12th Annual MountainTop Film Festival Brings Julian Assange Hologram to Waitsfield | Live Culture
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Thursday, January 15, 2015

12th Annual MountainTop Film Festival Brings Julian Assange Hologram to Waitsfield

Posted By on Thu, Jan 15, 2015 at 1:48 PM

click to enlarge Edward Snowden (L) speaks with Glenn Greenwald in the film Citizenfour. - COURTESY MOUNTAINTOP FILM FESTIVAL
  • Courtesy Mountaintop Film Festival
  • Edward Snowden (L) speaks with Glenn Greenwald in the film Citizenfour.
The MountainTop Film Festival, which starts this weekend at Waitsfield's Big Picture Theater, has made a name for itself by showing an always-current crop of social-issues films. This year's week-long festival, the 12th annual, is no exception, boasting several documentary and fiction features that address many of the day's most pressing social controversies. But it's the host of guest speakers who really make this year's festival stand out.

Most recognizable among the festival's guests is Gov. Peter Shumlin, who will speak to attendees on Wednesday, January 21, about Vermont's first-in-the-nation law requiring the labeling of genetically modified foods. The recently re-elected Shumlin will specifically address in his talk the Food Fight Fund, a trust established to finance Vermont's efforts to defend the inevitable challenges to that legislation. A "community dialogue" will follow Shumlin's talk.

Other guests of the festival include two left-wing media icons, including perhaps the best-known such figure in the world. Just days ago, festival director Claudia Becker announced that modern-day muckracker Glenn Greenwald would Skype in to Waitsfield from his home in Brazil to speak after the screening of Citizenfour, the documentary about Edward Snowden. "For [Greenwald] to agree to do a Q&A after the screening is huge," says Becker in a phone interview with Seven Days.

Another visitor to this year's MountainTop Film Festival is the documentarian Eugene Jarecki, cofounder of the Big Picture and known for such films as Why We Fight and The Trials of Henry Kissinger. Jarecki will introduce and speak after the Saturday, January 17, screening of the documentary Cyber Wars, in which the filmmaker interviews a hologram of WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange. Yes, a hologram. Assange has been holed up in London's Ecuadorian embassy since 2012; the documentary about him was no small technical achievement, says Becker, who notes that this "pixel-by-pixel" process is the closest that anyone has gotten to Assange in some time. Jarecki will speak on the subject of privacy in the internet age.

The heart of the festival, though, is the films that it shows. This year, the fest has interspersed a number of socially conscious fiction films into its documentary-heavy programming. These include the just-released Selma, a dramatization of a chapter from the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.; and Dear White People, the 2014 comedy about American race relations. "We wanted to have a couple of films with at least a glimpse of humor," says Becker. "[The festival] is not just about letting people feel like the world is coming to an end."

More than anything else, says Becker, the MountainTop Film Festival's mission is one of "creating dialogue. We're really looking to have people talk about the broader issues," Becker says. "It's about education and outreach and opportunities for people to get involved, more than it's about just showing movies."
  • Courtesy Mountaintop Film Festival
  • Selma

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Dear White People
Rated R · 108 min. · 2014
Staff Rating:
Official Site: dearwhitepeoplemovie.com
Director: Justin Simien
Writer: Justin Simien
Cast: Kyle Gallner, Dennis Haysbert, Brittany Curran, Tyler James Williams, Tessa Thompson, Malcolm Barrett, Teyonah Parris, Marque Richardson and Brandon P Bell
Rated PG-13 · 127 min. · 2014
Official Site: www.selmamovie.com
Director: Ava DuVernay
Writer: Ava DuVernay and Paul Webb
Producer: Christian Colson, Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner and Oprah Winfrey
Cast: David Oyelowo, Cuba Gooding Jr., Tim Roth, Cuba Gooding Jr., Carmen Ejogo, Alessandro Nivola, Martin Sheen, Tom Wilkinson, Oprah Winfrey and Tessa Thompson
Rated R · 74 min. · 2014
Official Site: citizenfourfilm.com
Director: Laura Poitras
Cast: Edward Snowden and Glenn Greenwald


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Citizenfour, Dear White People, and Selma are not showing in any theaters in the area.

About The Author

Ethan de Seife

Ethan de Seife

Ethan de Seife was an arts writer at Seven Days from 2013 to 2016. He is the author of Tashlinesque: The Hollywood Comedies of Frank Tashlin, published in 2012 by Wesleyan University Press.

More by Ethan de Seife


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