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Short Takes on Film

State of the Arts

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The Vermont International Film Festival starts Friday at the Palace 9 in South Burlington, and we’ve got sneak previews of some movies from exotic climes — Japan, the Netherlands, Oklahoma — in this week’s film review section.

What about Vermont movies? You can find descriptions of the seven homegrown shorts (screened together in a showcase) and 10 longer local films at www.vtiff.org. Here’s a sampling:

John Billingsley, a Westford composer and recording engineer, codirected Liemba. The documentary takes viewers to remote Lake Tanganyika, where Africa’s last steamship, built in 1913, still ferries freight and passengers.

Rebecca Weisman of East Dorset, a site-specific installation artist, made “Imagine Him Happy,” a 17-minute experimental film in which a man’s repeated climbing of a Vermont mountain reveals “new perspectives on nature.” It screens on October 24 with The Sparrow and the Tigress, a feature shot at Coney Island by Billy Sharff of Cornish, N.H., with original music by Ornette Coleman.

The stars of the seven short films include road cones, wire and puppets — the last two through the magic of stop-motion animation. (Their directors are Tim Joy, Daniel Sparling and Jan Kaim, respectively.) Michael Fisher’s “Backwater” and Richard Waterhouse’s “Respect for Acting” are among the other selections.

*****

It’s fall, time for a flurry of daredevil ski films on local campuses. Ride the Divide is a sports documentary with a warmer but no less stirring subject: the 2711-mile Tour Divide mountain-biking race that runs from Canada to Mexico. The race took a tragic turn last June, when competitor and Montpelier resident David Blumenthal lost his life on a Denver road.

Next week, a screening of Ride the Divide — which was named Best Adventure Film at the Vail Film Festival — raises money for Blumenthal’s family. See it on Tuesday, October 26, at 7:30 p.m. at the University of Vermont’s Billings Theater. $10.

The blood Rutlanders donate at their annual Gift-of-Life Marathon has reached record-breaking levels. The Blood in This Town, a feature documentary directed by Art Jones, explores the blue-collar town’s life-giving generosity with an eye to its history and culture. See it at a benefit screening at — and for — the Paramount Theatre on Saturday, October 23, at 6:30 p.m. $25 includes cocktail hour and a director Q&A.

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