Here are the films, panels and parties of the 5th Annual Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival, August 22-25, 2019. Plus, our popular Kids & Family Day returns on Wednesday, August 21.

Touch or click a block to see the schedule for that time. Touch or click the icon next to a film or event for more info.

An asterisk (*) denotes that a filmmaker will attend MNFF5.


@ Marquis Theatre Main Screen (MQM)

Storm Boy | 10:00 AM

Narrative | 99m | Shawn Seet

A young boy lives a lonely life with his reclusive father on a desolate Australian coastline, but when he forms a close bond with a pelican, Mr. Percival, his life takes a new and unexpected turn. MORE


Liyana | 1:00 PM

Animated, Documentary | 77m | Aaron Kopp, Amanda Kopp

A Swazi girl embarks on a dangerous quest to rescue her young twin brothers. This animated African tale is born in the imaginations of five orphaned children in Swaziland who collaborate to tell a story of perseverance drawn from their darkest memories and brightest dreams. Their fictional character’s journey is interwoven with poetic and observational documentary scenes to create a genre-defying celebration of collective storytelling. MORE


Tito and the Birds | 4:00 PM

Animated, Narrative | 73m | Gustavo Steinberg, Gabriel Bitar, Andre Dias

Tito is a shy 10-year-old boy who lives with his mother. Suddenly, an unusual epidemic starts to spread, making people sick whenever they get scared. Tito quickly discovers that the cure is somehow related to his missing father’s research on bird songs. He embarks on a journey to save the world from the epidemic with his friends. Tito’s search for the antidote becomes a quest for his missing father and for his own identity. MORE

@ The Marquis Theatre


Chase Scene Challenge Moviemaking Contest

Young filmmakers can enter the “Chase Scene Challenge,” a movie making contest hosted by local media maker, Kurt Broderson, who will show what it takes to make an exciting chase scene.  Kids can check out a camera from MCTV at Ilsley Library and film a 30-60 second chase scene with family and friends.

The finished “chase scenes” will play on the Café screen at the Marquis and the winning entry will be broadcast on MCTV and receive 4 passes to an upcoming movie at the Marquis Theatre.



@ Town Hall Theater (THT)


Built to Last *

Documentary | 13m | Jennifer Latham

 From humble beginnings in a small slate roofed village in Greece, to the heyday of America’s movie palaces, Built to Last is the story of the Latchis Family and how they built an empire of theatres throughout New England in the hard-scrabble years of the Great Depression. The film is told through historically accurate footage, photographs and music from the Latchis family, local historical societies and national archives. MORE


One Town at a Time *

Documentary | 104m | Mike Leonard

Vermont has 251 towns. Explore them…One Town at a Time. One Town at a Time 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 as well. MORE

@ Marquis Theatre Main Screen (MQM)



Narrative | 18m | Alexey Frenkel

Vermont Premiere

 Three generations of the family once lived together, but one day, grandmother was forced to move out and be alone. Her granddaughter visits her less and less and her daughter doesn’t bother to visit at all. A moth appears in the old woman’s flat and its continuous appearance acts as a metaphor for the old woman’s loneliness. MORE


The Witch in the Window *

Narrative | 77m | Andy Mitton

New England Premiere

When Simon brings his twelve year-old son, Finn, to rural Vermont to help flip an old farmhouse, they encounter the malicious spirit of Lydia, a previous owner. And now with every repair they make, she’s getting stronger. MORE

@ Marquis Theatre Screening Room (MQS)


Difficult People

Narrative | 20m | Sohil Vaidya

Vermont Premiere

Akash, an aspiring graffiti artist, lives with his father Sudhakar in an old building in Mumbai. Akash’s mother is recently deceased. The father and son mourn her death in different ways, but they have one thing in common—stubbornness. Rebelling against his father’s conventional ways, Akash struggles to find his creative voice in the vast liberating spaces of Mumbai. MORE



Narrative | 95m | Sattar Chamani Goi

New England Premiere

Golmammad and Golnesa, a young Afghan couple, are illegal immigrants who are working in a traditional brick making kiln in Iran. Following significant events that happen to them, their lives undergo profound changes. MORE

@ Town Hall Theater (THT)


Voice of America: Lowell Thomas and the Rise of Broadcast News *

Documentary | 85m | Richard Moulton

 In the 1930s, as America’s foremost newscaster both in newsreels and on the radio, Lowell Thomas set the standard for reliable, non-partisan broadcast news. Today, as the profusion of alternative digital sources is changing that network dominated universe and the air rings with charges of “fake news”, this film examines, through the life of Lowell Thomas, the evolution and value of broadcast journalism. MORE

@ Marquis Theatre Main Screen (MQM)


Three Sacks Full of Hats

Narrative | 20m | Debbie Anzalone

New England Premiere

Mick returns home after a long absence to witness the rapidly declining health of his alcoholic brother Sid, which stirs up family tensions and powerful emotions of shame and denial. An exploration of addiction and the healing power of familial love. MORE


Major Arcana *

Narrative | 82m | Josh Melrod

Set in the backwoods of Vermont, Major Arcana follows an itinerant carpenter’s attempt to end a legacy of alcoholism and poverty by building a log cabin by hand. His plans are complicated when he reunites with Sierra, a woman with whom he shares a troubled past, and he must reconcile his old life with his new one. A vivid depiction of life in early sobriety, it’s a universal story resonant to these uncertain times.

WINNER: Shouldice Family Prize for Best Vermont-Made Film


@ Marquis Theatre Screening Room (MQS)


The Drink

Narrative | 12m | Cosima Spender

New England Premiere

Two colleagues head for a drink after work. After a bystander informs Zoe that Jack has spiked her drink, she’s haunted by the imagined rape and sits before him acting normal so not to raise suspicion until the police arrive. MORE


Turning Ten

Narrative | 13m | Jaylan Auf

New England Premiere

Lamia and her husband await their turn in the clinic for their young daughter to be circumcised. The 10 minute wait leads Lamia to recall her own experience as a child and question whether this is the right fate for her daughter. MORE

A Destruction, Middlebury New Filmakers Festival

A Destruction *

Documentary | 71m | Urooj Yazdani

World Premiere

 Humera, an 11-year old girl from a remote village off the coast of Karachi, Pakistan, dreams of becoming a doctor but the only school in her community comes under threat of closure. A Destruction follows Humera as she reaches a critical point in her life where she faces intense pressure to forego her education for an arranged marriage. MORE

Opening Night Ticket Holders Only, Please

@ Town Hall Theater (THT)

6:00 PM Doors Open

6:30 PM


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


7:00 PM

The Dog Doc *

Documentary | 101m | Cindy Meehl

 A maverick veterinarian and his dedicated team of doctors create a mecca for pets and their owners looking for hope and a last chance for animal healing. The Dog Doc poses deep questions about treatment, pushing humans to consider the difference between medication and integrative, holistic care. This film offers an immersive view into a seldom seen world, painting a picture of pure dedication and joy. MORE

Following the Film

Q&A w/ Director Cindy Meehl & Dr. Jacqueline Ruskin, DVM

Director Cindy Meehl and Dr. Jacqueline Ruskin, DVM, will join MNFF Artistic Director Jay Craven on stage for a lively discussion about The Dog Doc.

@ The Swift House Inn

9:15 PM

After Party

The festivities continue at the Swift House Inn, an MNFF sponsor and one of Middlebury’s most beautiful settings. Enjoy the food, drink, music and mingling with our hosts Dan and Michele Brown.


@ Town Hall Theater (THT)


Carol Street *

Documentary | 15m | Demetrius Borge

World Premiere

 Carol Street explores black identity at Middlebury College by interviewing students, staff, and alumni about community, outer self, and inner self. Weaving in the personal narrative of a young biracial man questioning his responsibility to his community, the film brings awareness to the sacrifices and pressures of being a black person in a predominantly white community. MORE


When We Walk *

Documentary | 80m | Jason DaSilva

Vermont Premiere

Follow the life of disability activist and filmmaker Jason DaSilva as he confronts the abrupt end of his marriage and the departure of his wife and young son from New York to Austin, Texas. Though he is quadriplegic, can barely see, and has problems swallowing and breathing, DaSilva sets off for Austin, where he encounters a Medicaid system that would force him to live in a nursing home in order to be near his son. MORE

@ Marquis Theatre Main Screen (MQM)


Drowning in Sands

Documentary | 31m | Lucy Provan

Vermont Premiere

Two Sudanese inventors are determined to stop the desert from swallowing up their country. Despite international sanctions and a failing economy, they succeed in building Sudan’s first robot farmer and enter it into a national TV competition. MORE


Guardian *

Documentary | 76m | Courtney Quirin

New England Premiere

Guardian follows stewards of British Columbia’s Great Bear Rainforest, who live full-time on boats in the depths of the wilderness to monitor salmon, the backbone of the ecosystem, economy and culture along the BC coast. But, in an age of science censorship and soaring natural resource development, Guardians—and the wildlife they have dedicated their lives to protect—are now disappearing. The film tackles the consequences of the erosion of science and environmental management. MORE

@ Marquis Theatre Screening Room (MQS)


Playhouse *

Narrative | 8m | Kerry LeVielle

World Premiere

Resting on the shoulder of a single day, a young girl experiences the daunting immediacy of responsibility when tasked to take care of her ailing grandmother. MORE


Two Birds *

Narrative | 11m | Moira Fett

World Premiere

Trapped in a sort of domestic hellscape, on opposite sides of the same wall, Eva and Desiree must find a way to survive. The two characters develop diverging approaches to their circumstances but converge at a point of emotional vulnerability. Two Birds explores the psychological effects of solitary confinement and pulls the larger matrix of gender and domesticity into focus. MORE


Dream House *

Narrative | 30m | Jeff Bemiss

World Premiere

A delayed coming-of-age drama set in Connecticut, Dream House follows Mark, who after being hospitalized for attempted suicide, returns home to live with his eccentric mother Ginnie in their deteriorating estate. Struggling with his sexuality and an overbearing mother, Mark tries to fill his voids with continuous housework, alcohol, and trips to the local gay bar. Ginnie then hires Ted, who befriends Mark and offers him the possibility of a new life. MORE


Benzin *

Narrative | 45m | Oliver Mohr

USA Premiere

In a small, remote German town, 30 years after the reunion of East and West Germany, everybody has left but a few. His mother is long gone, but Leon remains, helping his father run a gas station on Poland’s border. Suddenly, a young woman from Ukraine arrives, and Leon hopes she can help him find peace with his unknown past. MORE

@ Dana Auditorium (DANA)


A Song Can't Burn

Documentary | 12m | Roscoe Neil

Vermont Premiere

Since 1992, professor and musician Nigel Osborne has developed techniques to use music as therapy for children suffering the effects of trauma. These methods are now being utilized in a program for Syrian refugees who have fled to Lebanon. MORE


Teeth *

Documentary | 13m | Aaron Schnobrich

Vermont Premiere

Teeth is an intimate portrait of Hawaiian grandmother Angelica’s recovery from sexual abuse she suffered as a child and young woman. Her emotional and psychological healing parallels the fixing of knocked out and rotten teeth. In her words, “Three things have replaced my misery, Faith, Hope, and Aloha … and the greatest of these is Aloha”. MORE


Invisible Hands

Documentary | 80m | Shraysi Tandon

Award-winning documentary Invisible Hands exposes child labor and trafficking within the supply chains of the world’s biggest corporations, which produce some of our most loved items. MORE

@ Twilight Hall (TWI)


How Purple Became *

Narrative | 9m | Cathy Ye

World Premiere

Each missing a central aspect, two characters meander through a Jungian journey seeking to understand the construction of the whole Self. MORE


Canusa Street *

Documentary | 10m | Perry Walker

World Premiere

A brief oral history of how the Canada-USA border came to run right through a town and down the middle of one street – and what it’s like to live on Canusa Street today. MORE


The Blueberry Farmer *

Documentary | 101m | Valerie Whitcomb

New England Premiere

Bernie Ellis, all around good guy, was bush hogging a pasture on his farm when he noticed a helicopter circling above. The police raided him that day and Bernie was arrested for growing a small number of cannabis plants – marijuana he gave to terminal AIDS and cancer patients and to relieve his own fibromyalgia. For more than a decade, Bernie wrestled with Tennessee and Federal authorities over his legal status. This is his fascinating story. MORE

@ Town Hall Theater (THT)


Estrellita *

Animated | 8m | Daniel Houghton

Estrellita, (or Little Star) tells a piercing story about the constant threat of family separation and deportation for undocumented farmworkers in Vermont. Seen through the eyes of a little girl growing up on a dairy farm, the story begins in an idyllic wonderland of childhood adventure that turns dark when a powerful force raids the farm to capture her father. MORE


New Homeland *

Documentary | 93m | Barbara Kopple

Vermont Premiere

Every summer since 1914, Camp Pathfinder, a summer camp located in Canada’s Algonquin Park, invites boys from across Canada and the United States to spend a few weeks in the backcountry. Two years ago, Camp Director Mike Sladden, enraged by the growing global refugee crisis, had an idea. What if he could find a way to bring a group of displaced boys from war-torn Syria and Iraq to spend the summer at Pathfinder? MORE

@ Marquis Theatre Main Screen (MQM)


Maria *

Documentary | 26m | Shiri Paamony Eshel

Maria is an 18 year old poet, daughter of Mexican immigrants from the Bronx, NY. Her life was never easy, living with her alcoholic father, mother, mother’s schizophrenic husband and two sisters. The family moved between housing projects and shelters and she never really had hope for a better future. In high school, she experienced depression and social isolation which led her to cutting herself. Luckily, she started writing poems.

WINNER: Best Documentary Short



Don't Be Nice *

Documentary | 96m | Max Powers

Vermont Premiere

A team of young New York City Slam Poets finds its voice as it competes for the National Championship during the summer of 2016. An emotional and inspiring film that gives insightful commentary on race, gender, identity and sexual politics in America today, Don’t Be Nice is both an absorbing competition doc and a vital writer’s workshop that proves once and for all that winning hearts and minds is the ultimate prize.

WINNER: Best Documentary Feature


@ Marquis Theatre Screening Room (MQS)


La Guerra *

Documentary | 12m | Erin Nene-Lee Ramirez

Vermont Premiere

A short documentary about Angelica Guerra, a young, Mexican American woman from Southern California who has taken on a much greater role in her family in the face of her parents’ deportation. Angelica chose to make the best of her situation by continuing to study, work, and take care of her siblings to keep the American Dream alive, despite her family’s separation. MORE


Nothing to My Name *

Documentary | 14m | Qian Li

World Premiere

A short documentary discovering the past of the filmmaker’s grandfather. MORE


Exorcist of Apartheid

Documentary | 20m | Adam Heyns

USA Premiere

A young, white filmmaker in South Africa asks his grandmother what his grandfather did during apartheid. She gives him a box of family videos. A fascinating set of revelations follows. MORE


This Little Land of Mines *

Documentary | 64m | Erin McGoff

USA Premiere

This Little Land of Mines shines a spotlight on the resilience of the Laotian people as they live among and work to clear 80 million unexploded American bombs embedded in their land after the Vietnam War era.

WINNER: Clio Visualizing History Prize for the Advancement of Women in Film


@ Dana Auditorium (DANA)


Soaring Soldiers

Narrative | 12m | Cecilie Skou

Albert lives in his own little universe; a universe where all of the world’s diseases can be cured. Albert and his best friend, Theodor, play on the rooftop of Albert’s apartment, where everything is possible. For many years, Albert’s mother has suffered from an incurable cancer, but Albert has a hard time understanding how bad the disease really is. He believes that he can cure his mother through the games he plays with Theodor. MORE


For Sama

Documentary | 95m | Waad Al-Kateab, Edward Watts

For Sama is both an intimate and epic journey into the female experience of war. A love letter from a young mother to her daughter, the film tells the story of Waad al-Kateab’s life through five years of the uprising in Aleppo, Syria as she falls in love, gets married and gives birth to Sama, all while cataclysmic conflict rises around her. MORE

@ Twilight Hall (TWI)


Cleo from 5 to 7 [Agnes Varda: A Remembrance]

Narrative | 90m | Agnes Varda

Selfish pop singer Cléo (Corinne Marchand) has two hours to wait until the results of her biopsy come back. After an ominous tarot card reading, she visits her friends, all of whom fail to give her the emotional support she needs. Wandering around Paris, she finally finds comfort talking with a soldier in a park. Directed by Agnes Varda.

Note: Cleo from 5 to 7 is Ms. Varda’s second feature film and is part of MNFF’s “Agnes Varda: A Remembrance”. MORE

4:00 PM @ Town Hall Theater (THT)


Independent Film Distribution: Where Is The Business Heading?

MNFF special guest, Marc Mauceri, Vice President of First Run Features, talks the business of acquiring and distributing independent narratives and documentaries with MNFF Artistic Director Jay Craven. Founded in New York in 1979, First Run Features remains one of the largest independent distributors in North America, releasing in theaters nationwide, on home video (DVD and Blu-Ray) and online through a diverse group of innovative digital partners. Mr. Mauceri, with over 30 productive years at First Run Features, has a distinctive point of view well worth knowing.

5:00 PM @ The Sheldon Museum Garden

Passholders Only, Please

Friday Festival Happy Hour

1 Park St | Enjoy music by The Balladeer and the Bluesman, light food and an array of beverages in the beautiful Garden at the Sheldon Museum.  MNFF thanks Bill Brooks and the Sheldon Museum team for hosting this lovely event. Catering provided by Otter Creek Bakery.

5:00 PM @ Marquis Theatre Café

Filmmakers Only, Please

Filmmakers' Cocktail Hour

An informal opportunity for filmmakers to meet, mingle, eat and drink in one of Middlebury’s iconic film spaces.

@ Town Hall Theater (THT)


Reversing Roe *

Documentary | 99m | Ricki Stern, Anne Sundberg

A deep historical look at one of the most controversial issues of our time, highlighting the abortion debate from various points along the ideological spectrum in a winding story of abortion in America. NOTE: Special Q&A appearance by Dr. Colleen McNicholas, film’s protagonist, and sole remaining abortion provider in the state of Missouri. MORE

Honoree Event | On-Stage Conversation w/ Director Ricki Stern & Dr. Colleen McNicholas

Returning Honoree Ricki Stern and Dr. Colleen McNicholas join moderator Hattie Garner Lefavour from Middlebury College in a discussion of the film’s origins, intentions and impact. An of-the-moment and very special event that will illuminate the significance of Reversing Roe.

@ Marquis Theatre Main Screen (MQM)

Big Burn-The

The Big Burn *

Narrative | 20m | Samantha Silva

New England Premiere

Caught between the rugged beauty of the Idaho wilderness and the reality of her failing marriage, Helen Turner is counting the days till she can leave it all behind when she’s pulled into the orbit of a young woman whose life is about to change forever. MORE


Book Week

Narrative | 96m | Heath Davis

New England Premiere

When it looks like his new novel will be published, high school English teacher and once famous author Nicholas Cutler thinks his luck has finally changed. But what promises to be the best week of his life spirals into the exact opposite. A pregnant girlfriend, a student in trouble with the law, a gravely ill brother-in-law and the prospects of an unfulfilled life force Mr. Cutler to re-examine things in this sly Australian drama. MORE

@ Marquis Theatre Screening Room (MQS)


The Short Goodbye *

Narrative | 8m | Kate Eminger

New England Premiere

In the midst of a crippling state of writer’s block, film noir-obsessed Trevor gets a text message from his girlfriend: “It’s over. I’m sorry.” The shock sends him spiralling into his own noir fantasy where he must get to the bottom of this mysterious message. But while in his mind he suavely navigates bartenders, gossip columnists, boxers, and risque photographers, in reality, his real problem is that he cannot see what a mess he is. MORE



Narrative | 9m | Steve Whitely

New England Premiere

Alarmed by the detrimental effect smartphones are having on those around them, three friends launch a rogue initiative intended to force people to be more present and mindful. MORE


The Return of Richard III on the 9:24am Train *

Narrative | 85m | Eric Bu

World Premiere

It’s a comedy drama. The drama: a dying man decides to hire professional actors to impersonate his loved ones at a final “family” get together. The comedy: the group of actors he has hired turns out to be even more neurotic than him.

WINNER: Best Narrative Feature


@ Dana Auditorium (DANA)


The True History of Billie the Kid

Narrative | 8m | Leticia Caceres

New England Premiere

Billie visits her aging father in jail, revealing that her childhood in his care was not as safe and happy as he might have believed. Will she get her revenge? MORE


Dirt Ash Meat

Narrative | 12m | Sion Thomas

World Premiere

During the devastating foot and mouth outbreak of 2001, Rhian and her brother Dewi struggle to keep the Welsh hill farm they inherited from their father running. As the disease reaches their doorstep, Rhian tries to control her increasingly unstable brother. Dirt Ash Meat is an adaptation of the novel White Ravens by Owen Sheers. MORE



Narrative | 95m | Wolfgang Fischer

A busy doctor plans to spend her annual vacation fulfilling her long-held dream of sailing from Gibraltar to the small island of Ascension in the Atlantic. But everything changes when she sees a damaged, overloaded boat full of refugees nearby. Knowing that at least a hundred people could drown, she begins to organize to help them but slowly begins to fear that it will be impossible to do so. MORE

@ Twilight Hall (TWI)


Woman at War

Narrative | 101m | Benedikt Erlingsson

Halla, a woman in her forties, declares war on the local aluminum industry to prevent it from disfiguring her country. She risks all she has to protect the highlands of Iceland – but the situation could change with the unexpected arrival of a small orphan in her life. MORE

@ Notte

Passholders Only, Please

Friday Night Party

86 Main St | Gather for a great finale to Festival Friday with food, drink and conversation at Middlebury’s true “underground” gathering spot, Notte. An MNFF tradition sponsored by the generous folks at Two Brothers Tavern.


Ruben Brandt, Collector

MNFF presents its inaugural late night film screening at the Marquis Theatre with the showing of Ruben Brandt, Collector, a brilliant, wildly imaginative and utterly original animated feature from Hungarian director Milorad Krstic.

Narrative | 96m | Milorad Krstic

Ruben Brandt, a famous psychotherapist, is forced to steal 13 paintings from the world’s renowned museums to prevent the terrible nightmares he has as a result of subliminal messaging he received as a child. Four of his patients, expert thieves, offer to steal the works, since he believes that once he owns them, the nightmares will disappear. He becomes a wanted criminal known as “The Collector”. An animated masterpiece many years in the making. MORE

FREE for Fest Passholders / Walk-Up Tickets $12

Sponsored by:



@ Middlebury Inn Patio


Coffee with Outstanding Working Actors: Bruce Greenwood, Polly Draper & Jeremy Holm

16 Court Sq | MNFF Artistic Director Jay Craven chats over coffee with three great working actors whose combined credits include Mad Men, House of Cards, Star Trek, Capote, The Sweet Hereafter, Thirtysomething, I’m Not There, Mr. Robot, The Good Wife and many more. Conversations will include the actors’ craft, what stories interest them and what life as an actor has brought them. Don’t miss this lively start to Festival Saturday. Coffee and baked goods provided by MNFF sponsor, the Middlebury Inn.

@ Town Hall Theater (THT)


Louie's Antiques *

Documentary | 8m | Melissa McClung

Vermont Premiere

In Louie’s shop, antique objects get a second life–- and come to life. MORE


Once & Again *

Documentary | 25m | Isabel Dunn

New England Premiere

“How can I get closer to the past, which moves farther and farther away?” So begins Once & Again, a film about early recorded sound and the hunger for connection across time that marks each of us. MORE


Made in Boise *

Documentary | 86m | Beth Aala

New England Premiere

In Boise, Idaho, where 70% of new arrivals are gay men from overseas, as many as one in fifteen mothers will become surrogates in their lifetime. Surrogacy has nearly quadrupled in the last 20 years, and this small Western city presents an opportunity to explore this growing yet complex and controversial phenomenon. MORE

@ Marquis Theatre Main Screen (MQM)


Mrs. Cho *

Narrative | 6m | Anna Sang Park

New England Premiere

An immigrant mother’s gambling addiction shatters her family. MORE


Carl's Motel

Narrative | 15m | Stuart A. McIntyre

New England Premiere

Jack, played by Scoot McNairy, is in the midst of a heavy decision that is destroying his marriage. Spanning only 15 minutes, the film is set in a motel room where, through a raw, unfiltered lens, we see Jack call his wife to reveal he is leaving her and their son for another woman. MORE


The Moon and the Night

Narrative | 19m | Erin Lau

Vermont Premiere

Set in rural Hawaiʻi, a Native Hawaiian teenage girl must confront her father after he enters her beloved pet in a dog fight. Through the journey, the film explores undercurrents of personal, cultural, and socio-economic strife in Hawaiʻi, but, at heart, is a coming-of-age tale of a young woman who must make the difficult realization that to save her family, she must stand on her own. MORE



Narrative | 73m | Andrew Wonder

Vermont Premiere

An examination of loneliness and the masks we wear to face the world, Andrew Wonder’s intriguing drama Feral tells the story of Yasmine, a young woman living in the tunnels underneath Manhattan. She is struggling to overcome her past while she meets other city dwellers fending for their own lives. MORE

@ Marquis Theatre Screening Room (MQS)


Freedom & Unity / Conversations from the Open Road *

Various | 82m | Various

Freedom & Unity: A collection of 8 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. Conversations from the Open Road: Chicago: Public Schools Closures, a collection of 5 shorts, shot on location in The Windy City. Q&A with the filmmakers will follow. MORE



Narrative | 14m | Vigga Wagner

USA Premiere

A girl lives a solitary life in her own magnificent underwater world inside her apartment. But when one morning she wakes up to find that her beloved goldfish is dead, she is forced out of her own safe reality and into an amazing fishmonger’s shop, where she meets a boy who helps her pick a new goldfish. MORE

@ Dana Auditorium (DANA)


Eternal Harvest *

Experimental | 12m | David Wayne Reed

New England Premiere

Using drones, dance, farm implements, heirloom quilts, agriculture, and video installation, Eternal Harvest is a short film about the cycle of life as depicted by the growing season on a rural Kansas farm. MORE


The Coral Keepers *

Documentary | 11m | Eilish Nobes, Darlien Morales

World Premiere

How can ordinary people appreciate the life-sustaining force of the oceans when most of us don’t dive beneath the surface? A nonprofit in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary has taken on this question by training youth to become scientific divers. The students in Dive-N2-Life have a passion for conservation born from assisting with research on everything from the ecological role of sharks to a devastating coral disease infecting the Keys. MORE


The Pollinators *

Documentary | 92m | Peter Nelson

Vermont Premiere

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 to grow and produce our food. 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.

WINNER: Gaia Prize for Environmental Filmmaking


@ Twilight Hall (TWI)


Summer in the City *

Narrative | 10m | Mojo Lorwin

World Premiere

Convinced that civilization is on the verge of collapse, two women set out on a dream logic journey through New York City parks in search of a river that will take them to a faraway island. But does the river exist? MORE


Stella's Last Weekend *

Narrative | 109m | Polly Draper

New England Premiere

 Stella’s Last Weekend is the story of two brothers whose relationship is definitely challenged when they find themselves in love with the same girl, but eventually the conflict deepens the unshakable bond between them. MORE

@ Town Hall Theater (THT)


First Reformed *

Narrative | 113m | Paul Schrader

The pastor of a small church in upstate New York, played by Ethan Hawke, spirals out of control after a soul-shaking encounter with an unstable environmental activist and his pregnant wife. MORE

@ Marquis Theatre Main Screen (MQM)


We Want Our Money Back *

Narrative | 6m | Ethan Mermelstein

World Premiere

Shortly after breaking up, a couple returns to their therapist to demand a refund. MORE


Keep Going Joon *

Narrative | 26m | Cedar Daniels

New England Premiere

Juniper, a middle age father, severely injures himself playing his favorite Tuesday night pick-up basketball game. After surgery to repair his torn ACL, he goes through a tedious rehab to get back to his beloved pastime, only to injure himself again … and then again. Each surgery causes him to confront his love for the game and his wife’s hope that he’ll stop playing. MORE


Same Boat *

Narrative | 83m | Chris Roberti

New England Premiere

Same Boat is the story of a time-traveling assassin who inadvertently falls in love with the woman he’s been sent to kill… while on a cruise ship. The film was secretly shot aboard an actual cruise. MORE

@ Marquis Theatre Screening Room (MQS)


Lonnie *

Documentary | 6m | Mac Christopher

World Premiere

A character piece on Lonnie Holley, a found object artist and musician based in Atlanta, Georgia. MORE


The Boxers of Brule *

Documentary | 39m | Jessie Adler

New England Premiere

Shaionna, a young Lakota Sioux boxer, creates a girls’ boxing team to combat the youth suicide epidemic threatening the Lower Brule Sioux Reservation. With the odds stacked against her, Shaionna must confront her own demons as she fights to bring hope and healing to her community. MORE


Ingrid *

Documentary | 52m | Morrisa Maltz

Vermont Premiere

Ingrid tells the fascinating story of a successful fashion designer and mother in Texas who dropped everything and moved to rural Oklahoma in order to pursue a personal and creative life. She has since become a reclusive hermit and spends her time creating clay sculptures and art out of rocks from the nearby creek. What would drive a successful fashion designer to immerse herself in nature and leave everything behind?

WINNER: Hernandez/Bayliss Prize for Triumph of the Human Spirit


@ Dana Auditorium (DANA)


The Biggest Little Farm

John Chester | 91m | Documentary

The Biggest Little Farm chronicles the eight year quest of John and Molly Chester as they trade city living for 200 acres of barren farmland and a dream to harvest in harmony with nature. Featuring breathtaking cinematography, captivating animals, and an urgent message to heed Mother Nature’s call, The Biggest Little Farm provides us all a vital blueprint for better living and a healthier planet. MORE

Presented by the Vermont International Film Festival

@ Twilight Hall (TWI)


Two Balloons

Animated | 9m | Mark Smith

Vermont Premiere

Two adventurous lemurs navigate their dirigibles halfway around the world to a place where happenstance and fate threaten to disrupt their reunion. MORE


The Quarry Project

Experimental | 18m | Leslie Anderson

World Premiere

The Quarry Project is a site specific dance/theatre piece being created for the Wells Lamson quarry, the oldest, deepest granite quarry in the country, now flooded and in “reserve.” Slated for live performances in 2020, this video explores the development phase from rehearsals completed in 2018. MORE



Documentary | 81m | Phil Kibbe

Vermont Premiere

In the ultra-competitive indoor sport of flying elite, stunningly-designed model airplanes, a wild-card newcomer threatens to knock a teammate off his world champion throne. A tale about obsession and passion, about camaraderie and competition, about time and beauty, Float is a documentary that is as much about the intricacies of the sport and the science as the complexity of the people involved. MORE

4:00 PM @ Town Hall Theater (THT)


Honoree Event | On-Stage Conversation w/ Paul Schrader

Following the screening of his most recent film First Reformed, legendary writer/director Paul Schrader (Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, Blue Collar, Affliction) takes the stage with MNFF Artistic Director Jay Craven for an extended conversation about his career, his influences and where he is heading artistically. Mr. Schrader will receive a VTeddy Award for Sustained Excellence in Cutting Edge Filmmaking.

4:00 PM @ Middlebury Inn


Navigating the PBS Programming World - Producers and Acquirers Tell All

16 Court Sq | Join Producers Beth Levison and Michael Rosenfeld and PBS Programmers Ron Bachman and Eric Ford in a wide-ranging discussion of how producers sell and how acquirers select films to feed the sprawling and multilayered PBS programming and distribution system. Enjoy a panel of true experts with much to share. Moderated by MNFF Producer Lloyd Komesar.

5:00 PM @ Middlebury Inn Patio

Passholders Only, Please

Saturday Festival Happy Hour

16 Court Sq | Mingle and schmooze with filmmakers and special guests on the patio of the Middlebury Inn, one of the prettiest spots in town. MNFF thanks the fine folks at the Inn for providing food, beverages and atmosphere.

@ Town Hall Theater (THT)

The Last Black Man In San Francisco - Still 1

The Last Black Man in San Francisco

Narrative | 121m | Joe Talbot

Jimmie and his best friend Mont try to reclaim the house built by Jimmie’s grandfather, launching them on a poignant odyssey that connects them to their past, even as it tests their friendship and sense of belonging in the place they call home. MORE

@ Marquis Theatre Main Screen (MQM)



Narrative | 12m | Lukas Dong

New England Premiere

Carrie Austen joins an elite book club only to discover it’s an underground fight club where mothers go to release their frustrations. MORE


Love Pool

Narrative | 17m | Asim Chaudhry

Vermont Premiere

Eternally single Mark refuses to settle for anyone but ‘the one’, but a chance encounter in the back of a taxi pool forces him to consider that sometimes love can be found in the strangest places. MORE


We Were Islands *

Narrative | 80m | Amrita Pradhan

New England Premiere

Reeta, a young stand-up comedian, feels the heat. As she edges closer to the ominous age of 30, she feels the ever-mounting pressure to fall in love, get married, and settle down. Her growing doubts and conservative Indian family are certainly not helping the situation. When she meets lonely funeral home employee Juliun, her happy ending finally feels imminent. MORE

@ Marquis Theatre Screening Room (MQS)


Sweetheart Dancers

Documentary | 13m | Ben-Alex Dupris

Vermont Premiere

Sweetheart Dancers is a story about Sean and Adrian, a Two-Spirit gay couple determined to rewrite the rules of Native American culture through their participation in the “Sweetheart Dance.” This celebratory contest is held at powwows across the country, reserved for heterosexual couples, until now. MORE



Documentary | 26m | Pilar Timpane, Christine Delp

Vermont Premiere

Juana Luz Tobar Ortega immigrated to the United States over 25 years ago as an asylum seeker from Guatemala. But in 2017, she was told that she had 30 days to leave the country or be deported. Refusing to leave her family and home, Juana took sanctuary at an unfamiliar church in Greensboro, NC, where she remains today. MORE



Documentary | 69m | Tim Tsai

New England Premiere

In 1979, a Vietnamese refugee shoots and kills a white crab fisherman at the public town docks in Seadrift, TX. What began as a dispute over fishing territory erupts into violence and ignites a maelstrom of boat burnings, KKK intimidation, and other hostilities against Vietnamese refugees along the Gulf Coast. Set during the early days of Vietnamese refugee arrival in the U.S., Seadrift examines the shooting and its dramatic aftermath, revealing the unexpected consequences. MORE

@ Dana Auditorium (DANA)


Memories of Blue

Narrative | 14m | Yuchi Ma

New England Premiere

2066 is lonely . . . a world where the rich are hooked to machines and the poor labor to support them. Then, a fated power outage causes two strangers’ paths to cross for an instant and a fleeting bond arises. MORE



Documentary | 93m | Alex Holmes

In 1989, the very idea of a competitive all-female sailboat crew was nearly inconceivable to the manly world of open-ocean yacht racing. They’d never make it to the start of the Whitbread Round the World Race, much less survive to the finish. They’d never find funding. They didn’t have the strength or skill. They’d die at sea. Did that many professional female sailors even exist? Tracy Edwards proved all the naysayers wrong. MORE

@ Twilight Hall (TWI)


The Sweet Hereafter *

Narrative | 112m | Atom Egoyan

A small mountain community in Canada is devastated when a school bus accident leaves more than a dozen of its children dead. A big-city lawyer arrives to help the survivors’ and victims’ families prepare a class-action suit, but his efforts only seem to push the townspeople further apart. At the same time, one teenage survivor of the accident has to reckon with the loss of innocence brought about by a different kind of damage. NOTE: This screening is a tribute to Honoree Bruce Greenwood, who will attend. MORE

Honoree Event | On-Stage Conversation w/ Bruce Greenwood

Following the screening this heralded film, The Sweet Hereafter, acclaimed actor Bruce Greenwood talks with MNFF Artistic Director Jay Craven about one of his favorite roles and the choices that underlie his superb career.

@ American Flatbread

FREE for Passholders / All Others $15 at the Door

Saturday Night Party feat. Roscoe & Etta

137 Maple St | Enjoy tasty complimentary flatbreads and small bites, and sample a full bar offering craft cocktails, local beers, wine and ciders, from our host and sponsor American Flatbread at our big Saturday Night Party! And this year at Flatbread, MNFF presents the fabulous music of Roscoe & Etta, featuring national recording artists Maia Sharp and Anna Schulze on the last stop of their East Coast tour.


@ Town Hall Theater (THT)


Wildlike *

Narrative | 104m | Frank Hall Green

A gruff backpacker (Bruce Greenwood) helps a troubled teen (Ella Purnell) trek through the Alaskan wilderness to make her way back home to Seattle. MORE

Honoree Event | On-Stage Conversation w/ Bruce Greenwood

The illuminating conversation with MNFF Honoree Bruce Greenwood continues following the screening of Wildlike, a 2014 film by director Frank Hall Green. Mr. Greenwood will receive a VTeddy Award for Sustained Excellence in Acting.

@ Marquis Theatre Main Screen (MQM)


Home *

Narrative | 5m | Pamela Albarren, Caroline Askew

World Premiere

A close examination of a mother’s life at home with a one year old and an absent father. MORE


Twenty *

Narrative | 8m | Mia Fichman

World Premiere

Twenty is about the breakdown of a family as seen from the perspective of a 12 year old boy, who must come to terms with his parents’ separation. MORE



Narrative | 12m | Jared Rosenthal

New England Premiere

A homeless subway violinist has her world turned upside down when her most prized possession is stolen.

WINNER: Best Narrative Short



My Dear Children *

Documentary | 70m | LeeAnn Dance, Cliff Hackel

Vermont Premiere

My Dear Children follows one woman’s quest to unravel a family mystery. Her journey reveals a heartbreaking and little known humanitarian tragedy when anti- Jewish massacres, “pogroms,” swept Eastern Europe following WWI. Scholars today describe what happened as “the holocaust of its day.” The consequences of that earlier holocaust continue to reverberate through the generations and warn us of what could happen yet again. MORE

@ Marquis Theatre Screening Room (MQS)



Narrative | 1m | Cece Wheeler

World Premiere

A short animated film about trying to sleep amidst anxiety. MORE


Topanga *

Narrative | 15m | Aycil Yeltan

USA Premiere

Hearing impaired and homeless Gala escapes from a man who continuously abuses her. While living in an abandoned old truck on a mountain road, she is unaware that the abusive man has discovered where her hiding place is. One night, after a brutal attack, she finds the strength to somehow stand up and walk away for good. She has no idea where this survival walk will end up and how it will change her life. MORE



Narrative | 20m | Josh Aarons

USA Premiere

When daily struggles and depression become too much to bear, Sofia flees to her family summer house. Secluded in the Gothenburg Archipelago and surrounded by nostalgia of her childhood, Sofia retraces her youth as she confronts her demons. A chance encounter, rituals, and friendship shine a light in the dark. MORE


Busy Inside *

Documentary | 70m | Olga Lvoff

USA Premiere

Karen, a therapist, helps people who suffer from Dissociative Identity Disorder — a condition she has herself, juggling seventeen of her own alter egos. In this poetic documentary exploration of the much-misunderstood condition, Busy Inside follows Karen and her patient Marshay on their complicated quests for self. MORE

@ Dana Auditorium (DANA)


What She Said: The Art of Pauline Kael

Documentary | 95m | Rob Garver

Vermont Premiere

An illuminating portrait of the work of controversial film critic Pauline Kael and her profound influence on the male-dominated worlds of cinema and film criticism. MORE

@ Twilight Hall (TWI)


Dandelion Mum

Documentary | 30m | Barbora Hollan

USA Premiere

When Ivana got bone marrow cancer, she was told she only has 2-3 years to live. But instead of listening to the doctors, she became resilient. 11 years later, she’s working as a visiting scientist at Harvard. Despite surviving against all odds, she is now caught in a bureaucratic system, and torn between staying in the US to get her treatment or returning back home to be with her family. MORE


Sunken Roads: Three Generations After D-Day *

Documentary | 90m | Charlotte Juergens

Vermont Premiere

A young woman joins a group of D-Day veterans on a 70th anniversary pilgrimage to retrace their route from the beaches at Normandy during World War II. Sunken Roads follows their journey, painting an intimate portrait of these soldiers during their final return to that hallowed ground. Providing a new perspective through the eyes of a 20-year old woman, a story of intergenerational friendship blossoms from the memories of 90-year-old men. MORE

@ Town Hall Theater (THT)


KO Scotty

Narrative | 5m | Thee Khanthavit

New England Premiere

Scotty is a young bear who wants to become a Muay Thai kick boxer after getting fired from a company due to the financial crisis. After much training, he gets an invitation from his coach to a fight with the local champion. MORE


Iron Hands

Narrative | 11m | Johnson Cheng

Vermont Premiere

 As a 12-year-old girl prepares for her final test trying out for the traditionally all-boys Chinese youth Olympic weightlifting team, she makes an unlikely connection with the gym’s reclusive groundskeeper. MORE


Lynch: A History *

Documentary | 85m | David Shields

Lynch: A History explores the silence that nonconformist NFL star Marshawn Lynch deploys as a form of resistance. Culling more than 700 video clips and placing them in dramatic, rapid, and radical juxtaposition, the film is a powerful political parable about the American media-sports complex and its deep complicity with racial oppression. MORE

@ Marquis Theatre Main Screen (MQM)


They Were Important to Each Other in That Moment *

Experimental | 1m | Hannah Priscilla Craig

New England Premiere

Captured entirely in one take, They Were Each Important To Each Other In That Moment is a glimpse of time and space. The one-minute film witnesses unplanned micro-events through rhythms of light, color, sound, shadow, and shape. MORE

Échappé *

Narrative | 13m | Allison Mattox

Vermont Premiere

In 1970, a preeminent Soviet ballet company tours the West to showcase their elite dancers. During a performance of “Sleeping Beauty” in New York, a rising ballerina begins to suspect her brother of defecting. MORE


The Bird Catcher *

Narrative | 100m | Ross Clarke

Vermont Premiere

A Norwegian Jewish teenager who dreams of Hollywood stardom is suddenly faced with playing the role of her life, masquerading as a boy on a Nazi-occupied farm while plotting her escape to Sweden and survival. MORE

@ Marquis Theatre Screening Room (MQS)


Small Family, Happy Family *

Documentary | 37m | Anne Munger, Zoe Hamilton

New England Premiere

Mitilesh, a young woman from Central India, is recruited by local health workers to get sterilized in a mass surgical ‘camp’. As she decides to undergo the surgery, her narrative is situated in the larger context of population control in India – one that has for decades sacrificed women’s health and reproductive rights in the name of economic progress. MORE



Documentary | 76m | Eva Lewis

Vermont Premiere

Filmed in the rural border community of Arivaca, Arizona, Undeterred depicts the militarization along the US/Mexico border enacted by US Customs and Border Patrol and how it has affected and changed life in the community. Made by a resident of Arivaca, the entire film was crafted in close collaboration with the community residents who are its subjects. MORE

@ Dana Auditorium (DANA)


Be Natural: The Untold Story of Alice Guy-Blache *

Documentary | 103m | Pamela B. Green

Alice Guy-Blaché was a true pioneer who got into the movie business at the very beginning—in 1894. Two years later, she was made head of production at the world’s first movie studio, France’s Gaumont. She and her husband moved to the United States, and she founded her own company, Solax, in 1910. But by 1919, Guy-Blaché’s career had come to an abrupt end, and she and the 1000 films that bore her name were largely forgotten. MORE

@ Twilight Hall (TWI)



Documentary | 104m | Joseph Dorman, Toby Freilich

A biographical portrait of Daniel Patrick Moynihan, twentieth century colossus: public intellectual, policy specialist, ambassador and U.S. Senator from New York. The film captures the spirit of Moynihan’s remarkable ideas as they evolved over the course of his tumultuous life in postwar America, featuring both the triumphs and the controversies. MORE

@ Mahaney Center for the Arts

FREE for Passholders / All Others $15 at the Door

The Greatest Night w/ Live Performance by Vermont Symphony Orchestra *

72 Porter Field Rd | The Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival, the Vermont Symphony Orchestra, and Middlebury College’s Mahaney Center for the Arts jointly present the world premiere of VSO Awardee Jeremy Lee Mackenzie’s new short film, The Greatest Night, with an original score composed by Matthew Evan Taylor, Middlebury College Assistant Professor of Music and performed live by the VSO. Unique to MNFF, this popular gathering is a signature event of the Festival.

@ Town Hall Theater (THT)


The River and the Wall

Documentary | 109m | Ben Masters

Five friends embark on an epic 1,200-mile mountain bike, horse, and canoe expedition down the Rio Grande River to document the borderlands before construction of a wall and to explore how it would impact wildlife, immigration, public lands, border security, and landowners. MORE

@ Marquis Theatre Main Screen (MQM)


Fall '99

Narrative | 18m | Max Tullio

New England Premiere

Fall, 1999. A bisexual punk, Danny, navigates his first serious romantic relationship with a quiet boy from Connecticut, Michael, at a small liberal arts college. Once he receives a call from a former lover, Danny must confront his own fears of isolation and mortality when he finds out he needs to be tested for HIV. MORE



Documentary | 93m | Gabriel Silverman, Fiona Dawson

TransMilitary chronicles the lives of four individuals defending their country’s freedom while fighting for their own. They put their careers and their families’ livelihoods on the line by coming out as transgender to top brass officials in the Pentagon in hopes of attaining the equal right to serve. The ban was lifted in 2016, but with President Trump now having reinstated it, their futures hang in the balance once again. MORE

@ Dana Auditorium (DANA)


Raise Hell: The Life and Times of Molly Ivins

Documentary | 93m | Janice Engel

The fascinating story of media firebrand Molly Ivins, six feet of Texas trouble who took on the Good Old Boy corruption wherever she found it. Her razor sharp wit left both sides of the aisle laughing, and craving ink in her columns. Best-selling author, Pulitzer Prize nominated journalist and popular TV pundit, Molly courageously spoke truth to power and it cost her more than once. MORE


@ Town Hall Theater (THT)

6:30 PM Doors Open

6:45 PM

Closing Ceremony & VTeddy Awards Presentation

Join us for the joyful presentation of the VTeddy Awards celebrating the winners 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 Hernandez/Bayliss Prize, the Clio Visualizing History Prize for the Advancement of Women in Film, the Gaia Prize for Environmental Filmmaking and the inaugural Shouldice Family Prize for Best Vermont-Made Film.


7:30 PM

Ernie & Joe *

Documentary | 95m | Jenifer McShane

Vermont Premiere

Ernie & Joe is an intimate portrait of two San Antonio, Texas police officers who are helping change the way police respond to mental health calls. The film takes audiences on a personal journey, weaving together the officers’ experiences during their daily encounters with people in crisis. In taking this different path, Ernie and Joe’s success is engendering change in police departments around the country. MORE

Following the Film

Q&A w/ Director Jenifer McShane & Vermont Attorney General T.J. Donovan

Ernie & Joe Director Jenifer McShane wraps MNFF5 with a lively Q&A about her significant and illuminating film, with special guest moderator T.J. Donovan, Attorney General of the State of Vermont.

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