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Short Takes on Film: Sleepless in Burlington; Brattleboro Film Fest

State of the Arts


Published October 23, 2013 at 9:27 a.m.

Another Vermont International Film Festival has drawn to a close — and it was a good one, with packed screenings for movies such as The Act of Killing, Escape From Tomorrow and Frances Ha. Apparently there still are people who will turn out to watch “small” films on a big screen.

Last year, students from Burlington College swept the awards at Sleepless in Burlington, VTIFF’s 24-hour film slam. This past Sunday, the team from Middlebury College pulled off a similar feat. The judges included Colin Trevorrow of Burlington, director of the breakout indie Safety Not Guaranteed, whose latest gig is helming Jurassic World.

Midd kids also stood out in VTIFF’s Vermont Showcase: Matt Lennon’s short surreal drama “Fuck You, Lucy Pickens (The Orientation)” won multiple awards, and two other students screened their films. The $500 James Goldstone Award went to Elizabeth Rossano and Ashley DeLucco — a former and a current Seven Days employee, respectively. Congrats!

Now it’s time for southern Vermonters to buy their tickets to the second annual Brattleboro Film Festival, which starts on November 1 and runs for two weeks. The fest showcases some of the same acclaimed flicks as VTIFF, including The Act of Killing, Hannah Arendt and Short Term 12. Look also for feature-length animations (some for kids, some not), LGBT-themed dramas, a film where “Bollywood comes to America” and the area premiere of Freedom & Unity: The Vermont Movie (all six parts). Lots more info at

Brattleboro Film Festival: Friday, November 1, through Thursday, November 14, at the Latchis Theatre in Brattleboro. $7-9 per film.


If you don’t already know that indie icon John Turturro will visit Montpelier’s Savoy Theater on November 1, you’re too late to get a ticket to this sold-out event. But you can still attend one of the other screenings organized that week by the inaugural MFA in Film program at the Vermont College of Fine Arts.

And the directors at those screenings — all faculty in the low-residency program — could be stars of tomorrow. Take Terence Nance, recently named one of “20 Directors to Watch” by the New York Times. He’ll screen and discuss his first feature, An Oversimplification of Her Beauty, on October 29. Or Nina Davenport, who made a splash in 2008 with the doc Operation Filmmaker. She’ll screen her latest, about becoming a mom through sperm donation. Find more info on VCFA’s website.


“World’s Smallest Drive-In Movie Theater Going Digital,” reads the headline on Bethel’s Randall Drive-In Movie Theatre is campaigning for $45,000 to fund the digital conversion it needs to stay open.

Built in Al Randall’s backyard in 1954, the drive-in underwent a renovation this year at the hands of leaseholders Adam Gerhard and Regina Franz, who say the Randall has had “record attendance and sellout nights” under their management. Now it faces the same challenge as drive-ins and small theaters around the nation: surviving the death of film. Check the page to see how it fares — and to donate.

Meanwhile, the Fairlee Motel & Drive-In Theater is still aiming to raise approximately $57K for its digital conversion. You can donate on their website.

Passionate about giving kids around the world a fighting chance? Two documentaries screening in Burlington this week should get your inner activist fired up. Girl Rising, part of an international effort to empower women through education, tells the story of nine girls facing challenges in nine countries. Blood Brother, a Sundance Grand Jury Prize winner, follows an American graphic designer who finds a family in the children with HIV he meets in an Indian orphanage.

VCFA Fall Filmmaker Screenings: Monday, October 28, through Friday, November 1, 7 p.m. at the Savoy Theater in Montpelier. Free; reserve tickets at Girl Rising: Saturday, October 26, 7:30 p.m. at Main Street Landing Film House in Burlington. $5-7, tickets at door; and Thursday, November 7, 7 p.m. at Merrill’s Roxy Cinemas in Burlington; $10, purchase tickets in advance at Blood Brother: Thursday, October 24, 7:30 p.m. at Merrill’s Roxy Cinemas in Burlington. $10.