Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival is coming Aug. 24-28

MIDDLEBURY—The Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival (MNFF) has announced its expansive 2022 film program, five-day film schedule, acclaimed honorees, and special guests for its eighth-annual fest on August 24-28. 

The festival will screen more than 140 films, including a mix of features, shorts, dramas, documentaries, and honoree tribute films on six screens. 

In addition to the films are special events and presentations, plus daily happy hours and evening parties for festival pass holders. According to MNFF’s organizers, the eighth-annual fest will be the largest to date. 

The festival’s official opening night film will be The Automat, a recent documentary from director Lisa Hurwitz that explores the colorful, storied history of the Horn and Hardart automat restaurants in New York and Philadelphia. Ms. Hurwitz will attend an on-stage conversation with MNFF Artistic Director Jay Craven. 

Among the films being shown, the festival will screen the documentaries Charm Circle, by Nira Burstein (attending); Pasang: In the Shadow of Everest, by Nancy Svendsen (attending); The High Rock, by Ellen Moore (attending); The American Dream and Other Fairy Tales, by Abigail Disney and Kathy Hughes (attending); Bad Axe, by David Siev; and The Pez Outlaw, byAmy Bandlien Storkel and Bryan Storkel. 

Among the films in the narrative drama/comedy category are Clouds of Chernobyl,  by Romanian director Ligia Ciornei (attending); Medusa, by French director Sophie Levy; Olga, by Elie Grappe; The Unknown Country, by MNFF alum Morrisa Maltz (attending); Marcel the Shell with Shoes On, by Dean Fleischer-Camp; Wake Up, Leonard, by Kat Mills Martin (attending); and the new drama from Sarah T. Schwab, A Stage of Twilight, starring Karen Allen, an MNFF returning honoree, who will attend the screening along with Ms. Schwab. 

MNFF8 welcomes many honorees, including two-time Academy Award-nominated actor and filmmaker Maggie Gyllenhaal, who will present her feature-directing debut, the multiple Oscar-nominated drama, The Lost Daughter. Gyllenhaal will appear for the post-screening Q&A and a Q&A following the screening of her iconic comedic drama, Secretary, co-starring James Spader. 

Other Honorees include: 

  • Marc Levin, prolific director/writer/producer of nearly fifty films, will be on hand to present a 25th-anniversary screening of his Sundance-winning drama Slam and his recent documentary, I Promise, produced with LeBron James. 
  • Lindsay Crouse, senior editor of The New York Times and co-executive producer of the paper’s Op-Docs series, will show short films focusing on women in sports. Crouse has produced over 350 short films and won an Oscar (with four additional nominations), four Emmys (16 nominations), and two Peabodys. 
  • Producer Tyler Davidson will present his latest film, Emily the Criminal, starring Aubrey Plaza, and his Cannes Film Festival award winner, Take Shelter, starring Michael Shannon and Jessica Chastain. 
  • Veteran Vermont filmmaker Nora Jacobson will screen and discuss her new documentary, Ruth Stone’s Vast Library of the Female Mind.

Other programs include a workshop on film music and scoring by Judy Hyman and Jeff Claus, Emmy Award-winning composers; Katie McCullough and Ian Bignell, founders of Festival Formula, will discuss how they build targeted strategies for filmmakers looking to spend their submission dollars wisely and effectively; and Actor Karen Allen (Raiders of the Lost Ark, Starman, Shoot the Moon) will join MNFF Artistic Director Jay Craven for an informal conversation about working with new filmmakers on independent features. 

For a second consecutive year, the festival will present a special cross-cultural exchange of filmmakers, created and supported by the American Indonesian Cultural and Educational Foundation (AICEF). 

On Friday at Town Hall Theater, American Nancy Svendsen will screen her AICEF Prize-winning documentary film, Pasang: In the Shadow of Everest, followed by a showing of Preman, the new narrative drama by Indonesian director Randolph Zaini, the AICEF Prize winner at Indonesia’s Bali International Film Festival.  Mr. Zaini will attend the screening of his film and participate in a Q&A. In the spring of 2023, Ms. Svendsen will travel to Bali to present her film and complete the AICEF exchange.

On Friday afternoon, MNFF will present “An Afternoon at the Movies,” an extraordinary collaboration with its longstanding festival partner, the Vermont Symphony Orchestra, at the Mahaney Arts Center.

This mega-event will feature seven short films, including five previous VSO Award for Best Integration of Music into Film winners, whose scores will be played live by a 22-piece VSO chamber orchestra, and the announcement of the latest VSO Award winner. 

The festival will feature Vermont teen filmmakers with a Sunday showcase compiled from the Freedom & Unity TV contest, the White River Independent Film Emerging Filmmakers contest, and the collective endeavors of the Conversations from the Open Road program. 

In addition, the new teen-centric, Vermont-made feature musical Listen Up, directed by acclaimed Vermonter Bess O’Brien, and based on the popular stage musical of the same name, will have a showcase screening on Sunday.

MNFF will also present a pair of global shorts showcases on Wednesday and one on Sunday, each containing five powerful films representing a wide swath of countries and styles. 

MNFF8’s closing ceremonies will feature the presentation of the VTeddy Awards and a screening of The Real Charlie Chaplin, a new and insightful BBC documentary that explores Chaplin’s private life through never-before-heard recordings and home movies, and newly restored films.

“This year’s festival will overflow with riches, fresh films, fabulous guests, and engaged audiences,” said MNFF Artistic Director Jay Craven. 

“MNFF8 continues and even expands the Festival’s singular focus on first and second-time filmmakers from around the world with this sparkling program,” noted Lloyd Komesar, MNFF producer. “After receiving a record 500 submissions, culling them down to the very best films and adding in a curated collection of dynamic new films, plus presenting a superb roster of honorees and special guests, what emerges is a vibrant, diverse, intimate, and engaging five-day event that we hope will connect deeply with our attending audiences and visiting filmmakers.” 

MNFF requires attendees show proof of COVID vaccination when picking up passes or arriving at screenings for the first time. Attendees will be given a wristband to wear throughout the festival to avoid any further display of vaccination proof. Vaccination proof will be the evidence of two prior vaccine shots. All MNFF venues have announced a ‘mask optional’ policy, but MNFF encourages wearing masks to promote a safer environment. 

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