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Short Takes on Film: Vermont Joy Parade, A Band Called Death 

State of the Arts

click to enlarge Vermont Joy Parade
  • Vermont Joy Parade

Chances are, if you live in the Burlington area, you’ve seen Ben Aleshire doing stuff around town: typing up poems to order at the farmers market, showing his art at the BCA Center, playing trumpet with Vermont Joy Parade, perhaps even wearing a smoking jacket. But have you ever seen him interviewing Jared Leto?

That’s one of the more surreal occurrences in Vermont Joy Parade: The Clock Tick and the Heartbeat, a documentary about the Burlington-based band’s European tour in late 2011. Directed by Vivian Strosberg, it premieres on Thursday at Merrill’s Roxy Cinemas as part of the Burlington Discover Jazz Fest.

Early in the film, the five band members on the tour get unexpected news in Berlin. Leto, best known as the ’90s heartthrob of Claire Danes on “My So-Called Life,” has seen them at a flea market and wants them to open for his band, Thirty Seconds to Mars, in Frankfurt. After a brief dispute about the pronunciation of his name (for the record, it’s Leh-to, not Lee-to), they agree.

It’s a strange pairing, to say the least. Judging by the concert footage, Leto’s goth-rock band boasts a vast following of European teenage girls, while VJP generally performs for a smaller and, shall we say, more self-aware crowd. But the movie star makes no bones about his admiration for the eclectic “suspender fusion” band, who end up following him to another stadium show in Antwerp.

While it may be a stretch to call the movie “part Spinal Tap” (as its PR asserts), it does offer amusing moments of band and inter-band sociology, as well as plenty of footage of VJP performing songs from their sophomore album, New Anthem. You can catch a live show after the premiere.

‘Vermont Joy Parade: The Clock Tick and the Heartbeat’: Thursday, June 6, 7 p.m. at Merrill’s Roxy Cinemas in Burlington. $10. Performance follows at 10 p.m. at Jenke Studio, Burlington. $6 or free with movie ticket stub. facebook.com/vermontjoyparade

*****

Vermont-made music doc A Band Called Death made a splash at South by Southwest, but it won’t hit Vermont theaters till July. For now, you can see it on iTunes — or at two screenings at the upcoming Lake Placid Film Forum.

Besides Death, the weekend fest, which starts next Thursday, will host the annual Sleepless in Lake Placid student filmmaking competition, the North Country Shorts Showcase and seven narrative and documentary features. Among them are the Dennis Quaid-Zac Efron farm drama At Any Price and two docs devoted to climbing culture: The Summit, about the 2008 disaster on K2; and The Mountains Will Wait for You, about the first woman to summit all 46 Adirondack high peaks.

The LPFF, which has used Lake Placid’s historic downtown Palace Theatre as a venue, has been fostering a dialogue on the role of movie theaters in the digital era. On Saturday, June 15, at 10 a.m., distinguished guest Ira Deutchman — founder of Fine Line Features and producer of Matewan, Swimming to Cambodia and many other indies — will address those issues at an informal discussion called “Coffee and Conversation.”

Lake Placid Film Forum: Thursday through Sunday, June 13 to 16, at Lake Placid Center for the Arts and two other locations. Most screenings are $10. adkfilmsociety.com/film-forum-2013

*****

Speaking of student film contests, Burlington College students DeWolfe Morrow and Joe Mulherin won multiple prizes for their short film “One Day” at the just-completed Cannes Film Festival. No, they weren’t in competition with the world’s top filmmakers, but with other participants in a film program called Creative Minds in Cannes. Congrats to them! You can watch the film at vimeo.com.

*****

A group of young women declare that if they can’t find husbands, they’ll commit suicide. The women are Kurds in remote Iranian territory, and their plight is no joke in About 111 Girls, a film from Iraq that will be screened on Sunday as part of the Vermont International Film Festival’s Global Roots series. Nahid Ghobadi’s 2012 debut follows the sometimes-comic misadventures of a bureaucrat as he strives to find the women in question and address their problem.

‘About 111 Girls’: Sunday, June 9, 5 p.m. at North End Studios in Burlington. Free, donations accepted. vtiff.org

*****

Are employee-owned businesses the way of the future? A documentary called Shift Change: Putting Democracy to Work makes the affirmative case. Several Vermont worker-owned cooperatives have teamed up to present a free screening of it at the Roxy next Wednesday, followed by a speakers’ panel and Q&A.

‘Shift Change: Putting Democracy to Work’: Wednesday, June 12, 7 p.m. at Merrill’s Roxy Cinemas in Burlington. Free. Info, 578-1704.

*****

New York filmmaker Art Jones reports that his documentary The Blood in This Town, about a record-breaking blood drive in Rutland, is now inspiring community-building efforts across the Atlantic. It had its European premiere last Sunday, June 2, in Breda, the Netherlands, under the auspices of women’s service organization Soroptimist International. The doc, which offers Rutland’s annual Gift-of-Life Marathon as a blueprint for grassroots action, has already been screened at May’s National Brownfields Conference in Atlanta and in economically struggling towns and small cities around the U.S.

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About The Author

Margot Harrison

Margot Harrison

Bio:
Margot Harrison is the Associate Editor at Seven Days; she coordinates literary and film coverage. In 2005, she won the John D. Donoghue award for arts criticism from the Vermont Press Association.

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