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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Vermont Filmmakers in the Green Mountain Film Festival

Posted By on Wed, Mar 19, 2014 at 10:00 AM

click to enlarge Craig Maravich in Michael Fisher's film "Attic," playing at the Green Mountain Film Festival - COURTESY OF MICHAEL FISHER
  • Courtesy of Michael Fisher
  • Craig Maravich in Michael Fisher's film "Attic," playing at the Green Mountain Film Festival

Though many of its films come to Montpelier from other nations, the Green Mountain Film Festival is making a point this year of showcasing a small number of films made by locals.

The “Vermont Shorts Program,” playing at the festival on March 25, brings together five films: two fiction features and three documentaries. The filmmakers will be present to speak to the audience after the screening.

Michael Fisher of South Burlington might be familiar to festival regulars. He has had numerous films in the GMFF over the past several years, and his latest, “Attic,” kicks off the Vermont Shorts Program. Steeped in the Southern-gothic fiction of Flannery O’Connor and seasoned with a dollop of Terrence Malick’s Badlands, “Attic” is a moody, gorgeously shot character study.

Fisher’s approach to filmmaking is unusual, in that his output consists almost entirely of five- to 10-minute fiction films. Since these are relatively less complex to execute than feature-length works, Fisher, 36, is pretty prolific — he’s made more than 40 shorts. “Attic” premieres at this year’s fest; soon thereafter, Fisher will make it available via his website.

“Like a lot of my projects, this one started with a location,” Fisher says. “In this case, it started with my driving around Vermont with just the seed of something I’m thinking about, looking for a setting that would be interesting for that story.” He adds that “the older styles and the textures in the rooms of the beautiful old Vermont farmhouse” he tracked down in Charlotte “got me thinking about the color of the piece, the warmer tones — this hot, summery kind of thing.”
“Attic,” which stars Craig Maravich and Kerrin Jeromin (chief meteorologist for FOX 44 and ABC 22), fairly drips with sweat … and blood. Its six minutes pack in a good deal of sultry tension, even as Fisher took care “not to make it too ‘thriller-y.’” He says, “I was interested more in character study and genuine internal conflict and mood.”

Sue Bettmann of Middlesex is another Vermont filmmaker with longstanding ties to the GMFF. Not only have several of her films screened in the festival, but Bettmann sat on its organizing committee from 2003 to 2010. This year, the Vermont Shorts Program includes her documentary “Bread.”

“Bread” was commissioned by Glover’s Bread and Puppet Theater to showcase not the puppetry but the bread-baking skills of its founder, Peter Schumann. “His whole life,” says Bettmann, “he’s been baking bread and giving it away, basically. The spirit of it is that the theater nourishes the mind, and the bread nourishes the body. They go together.”
Though Bettmann, 66, no longer takes part in the film-fest planning, she calls herself an enthusiast. “I think it’s a fantastic festival … It’s stimulating and enriching to the community,” she says.

The Green Mountain Film Festival is Friday, March 21, through Sunday, March 30, at several venues in Montpelier. For more about the GMFF, see article in "State of the Arts" in Seven Days.

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Ethan de Seife

Ethan de Seife

Bio:
Ethan de Seife is an arts writer at Seven Days. He is the author of Tashlinesque: The Hollywood Comedies of Frank Tashlin, published in 2012 by Wesleyan University Press.

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