Thursday January 24, 2013

BRATTLEBORO -- The first Brattleboro Film Festival launch was a real success. About 1,000 people turned out for 12 films and various special events from Nov. 2-4 and 8, at the Latchis Theater. Plans for an expanded festival to begin Friday, Nov. 1, are already under way.

Some shows sold out, including the repeat showing of Best in Fest winner "Chasing Ice," which, along with another BFF selection "Ai Wei Wei: Never Sorry," was on the short list for Academy Award nominations for best documentary.

"The positive response to this initial festival is testimony to the hunger for more cutting-edge films in our region," said Merry Elder, president of BFF, who worked for 21 years on film selection for Brattleboro’s Women’s Film Festival. Elder said BFF’s 150 percent profit means "We have the seed money to secure commitments for the 2013 festival and the ability to start fulfilling BFF’s mission to share profits with others doing important work in the community."

BFF announced it will donate $100 each to the following organizations in 2012, a modest but meaningful commitment that will grow along with the festival in the years to come:

* Latchis Arts -- to help the historic Latchis Theatre get new seats and fulfill its role as a cornerstone cultural treasure of a vital, creative town;

* Youth Services -- to help the community’s young people in need as part of our commitment to making great films and educational events available to area youth who need it most;

* "Freedom & Unity: The Vermont Movie" Project -- to underscore BFF’s commitment to supporting local filmmakers.

BFF incorporated in November 2012 and is applying for non-profit status as an arts organization with a social-good and educational bent. The Arts Council of Windham County will act as BFF’s fiscal sponsor to allow it to raise tax-deductible funds while it awaits its own non-profit designation. BFF is volunteer-run and plans to expand practical internship experiences and its volunteer base in the years to come.

Tax deductible donations for corporate sponsorship or individual support for the 2013 festival can be earmarked to BFF, made out to Windham Arts Council and mailed to Merry Elder, 294 South Main St., Brattleboro, VT 05301. Giving through the BFF website will be available soon.

The BFF steering committee is led by Merry Elder, Lissa Weinmann, Jaki Reis, Kevin Burke, Gail Haines and Diane LaVerdi. BFF Advisory Council members are listed on its website, along with volunteer and internship opportunities as well as other useful information: BFF’s Facebook page is:

Feedback is welcome for planning a full 2013 roster of films and events that speak to the unique spirit and character of Brattleboro.


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