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Vermont International Film Festival Returns: Still Long, Now Downtown

State of the Arts



After four years at South Burlington’s Palace 9 Cinemas, the Vermont International Film Festival has moved back into the heart of downtown. VTIFF executive director Orly Yadin says cinephiles have told her they’re “delighted with the new venues,” which include such popular destinations as the Main Street Landing Performing Arts Center, the BCA Center, North End Studios and the ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center. Several programs of shorts scheduled at noon could attract the office lunchtime crowd.

The screen action starts this Friday, October 19 — with a kickoff party at official fest café Maglianero — and runs through October 28. Yadin says almost all the films will be projected from Blu-ray discs rather than reels, no surprise to anyone following the demise of celluloid. That’s the topic of a VTIFF panel discussion called “The Future of Film: Convert or Die” on Saturday, October 27, featuring Savoy Theater owner Terry Youk and Champlain College prof Rob Schmidt, a former Hollywood filmmaker.

Which screenings should you put on your calendar? Read our rough guide and head to for details.

Fascinated by the crazy thing called love? A divorced dad in Buenos Aires finds himself falling for his old sweetheart in director Daniel Burman’s quirky comedy All In (Friday, October 19), the fest’s opening film. Second-time-around romance also figures into Jean-Marc Vallée’s Québécois drama Café de Flore (Wednesday, October 24). Playroom (Friday, October 26), set in 1975, is told from the point of view of kids banished to the attic while their parents (John Hawkes and Molly Parker of “Deadwood”) get frisky with another couple.

Interested in women who sell their bodies? No finger shaking, please: There are all kinds of ways to do it — and film it. In the drama Starlet (Friday and Saturday, October 26 and 27), a young porn actress befriends a much older woman. David Giancola’s documentary Addicted to Fame (Friday, October 26) goes behind the scenes of the last film starring Anna Nicole Smith, who was famous for selling both her voluptuous look and her ditzy persona. The film, formerly titled Craptastic, is also about how a small-town Vermont filmmaker gets chewed up in the fame machine.

Nisha Pahuja’s documentary The World Before Her (Monday, October 22; Saturday, October 27) goes backstage at the Miss India pageant to find out why young women enter the controversial contest — then contrasts them with a group of female Hindu fundamentalists.

Finally, cabaret fans won’t want to miss Crazy Horse (Saturday, October 27), the latest fly-on-the-wall documentary from 82-year-old legend Frederick Wiseman. It chronicles the challenges of mounting a new show at Paris’ most famous nude revue.

More interested in women who risk their lives? The Invisible War (Saturday, October 20), from documentarian Kirby Dick (This Film Is Not Yet Rated), takes a hard look at the treatment of sex crimes in the U.S. military. Local activist and former Army reservist Adrienne Kinney will introduce the screening.

On a more upbeat note: From the American University of Iraq, one of the safest places in that country, comes David Fine’s documentary Salaam Dunk (Wednesday, October 24; Saturday, October 27), about a thriving, diverse women’s basketball team.

Want to see a surviving coral reef up close in 3-D? You can at the Essex Cinemas, which screens the UK doc The Last Reef 3-D on Sunday, October 21. It’s one of a series of Films on the Environment at various venues that includes In Organic We Trust (Tuesday, October 23), Nuclear Savage (about the effects of U.S. bomb tests in the Marshall Islands; Sunday, October 21) and more.

Up for some food porn? There’s a series of Films on Food, too. Celebrated chef Michel Bras passes his legacy to his son, Sébastien, in Step Up to the Plate (Saturday, October 20; Friday, October 26). The environmentally minded doc Sushi: The Global Catch (Thursday, October 25) could make you think twice about getting the raw stuff at the supermarket.

Prefer to watch the walking dead dine on brains? Juan of the Dead (Saturday, October 27) is one of a kind: a Cuban zombie movie shot in Havana and laced with dark political humor. It’s VTIFF’s only horror flick. But Sense of Humor (Sunday, October 28), a Québec comedy about a serial killer who enlists two jokesters to teach him their trade, could also get dark.

For a whole different kind of horror, there’s Detropia (Thursday, October 25), an acclaimed doc that explores the crumbling cityscape of Detroit.

Curious about life in Iran? A doc called Iranian Cookbook (Sunday, October 21) takes you inside seven of its home kitchens. The drama Facing Mirrors (Saturday, October 20; Friday, October 26) is the first Iranian film to feature a major transgendered character. This Is Not a Film (Sunday, October 21) shows how the great director Jafar Panahi handles a government decree that forbids him from practicing his craft.

Want to see what Vermont filmmakers are doing? Six showcases on Saturday and Sunday, October 20 and 21, will give you a chance. Check out new narrative shorts from Tim Joy (last year’s “Soul Keeper”), Michael Fisher and George Woodard (The Summer of Walter Hacks). Mira Niagolova’s feature doc Welcome to Vermont explores the lives of immigrant families, while Alison Segar’s “We Have to Talk About Hunger” asks why people go hungry in a famously healthy state.

Earlier this year, a Vermont film made a big splash at the Los Angeles Film Festival: Jeff Howlett and Mark Covino’s A Band Called Death (Saturday, October 20). This doc about the “first black punk band” has its New England premiere at VTIFF.

If you are a local filmmaker, check out VTIFF’s workshops on fundraising, grassroots distribution and legal issues (Friday and Saturday, October 19 and 20), all sponsored by the University of Vermont’s Department of Film and Television Studies.

Want to see filmmakers sweat? Maybe it’s sadistic, but we always enjoy watching bleary-eyed film students screen movies they scripted, shot and edited in 24 sleepless hours. This year’s Sleepless in Burlington will end with four college teams presenting their quick flicks to the judges — and the public — on Sunday, October 28.