This is the 13th GMFF, and it's big, with 10 days of screenings in Montpelier, from Friday, March 19, to Sunday, March 28. After that, from April 9 to 11, film lovers in St. Johnsbury will get a taste, thanks to a collaboration between Focus on Film (which puts on the GMFF) and Catamount Arts.
I count 68 separate films and events on the GMFF site, so you may want to go take a look. But here are some highlights:
See 'em on a big screen: indies that didn't make it to the multiplex
A sports movie without an uplifting message or a stirring triumph at the end? Only in the UK. Maybe you have to like (non-American) football to appreciate it fully, but The Damned United, starring Michael Sheen, sounds like a good antidote to The Blind Side. A.O. Scott called it "The rare sports movie that deals with — indeed positively relishes — humiliation and disappointment."
Lorna's Silence, a Belgian film about a young Albanian immigrant caught up in crime, has garnered some great reviews.
Like Precious, Amreeka, about a Palestinian woman and her teen son adjusting to a new life in the U.S., is up for the Independent Spirit Best Feature award. It sounds like it's in a lighter vein, despite the serious subject.
The Secret of Kells is up for a Best Animated Feature Oscar with Up and Fantastic Mr. Fox. Never heard of it? Based on the still above (and others available online), I'm kind of excited, because it looks nothing like your standard modern computer animation.
Critics love That Evening Sun, with Hal Holbrook as an ornery old farmer.
Eccentric Swedish thriller The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo was a huge European bestseller. Its movie version — not such a success. But there's a tattooed hacker chick who apparently kicks ass.
Speaking of Swedish cinema, You, the Living is the latest from the cult director who did Songs from the Second Floor.
Last year, I interviewed some Burlington College students who attended the Sundance Fest. One said a claymation called Mary and Max, with Toni Collette and Philip Seymour Hoffman voicing two unlikely pen pals, was "by far my favorite movie at the festival.”
The Bothersome Man is a Kafkaesque-sounding piece of urban weirdness from Norway.
Around the world: windows into other cultures and histories
Before Tomorrow tells the story of an Inuit woman and her grandson surviving the elements in Nunavik, Quebec.
In the Turkish film Bliss, a man is asked to save his family's honor by killing his teenage cousin after an apparent rape.
GMFF also has an interesting program of films about India and Pakistan — both docs and dramas — with commentary from journalist Aseem Chhabra.
Burma VJ is one of this year's Oscar nominees.
If you like a lot of ballet dancing — two and a half hours, to be precise — you'll like Frederick Wiseman's La Danse. I did.
Earth Days delves to the roots of the environmental movement.
In For the Love of Movies, Boston Phoenix film critic Gerald Peary traces the history of his profession and aims to promote "your friendly neighborhood film reviewer — a reader’s last line of defense against the Hollywood marketing machine." (And if you want to argue that critics are just a bunch of puffed-up pontificators ... well, Peary will be there, so argue with him, not me.)
In The Horse Boy, a professional couple seeks a remedy for their son's severe autism — on the steppes of Outer Mongolia.
Waterbury actor and dairy farmer George Woodard has been working on his period drama The Summer of Walter Hacks since 2005. The finished product premieres at GMFF. (More on this soon!)
Burlington College alum Cory Lovell made the band documentary Deer Tick: To the City of Sin.
Don't Know We'll See celebrates the art of Vermont potter Karen Karnes.
Circus Smirkus founder Rob Mermin presents "Circus in Cinema," with clips aplenty.
Numen: The Nature of Plants is a doc about herbalism by the Savoy Theater's new owner, Terrence Youk, and Ann Armbrecht.
Two local filmmakers are on hand to discuss their shorts about farmers (and migrant workers) in Vermont — one old, one new.
A Sunday Shorts program is a smorgasbord of local filmmakers, and they'll be there.
Oldies but goodies
At a screening of Bonnie and Clyde, film critic Peary explains why the movie freaked people out so much back in 1967.
(I believe it had something to do with the violence, which is pretty tame by today's standards. Some alleged that, besides setting off a fad for berets and other Depression-era-inspired fashions, Bonnie and Clyde encouraged the baby boomers to embrace the criminal life. Which doesn't seem to have panned out so much, as those are the folks now running banks, not robbing them.)
Check out the GMFF site for much, much more. See you at the movies...