Arts & Leisure

Local film festival plans for in-person screenings

Get vaccinated and get tickets for the Aug. 25-29 local film fest.

The Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival (MNFF) will return to an in-person event for its 7th Annual Fest this coming Aug. 25-29.

“After pivoting successfully to an online festival in August 2020, MNFF is planning its ‘comeback’ edition that will include a fully engaging five-day gathering for film lovers and filmmakers,” said festival producer, Lloyd Komesar. “We’ll feature indoor and outdoor screenings, special guests and a variety of outdoor social events in several locations around town.

“The festival intends to embrace and celebrate the spirit of a re-opening Middlebury community at a vital transitional moment, while at the same time adhering to any health and safety guidelines put forward by the State of Vermont,” Komesar added.

MNFF will expand this year’s festival from four to five full days, with film screenings to begin the morning of Wednesday, Aug. 25, and the annual opening night film and party taking place that same evening. The entertaining VTeddy Awards ceremony and closing night film will take place on Sunday evening, Aug. 29. The number of daily film screening times will also expand from three to four on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, enabling attendees to sample films more broadly. Screenings will take place at three confirmed venues, Town Hall Theater (THT), the Marquis Theatre (downstairs and upstairs screens) and in an outdoor location under the tent at Swift House Inn. Discussions to add a fourth venue at Middlebury College are currently in progress.

The return of the Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival to Town Hall Theater will also mark the official reopening of the historic venue to in-person events for the first time since March 2020. Town Hall Theater will, in addition, host a specially designed social gathering space in the alley between the Theater and the THT-owned diner building next door. 

“The Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival is a celebrated flagship event for Town Hall Theater and our community,” said THT Executive Director, Lisa Mitchell. “We could not be more thrilled to re-open our doors with this exceptionally curated event, and to welcome back audiences to a space that has sat largely dormant for 18 months. With more days of screenings and more show times, MNFF7 will be exciting and energizing for THT and will have a revitalizing impact downtown.”

The MNFF7 film program will likely be announced during the first week of August and organizers expect a robust lineup of 100 or more films, mixing features, shorts, documentaries, experimental films and narrative dramas. As in past years, the festival, will host distinguished filmmakers and actors and offer an engaging selection of outdoor panel discussions and informal conversations with filmmakers.

“We all recognize that efforts to re-open in-person gatherings provides exciting opportunities, and a few challenges,” said MNFF artistic director, Jay Craven. “We’re pleased to make this commitment — and to again connect directly with our filmmakers and our beloved and deeply missed audiences. We see this as a gala moment — to toast the value of shared experience and re-emergence.”

Festival passes will go on sale by phone or in-person at the Town Hall Theater box office on Monday, Aug. 2 with individual tickets available on Friday, Aug. 13. Due to anticipated protocols, that will be detailed in early July, both passes and tickets may be in more limited supply than previous years.

In order to maximize enjoyment and safety at MNFF7, organizers are firmly recommending that all attendees and visiting filmmakers be fully vaccinated. More info and a signup link for the MNFF e-newsletter can be found at middfilmfest.org.

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