MNFF lines up winter/spring film series

MIDDLEBURY — Just because the summer festival is over, doesn’t mean that the Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival is buttoning up for the winter. Nope, quite the opposite. MNFF just announced the lineup for the 2018/19 Winter/Spring Screening Series at Town Hall Theater in Middlebury. Expanding to seven films from six, MNFF will offer one distinctive feature every month beginning in November and concluding in May. The Series retains its exclusive focus on prominent work by first- and second-time filmmakers.
“We have put together a superb and diverse collection of films for the Winter/Spring Screening Series,” noted Lloyd Komesar, MNFF Producer. “Lots of dramas with lots of big names to go along with some outstanding documentaries. We hope that our audiences will truly enjoy them.”
A Winter/Spring Screening Series Pass for all seven films is $75. Individual tickets for each screening are $13. Passes and tickets are available at middfilmfest.org/winter-spring-screenings, or at the Town Hall Theater Box Office, either in person [Monday-Saturday, 12-5 p.m.], by phone at (802)382-9222 or online at townhalltheater.org.
MNFF thanks its venue partner, Town Hall Theater in Middlebury, for hosting the Winter/Spring Screening Series as well as its sponsors: IPJ Real Estate, Middlebury College and The Addison Independent.
Eighth Grade
Directed by Bo Burnham, Narrative Drama
Friday, Nov. 16, 7 p.m.
Elsie Fisher, in a remarkable performance, stars as an introverted teenage girl trying to survive the last week of her disastrous eighth-grade year in this very contemporary coming-of-age narrative. By turns, humorous, poignant, charming and reflective, director Burnham’s first narrative feature is richly entertaining. “Eighth Grade” won the 2018 Audience Award at the San Francisco International Film Festival.
Can You Ever Forgive Me?
Directed by Marielle Heller, Narrative Drama
Friday, Dec. 14, 7 p.m.
Melissa McCarthy stars as Lee Israel, in this true story of the best-selling celebrity biographer who made her living in the 1970s and ’80s profiling women like Katharine Hepburn, Tallulah Bankhead, Estee Lauder and journalist Dorothy Kilgallen. When Israel is no longer able to get published because she has fallen out of step with current tastes, she turns her art form to deception and forgery. Adapted gracefully by director Heller from Israel’s memoir “Can You Ever Forgive Me?,” the film showcases McCarthy’s nuanced and powerful performance.
Three Identical Strangers
Directed by Tim Wardle, Documentary
Sunday, Jan. 13, 2 p.m.
In 1980 New York, three young men who were all adopted meet each other and find out they’re triplets who were separated at birth. Then they discover why. Turns out the truth is stranger than fiction. An unnerving and deeply emotional film, the winner of the Special Jury Prize at Sundance 2018 and a brilliant example of film as journalism — “Three Identical Strangers” is a must-see movie.
What They Had
Directed by Elizabeth Chomko, Narrative Drama
Sunday, Feb. 17, 2 p.m.
This potent and touching family drama stars Hilary Swank, Blythe Danner, Michael Shannon and Robert Forster. In this engrossing story, daughter Bridget returns home at her brother Nick’s urging to deal with her ailing mother’s Alzheimers decline and her father’s stubborn reluctance to let go of their life together. Featuring a beautiful script and exceptional performances from its top flight cast, director Chomko’s debut feature is very sure handed.
Chef Flynn
Directed by Cameron Yates, documentary
Sunday, March 17, 2 p.m.
This is a luminous documentary about Flynn McGarry, a 10-year-old cooking prodigy who becomes a superstar chef.  After young Flynn, transforms his bedroom into a kitchen and the family’s living room into a supper club using his classmates as line cooks, he experiences rather sudden fame and soon outgrows his home base and sets out to challenge the hierarchy of the culinary world. Yates has crafted an absolutely fascinating film that asks many questions about the impact of fame on family relationships.
Directed by Alonzo Ruizpalacios, Narrative Drama
Thursday, April 18, 7 p.m.
On a fateful Christmas Eve, 1985, in Mexico City, two unremarkable men decide it’s finally time to distinguish themselves by executing the most infamous heist of cultural artifacts in all of Mexican history. The magnitude of the theft exceeds the amateur thieves’ expectations, and by the very next morning they realize, too late, the full scope and implications of their actions. Inspired by true events, and shot on never-before-filmed locations in Mexico, director Ruizpalacios’ spectacular film was the winner of the Best Screenplay award at the 2018 Berlin International Film Festival. Starring Gael Garcia Bernal.
Directed by Paul Dano, Narrative Drama
Friday, May 10, 7 p.m.
This superb and moving debut feature stars Carey Mulligan and Jake Gyllenhaal. In 1960s small town Montana, a 14-year-old boy witnesses his parents’ marriage falling apart after his golf pro father loses his job and leaves to fight fires in the Canadian wilderness.  With great dexterity, Dano combines exquisite performances from his brilliant cast with a finely tuned sense of place to produce an emotionally resonant first film.

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