International films arrive in VT

Already holding the title of the world’s oldest environmental and human rights film festival, the Vermont International Film Fest is currently celebrating its 25th year of artistic contribution and social commentary. The fest started on Friday, Oct. 22, beginning the series of more than 50 films which showcases Vermont, national and — for the first time — Romanian filmmakers at Palace 9 Cinemas. The films are varying in genre as well as in language, bringing a different perspective to common topics and controversies. Deb Ellis, professor of film and television studies, is president of the Board of Directors for the festival. As a director and teacher, she urges students to take advantage of this unique event. “The festival is also an opportunity to see groupings of films — for example, we have a Romanian Showcase that highlights three Romanian New Wave films that exemplify work coming out of this vibrant emerging film culture,” Ellis said. On Saturday afternoon, the parking lot of Palace 9 was already full, yet each individual theater was more intimate as the festival-goers were spread across the different screenings. To assist both amateur and professional filmmakers, the festival included a free film-financing seminar directed by Vinca Jarrett of FilmPro Finance in Boston that preceded the Friday screenings. “Jarrett was instrumental in writing the film tax incentives now in place in Massachusetts,” Ellis said. “Film is an expensive medium-both in the production and distribution phases. For her, this information is the kind of thing a student rarely learns about in school.” Directly after the seminar, “Enjoy Poverty,” a documentary produced by Renzo Martens, opened up the screenings.  In an artistic manner, the film spread awareness on poverty in the Congo, touching on poverty as an economically advantageous resource for international organizations like UNICEF, photojournalists and the United Nations.  Disturbing images of emaciated children led some audience members to the exit. Advertised in the synopsis as “often hilarious, despite the sad reflection staring back in the mirror that he holds up,” sophomore Reuben Jalbert took the humor for dark and realistic satire. “The humor was very understated, the images of the film being a lot more powerful than I was emotionally prepared for,” Jalbert said. “The suffering of children first hand was very … in your face, the shelters of their malnourished families covered in bright blue UNICEF tarps.” “Enjoy Poverty” included, the films are only shown once, however not all of them are as upsetting. Ellis commented highly of the opening night event showing of “Wretches and Jabberers.” “It’s an amazing story by Academy Award-winning director Gerardine Wurzburg that tells the story of two Vermont men who go on a worldwide [autism education] advocacy tour.” The Vermont International Film Fest continues through Oct. 31, providing the public with an opportunity to view films of cultural, social and political variety through the original viewpoints of filmmakers. A schedule of the films can be found on the Vermont International Film Fest website at http://www.vtiff.org/