Alas, I won't be there personally, but I had a hand in the selection of films (and website and promotional text) for this year's WRIF film festival in White River Jct., VT, home of The Center for Cartoon Studies, among other wonders.
Yep, in the very town where D.W. Griffith, Lillian Gish, Richard Barthelmess and the rest of the Way Down East cast and crew gathered in March of 1920 (86 years and one month ago!), on the banks of the very river where Lillian lay on a cake of ice for hours on end for the benefits of the camera, a remarkable array of 21st Century films will unreel for the delight and edification of one and all who brave the elements to partake.
Here's the rundown, courtesy of fellow organizer, dear friend and vet filmmaker (Delivered Vacant, My Mother's Early Lovers, Nothing Like Dreaming, etc.) Nora Jacobson:
On behalf of the board and program committee of White River Indie Film, I'd like to invite you to our 3rd White River Indie Film Series on April 28th-30th.
Art, politics, war, ecology, animation, theology, street dancing, sex, drugs and rock & roll are just a few of the themes of our films, kicking off Friday, April 28 at the Hotel Coolidge and Saturday and Sunday at the Tiptop Cafe in White River Junction, Vermont.
We've expanded our program to include 26 films including two spectacular animations that recently won the Academy Award for best short animation. We're having more panel discussions and even doing a late night movie--the underground cult classic, Existo!
Tickets are $7 for adults and $5 for students. They are available at the door, online at
A benefit reception, cash bar and screening featuring novelist and
actor, John Griesemer, is set for 6:00 p.m. Friday at the Hotel Coolidge. Tickets for the reception and Guy X, a film based on Griesemer's novel No One Thinks of Greenland, are $25. This will be a U.S. Premiere and the director Saul Metzstein will be coming from Scotland to attend the event.
Three Vermont filmmakers, Anne Macksoud, Jay Craven and Michael Fisher are scheduled to attend screenings of their films and speak afterwards. Macksoud, a Woodstock resident, is presenting her documentary, Birdsong and Coffee: A Wake-up Call, which explores the link between coffee-growing and the destruction of wild bird habitat. As a special tribute to the late William Sloan Coffin, Macksoud will also show her 29 minute film about Coffin, A Lover's Quarrel with America. Michael Fisher, from Burlington, will present his short film Stick Season before Existo. Jay Craven will show his film After the Fog, shot at the Veteran's Administration hospital in White River Junction, featuring interviews with 10 U.S. combat veterans, most of them Vermonters.
The festival will present all three parts of The Power of Nightmares, produced by the BBC. The series explores how neo-conservatives and terrorists have created a climate of fear around the world. Boston Globe movie critic Ty Burr, writer/publisher Thomas Powers, Allan Stam and Bill Arkin will discuss the film on Saturday during one of the many panels scheduled during the series.
Attendees will feel like they've visited many countries without leaving Vermont. Canadian filmmaker Nadja Drost's Between Midnight and the Rooster's Crow follows the construction of the Ecuadorian oil pipeline, documenting unsafe construction, toxic waste and the health dangers of the controversial pipeline. An animated short film by Rob Castillo, The Cuba Trip, will complete that program.
Simone Bitton's Wall, winner of a special jury prize at the Sundance Film Festival and an official selection at the Cannes Film Festival, is a haunting portrait of the wall that separates Israelis from Palestinians.
Rosita chronicles the story of a nine-year-old Nicaraguan girl who is raped. Her parents, illiterate farmers working in Costa Rica, seek a legal, therapeutic abortion for Rosita to save her life. Their quest pits them against the governments of two Central American countries in this hour-long documentary by award-winning filmmakers, Barbara Attie and Janet Goldwater.
Unbreakable Minds, by Irene Angelico, tells the story of three schizophrenic men from suburban Chicago. The Montreal filmmaker spent three years following their subjects, recording every victory and defeat. The film explores how the men and their families deal with serious mental illness. Angelico will attend the screening.
David La Chappelle's film Rize reveals a dance phenomenon that is sweeping South Central Los Angeles. The film is about krumping, a form of street dancing used as alternative to gang fighting. Dancing and singing are outlawed by ultra-conservatives in Existo, an underground cult film directed by Coke Sams and featuring Jim Varney. When the country is taken over by fundamentalist Christians, washed up singer Existo rallies a pack of outlawed artists to rebel against the government. The film, a wacky musical made in Nashville with a colorful cast, is reminiscent of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. It screens at 11 p.m. on Saturday, April 29.
On Sunday's program is Occupation: Dreamland, a documentary about a squad of American soldiers deployed to the Iraqi city of Falluja during the winter of 2004. It screens on Sunday at 10 a.m. before Jay Craven's After the Fog, another film about warfare and soldiers.
Sunday's lineup also includes Thomas Berry: The Great Story, a documentary film produced by Nancy Stetson and Penny Morrell, about eco-theologian Thomas Berry. Berry is a monk, cultural historian, author, teacher and mystic.
Who Gets to Call it Art? offers an inside view of the New York art scene in the 1960s, seen through the eyes of Henry Geldzahler, the first curator of contemporary art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Peter Rosen's film is an imaginative mixture of interviews with modern artists, rare footage and audio recordings.
Chain, directed by Brooklyn filmmaker Jem Cohen, tells the story of two women stranded in a suburban strip mall. It was shot in seven countries and 11 states over seven years.
In a program devoted to the work of young filmmakers, screenwriter Bill Phillips will moderate a panel with 5 young filmmakers who will show excerpts and talk about their work.
The festival concludes Sunday, April 30 with a showing of Be Here to Love Me: A Film About Townes Van Zandt, directed by Margaret Brown. It features interviews with Willie Nelson, Steve Earle, Kris Kristofferson and EmmyLou Harris. Several shorts, including the Oscar-winning The Moon and the Son and Ryan, will be shown throughout the festival.
To see the schedule and buy tickets, and for information about the films and panel discussions, please go to
For more information, call 802-739-5550.
Co-exec. director and the board of White River Indie Film
Like Nora said, for the particulars on every nook, hook, flick, cranny and conversation of this amazing festival, click on over to
I'll post somemore of my own insights and comments here over this weekend -- there's really some phenomenal films showing! -- in hopes it prompts some of you to make the trip and savor the cinematic goodies. While in town, be sure to dine at The Tip Top Cafe, too, one of my fave eateries in a town with a number of great restaurants.
And if you're indeed coming, you might consider also arranging a visit to the CCS while you're in the area. I'll post that info this weekend, too -- though again, alas, I won't be in the area for the event.
Still, my fingerprints are there -- just ask Nora -- hence my dedicating this week's blog to the WRIF and some of its outstanding films.