Blind Date, co-directed by Maya Albanese, is one of nearly 90 films that will be screened at the second annual Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival.

MIDDLEBURY, Vt. – The second annual Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival (MNFF) will run from August 25-28, featuring nearly 90 films screened at three venues in town. This year’s offerings will include two films by Middlebury College alumni and 11 films with Vermont connections.

Festival producer Lloyd Komesar, who founded the event last year as a way to showcase up-and-coming talent, says the festival received 370 submissions this year, a 15 percent jump over the first year. “We couldn’t be more pleased with the skill of the filmmaking and diversity of the stories being told,” said Komesar.

Middlebury alumna Sharon Lesser Maguire, class of 1986, wrote and produced the short film Drug Mule, which will be screened on Friday, August 26, at 1:30 p.m. at the Marquis Theater on Main Street. The 9-minute comedy tells the story of Mexican drug enforcement agents’ frustrating attempt to interrogate an American woman and her 10-year-old son.

The festival will screen a film by Andrew Baker, who graduated from Middlebury in 2002, on Saturday, August 27, at 10:30 a.m. in Dana Auditorium. Baker’s short narrative film Lambing Season looks at the life of Vermont writer and sheep farmer Don Mitchell. It’s “a film about identity: choosing it, chasing it, losing it, and finding all manner of new ones among mapless backroads,” said Baker.

Director Maya Albanese also has a Middlebury connection, having grown up in the area and attended the Middlebury School in France in 2006. Her documentary short Blind Date will be screened on Saturday, August 27, at 10:30 a.m. at the Marquis. The film explores the challenges for blind people of navigating the world of online dating.

All three of the Middlebury College-connected filmmakers are planning to attend the festival and be on hand after the screenings to take questions from the audience.

The festival opens Thursday, August 25, with a screening of the feature documentary Walk With Me: The Trials of Damon J. Keith at 7 p.m. at Middlebury’s Town Hall Theater. The film presents the life and legacy of 94-year-old Damon J. Keith, who has served as a Detroit federal judge and U.S. Circuit Court judge for more than 45 years and established a compelling legacy as a life-long civil rights advocate. Director Jesse Nesser will speak with MNFF artistic director Jay Craven following the screening.

Following the conclusion of the festival, the top films – winners of the VTeddy award – will be sent on a screening tour to theaters throughout the region. The “New England Tour” is one of the distinguishing features of the young festival, says Komesar, and a way for the filmmakers to get added exposure for their work beyond their four days in Middlebury.

For more information, tickets, and descriptions of all the films to be screened at the festival visit the MNFF web site.