Home News and Features Green Mountain Film Festival Returns, Delivering a Platform for Diverse Voices

Green Mountain Film Festival Returns, Delivering a Platform for Diverse Voices

“I Saw the TV Glow,” still courtesy of A24.
The Green Mountain Film Festival is returning for its 23rd year March 14-17, and according to festival director Phayvanh Luekhamhan, the timing couldn’t be better.

“After last year’s floods, the general energy and mood is that we really need to come together, and we really need some healing,” says Luekhamhan. “We need a safe and known way to experience life together right now — like going to the movies.”

The festival’s schedule is packed with over two dozen films from around the world, ranging from narrative to documentary, animation to shorts, and many of the titles will be making their Vermont premieres with the festival. This year, not only will filmgoers have the chance to come together for screenings at The Savoy Theater, but at the Capitol Theater and the River Street gallery space, The Crumb Factory, two venues new to the festival. Also for the first time, Rabble Rouser Chocolate & Craft will serve as a festival hub, where attendees are encouraged to gather to discuss the films, or to connect with a representative.

Additionally, movie fans are invited to attend a lineup of special events, including a slate of filmmaker conversations, artist presentations and roundtable talks throughout the weekend and a kickoff party on Thursday, March 14, at City Hall, where the Montpelier Chamber Orchestra will perform live music accompanying screenings of two local films. 

Luekhamhan speaks excitedly about a March 16 panel discussion that will feature some of Vermont’s Black farmers in support of the film, “Farming While Black,” and a “pre-festival” event on March 13 at Montpelier High School featuring a panel of youth filmmakers and artists. Each special event on the schedule is unique to this year’s festival and free to the public, which she emphasizes as a crucial feature in maintaining both accessibility and equity for the community.

“Farming While Black,” still courtesy of Kontent Films. 
The Green Mountain Film Festival has experienced many changes in both scope and focus since its inception in 1997. According to Luekhamhan, the institution continues to evolve as a result of the specific experiences represented by those involved, including an advisory board stacked with community organizers, writers, filmmakers and artists, like festival programmer Sam Kann.

“The team is new this year,” explains Kann, “and in the films we’ve chosen, we’ve prioritized queer, BIPOC and international voices. These are films that might not usually reach Montpelier.”

According to Kann, the film selection process was rigorous, involving a crew of over a dozen dedicated volunteers who screened film after film, meeting weekly over the course of months to share their impressions and finalize the lineup. In January, Kann attended the renowned Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, where she secured two films — “Union,” a documentary about the Amazon Labor Union, and “I Saw the TV Glow,” which Kann describes as “one of the most emotional, intense, groundbreaking queer films ever made.” Both will make their Vermont premiere at the festival.

“Union,” still courtesy of Level Ground Productions.
Kann also expresses excitement about the short films that will be highlighted in the festival, describing the thrill of experiencing shorts from talented filmmakers who are just getting started.

The very shortest films screened for the public are a part of Film Slam, a competition sponsored by ORCA Media in which creative participants were challenged to create a three to four minute narrative film in three days — from March 1-3 — including pre-production, filming and editing. A screening committee will review the entries, and decide which films will be presented in the short film showcase on March 16 at The Savoy Theater, another of the many free events on the festival schedule. 

The commitment to providing a platform for both local and diverse voices was crucial to those who designed this year’s festival, and Kann believes that the entire lineup of films and special events provides “something for everyone,” along with an exciting opportunity for filmgoers to try something new.

“The Green Mountain Film Festival is a way to highlight art and to get it as much attention as it deserves,” she says. “These are films that are motivated by artistry, films that are embedded in community and reflect community. And the festival is a way to celebrate our own community’s resilience.”

“The festival allows us as a community to support the arts,” echoes Luekhamhan. “And it has been a part of Montpelier’s cultural identity for so long. We rely on it.”

Tickets for the 23rd Green Mountain Film Festival are available now at gmffestival.org and in person during the festival at Rabble Rouser Chocolate & Craft.