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Vermont International Film Festival › About

Let’s Go to the Movies

Join us for the 19th Vermont International Film Festival (VIFF) on October 23-26, 2008, at Burlington’s Main Street Landing Performing Arts Center at Lake & College and Palace Cinema 9 in South Burlington. These two venues are VIFF’s generous hosts for one of the region’s most important cultural events of the year. The 2008 festival will present work by Vermont filmmakers, including a special showcase of college and university student films, and a select program of films from around the world.

History

The Vermont International Film Festival (VIFF) was born of the anti-nuclear movement in the 1985, making it the world’s oldest environmental and human rights film festival. Founded by two longtime peace and social justice activists, George and Sonia Cullinen, the inspiration for the festival came from the success of their 1981 film, From Washington to Moscow, which documented a Walk for Peace between the two rural Vermont towns. The film won the UNESCO prize at the 1983 Hiroshima International Film Festival in Japan and taught the Cullinens that film and video could motivate people to become involved in their own communities and elsewhere in the world. VIFF grew out of this vision—the challenge to work for peace, justice, and human rights, and to become involved in a global effort to preserve and to enrich life on the planet. Today, the festival continues to grow in the spirit of the original challenge.

The first Vermont International Film Festival was held in 1985 at Marlboro College in southern Vermont. About one hundred people attended the inaugural event. Now based in Burlington, VIFF has earned a loyal audience for its annual presentation of groundbreaking films spanning the globe, especially films focused on the environment, human rights, and war and peace. Past festival guests have included such activist artists as actor Danny Glover, Bread & Puppet Theater founder Peter Schumann, and historian and playwright Howard Zinn, among others.

New Directions

In recent years, the festival has expanded its program to include educational films and discussions for youth audiences—from elementary school kids watching and talking about What Makes Me Happy to high school students confronting the peak-oil dilemma via The End of Suburbia. VIFF has also embraced new film technologies and storytelling approaches, inviting independent filmmakers working in diverse styles to present their work at the festival.

VIFF is currently in the midst of a dramatic redefinition of its community mission. As of May 2008, the Festival has branched out with the Vermont International Film Forum. The Forum is a new film series that runs throughout the year with the goal of fostering community partnerships. The Forum “soft launched” with the May 2008 screening of Nerdcore Rising, which VIFF cosponsored with Vermont Community Access Media (VCAM) and Regional Educational Television Network (RETN). The Forum also hosted a screening of Helvetica on September 13, 2008, as part of the Burlington Book Festival. The official launch of the Forum will take place at this year’s Vermont International Film Festival.

These and future collaborations are the purpose of the Vermont International Film Forum. VIFF is eager to build relationships with community members and present quality films that might otherwise not make their way to our area. Consider supporting this effort by collaborating with VIFF to select and show films, cosponsoring future Forum films, and contributing to the 2008 Vermont International Film Festival—and its campaign to hire an executive director. Team up with VIFF!