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Family drama screens at Town Hall Theater

MIDDLEBURY — The Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival presents the riveting drama “What They Had” on Sunday, Feb. 17, at 2 p.m., as its featured February film for the MNFF 2018/19 Winter/Spring Screening Series at Town Hall Theater in Middlebury. Expanding to seven films from six, MNFF will will continue to offer one distinctive feature every month through May. The series began in November and retains its exclusive focus on prominent work by first- and second-time filmmakers.
“‘What They Had’ blends many powerful emotions with great artistry and benefits from having a world class cast that delivers incredible performances,” commented Lloyd Komesar, MNFF producer. “We are so pleased to bring this affecting drama to our audiences as part of the Winter/Spring Screening Series.”
A first feature film from director Elizabeth Chomko who also wrote the script, “What They Had” tells the story of Bridget, a middle-aged woman who returns home at her brother Nick’s urging to deal with her ailing mother’s deepening dementia and her father’s stubborn reluctance to let go of their life together. With memorable performances from Hilary Swank, Michael Shannon, Blythe Danner and Robert Forster, “What They Had” displays a new filmmaker’s firm command of her craft.
As Peter Travers of Rolling Stone succinctly noted, “At first glance, you might mistake ‘What They Had’ for one of those well-meaning family dramas about what to do when your mom is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. But that would discount the exceptional accomplishment achieved by debuting director Elizabeth Chomko, enlivening her scrappy script with a cast of actors who truly are as good as it gets. You laugh as much as you cry, which means you believe in the movie’s truth. . . For all its comic punch, this captivating film resonates with a sadness and sympathy that cross generational barriers. Movies this rich in observational detail, emotional focus and acting artistry are rare.”
“What They Had” will screen at Town Hall Theater in Middlebury on Sunday, Feb. 17, at 2 p.m. Tickets are $13 and available 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/calendar-and-tickets. Tickets and more info are also available at middfilmfest.org/winter-spring-screenings.
Mark your calendars for the upcoming 2018/19 MNFF Winter/Spring Screening Series films:
• Sunday, Feb. 17, at 2 p.m., “What They Had,” directed by Elizabeth Chomko (Narrative Drama)
• Sunday, March 17, at 2 p.m., “Chef Flynn,” directed by Cameron Yates (Documentary)
• Thursday, April 18, at 7 p.m., “Museo,” directed by Alonzo Ruizpalacios (Narrative Drama)
• Friday, May 10, at 7 p.m. “Wildlife,” directed by Paul Dano (Narrative Drama)

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