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Green Mountain Film Festival Invigorated with New Partner ORCA Media

The Savoy Theater. Photo by Ian Lewis.
There are at least two good things about central Vermont in March: Sugaring, and the Green Mountain Film Festival.

 Attracting film makers and cinephiles, since 1997 the Green Mountain Film Festival has presented annual gatherings in March, offering a healthy mix of work from regional as well as international submissions. The 23rd edition of the festival will have a new partner — Onion River Community Access (ORCA) Media in Montpelier — and draws in many groups supporting independent film to envision the next steps for the popular festival.

 “We are thrilled to take over the Green Mountain Film Festival and grateful to be able to keep this community-driven festival going after 23 years. We are also committed to show some love to the Savoy Theater in Montpelier,” says Christopher Wiersema, one of three co-directors at Onion River Community Access Media. “ORCA offers a good home for a nonprofit like the festival. We just had the first meeting of the advisory committee and decided to start small — four days in March 2024.” Wiersema, who completed undergraduate film work at Columbia College in Chicago, and is now working on his master of fine arts from the Vermont College of Fine Arts, also leads the Vermont Youth Documentary Lab.

 Following conversations with the former board of directors of the festival, after a few years of pandemic-driven hiatus, a new partnership emerged with renewed energy and commitment to theatrical exhibition of independent film. ORCA Media, the nonprofit community media center serving Montpelier and central Vermont, inherited the festival from Focus on Film and is partnering with the Savoy Theater. Sarah Wisner, committee member and local filmmaker says, “The Savoy Theater is where I and many other Vermonters grew up and learned to love cinema. I can’t wait to collaborate with the Savoy to bring GMFF back to life.” 

The co-founders of Vermont Production Collective are excited to see the festival amplify, promote, and support local filmmakers. Kristin Cantu from the collective says, “The GMFF’s timing and central geographical location will provide an ideal occasion for local filmmakers to gather together, network, and grow.” 

Sean Temple, a local filmmaker and member of the committee, reflects, “There aren’t many independent cinemas in Vermont, meaning Vermonters miss the opportunity to see the best films of the year in a theater. We are excited to bring GMFF’s mission to bring diverse, international, and important films to audiences in Montpelier.”

 For eager audiences, Wiersema looks forward to offering pop-up screenings or themed nights in 2023, building excitement for the emergence of the full festival, and to elevate the event with workshops and talks. He envisions special educational events, concurrent workshops, and talks, and hopes to open the door to first-time artists. 

“Great cinema, whether new or old, is released throughout the year. Unfortunately, Vermonters are missing out on these special screenings. One of GMFF’s greatest goals is to be a year-long curator of cinema, and we are excited to broaden screening opportunities for the Montpelier film community” 

So, in addition to the smell of woodsmoke and maple in March, another annual treasure in central Vermont is coming back, reimagined and with a healthy mix of local/regional filmmakers as well as international submissions. 

 For further information on the Green Mountain Film Festival, email gmff@orcamedia.net. Or visit gmffestival.org for information on submission of films and other plans.