This year’s 4th annual Gay Film Festival in southern Vermont has expanded to two events, with an opening night in Brattleboro at the Hooker-Dunham (139 Main Street) and a full Saturday afternoon of shorts at the Organ Barn in Guilford. Sponsored by The Kopkind Colony and scheduled to screen in both Brattleboro and Guilford, the festival marks the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, which is considered the beginning of the modern day Gay Movement. CineSlam is programmed by local Emmy-Award winning filmmaker, John Scagliotti, who has a number of films coming to CineSlam from around the country and this year many outside of the United States.
Scagliotti said, “On this 40th anniversary of Stonewall we hope to show the variety and depth of the glbt community in terms of filmmaking from around the globe. The gay film festival circuit is now very much an international fixation and there are presently more than two hundred glbt film festivals attracting more than 2 million people into theaters in all industrial countries as well as many now in developing countries like Lebanon.
Scaglioitti added, “ I was pleasantly surprised to be asked to have one of my films in the first gay festival in an Arab country a few years back. We in southern Vermont are really excited to be part of this global phenomenon.”
Friday’s “Opening Night” at the Hooker Dunham theater (7pm) will include international films like “James” by Northern Irish filmmaker Connor Clements having just arrived from showing his film at the San Francisco Film Festival. In Clements’ film, the main character, James, is a young man struggling as an outsider and is surprised by his favorite teacher’s response when he tells him he is gay. Also that evening CineSlam presents a excerpt from the new feature film City of Borders about Jerusalem’s only gay bar. Last year as a short it won the festival’s Chessie Award (best short) and then director Yun Suh went on to make it into a feature film which just won the prestigious Teddy Award at the international Berlin Film Festival. The evening ends with “Gay Penguins,” an animated short by New Yorker cartoonist Arnie Levin who will be in attendance for the festival. After the opening night films there will be a Pride Dance at the American Legion Hall in Brattleboro. (9 pm).
The next day, Saturday, Jan 27th the Kopkind Colony moves the festival to Guilford’s Organ Barn for three sessions of cutting edge short films (starting at 1pm ) followed by a delicious BBQ. The second session of films that day is a collaboration with the Out in Connecticut Film Festival and their program director, Shane Engstrom, will show some of his favorites from last month’s Hartford festival including Kali Ma. This light hearted film about a tough reality (gay bashing) shows the audience what a suburban Indian mother can do when she finds out her son is the victim of a vicious bully, and she delivers her own brand of vigilante justice. Starring popular Bollywood star Kamini Khanna (Monsoon Wedding), “Kali Ma” plunges us into a battle of mythic proportions, where we discover the secrets that divide mothers and sons and the love that binds them together.
Other international films will include Celestial Brides. Here filmmaker Parthiban Shanmugam takes his camera to explore the world of eunuchs (hijras) in India. Richard Davis, just back from Lima, Peru, films a determined group of glbt folks as they go about building a new community center in that capital city. Not everything is from overseas as Dean Hamer and Joe Wilson will also present a fun look at the Transgender March in San Francisco and Burlington, Vermont Filmmaker Alisan Segar’s and I am me provides the audience an intimate look at the relationship of a lesbian mother and her adopted Ethiopian son. There will also be a historical journey back to the “Harlem Renaissance” as filmmaker Robert Phillipson “Takes the Gay Train” into that creative community during the 1930’s.
The festival will have a number of filmmakers in attendance. Besides Levin and Clements, CineSlam will introduce filmmakers from Brooklyn, Atlanta, and Los Angeles to the audience. The BBQ following the Organ Barn sessions will give the audience plenty of time to talk with the visiting filmmakers about their films.
This year many of the CineSlam filmmakers will have the opportunity to win the Chessie Award which will be announced at the BBQ. The winner of the Best Short, named after the Chessie Foundation, which is financially supporting the festival, will receive a cash prize of $750 and an invitation (expenses paid) to present their winning film on Pride of the Ocean Film Festival (sailing out of New York May 30, 2010 http://www.prideoftheocean.com for seven days of films screenings and ocean cruising) .
There is limited seating at both the Hooker Dunham and the Organ Barn in Guilford, so it is advised to make reservations. Both CineSlam film events call for separate reservations. For Opening Night (June 26th, 7pm) at the Hooker Dunham one can call 802-254-9247 ($6 tkt) and to make reservations for the Organ Barn day (Sat. June 27th 1pm to 6pm) of three film sessions plus a BBQ ($10 tkt) one should either go the website (www.cineslam.com) where all the films are listed and make a reservation or by contacting John Scagliotti at firstname.lastname@example.org Once a reservation is made directions to the Organ Barn in Guilford will be sent via the email or call John Scagliotti at 802-254-4859.
The Kopkind Colony, a nonprofit project based in Guilford, VT, which brings together political journalists and activists, was launched eleven years ago as a living memorial to the late Guilford resident and journalist Andrew Kopkind. The Kopkind Colony organizes seminars for its resident participants and hosts a number of free public events. Next month on Sunday, July 19th, Kopkind will present in the Organ Barn the new film William Kunstler: Disturbing the Universe, by his filmmaker daughters, Emily and Sarah Kunstler, which just won raves at The Sundance Film Festival.