Chris Vaughn Loves Documentaries

This past summer was the greatest summer of my life and that includes the fact that I was unable to hold a job for more than 3 hours (the shortest of those was a 20 minute fiasco), but that’s neither here nor there. The reason this summer was so memorable was because of a class I took in June: The Summer Integrated Media Studies Institute, an intensive film studies program with a focus on documentaries. When we weren’t hearing lectures, screening films, or studying, we were making a movie with a small group. Everyone was to pick a subject with their group that was important to them. Now, I’m sure none of you have seen my group’s film (it’s not in theaters until November). The point is the class made me realize something that I never really did before: if you have something to say, you can be heard. Cheesy but true. I have been in love with documentary films since this class. As I’m sure many of you have noticed, they’ve been growing in popularity and they should. There is so much to discuss and the great documentaries do it in a way that doesn’t just teach you something or make you more proactive, they are like a narrative film with a passionate story, brilliant cinematography, and powerful images that evoke every possible emotion. During the class, the best speaker was a director, Eugene Jarecki. Go to www.IMDB.com; check him out; see his films; he’s awesome and that’s all I’ll say about him. The reason I bring him up is his wife Claudia Becker and her friend Kimberly Ead started the MountainTop Film Festival in Waitsfield, Vermont. Through Eugene’s lecture I was fortunate enough to meet Claudia and Kim and get an internship with the festival. The festival is preparing for its third year and screens primarily documentaries that are socially relevant to local, national, and world events. Last year they screened films from Hungary, Mexico, Israel, Palestine, Colombia, and a selection of youth-produced films. Their speakers included Mario Van Peebles, Bernie Sanders, Shuja Graham, an ex-death-row inmate, among many others. This year the festival runs from January 11th to the 15th, and it’s going to be amazing. The point of this column is to get people thinking about the power of documentaries and the festival; we will be looking for a lot of volunteers. In addition, the festival is looking for local musicians to perform as well as anyone who thinks they could bring something to the project. Most importantly, this column is about the power of the image and the ability to make a difference. Unfortunately writing was never my best medium so hopefully at least a few of you have gotten to the end. In a few weeks you’ll see me up on campus with a MountainTop Film Festival table giving away t-shirts and as much information and inspiration you could want. If you have ideas or want to get involved you can contact me at [email protected] See you at the movies.