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The curtain rises for Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival

Tonight’s opening night Festival screening is sold out—but tickets and passes are available for all other weekend programs.  I’ve previously outlined a few film screening highlights, with the disclaimer that producer Lloyd Komesar and I believe that each of our programmed films has something potent to distinguish it from the nearly 400 films submitted. We like to think of audiences being able to make their own discoveries.
We’re excited to announce an expanded number of panels and on-stage discussions this year.  On Friday afternoon (4pm at Edgewater Gallery at the Falls) acclaimed writer and Middlebury College English professor Jay Parini will interview two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Russell Banks about the process of adaptation from book-to-film.  Banks’ novels, “The Sweet Hereafter” and “Affliction” were made into films that gathered at awards and nominations at Cannes and the Academy Awards.  “The Sweet Hereafter” will screen at 10:30am Friday at the Marquis Theater.
On Saturday morning, we’ll host a Morning Coffee conversation with popular award-winning actors Maggie Gyllenhaal (“Donnie Darko,” ”Secretary,” “Dark Knight,” “The Honourable Woman”) and Peter Sarsgaard (“Shattered Glass,” “An Education,” “Blue Jasmine,” “The Killing”).  We’ll work to get inside the experience of an actor’s preparation and experience of creating memorable characters. The event will start at 9am Saturday on the Middlebury Inn patio. 
Two-time Academy Award-winner Barbara Kopple will join us for the entire Festival weekend.  On Saturday at 1:30pm, we’ll stage a special 40th anniversary screening and conversation about her ground-breaking 1976 documentary, “Harlan County USA,” about the Brookside Mine strike in rural Kentucky, where workers toiling in unsafe conditions were making as little as $17 dollars-a-day.
Barbara Kopple will also present two new films: “Hot Type: 150 Years of The Nation,” (10am, Sunday, Dana Auditorium, Middlebury College) that goes inside the venerable progressive weekly magazine that has attracted writers ranging from Toni Morrison and Henry James to W.E.B. Dubois and Albert Einstein.  We’ll talk afterwards with Kopple and The Nation’s national affairs correspondent, John Nichols.
Kopple’s brand new film, “Miss Sharon Jones!” will close the festival at 7:30pm Sunday evening at the Middlebury Town Hall Theater.  The film provides an intimate look at the irrepressible funk/soul diva, Sharon Jones and her fabulous “Dap Kings.”
We’ll explore the role of media in journalism at 4pm Saturday at the Town Hall Theater, during our session, Film As Journalism: Op-Docs at the New York Times.  NY Time Op-Docs producer Lindsay Crouse will present a half-dozen short Op-Docs and she’ll discuss how this innovative program illuminates contemporary culture while providing an expanded voice to vital filmmakers. A documentary filmmakers panel, “New Currents in Documentary Filmmaking,” will also convene at 4pm Saturday, at the Middlebury Inn patio.
On Sunday (1pm at Dana Auditorium), we’ll expand our focus on media and journalism when we screen the documentary film, “Page One: Inside the New York Times.” NY Times senior news editor, Hamilton Boardman will appear after the screening to discuss changes at the newspaper and visions for the future. 
And on Sunday at 3pm (at Dana), we’ll take this conversation further, when we add multiple perspectives for our conversation on “The Changing Face of Journalism in the Age of New Media.”  Participating guests will include Boardman and Lindsay Crouse from the New York Times; The Nation’s national affairs correspondent, John Nichols; The Daily Show producer, Juliet Werner; Vermont Public Radio chief content officer, John Van Hoesen; Seven Days publisher, co-editor, and co-founder Paula Routly; and Addison Independent publisher and editor, Angelo Lynn.
And there’s more!  Go to the festival website www.middfilmfest.org for detailed information.  Festival and Day Passes (only) can be ordered online or at the Middlebury Town Hall Theater box office (802-382-9222).  Individual film tickets can be purchased, day of show, at festival venues.  Many events are also free.

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