Festival to include talks with 94-year-old judge, authors

Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival Producer Lloyd Komesar and MNFF Artistic Director Jay Craven are anticipating many highlights during the four-day festival, Aug. 25-28.
Among those high note events will be:
• The opening film at Town Hall Theater at 7 p.m. on Thursday: “Walk With Me — The Trials of Damon J. Keith.” Komesar called this an exceptional documentary, directed by first-timer Jesse Nesser. The film presents the ongoing story of federal Judge Damon J. Keith, a 94-year-old African American jurist who continues to serve on the bench of the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati. He was originally appointed to the bench in 1967 by the President Lyndon B. Johnson.
“He’s a fascinating subject,” Komesar said of Keith, who is scheduled to be present for the film screening and related discussion. U.S. District Court Judge Geoffrey Crawford of Vermont has also agreed to attend and participate, according to Komesar.
Tickets are scarce for the Keith film and discussion, so those wanting to attend should act quickly.
• A panel discussion on Friday about the process by which books are made into film. The discussion, at 4 p.m. at the Edgewater Gallery at 1 Mill St., will feature filmmaker Russell Banks and noted local author and Middlebury College educator Jay Parini.
Banks is a two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist for “Continental Drift” and “Cloudsplitter” and is a winner of the Literature Award from The American Academy of Arts and Letters. Two of his novels, “The Sweet Hereafter” and “Affliction,” have been made into widely acclaimed films, with “The Sweet Hereafter” winning the Grand Prix and International Critics Award at the 1997 Cannes Film Festival.
Parini is a poet, novelist, critic, screenwriter and the Axinn Professor of English at Middlebury College. His novel “The Last Station” made it to the big screen in 2009 with leads Christopher Plummer and Helen Mirren. Both panelists will be signing their books at Vermont Book Shop following this event.
• Actors Maggie Gyllenhaal and Peter Sarsgaard will appear at the Middlebury Inn at 9 a.m. on Saturday for what is being described as “conversation and coffee in a lively exchange with Craven.”
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