One way to cure this year's sun- or rain-induced summertime blues is to seek shelter in the nearest cinema. This week and next, local screens serve up treats for moviegoers of all tastes.
Shredder Short International Film Festival
The scrappiest film festival in Vermont, the Shredder Short International Film Festival, returns to Quechee this week with an expanded calendar and growing ambition. Now in its sixth year, SSIFF has not only grown from one night to two, but has also programmed its first-ever feature-length film. Not bad for an event that started just a few years ago in the attic of the Hartford Library.
Festival director Jake Haehnel, 23, says Shredder also has gained greater local recognition. "People know about [the festival] before I tell them about it," he says by phone from Madison, Wis., where he's taking a quick vacation.
The festival recently achieved nonprofit status, which, Haehnel says, affords it greater credibility — not to mention significant discounts on expenses. "This makes it much more legitimate," he says. "This is a real thing, a serious thing." The fest has enlarged its list of sponsors to include several local businesses.
Haehnel, a filmmaker himself, was involved in production of the festival's sole feature, The Captain's Log, a comedy about two young men who are left in the lurch when the hard drive containing their documentary's footage is stolen. It's one of eight films to be screened at Quechee restaurant Dana's by the Gorge.
This year, Shredder will stage post-screening performances by local folk musicians on both nights: Dave Richardson on Friday, Eric George on Saturday. Ticket holders can buy wine and beer during the concerts and enjoy free snacks.
At press time, Shredder's slate of films had not been finalized, but it will include the Turkish short "Havva," about a future in which women can no longer bear children; and the mysterious French short "Une odeur de pique-nique" ("Scent of a Picnic").
The End of the Tour
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The End of the Tour
The ironic, heavily annotated prose of late author David Foster Wallace (Infinite Jest) inspired adulation and vitriol in roughly equal measures. Whatever one's opinion of his work, it's difficult to dispute that Wallace left an indelible mark on American fiction.
The local screening is a benefit for the Burlington Book Festival. Though the event is free, organizers hope that moviegoers will contribute the suggested $8.50 donation to the BBF, which will take place September 25 to 27. The annual literary event brings poets, novelists and nonfiction authors to give readings and conduct workshops. The 2015 slate of authors includes Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Paul Muldoon, fiction writer Rebecca Makkai (see review, page 36), Burlington cartoonist (and Seven Days contributor) Harry Bliss, and Martha Barnette, cohost of the popular public radio show "A Way With Words."
Rick Kisonak, director of the BBF and a film critic for Seven Days, heard of the Wallace film through the promotional emails he receives as a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association. Sensing that the film's writerly subject matter would appeal to the BBF's prospective audience, Kisonak approached distributor A24 Films and was surprised to find the company's management receptive to the idea of a benefit screening. In the end, A24 even picked up the tab for the expenses. "I just lucked out, essentially," Kisonak says with a chuckle.
The End of the Tour will screen at Merrill's Roxy Cinema in a theater that seats about 180. Even if the house is full and everyone ponies up $8.50, the sum won't come close to defraying the cost of putting on the BBF, which Kisonak says is about $100,000. But, as he puts it, "Every little bit helps. We've done it 10 times, so hopefully we'll pull it off once more — at least!"
The original print version of this article was headlined "Local Screenings Bring International Shorts and an Actor's Take on David Foster Wallace"