About MNFF

General Information

About Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival

MNFF is dedicated to the work of first and second time filmmakers.

Join us and our visiting filmmakers at MNFF7 – on the ground in Middlebury this August 25-29, 2021.

About Us

Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival sole focus is to showcase the feature films and short films of first- and second-time filmmakers from around the world. Our Festival takes place in scenic Middlebury, Vermont in late August each year. Our 7th Annual event will take place on the ground in Middlebury this August 25-29, 2021. Pending developments in the efforts to contain and diminish the COVID-19 virus, the Festival is prepared to once again pivot to an online event.

We anticipate screening more than 120 films at MNFF7, a diverse array of features and shorts across all genres, as selected by MNFF Artistic Director Jay Craven, but the mix of venues is still to be determined. In the months ahead, we will know more.

We encourage our filmmakers to come to the Festival, support each other’s work and engage in Q&A sessions with audiences following the screening of their film. More than 80 directors, producers, writers and cinematographers from around the world attended MNFF5 in August 2019 and had a wonderful time here in Middlebury. After a year’s hiatus this past August, we truly hope that this treasured aspect of the Festival can be restored in 2021, along with the appearance of other distinguished guests to our stages and compelling panel discussions and conversations on topics of interest to both our filmmakers and the folks who come to see their films.

Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival is a juried competition and our winning filmmakers all receive the coveted VTeddy Award in the Best Feature Narrative, Best Short Narrative, Best Feature Documentary, Best Short Documentary, Audience Award Feature and Audience Award Short categories. MNFF also offers multiple cash prizes and valuable in-kind awards to selected directors.

Year-Round Screenings & Events

In addition to the main Festival in August, MNFF also presents its Split/Screen Monthly Online Screening Series, in partnership with the Vermont International Film Festival. Split/Screen began in November 2020 and will run through June 2021, with each festival curating a selection of high  profile films in alternating months. Learn more about the successful Split/Screen series.

Should conditions on the ground permit, MNFF will reestablish its MNFF Selects Screening Series at Town Hall Theater in Middlebury in October 2021, a monthly exhibition of heralded feature films by prominent first- and second-time directors as well as tributes to significant established filmmakers.

The Festival has also created the MNFF Vermont Tour, taking a selection of its best feature films from the August event to multiple geographically diverse venues around the state the following February over the course of one weekend. Filmmakers typically attend several of the screenings. This highly popular “barnstorming” event allows the Festival to raise awareness for the filmmakers involved and for MNFF itself. The 2021 Tour did not take place due to COVID-19 related closure of our partnering venues but we anticipate being back on Tour in February 2022.

Our Commitment

Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival was formed to support, promote and exhibit the dynamic and imaginative efforts of new filmmakers. The emphasis at MNFF is entirely on filmmakers who have completed within the 24 months prior to the Festival either their first or second feature film or first or second short film. All genres are welcome including narrative, documentary, animation, experimental and virtual reality.

Our commitment at MNFF is to offer a level playing field to new and emerging voices in independent filmmaking, to give our audiences an opportunity to discover fresh and engaging talent and to give filmmakers a chance to be discovered in a setting that is all about their work, from start to finish.

Our Team

Lloyd Komesar


Jay Craven

Artistic Director

Dan Levesque

Festival Videography Intern

Munro McLaren

Festival Videography Associate

Jordan Mitchell

Festival Coordinator

Sophie Hochman

Festival Business Development / Filmmaker Relations Intern

Board of Directors

Lloyd Komesar


Lloyd Komesar spent nearly 30 years as a sales, research and distribution exec in the film and television programming industry, first at Blair Television in New York, then, for the next 25 years, at the Walt Disney Company in New York and Los Angeles. Having acquired extensive knowledge of the distribution models of film and television over his rewarding career, he brings a considerable amount of perspective and insight to the MNFF endeavor.

Nathan Williams Pearson, Jr.


Bill Pearson is Managing Director of Gallup Hill, LLC, a strategy and organizational consultancy that works closely with senior executives and private equity investors to achieve material, lasting performance improvements at a wide variety of companies. Over a long and highly successful career, Bill’s clients have included businesses in media, marketing services, industrial supplies and beverages, as well as numerous venture capital firms. He has also been an operating executive, serving as co-CEO and CFO of a publicly held media company and CEO of a technology firm spun out of Motorola.

Jay Craven

Jay Craven is an award-winning director, writer, and producer whose narrative films include High Water (1989); Where the Rivers Flow North (1993); A Stranger in the Kingdom (1997); In Jest (1999); The Year That Trembled (2003), Disappearances (2006), Northern Borders (2012), and Peter and John (2015). Jay also directed, produced, and co-wrote the 2005 Emmy Award-winning public television comedy series, Windy Acres—and the Queen City Radio Hour, a 2009 comedy and music variety show performed before a live audience and broadcast over Vermont Public Radio. His documentaries include After the Fog: Interviews with Combat Veterans (2006), Dawn of the People (1984) and Gayleen (1985).

Jay Parini

Jay Parini is an acclaimed multi-hyphenate: poet, novelist, biographer, critic, screenwriter and Professor of English at Middlebury College.  His five books of poetry include The Art of Subtraction: New and Selected Poems. He has written eight novels, including Benjamin’s Crossing, The Apprentice Lover, The Passages of H.M. and The Last Station – which, utilizing Jay’s screenplay, was made into an Academy Award-nominated film starring Helen Mirren and Christopher Plummer. Jay has written biographies of John Steinbeck, Robert Frost, William Faulkner and Gore Vidal. His non-fiction works include Jesus: The Human Face of God and Promised Land: Thirteen Books that Changed America.

Gerianne Smart

Gerianne Smart is a producer, promoter and public relations professional who has made her mark in the cultural scene in Vermont. She is the current President of the Vergennes Opera House, where as Board President and volunteer, she produces several shows a year. Gerianne is also a film producer who co-wrote the award-winning film, The Summer of Walter Hacks, which premiered in 2010. She has written and produced award-winning TV and radio commercials for notable clients such as Amtrak while managing her former ad agency, Smart Communications. She continues to produce commercials for Rutland Regional Medical Center where she has served as Marketing and Public Relations Manager since 2015.

Elizabeth Robinson

An 8th generation Vermonter, Elizabeth graduated from Middlebury College in 1984. She served on the Subcommittee on Education, Arts and the Humanities in Washington D.C., community banking at the Bank of Boston, and in the nonprofit world directing the Convention and Visitors Bureau at the Lake Champlain Regional Chamber of Commerce in Burlington, VT. She settled with her family in Middlebury in 1994 as the Director of Alumni and Parent programs at Middlebury College.  
Until recently, Elizabeth served as Associate Dean of the College for Creativity, Engagement & Careers.  
Elizabeth currently serves on the boards at VCET and HOPE and the MNFF. She holds a master’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania.