Summer Cinema Slam showcases films made by Vermonters
BRATTLEBORO >> After last year's sold-out success, Summer Cinema Slam (SCS) brings a second round of Vermont-made films to Brattleboro on Saturday,from 5:30 to 11 p.m., showing this year at New England Youth Theatre (NEYT), 100 Flat St.
The Brattleboro Film Festival (BFF) is partnering on this event with Northern Routes Film Collaborative (NRFC), an organization formed in 2016, according to a press release, as "a networking tool for media professionals living in southern Vermont and surrounding regions to support local filmmaking."
"BFF is so supportive," said Jennifer Latham, who co-founded SCS with Brenda Carr and Angela Snow. "This event fits with their mission (to present 'films from the USA and around the world that inform, challenge, entertain, and inspire ') and gives them a presence in the summer."
The overwhelming response to the 2015 Slam caused Latham and her co-founders to look for a venue with more seating.
"It was hard last year to turn people away," Latham said, noting that NEYT has not only a big screening room, but also a large parking lot and a lovely outdoor space. "We want to screen films that people can't see otherwise. We have a whole new slate of films made by Vermonters. "
Carr and Snow searched out the films, a complicated process which requires going online and looking for regional festivals, finding films made by Vermonters, accessing password-protected video links, and arranging for showing.
"I worked with Brenda to help select the short films that will screen," Snow said. "We looked for strong, unique stories made by Vermont filmmakers. A good short film is especially exciting to come across, as fitting a complete story arc, strong characters, and high quality visuals into under 20 minutes of screen time is impressive."
This year's festival will begin with the following short films at 6:15 p.m.: "Fire," by Ben Silberfarb of Norwich, a narrative set in the cold, snowy Vermont landscape; "The Land," a documentary directed by Middlebury College professor, Erin Davis, which explores the way children negotiate play and risk in the context of a Welsh adventure playground; and "Bad Robbers," a black-and-white slapstick comedy by Waterbury dairy farmer, filmmaker, and actor, George Woodard.
Each short film is followed by a question-and-answer session with the filmmaker (in the case of "The Land," guest speaker Morgan Leichter-Saxby, a Brattleboro resident and expert in Playwork, will answer questions).
Intermission runs from 8:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., during which food and drink will be available for purchase. People can sample the wares of the food trucks, Taste of Thai and Messer's Mobile Melts. J'Ville Brewery, located in Jacksonville, Vermont, will offer craft beer selections, and Honora Winery, a 200-acre vineyard and estate in southern Vermont, will have wine by the glass available. Those buying alcohol will have to present ID. The organizers of the SCS will provide free ice cream for dessert. During intermission, Riley Goodmote's group, Voetstap, will provide live music of a trombone-centric, eclectic nature.
The Slam's feature film, which will run from 9 to 10 p.m., is "Man with a Plan," John O'Brien's 1996 tongue-in-cheek political satire about retired Tunbridge dairy farmer Fred Tuttle and his decision to run for Congress. Tuttle's tag line for the movie poster was, "I've spent my whole life in the barn. Now I just want to spend a little time in the House." Latham chose this feature, she said, "because it's an election-year film and reminds us of who we are as Vermonters." A question-and-answer session with the filmmaker will follow.
The crowd last year varied in age, which pleased Snow.
"What I was happiest about was the range of ages that attended," she said, "probably through the collaboration with the Southern Vermont Young Professionals and (because) one of the films featured kids. Honestly, a range of ages isn't something you always find at a Brattleboro art event."
Mondo Mediaworks, a Brattleboro-based marketing agency specializing in video production and web-content development, is sponsoring the event. Southern Vermont Young Professionals, a coalition seeking to attract, support, and retain a young professional community in the region, is sponsoring the filmmakers.
A paradox of this event, however, is that Vermonters who want to make a living in the film industry usually have to leave the state in order to do so, as Snow, a filmmaker, has experienced. She has to do film work elsewhere in order to be able to make her own independent films and live at least part-time in Vermont.
"I freelance in TV," she said, "and travel a lot for those shows (NatGeo, Discovery Channel, History Channel, MTV, etc.). I'm lucky enough to be able to take time between those big jobs to work on my own documentaries while living in Vermont. I plan/hope someday in the near future I can make a (film-based) living in Vermont."
Snow does think, though, that opportunities for Vermont-based media jobs are increasing – such as seen in the growth of Mondo Mediaworks – especially for young professionals in southern Vermont.
The making-a-living paradox led Latham to found NRFC last May. She is an award-winning television and film producer from Westminster West who moved to New York City for two decades and moved back to Vermont a few years ago,
"At least a hundred, or two hundred, people in the Brattleboro area are working in the film industry," she said, "but we have no communication, no connectivity. I want to help people get their films out, seen, and distributed."
The goal of NRFC is to create a professional networking group of those in the region who are working in the film industry so that they know about each other, can call on each other's expertise, and can offer local talent to filmmakers from elsewhere who want to film in Vermont.
"There are hundreds of (occupational) niches in media," Latham said. "Young filmmakers should be nurtured here, go elsewhere to have wider experience, and then be able to come back to Vermont and work here."
Tickets for the SCS are available for purchase online through the BFF website at brattleborofilmfestival.org or at Everyone's Books, 25 Elliot St., Brattleboro up until 3 p.m. on the day of the event. Ticket prices are $15 for adults, $10 for seniors/students/children. Ticket prices do not cover any food or drink purchases. Alcohol purchase at the event requires ID.
Contact Nancy A. Olson at email@example.com.
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