Middlebury film festival plans winter offerings

MIDDLEBURY — The Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival (MNFF) was a hot ticket during its inaugural run this past August, and organizers want to make sure the enthusiasm for the event does not cool off during the frigid Vermont winter.

To that end, MNFF officials on Tuesday confirmed a 2016 Winter Screening Series featuring four films that will be shown at Middlebury’s Town Hall Theater from January to April.

“Our goal is continuity,” MNFF Producer Lloyd Komesar said through an email exchange. “Even though the 2nd Annual MNFF is still some months away, we want to keep our commitment to new filmmakers and to our supportive audiences throughout the region going strong on a year-round basis.”

The first annual MNFF boasted 93 short and feature-length films submitted by newly minted filmmakers from throughout the world. Komesar and renowned Vermont filmmaker Jay Craven took the lead in bringing the festival to Middlebury from Aug. 27 to 30. Approximately 200 festival passes were sold for film screenings at three local venues and for related special events offered by MNFF. Another 200 complimentary passes were provided to attending filmmakers, sponsors and other VIPs. Additional attendees elected to buy day passes and/or individual tickets instead of a full festival pass.

The Town Hall Theater, Marquis Theater and Middlebury College’s Dana Auditorium all served as the viewing venues.

Organizers reasoned that area residents might have a passion for diverse, creative films, so they partnered with the THT to keep the projector rolling this winter for monthly screenings of what Komesar described as “four outstanding feature films.” All have been directed by first- or second-time filmmakers, and offer a “diverse array of styles and themes, but are united by their quality and powerful cinematic vision,” he added.

The films in the Winter Screening Series have been curated by Craven, MNFF’s artistic director. They are a mix of potent narrative dramas and challenging documentaries, according to Craven.

“I hope that people will make unexpected discoveries in our winter series — as much as they do in the August festival,” Craven. said “Our eclectic line-up will take viewers to the top of the Himalayas, into the inner workings of Dan Rather’s CBS newsroom, inside a small Turkish village, and back in time for an examination of individual moral responsibility for a nation’s past crimes.”

Doug Anderson, executive director of the THT, is pleased to offer the Merchants Row venue for the winter film series.

“I sense there’s a lot of interest in this community for challenging new films, films that generally won’t be found in first-run cinemas,” Anderson said. “And our new projector makes THT the perfect screening room for these films.”

All of the films will screen at 7 p.m. at THT. Tickets for the 2016 MNFF Winter Screening Series cost $12 per individual film, or $40 as a four-film package. Tickets are available through the THT box office, online at www.townhalltheater.org/calendar-and-tickets, on the phone at (802)-382-9222, or in person. The THT box office is open Monday-Saturday, noon to 5 p.m., and, of course, just prior to each screening.

Komesar is hoping for a good turnout at the screenings.

“The films we are including in the MNFF Winter Screening Series at Town Hall Theater should attract a broad spectrum of filmgoers and they represent points of view that should stir discussion,” he said.

Reporter John Flowers is at johnf@addisonindependent.com.

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