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Vermont International Film Festival opens Friday

Observer Courtesy Image A still from 'The Look of Silence', which will be shown Oct. 31 at 1 p.m. in Burlington.
Observer Courtesy Image
A still from ‘The Look of Silence’, which will be shown Oct. 31 at 1 p.m. in Burlington.

Observer staff report

For its 30th anniversary, the Vermont International Film Festival will present the largest film festival program in its recent history, featuring more than 75 films from around the world, special guests, events, receptions, school programs and more.

The 2015 Vermont International Film Festival will be held at various venues in downtown Burlington Oct. 23 to Nov. 1.

The 10-day celebration of cinema and community takes place at the Main Street Landing Performing Arts Center with screenings in both the Black Box Theater and the Film House and events in the lobby and atrium on the third floor of Main Street Landing. Other locations include The BCA Center on Church Street with Lunchtime Shorts screenings during the weekdays at noon, and VTIFF After Dark screenings at Arts Riot on Pine Street. See the full schedule and purchase tickets at www.vtiff.org.

Observer courtesy image The Vermont International Film Festival will open with a screening of ‘Taxi,’  great filmmaking in the face of considerable adversity from Iranian director Jafar Panahi.
Observer courtesy image
The Vermont International Film Festival will open with a screening of ‘Taxi,’ great filmmaking in the face of considerable adversity from Iranian director Jafar Panahi.

Major Guest

VTIFF will welcome acclaimed director and cinematographer Tom DiCillo to the 2015 festival. DiCillo will present his latest film, “Down In Shadowland,” on Sunday, Oct. 25 at 1 p.m., as well as at the 20th anniversary screening of his now-classic independent feature “Living in Oblivion,” starring Steve Buscemi and Catherine Keener, on Saturday, Oct. 24 at 8:30 p.m.. He will also attend the opening night film and party. The director will be available for Q&A following the screenings and will be signing the newly remastered anniversary blu-ray release of “Living in Oblivion” at the festival.

Observer courtesy image The festival will welcome acclaimed director and cinematographer Tom DiCillo to present his latest film, ‘Down in Shadowland.’ In the film, DiCillo descends into the subterranean world of the NYC subway and records humanity passing by in a highly stylized, poetic film.
Observer courtesy image
The festival will welcome acclaimed director and cinematographer Tom DiCillo to present his latest film, ‘Down in Shadowland.’ In the film, DiCillo descends into the subterranean world of the NYC subway and records humanity passing by in a highly stylized, poetic film.

Opening Night

The festival will open with a screening of acclaimed Iranian director Jafar Panahi’s “Taxi” Friday, Oct. 23 at 7 p.m. at The Main Street Landing Film House. The premiere will be followed by an opening night party in the Film House Lobby with food and bar. Awards for the Vermont Filmmakers Showcase will also be presented at the opening night party.

Since 2010, Panahi has been banned by the Iranian government from making movies. But that hasn’t stopped him from surreptitiously turning out the autobiographical “This Is Not a Film” (which was smuggled from Iran to the 2011 Cannes Film Festival in a flash drive hidden in a birthday cake and was also screened at VTIFF 2013) and the similarly self-reflexive “Closed Curtain.” “Taxi” is set entirely within the confines of an automobile. Panahi himself is at the wheel, with a dashboard camera capturing his interactions with a variety of passengers – including a bootlegger of American videos and Panahi’s precocious niece, who longs to make a “distributable” film.

Festival Premiere of Joshua Oppenheimer’s Latest Documentary

VTIFF will premiere the latest film from award-winning documentary film director Joshua Oppenheimer, “The Look of Silence,” on Saturday, Oct. 31 at 1 p.m. Oppenheimer will host a Q&A following the screening via Skype. Oppenheimer’s film continues to explore the themes from 2012’s Oscar-nominated “Act of Killing,” focused on the perpetrators of the 1965 Indonesian genocide. His follow-up, “The Look of Silence,” focuses on a family of survivors who discover how their son was murdered, as well as the identities of the killers.

Sleepless In Burlington

The Vermont International Film Foundation will host the Sleepless in Burlington Filmmaking Competition, taking place during the final weekend of the festival, Oct. 30 to Nov. 1. Filmmaking students from The University of Vermont, Champlain College, Middlebury College and Burlington College will compete in a 40-hour film competition to create short films over the course of the weekend. The winning film will be selected by a panel of judges, including Vermont filmmakers Mark Covino (“A Band Called Death”) and Eva Solberger (“Stuck in Vermont”) and Colin Trevorrow (“Jurassic World”).