Editorial: 118 films in your backyard

Next week for five days, Aug. 23-27, Middlebury is home to the growing film festival that was started nine years ago by former Disney executive and seasonal Leicester resident Lloyd Komesar and longtime Vermont filmmaker Jay Craven. This year’s Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival features 118 films from more than 50 countries.

If you haven’t been to the film festival, or haven’t for a few years, it can be overwhelming to sort through so many unknown films and decide what to see. To that end, the Addison Independent helps print and produce a MNFF9 program that identifies which films play where, and when, along with a brief description. It’s included in today’s Addison Independent (print version) and online at www.addisonindependent.com.

While the descriptions in the program are helpful, it’s still a tough decision, so here’s a tip: Just pick a film or two on an early day of the festival and go. Include a shorter film, maybe even animated. Attend the conversation, or Q&A, with the director or film producer afterward.

That will give you a sense of what the festival is all about, and why it has become a dynamic force for aspiring filmmakers and for audiences excited to be exposed to new experiences and ideas in ways film does best.

Know upfront that not every film is a homerun, but that’s part of the allure and experience. It’s not Hollywood. Some are rough; the messages still raw; the performances and sets are building blocks for filmmakers getting a handle on their craft — and in that process, genius is discovered and honed.

In short, if you were going to spend one of those five nights at home watching shows on TV in relative isolation, do yourself a favor: buy a ticket or two to a film, be part of an active audience, expose yourself to new ideas. It’s bold, out-of-the-ordinary, fun and even a bit adventurous — and it’s right in your backyard.

— Angelo Lynn

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