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Lloyd Komesar, a former Disney executive, is the founder of the Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival, which runs August 27-30.

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New Middlebury Film Festival Will Include Work of Alumni Filmmakers [videos]

August 7, 2015

The film "Cowgirls," which will be screened at the Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival, was produced by a team of Middlebury alumni that included Sarah Briggs ’14.5, Anna Carroll ’14.5, Ben Kramer ’13.5, Katie McFarren ’14, and Tito Heiderer ’15.

MIDDLEBURY, Vt. — A new film festival that debuts later this month in Middlebury will highlight emerging filmmakers, including some recent Middlebury graduates. The Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival will screen more than 90 films at three venues around town over four days, from August 27-30. Covering a range of genres, from short documentaries to full-length features, the films were selected by the festival’s artistic director Jay Craven, a well-known Vermont filmmaker and educator who founded Kingdom County Productions.

The festival is the brainchild of Lloyd Komesar, a retired Disney executive who spent his career in film and television distribution. Komesar, who now splits his time between Middlebury and Pasadena, California, recognized potential in the Middlebury community to develop a festival especially for first or second-time directors.

“Our sense was that there’s a lot of dynamism among new filmmakers in indie cinema,” said Komesar. “We felt like we ought to offer a Middlebury home for folks who are emerging as new voices in cinema at a point in their careers where they could get discovered.”

Watch the film trailer for "Sabra," a documentary about the life and artwork of Middlebury alumna Sabra Field ’57.

Komesar says when the festival first put out a call for submissions, they expected around 125 films. He was delighted to receive more than 320 works representing 35 countries, from which the final selections were culled. He says he’s very pleased with the quality of the final selections, which were chosen to appeal to all tastes, including comedies, dramas, and documentaries.

“I think we’re presenting an eclectic mix of films that will provide something substantial for anyone to get invested in,” said Komesar. “We’re looking to entertain and to challenge viewers, and we hope they’ll be thinking about and discussing these films afterward.”

On Saturday, August 29, at 1:30 in Dana Auditorium, four Middlebury-related films will be presented.  The first will be a short documentary, “Milk with Dignity,” about Vermont’s migrant dairy workers, directed by Molly Stuart ’15. “Cowgirls,” is a documentary co-directed by Sarah Briggs ’14 about women ranchers in the Western U.S. A third film called “The Land” by Erin Davis, an instructor in the Film and Media Culture department, depicts a startling children’s adventure playground in the U.K. And lastly, a film titled “Sabra” looks at the life and work of artist and Middlebury alumna Sabra Field ’57. Field and director Bill Phillips, along with Davis and Briggs will have an on-stage conversation with the audience following the screenings. 

Another alumna, Zoe Hamilton ’13, will have her film, “Nasbandi: Conversations About Female Sterilization in India,” screened at 7:30 p.m. Saturday in Dana Auditorium.

Associate Professor of Film and Media Culture Chris Keathley, who will introduce one of the blocks of films during the festival, says that an event focusing on aspiring directors has the potential to offer a nice boost for the artists. “It’s relatively easy to get a film made, but it’s hard to get it seen,” said Keathley. “This kind of festival can be very good for film culture in general.”

Komesar hopes the festival will become a regular part of life and culture in Middlebury and says it will always focus on new filmmakers. “Over time, I’d like to see this event grow, but not evolve into something that strays from the core mission we set out this year,” he said. “I like the fact that we could become one of those go-to places for new filmmakers who will say this was an excellent platform for them, that they were treated well, and that the audiences appreciated them."`

The festival will run August 27-30 in Middlebury at Town Hall Theater, The Marquis Theater, and Middlebury College’s Dana Auditorium. Complete ticket information along with the schedule of films and dozens of film trailers are available at the festival web site.

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