BRATTLEBORO—“This corner of Vermont is emerging as a place where young filmmakers want to be,” said Lissa Weinmann, vice-president of the Brattleboro Film Festival.
On Aug. 8, the festival, in conjunction with Southern Vermont Young Professionals, presents the Summer Cinema Slam, featuring films made by young, local filmmakers.
The slam takes place at 118 Elliot, the new arts and music space in the former laundromat, across the street from the Central Fire Station.
The event is a fundraiser for the Brattleboro Film Festival, happening this year Oct. 30 through Nov. 8. Proceeds from the slam will go toward purchasing films and paying the Latchis for use of the theater during the autumn festival, Weinmann said, noting those items comprise 80 percent of the budget of the all-volunteer event.
Doors at the slam open at 5:30 p.m., and the series of short films begins an hour later.
Behind 118 Elliot, the garden and parking lot will turn into a food-truck dining spot, featuring fare from Windham County purveyors. Ro’s Petite Fete, Dosa Kitchen, Taste of Thai, Vermont Gelato, and Hermit Thrush Brewery will all have food and drink for sale before the films begin and during the intermission between the shorts and the feature film.
“What sets this event apart is that we deliberately wanted to create a space where people would watch films together and then have an opportunity to talk about them — a space where movies and a social event intersect,” Director of Special Events Jennifer Latham said in an email to The Commons.
“The space behind 118 Elliot was perfect for a block party feel,” Latham said, noting that although planning such a multi-faceted event seemed overwhelming sometimes, “we knew it would mean a richer experience for everyone attending the event."
Plus, “it’s summer — you want to be outside,” added Angela Snow, one of the slam’s organizers.
The shorts program consists of four films.
First up is “Closure,” which Latham described as “reality-bending.” Acted, produced and directed by twin 18-year-old Westminster filmmakers Aja and Kaelen Selbach-Broad, the film was made in 24 hours.
Next up is “Wired,” directed by Jordan Mitchell-Love, who also performed all the stunts for the film. The “action-packed short” is about a “former Navy SEAL in a race against time to save his life himself,” Latham said, noting “Wired” was “filmed primarily in Bellows Falls."
The third film, “11 Paper Place,” was made by Daniel Houghton and a team of Middlebury College film students. Latham calls it a “charming animated film” and a “love story about two sheets of paper that magically transform into paper people as a malfunctioning printer spits them into a recycling bin.”
Houghton will appear at the event.
The shorts program culminates with “The Parker Tribe.” Directed by Jane Baker and filmed in Brattleboro, “The Parker Tribe” premiered this spring at the Tribeca Film Festival.
Latham gave the synopsis: “Living life in suburban Philadelphia in the late 1970s is both hilarious and painful for Mary ‘Jo’ Parker, a 13-year-old tomboy in a large Irish Catholic family. When Jo questions her feelings for another girl, she ponders the possibility that she will be the freak in her already bizarre family.”
A question-and-answer session with Baker follows the film.
“Three of the four shorts were filmed in Windham County,” Latham said, adding she “loved seeing streets and faces I recognized."
The organizers estimate the short films will end at about 7:30 p.m., at which time attendees can venture to the back garden and parking lot for food, drinks, and a performance by Burlington native Lowell Thompson.
According to the event’s press release, “Thompson’s work has been lauded by Rolling Stone magazine as ‘inspired alt-country.’” Thompson contributed music to Loser’s Crown, the evening’s feature film, directed by his brother, Colin Thompson.
At 9 p.m., Loser’s Crown begins. The film “takes an intense and honest look at how it feels to be pulled between two places and between the past and present when a 30-year-old man in crisis goes home to Vermont from Los Angeles for Christmas,” according to the slam’s press release.
It also notes, “This film has strong language and some sexuality, so may not be appropriate for all ages."
Colin Thompson will appear with his film.
Of Loser’s Crown, Latham said, “We were drawn to this film because the story immediately connects to the dilemma that many young professionals face — the desire to return home or stay and work in the big city."
The Summer Cinema Slam is a “great match for the Brattleboro Film Festival,” Weinmann said. “We want to reach younger demographics and expand our base,” she added.
Collaborating with the Southern Vermont Young Professionals works toward that end. Weinmann said Alex Beck, coordinator of the young professionals group, part of Southeastern Vermont Economic Development Strategies (SeVEDS), approached her seeking to work together.
“There are synergies between the people in the [Southern Vermont] Young Professionals” and the Brattleboro Film Festival, Weinmann said, noting “many filmmakers are part of the Young Professionals.”
Snow said the slam sends the message “it’s possible to be a local filmmaker,” and the event welcomes “people in the community — friends and family — who want to support their local filmmakers."
“You can do a world-wide film and go to New York City,” Beck said, adding, “but, you can bring it back here."
“You can also make the film here,” he said.