The Billings Farm & Museum is pleased to announce plans for its first-ever Woodstock Vermont Summer Film Series and the appointment of award-winning filmmaker Jay Craven as its Film Series curator and director.
The Summer Film Series will start May 18th and 19th with special screenings of legendary filmmaker Frederick Wiseman’s acclaimed new documentary, EX LIBRIS – The New York Public Library.
EX LIBRIS does more than go behind the scenes of one of the world’s greatest knowledge institutions. It shows its role as a center of community and an exemplar of morality, accessibility, democracy and calm – even as it welcomes diverse people and ideas. The film won top honors at the 2017 Venice International Film Festival and was named to the official shortlist for the 2018 Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature. Due to the length of this film, showtime is 6:00 p.m. All other films will screen on Saturday nights at 5:00 and 7:00 p.m.
On Saturday, June 30th, the series will screen Peter and the Farm by second-time director Tony Stone. The film provides an intimately detailed portrait of southern Vermont dairyman and organic farmer Peter Dunning, a rugged individualist, hard-drinking loner and former artist who has burned bridges with his wives and children and whose only company, even on harsh winter nights, are the sheep, cows, and pigs he tends on his farm. Dunning is one of the most complicated, sympathetic documentary subjects to come along in some time. Imbued with an aching tenderness, Stone’s documentary is both haunting and heartbreaking, a mosaic of its singular subject’s transitory memories and reflections—however funny, tragic, or angry they may be. The film won a Special Jury Prize at the Philadelphia Film Festival and was selected as a New York Times Critic’s Pick.
Alexandra Dean’s documentary, Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story will screen on Saturday, July 28th. The film tells the story of this iconic Hollywood star who secretly devised groundbreaking WWII technologies that contributed to the later development of cell phones, WIFI, and Bluetooth technology. This riveting film weaves interviews and clips with never-before-heard audiotapes of Hedy speaking on the record about her incredible life. And it follows the actress/inventor’s retreat, during her later years, when she became a recluse, impoverished and almost forgotten. The film was selected as a New York Times “Best Films of the Year – Critic’s Pick” and was named New York Film Critics’ “Best Documentary Feature” for 2017.
On Saturday, August 11th the series will screen Menashe. The film follows a kind but hapless grocery store clerk trying to keep custody of his son Rieven after his wife, Lea, passes away. But they live in a tradition-bound culture that requires a mother to be present in every home, so Rieven is supposed to be adopted by the boy’s strict, married uncle. Menashe’s Rabbi grants him one week to spend with Rieven prior to Lea’s memorial. Their time together creates an emotional moment of father/son bonding and offers Menashe a final chance to prove to his skeptical community that he can be a capable parent. Shot in secret entirely within Brooklyn’s Hasidic community depicted in the film, “Menashe” is a warm, life-affirming look at the universal bonds between father and son that also sheds unusual light on a notoriously private community. Jacob Weinstein’s film won top honors from the National Board of Review and was nominated for the prestigious Gotham Award, the independent film world’s highest honor. It also played as an Official selection at the Sundance Film Festival.
On Saturday, September 22nd, the Summer Film Series will conclude with a screening of Doug Nichol’s entertaining documentary, California Typewriter, a loving and sometimes humorous portrait of artists, writers, and collectors who remain steadfastly loyal to the typewriter as a tool and muse. Among the typewriter devotees profiled: actor Tom Hanks, musician John Mayer, historian David McCullough, and playwright Sam Shepard. The picture also movingly documents the struggles of California Typewriter, one of the last repair shops in America dedicated to keeping the aging machines clicking. In the process, the film delivers a thought-provoking meditation on the changing dynamic between humans and machines. California Typewriter was an Official Selection at the prestigious and carefully curated Telluride Film Festival.
Each film is screened in the museum theater with high definition digital projection and Dolby® surround-sound. Complimentary refreshments are included. Tickets prices: $11 adults (16 & up); $6 children (under 16). BF&M members receive discounted prices. Purchase tickets online or 802-457-2355.
The Billings Farm and Museum is also pleased to announce the appointment of award-winning filmmaker Jay Craven as its Woodstock Film Series director and curator. Craven has programmed the new summer series and is already planning screenings and events into the next year. He brings with him a wealth of experience as a respected filmmaker, teacher, and producer of hundreds of Vermont film and performing arts events.
Craven is the recipient of Vermont’s celebrated Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts. He has made nine feature films, five documentaries, and a New England Emmy-winning comedy series, “Windy Acres,” for public television. He teaches screenwriting and directing at Sarah Lawrence College, after having led the Marlboro College film program for twenty years. Craven directs Kingdom County Productions, with Bess O’Brien, and established St. Johnsbury’s Catamount Arts organization in 1975, initially as a travelling film series. His own films have played at festivals and special screenings including Sundance, Lincoln Center, The Smithsonian, Harvard Film Archives, The Cinémathèque Française, The Constitutional Court of Johannesburg, and the Cinemateca Nacional de Venezuela.