BRATTLEBORO -- March in Vermont is traditionally mud season, cold winds, waning cabin-fever, Saint Patrick’s and Town Meeting Days. In Brattleboro, it has also come to mean the Women’s Film Festival, when this Southern Vermont town hosts a premier event showcasing films made by women about women. Proceeds from ticket sales go to the Women’s Crisis Center, which helps women and children affected by domestic or other sexual abuse.
Starting with a special benefit screening of Academy Award-nominated "Precious" on March 5 at the Latchis Theater, then continuing on March 12 and running for 10 days, through March 21, Brattleboro becomes headquarters for the finest in cutting-edge, innovative, and informative film-making.
In this, the festival’s 19th year, 25 award-winning documentaries and feature films will be presented, haling from Columbia, Iran, Canada, South Africa, England, the United States, New Zealand, Scotland, and France. Owing to the festival’s growing reputation and a special grant more directors than ever will be present to introduce their films.
The festival opens with "The Topp Twins: Untouchable Girls," a New Zealand film about yodeling lesbian country-western singers, called "provocative and disarming." Other highlights of the festival include "The Beaches of Agnes," a poignant and cinematically creative memoir by Agnes Varda, short-listed for an Academy Award; the heroic tale of a street survivor, "Begging Naked;" Kim Longinotto’s "Rough Aunties," a documentary about women in South Africa who work to save children traumatized by sexual abuse and assault, documentary-making at its finest and most inspiring; "The Jazz Baroness," about filmmaker Hannah Rothschild’s aunt who became the benefactor of Thelonius Monk, voiced-over by Helen Mirren.
The festival closes with a one-time screening of "Yoo Hoo, Mrs. Goldberg," an award-winning feature-length documentary directed by Aviva Kempner about the life of Molly Berg, a pioneer in TV comedy, weaving Berg’s personal story with the history of early television and Jewish-American life in the first half of the 20th Century.
This is only a small sample of the films lined up for this year’s festival.
On view at the Hooker-Dunham Theater & Gallery will be another special feature of the festival -- "Visions," a show of women’s art and craft, with proceeds from the month-long silent auction also going to the Crisis Center. The show opens on Gallery Walk Friday, March 5.
On Saturday, March 27, a festive closing party will include the final evening of bidding on "Visions" artwork and a screening of the film chosen by festival goers as "the Best of the Fest."
And, Sunday, March 28, the Women’s Film Festival welcomes Cappella Clausura: Sacred Music by Women Composers, from Boston, performing a special benefit concert for the Crisis Center.
Thanks to a grant this year from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, the festival will be able to increase accessibility by providing American Sign Language Interpretation for several films, and making a number of free tickets available through social service organizations. Part of this grant will also allow the festival to host more visiting filmmakers than ever before.
Details about all events, the schedule, and film descriptions are available on-line at www.womensfilmfestival.org.