Reflections on the Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival
More than a month later, I am still glowing as I reflect on THAW playing to a sold-out audience at the first annual MNFF. It was truly a homecoming, after all THAW was made in Vermont. The festival was so well run and inviting to filmmakers and filmgoers. Lloyd Komesar and his production team, Phoebe Lewis and Kyla Jarrett, rocked it.
A highlight of any festival is the chance to meet and mingle with fellow filmmakers. In this case we were all first / second timers, which contributed to the convivial vibe. Making the 45-minute ride from BTV to Middlebury seem like a blink were Travis Gutierrez Senger and Sabrina Coulston, the writer/director and producer behind the haunting DESERT CATHEDRAL, and A24's David Laub, a true cinephile and mensch to boot. It was a treat to share visual artist Kate Tilton's beautiful home with fellow Film Fatale Catherine Dudley-Rose. Catherine made the formidable PARALLEL CHORDS, and I'm thrilled her film was one of the VTeddy Award winners. Lucky audiences around New England will get to see it as part of the MNFF tour along with Conor and Tyler Byrne's FOUREYES and Rodrigo Rezende Meireles's JOHN THE BAPTIST. I love that Rodrigo's second night ever in the US was in Middlebury, Vermont. It was also great to hang with Molly Beitchman and Andrew Beguin (COMPLETELY NORMAL) and Miguel Matias (EMMA'S FINE).
I love getting turned on to new artists, and Bill and Turner Ross truly are. They were on hand to receive the festival's inaugural Cinematic Vision and Imagination Award. I highly recommend 45365, their first feature doc, to see where it all came together for these super talented guys.
The panels moderated by the festival's Artistic Director Jay Craven were a good complement to the program. The topics were timely from What Producers Look for in a Screenplay, Crowdfunding and Festival Strategy with the sharp, funny Katie McCullough all the way from the UK, to a look back on Female Film Pioneers by Sarah Lawrence Film Professor Kathryn Hearst. David Laub helped illuminate the fast-changing distribution landscape for indie films. Though it was a kick to hear Jay talk about barnstorming his own indie feature bypassing traditional distribution all together.
Last but not least, it was wonderful to see so many friends from Burlington, Shelburne, Montpelier, and Middlebury. I miss you all so much. Now to get invited back, better get on that feature.
For a little more on my experience, please check out my interview with Kurt Broderson for Reel Local.