by Dahria Messina
MONTPELIER — The Green Mountain Film Festival is a tradition that residents of Montpelier look forward to every year. For a few days in the middle of March, the town comes alive with discussion of the event. From classics and contemporary masterpieces to student-made films, there is something for every fan of films.
The first Green Mountain Film Festival was held in the late 1990s. It then became an annual event, complete with special appearances by filmmakers, directors, producers, and even actors. The story of the festival’s beginnings is quite a tale. The original idea for the festival came from a group of students who approached the Savoy Theater’s previous owners, Rick Winston and Andrea Serota. When extenuating circumstances made it impossible for the original group to continue on with the festival, it “fell into Rick and Andrea’s lap,” as Terry Youk, one of the hard-working organizers of the festival said. The idea of the event caught on quickly. People loved being able to view films from all over the world, especially during a season when many are suffering from cabin fever. “It’s like traveling!” Youk said, a smile in his voice. Youk has since taken over both the Savoy Theater and the Green Mountain Film Festival.
This year, the festival will be held from March 20 to March 29. The films for this year’s festival are currently being chosen and will include a wide variety of genres. When asked about the process of selecting films for the event, Youk chuckled and said, “It’s chaos.” It is organized chaos, though, with two groups of programmers. One group finds films, and the other group performs such tasks as contacting distributors, organizing viewings and voting on potential films. In this process, a list of hundreds of films will be narrowed down to a selection of 70 or so. With a mix of feature-length and short-subject, foreign and local, big-name and unheard-of films and filmmakers, the Green Mountain Film Festival is equally a celebration of diversity and community. This event is one of the biggest, if not the biggest, events to happen in Montpelier on an annual basis. Lasting for 10 days and bringing in 7,000 to 10,000 people is not something that any other event in this town can boast of. Youk described it as “the backbone of the arts community,” a statement that is hard to refute. Between the exciting special appearances and the wide selection of films from around the globe, there’s a lot to look forward to during this spring’s Green Mountain Film Festival.