative, through investigation and discovery, for a breakthrough documentary. With two-time Academy Award nominee, Steve James (Hoop Dreams, Abacus: Small Enough to Jail); two-time Oscar winner, Barbara Kopple (Harlan County, USA, American Dream); Academy Award winner Peter Davis (Hearts and Minds); and celebrated Pakistani filmmaker, Mo Naqvi (Shame, Among the Believers). Coffee and baked goods provided by MNFF sponsor, the Middlebury Inn.

10:30 am

THT: Hearts and Minds | Special Event/On-Stage Conversation with Director Peter Davis

Hearts and Minds | 112m | Documentary | Peter Davis*

A tribute screening of this brilliant and provocative Academy Award-winning documentary that recounts the history and attitudes of the opposing sides of the Vietnam War using archival news footage as well as its own film and interviews.

Special Event / On-Stage Conversation with Director Peter Davis and MNFF Artistic Director Jay Craven following the film.

MQM: Lily | Light of the World | Until First Light

Lily | 9m | Narrative | Danilo Herrera

World Premiere

After insisting, Lily convinces her husband Cooper to visit the local nursing home. She is excited about the place, but the tour does not impress. He meets Samantha, one of the residents, and has a conversation that changes his mind. When he finally decides to go back to Lily, he realizes it is already too late.

Light of the World | 11m | Narrative | Malachi Smyth

New England Premiere

Gordon and Ralph, two octogenarians, meet weekly to chew the fat about life, football, Proust, world affairs. Light of the World is a study of love, friendship and loss, about holding on to life in the valley of the shadow of death

Until First Light | 82m | Narrative | Kyle Armstrong*

World Premiere

Until First Light follows an unnamed protagonist returning to his childhood home following the suicide of his brother. The man struggles with loss as fall gives way to winter and he assumes responsibility for the family farm

MQS: Freedom and Unity

Freedom & Unity | 60m | Documentary | Various*

A collection of 12 short films from local Vermont teens, selected from the winners of the statewide Freedom & Unity TV Competition. The films illuminate their lives, passions and interests in their home state. The screening will be hosted by Vermont filmmaker Signe Taylor and a Q&A with the filmmakers will follow.

DANA: Talking to Tony: Five Attempts | The Testament

Talking to Tony: Five Attempts | 20m | Documentary | Mojo Lorwin*

World Premiere

In 2011, the filmmaker’s best friend from college committed suicide at the age of 26, leaving behind an unfinished novel. Talking to Tony is a narrative/doc hybrid film which attempts to make sense of his death. At the same time, it is an exploration of the differences between memory, dreams, fiction and video.

The Testament | 88m | Narrative | Amichai Greenberg

Vermont Premiere

Yoel, a meticulous historian researching a WWII massacre of Jews in Austria while leading a significant debate against holocaust deniers, discovers that his mother carries a false identity. A riveting mystery about a man who is willing to risk everything to discover the truth.

TWI: Jacob Burns Creative Culture Showcase

Jacob Burns Creative Culture Showcase | 85m | Documentary & Narrative | Various*

Vermont Premiere

The Jacob Burns Film Center (JBFC), based in Pleasantville, New York, continues its fruitful collaboration with MNFF to advance the work of emerging voices in independent filmmaking. MNFF presents its second showcase of the JBFC’s Creative Culture program. The Creative Culture directors represented at this year’s screening are: Reggie Altidor, Leah Galant, Emily Ann Hoffman, Crystal Kayiza, Kerry LeVielle, Ariel Noltimier Strauss, Tyler Rabinowitz and Rahessa Vitorio.

1:30 pm

THT: Honeypot | Four Keys | Shame | Honoree Event/On-Stage Conversation with Director Mohammed Naqvi

Honeypot | 7m | Narrative | Jill Greenberg*

Vermont Premiere

Inspired by the audio of Harvey Weinstein obtained by the NYPD’s sting operation in 2015 with Ambra Gutierrez, the film not only lays out visually what it may have felt like as a young woman to be tricked into this dangerous situation but is also an open-ended exploration of the complicity surrounding Weinstein’s actions.

Four Keys | 14m | Narrative | Israel Brooks*

Since January of 2017, thousands of immigrants have chosen to cross the Canadian border, self-deporting from America. With nonconsensual deportation and family separation both common practices in the U.S., self-deportation is the only option for some, as depicted in this powerful narrative short.

Shame | 95m | Documentary | Mohammed Naqvi*

Shame, a riveting Emmy–winning documentary, tells the story of international human rights icon Mukhtaran Mai. She is a Pakistani peasant who was gang-raped and shamed as a teenager in her village, but then used her trauma to spark a legal revolution that exposed centuries of tribal conflict and government mismanagement.

Honoree Event/On-Stage Conversation with Director Mohammed Naqvi

Join celebrated Pakistani director, Mo Naqvi, recipient of MNFF’s Courage in Filmmaking Award, for a wide ranging Q&A, moderated by Bess O’Brien.

MQM: Night Call | Rust Creek

Night Call | 18m | Narrative | Amanda Renee Knox

Vermont Premiere

When on a routine patrol, a black female cop living in and patrolling Inglewood [California], gets called to a disturbance, she is forced to make an unprecedented, life altering decision.

Rust Creek | 103m | Narrative | Jen McGowan, Julie Lipson (writer)*

Vermont Premiere

When overachieving college senior Sawyer Scott makes a wrong turn, her road trip becomes a life-changing fight for survival in the wilds of eastern Kentucky. A vibrant homage to the “backwoods mayhem” thriller pioneered by Deliverance.

MQS: Selling of the Pentagon | Special Event with Director Peter Davis

Selling of the Pentagon | 60m | Documentary | Peter Davis*

A very controversial 1968 film that examined the increasing utilization and cost to the taxpayers of public relations activities by the military-industrial complex in order to shape public opinion in favor of the military. Narrated by Roger Mudd, the film focused on three areas of Pentagon activity to illustrate its theme of public manipulation: direct contacts with the public, Defense Department films, and the Pentagon’s use of the commercial media–the press and television.

Q&A with Director Peter Davis following the film.

DANA: La La Land | Honoree Event/Special Presentation with Production Designers David Wasco and Sandy Reynolds-Wasco

La La Land | 128m | Narrative | Damien Chazelle

In this highly regarded movie-musical, a pianist and an actress fall in love while managing their aspirations for the future and navigating their careers in Los Angeles.

Honoree Event / Special Presentation with Production Designers David Wasco and Sandy Reynolds-Wasco

La La Land was celebrated for its beautiful signature look – a glorious, magical vision of Los Angeles created by David Wasco and Sandy Reynolds-Wasco. Their renowned work brought them the Oscar for Production Design. Learn how they made the magic happen in this very special visual presentation prepared by the Wascos following the screening. Hosted by Jay Craven, MNFF Artistic Director.

TWI: Minding the Gap | Honoree Event/On-Stage Conversation with Executive Producer Steve James

Minding the Gap | 93m | Documentary | Bing Liu

Vermont Premiere

Three young men bond together to escape volatile families in their Rust Belt hometown. As they face adult responsibilities, unexpected revelations threaten their decade-long friendship.

Honoree Event/On-Stage Conversation with Executive Producer Steve James

Get the inside story behind Minding the Gap with MNFF4 Honoree Steve James, who executive produced this fine documentary by first time feature director Bing Liu. Hosted by local writer Alex Wolff.

4:00 pm

Middlebury Inn: The Producers - What Do They Do and How Do They Do It? A Two-Part Workshop --OPEN TO ALL--

Open to All!16 Court Sq | Founders Room | Part Two. You’ve got the right project – now what? Where do producers look for money to complete a film? What are the best exhibition and distribution strategies to implement  – festivals, theatrical, HBO, PBS, Netflix, iTunes? Will the film have an “impact” campaign that extends its life into specific cultural/political areas following its completion? “Impact” Producer Nancy Schwartzman joins Beth Levison and John Morrissey on Day Two of the Producers Workshop.

5:00 pm


Passholders only, please. 16 Court Sq | Mingle with filmmakers and special guests under the tent on the patio of the Middlebury Inn. MNFF thanks the Inn for providing food and beverages. Music by The Balladeer & The Bluesman.

7:15 pm

THT: The View from Up Here | The Invisibles

The View from Up Here | 18m | Narrative | Marco Calvani

New England Premiere

Claire and Lila are neighbors. They live in the same building and see each other every day, but hardly know each other’s name. One particular day, Claire decides to pay Lila a visit to ask for something that puts Lila’s fragile hold on life in America at risk.

The Invisibles | 110m | Narrative/Documentary Hybrid | Claus Räfle

Four young Jews hide from the Nazis in plain sight in World War II Berlin and live to tell their stories many years later. The Invisibles boldly and beautifully interweaves the survivors’ actual accounts with highly accomplished dramatizations, an unusual hybrid approach that brings edge-of-the-seat suspense to their years spent underground. A film quite unlike other Holocaust related films and thoroughly engrossing.

MQM: Life After | The Rider

Life After | 13m | Narrative | Ria Tobaccowala

Vermont Premiere

Nisha, a single mother and Indian immigrant,  travels to New York City to clear out her deceased daughter Zara’s apartment. In the midst of her profound grief, Nisha must decide whether to embrace or ignore the truth about her daughter’s short life.

The Rider | 104m | Narrative | Chloe Zhao

After suffering a near fatal head injury, a young cowboy undertakes a search for new identity and what it means to be a man in the heartland of America – a supreme challenge for a man born and bred to be a champion rodeo bronc rider.

MQS: Charmer | Gloria Talks Funny | Outer Spaces

Charmer | 12m | Narrative | Judah Finnigan*

North American Premiere

A middle-aged woman meets up for a date with a bachelor she met on an Internet dating site. On first impression he’s unpleasant and blunt, but as the date goes on, the pair finds a common ground in their shared loneliness and romantic failures.

Gloria Talks Funny | 18m | Narrative | Kendall Goldberg

When struggling voice actress, Gloria, discovers her agent failed to tell her that her claim-to-fame cartoon is being remade, she sets her sights on reprising her role as the famous BioBoy.

Outer Spaces | 83m | Narrative | Sean Weiner*

Northeast Premiere

Struggling comedy writer Jimmy Becker returns to his childhood home to help his grandfather move into an assisted living facility. Back in the suburbs, he reconnects with figures from his past — some he welcomes, some he’d rather forget, and some he never knew were there.

DANA: Dr. Mantis | Lotte that Silhouette Girl | Love, Gilda

Dr. Mantis | 3m | Narrative [Animation] | Brandon Mikolaski

Dr. Mantis is a practicing psychotherapist and a full time praying mantis. Fred is her patient and an annoying transitioning caterpillar. Fred bugs her so much that, at this appointment, Dr. Mantis makes Fred pay in advance.

Lotte that Silhouette Girl | 10m | Documentary | Carla Patullo, Elizabeth Beecherl

Vermont Premiere

Before Walt Disney, there was Lotte Reiniger. She invented the multiplane camera and created the first animated feature. This innovative film explores the life and times of a groundbreaking woman who is finally being given her due.

Love, Gilda | 88m | Documentary | Lisa Dapolito

In her own words, comedienne Gilda Radner looks back and reflects on her life and career. Weaving together recently discovered audiotapes, interviews with her friends, rare home movies and diaries read by modern day comediennes (including Amy Poehler), Love, Gilda offers a unique window into the honest and whimsical world of a beloved performer whose greatest role was sharing her story.

TWI: Yanvalou | RAMP | Radiogram

Yanvalou | 5m | Narrative | Angeline Gragasin

Vermont Premiere

An awkward computer programmer learns to dance to impress his attractive next-door neighbor. (The film’s title is a dance from the Afro-Haitian Vodoun tradition.)

RAMP | 10m | Narrative | Ethan Mermelstein*

World Premiere

An elderly woman becomes obsessed with returning a portable ramp to Home Depot years after she bought it for her recently-deceased husband. This is what happens when anxiety mutates into obsession.

Radiogram | 85m | Narrative | Rouzie Hassanova

Vermont Premiere

Bulgaria 1971, under the Communist regime, when any religious expression or music from the West is a national threat. Based on a true story, Radiogram follows a father who walks almost 100 km to the nearest town, so he can buy a new radio for his rock ‘n roll obsessed son. A feel good drama about identity, the power of music and freedom.

9:15 pm


FREE for Passholders. All others $15 at the door. 137 Maple St | Enjoy great complimentary flatbreads and small bites, and enjoy a full bar offering craft cocktails and local beers and ciders, from our host and sponsor American Flatbread at our big Saturday Night Party!

Featuring music by the legendary Vermont Musician Bow Thayer!

Venue Legend

THT: Town Hall Theater
MQM: Marquis Theater Main Screen
MQS: Marquis Theater Screening Room
DANA: Dana Auditorium
TWI: Twilight Hall

10:00 am

THT: Molly's Game | Honoree Event/On-Stage Conversation with Production Designers David Wasco and Sandy Reynolds-Wasco

Molly’s Game | 140m | Narrative | Aaron Sorkin

Molly Bloom, a beautiful young Olympic-class skier, ran the world’s most exclusive high-stakes poker game for a decade before being arrested in the middle of the night by 17 FBI agents wielding automatic weapons. Her players included Hollywood royalty, sports stars, business titans, and finally, unbeknownst to her, the Russian mob.

Honoree Event/On-Stage Conversation with Production Designers David Wasco and Sandy Reynolds-Wasco

The Wascos will discuss the creation of the distinctive look that inhabits Molly’s Game and the process of working with first time director Aaron Sorkin. Hosted by Jay Craven, MNFF Artistic Director.

MQM: 7/8ths of the Way There | Modified

7/8ths of the Way There | 27m | Documentary | Mary Gerretsen

New England Premiere

In the wake of a terminal diagnosis, a couple reflects on the lives they’ve lived, the people they’ve loved, and the penile implant one of them is about to receive.

Modified | 87m | Documentary | Aube Giroux*

In Modified, the filmmaker and her mother embark on a personal and poignant investigative journey to find out why genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are not labeled on food products in the United States and Canada, despite being labeled in 64 countries around the world.

DANA: 'the beautiful': The Stories She Tell | The Test | Heimlich | Break the Silence

‘the beautiful’: The Stories She Tell | 3m | Documentary | Maeve Jackson*

Vermont Premiere

By unraveling her head scarf, a woman reveals her hair as well as her reflections on black self-image.

The Test | 14m | Narrative | Caroline Guo*

New England Premiere

Confronted with a class of cheating students, a young Chinese professor decides on a course of action that threatens to undermine the entire school system and expose the tangles of deceit in her own life.

Heimlich | 14m | Narrative | Lisanne Sartor*

Vermont Premiere

Nina and Alex are married with a beautiful toddler, Elsie. A woman who slowly comes to realize that the life she thinks she’s leading is a far cry from her reality, Nina ultimately makes a choice she never could have imagined possible before this realization.

Break the Silence | 56m | Documentary | Willow O’Feral*

Raw, powerful, intimate interviews with 18 Southern Vermont women of diverse backgrounds about their personal sexual & reproductive health histories. The film challenges social taboos with unflinching candor and often great humor.

TWI: Fail State

Fail State | 94m | Documentary | Alexander Shebanow*

Vermont Premiere

An expansive documentary exposé, the film reveals the dark story behind the rise of predatory for-profit colleges and how a cabal of politicians and unscrupulous business tycoons sold out the dream of American higher education. Fail State is executive produced by news legend Dan Rather.

1:00 pm

THT: Insha'Allah Democracy | Honoree Event/On-Stage Conversation with Director Mohammed Naqvi

Insha’Allah Democracy | 85m | Documentary | Mohammed Naqvi*

The film’s director Mohammed Naqvi will vote for the first time during Pakistan’s elections but he has a tough choice between a religious hardliner and a secular liberal leader who happens to be a former military dictator. Who will he vote for and is democracy achievable in Pakistan?

Honoree Event/On-Stage Conversation with Director Mohammed Naqvi

Director Mo Naqvi will discuss his latest film’s exploration of the volatile political climate of Pakistan. Hosted by Jay Craven, MNFF Artistic Director.

MQM: Fall River | Monty | Against All Odds-The Fight for a Black Middle Class with Bob Herbert

Fall River | 7m | Documentary | Jamil McGinnis*, Pat Heywood*

Vermont Premiere

Through the intimate reflections of one extraordinary woman, Fall River tells the story of a family’s tragedy, their once-thriving hometown, and how hope can blossom in unexpected places.

Monty | 11m | Documentary | Margaret Metzger*

New England Premiere

Monty J. makes one-of-a-kind ceramic planters. His work is playful yet edgy and full of character. Though he wishes he could just make his art all day, Monty has to work two jobs to support himself. In this film, Monty reveals his process, how he thinks about his art, and what it takes to survive as an artist in New York today.

Against All Odds-The Fight for a Black Middle Class with Bob Herbert | 76m | Documentary | Bob Herbert, Sally Roy (producer)*

New England Premiere

Against All Odds looks at the difficulty African Americans face in establishing and maintaining a middle class standard of living. Through dramatic historical footage and personal interviews, the documentary explores the efforts of black families to pursue the American dream.

DANA: VTIFF Showcase - Foxtrot

VTIFF Showcase – Foxtrot | 108m | Narrative | Samuel Maoz

A troubled family must face the facts when something goes terribly wrong at their son’s desolate military post.

The Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival has forged a promotional partnership with the Vermont International Film Festival [VTIFF]. This showcase presentation of Foxtrot is a selection of Orly Yadin, VTIFF Artistic Director, who will host this screening.

TWI: Lake Effect | My Country No More

Lake Effect | 32m | Documentary | Jackie Heltz*

A northern New England-based father-daughter filmmaker team explores the connection between neurotoxins found in the water and the onset of sporadic cases of a terminal disease.

My Country No More | 70m | Documentary | Jeremiah Hammerling, Rita Baghdadi

Tracking the rise and fall of the new American oil boom, My Country No More paints an intimate portrait of a rural North Dakota community in crisis, forced to confront the meaning of progress as they fight for a disappearing way of life.

Mahaney Center for the Arts: Special Screening | How We See Water | with Live Performance of Original Score by Vermont Symphony Orchestra

72 Porter Field Rd | The Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival, Vermont Symphony Orchestra, and Middlebury College’s Mahaney Center for the Arts jointly present an exclusive first-look at VSO Awardee Robin Starbuck’s new short film, How We See Water, an experimental documentary shot over four years in Chiapas, Mexico. How We See Water contemplates the relationship of ancient spiritual power manifest in the Popul Vuh, the Mayan sacred text, to contemporary indigenous life in Southern Mexico today. The piece is a collaboration between filmmaker Starbuck and VSO composer, Matt La Rocca. Featuring live accompaniment by the VSO and an original score by Middlebury alumnus (’02) and composer LaRocca, audiences will experience the dynamic integration of film and music in the impeccable acoustics of Robison Hall. FREE for Passholders. All Others, $12 at the door.

4:00 pm

THT: It's Just a Gun | Roll Red Roll

It’s Just a Gun | 14m | Narrative | Brian Robau

Vermont Premiere

It’s Just A Gun charts the life of one Smith & Wesson Model 640 from the assembly line to a protective husband, then a pawn shop owner, then a desperate drug addict and finally Gabe, a scrawny nine-year-old boy from South Central, Los Angeles.

Roll Red Roll | 80m | Documentary | Nancy Schwartzman*

Vermont Premiere

In small-town Steubenville, Ohio, at a pre-season football party, a horrible incident took place involving two teen boys and an inebriated girl. What transpired would garner national attention and result in the sentencing of two key offenders. Questions would linger around the collusion of teen and adult bystanders.  The Steubenville story acts as a cautionary tale of what can happen when adults look the other way and deny that rape culture exists.

MQM: No Kissing | Love After Love

No Kissing | 13m | Narrative | Jacob Seltzer*

Two high school best friends struggle to have sex with each other in this emotionally raw and extremely discomforting comedic drama about losing one’s virginity.

Love After Love | 91m | Narrative | Russell Harbaugh

Following the death of their father, two sons deal with the trials of their own lives while watching their mother explore new beginnings of her own. Features Andie MacDowell and Chris O’Dowd.

DANA: Turyn Goes to the Club | One. | I Love Your Fucking Name | Bathtubs over Broadway

Turyn Goes to the Club | 4m | Narrative | Lauren Ireland*

Vermont Premiere

Turyn,  born into the world totally unaffected by gender politics, faces a night with no plans. Her two friends, Tiffany and Bobber, who are very much entrenched in that world, offer to take her to The Club. Upon arriving she quickly encounters club patrons in various surrealist situations, deconstructing stereotypical behaviors.

One. | 6m | Narrative | Gavin Banks

US Premiere

Modern life assumes we come in pairs. Two-for-one deals. Table for two? But what if we’re single? In this short film, comedian Nikki Britton tackles the unexpected hurdles of updating her bedroom furniture – on her own.

I Love Your Fucking Name | 8m | Documentary | Finn O’Hara*

New England Premiere

Starring Elizabeth Taylor, Brigitte Bardeau, Peter Pan and Ronald MacDonald. Yes, those are their real names. I Love Your Fucking Name is a short documentary film about the complex relationships people have with their given names.

Bathtubs over Broadway | 87m | Documentary | Dava Whisenant

Comedy writer Steve Young’s assignment to scour bargain-bin vinyl for a Late Night segment becomes an unexpected, decades-spanning obsession when he stumbles upon the strange and hilarious world of corporate musicals in this comedic music documentary. With David Letterman, Martin Short, Chita Rivera, Susan Stroman, Jello Biafra, Florence Henderson, and more.

TWI: Burned: Are Trees the New Coal? | Honoree Event/On-Stage Conversation with Co-Directors Alan Dater and Lisa Merton

Burned: Are Trees the New Coal? | 76m | Documentary | Alan Dater*, Lisa Merton*

Burned: Are Trees the New Coal? tells the little-known story of the accelerating destruction of our forests for fuel, and probes the policy loopholes, huge subsidies, and blatant greenwashing of the burgeoning biomass power industry.

Honoree Event/On-Stage Conversation with Co-Directors Alan Dater and Lisa Merton

Alan Dater and Lisa Merton, MNFF Awardees for Sustained Excellence in Documentary Filmmaking, discuss the significance of their latest film. Hosted by Jay Craven, MNFF Artistic Director.

6:30 pm

THT: Closing Ceremonies | VTeddy Awards Presentation

Join us for the joyful VTeddy Awards with Honoree presentations along with awards for Best Feature Narrative, Best Short Narrative, Best Feature Documentary, Best Short Documentary, Audience Award/Feature, Audience Award/Short, the Vermont Symphony Orchestra Award, the Jacob Burns Film Center’s Creative Culture Award, the Hernandez/Bayliss Prize, the Clio Visualizing History Prize for the Advancement of Women in Film and the inaugural awarding of the Gaia Prize for Environmental Filmmaking.

7:30 pm

THT: Closing Night Film | The Sentence | On-Stage Conversation with Director Rudy Valdez and MNFF Artistic Director Jay Craven

The Sentence | 85m | Documentary | Rudy Valdez*

Vermont Premiere

Cindy Shank, mother of three, is serving a 15-year sentence in federal prison for her tangential involvement with a Michigan drug ring years earlier. This intimate portrait of mandatory minimum drug sentencing’s devastating consequences, captured by Cindy’s brother, follows her and her family over the course of ten years.

On-Stage Conversation with Director Rudy Valdez and MNFF Artistic Director Jay Craven

The director of The Sentence closes out the 4th Annual Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival with a candid conversation about his emotionally moving film.

* Director, Producer or Writer will attend the screening

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