Arts & Leisure

UPDATE: MNFF Selects brings marine wildlife rescue doc to THT

Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival Selects Film Series will host the screening of "From the Wild Sea" on Sunday, Jan. 16, at 2 p.m. at Town Hall Theater.

CORRECTION: An outdated version of this press release was published in the Jan. 13, 2022, edition of Arts+Leisure with incorrect information about Town Hall Theater’s COVID protocols. Please see the updated COVID vaccination requirements highlighted below and more details about the Vermont premiere of the documentary “From the Wild Sea” screening on Sunday afternoon. We apologize for our error and hope you’re able to see this remarkable film.

MNFF Selects, the monthly screening series presented by the Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival, announces the Vermont premiere screening of the remarkable documentary “From the Wild Sea” on Sunday, Jan. 16, at 2 p.m., at Town Hall Theater in Middlebury. In keeping with the theme of this year’s Selects series, “Humans and Animals: Shared Experiences, Intersecting Worlds,” this extraordinary film, from Danish director Robin Petré, zooms in on the complex collision between humans, sea creatures and nature, as seen from both the human and animal perspective. 

As the peak of winter draws near, a vast European network of marine animal veterinarians and rescue volunteers are bracing themselves for a rough season. Night and day, all year round, they work tirelessly to rescue coastal wildlife from life-threatening elements: oil, plastic and treacherous conditions. But the worst is ahead. Climate change fuels violent weather across the seas and the annual winter storms are coming at them with an unprecedented roar. As humans attempt to rescue marine creatures, each individual animal looks back at us with inquisitive eyes. Through an intimate visual experience that follows the animals through re-habilitation, the audience gets to see and sense the challenging world that humans have created for these sensitive co-inhabitants of our rapidly changing planet. “From the Wild Sea” paints a sensorial, touching picture of our modern world while exploring how we are all connected in an immense, nuanced system stretching far beyond the human race. A powerful and riveting experience, “From the Wild Sea” is not rated, but the director suggests for audiences 12+. 

In a February 2021 article from the Danish Film Institute, director Petré sheds considerable light on the central concerns of her debut documentary feature film: “I believe that in every human being there is both a constructive and destructive force. This ambivalence is at the core of what we aim to explore in the film: our faltering relationship to nature, which we destroy with one hand and rebuild with the other. My intention as a filmmaker is to break down the barriers and eliminate the distance between my audience and the animals we meet on screen. To me, these animals are someone rather than something, and I aim to show them as such. That is, with the same respect and attention as everyone else appearing in the film.” Regarding the film’s many scenes from the animal’s perspectives, Petré adds: “The purpose of these scenes is to create a connection between the audience and the animals represented on screen, and also to present us humans with an unexpected mirror on ourselves.” 

Acclaimed Vermont filmmaker and cinematographer Andy Mitchell will be leading a discussion of the film via Zoom following the screening. Mitchell’s most recent work, “Secrets of the Whales,” which he directed, wrote and shot (along with Brian Armstrong) won the 2021 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Doc or Non-Fiction Series. His list of credits in nature-based filmmaking is extraordinary and MNFF is fortunate to have his participation in this premiere screening of “From the Wild Sea.” 

“The events of the pandemic — and climate upheavals — have caused many to consider humans’ role — and responsibility — with regard to the animal world,” said MNFF Artistic Director, Jay Craven. “No film I’ve seen brings this question more to mind than ‘From the Wild Sea.’ There’s lots to think about here.” 

“We are genuinely thrilled to bring this compassionate and richly observed documentary to Vermont audiences for the first time,” said Lloyd Komesar, MNFF Producer. “With its unswerving eye, Ms. Petré’s camera records a highly dramatic series of encounters between dedicated and well-intended people and the seals, porpoises, birds and whales they attempt to heal. ‘From the Wild Sea’ brings us right into the middle of an ongoing struggle for survival and renewal.”

Individual Adult tickets to each film are $16. Youth 12-17 tickets are $11. Children under 12 tickets are $7. Tickets can be purchased through the MNFF website middfilmfest.org/portfolio/from-the-wild-sea or the Town Hall Theater website, townhalltheater.org, or by phone at 802-382-9222 or in person at the THT box office, Monday-Friday, 12-5 p.m. 

The film’s trailer can also be seen at middfilmfest.org/portfolio/from-the-wild-sea. 

The MNFF Selects Series will be adhering to the following revised COVID-19 protocol implemented by Town Hall Theater as of Jan. 15: All patrons (age 5 and older) will be required to bring valid proof of full COVID vaccination in printed or digital form along with photo ID (age 18 and up). Alternately, they may provide a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of attendance. Full vaccination means double dose vaccines and proof of booster/third dose if greater than 6 months from second dose. For single-dose vaccines, Town Hall Theater requires proof of vaccine and booster if greater than two months from the initial single dose. Additionally, masks must be worn by all patrons (age 2 and up) during all events. These policies are subject to change as national and local guidelines are updated in response to COVID-19.

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