Vermont films well represented
by Mike Eldred
Sep 19, 2013 | 5831 views | 0 0 comments | 108 108 recommendations | email to a friend | print
DEERFIELD VALLEY- Next weekend’s ITVFest may have attracted independent productions from Hollywood to Denmark, but Vermonters will be well-represented on the screen and on the music stage, as well.

The weekend’s musical entertainment kicks off at 1 pm on Thursday with Deerfield Valley native Colby Dix on stage for a two-hour set at Layla’s Riverside Lodge on Route 100 in West Dover. Dix is a featured performer on all three days of the event. Following Dix, at 3 pm on Thursday, Brattleboro rock band I Love, I Love You plays, and the Deerfield Valley’s Peter Miles caps off the day’s lineup, starting at 5 pm.

On Friday, Dix gets things started at 1 pm, followed by another local artist, Jeff Campbell, at 3pm. On Saturday, Dix returns at 1 pm, followed again by I Love, I Love You at 3 pm. At 5 pm on Friday and Saturday, Natalie Michell & Co., of New York City, ends the day’s musical entertainment.

ITVFest Executive Director Philip Gilpin says the festival’s emphasis on local entertainment and vendors is intentional. “Showcasing the local culture was a primary focus,” he said. “Instead of bringing in people and having the locals move to the sidelines, I wanted the outside world to come in and explore our valley. I want people at the festival to walk around, hear local music, visit local vendors, and see local (television and film) projects.”

A number of the submitted projects that made it through the selection process have a Vermont connection. “AKT 2,” a Swedish language (with English subtitles) selection in the drama category was directed by Robert Fritz, of Brattleboro. “Crash Reel” is a two-hour documentary about Vermont snowboarder Kevin Pearce, who sustained a traumatic brain injury sustained in a half-pipe fall. “Crash Reel,” which was also shown at the Sundance Film Festival, has already been picked up by HBO.

“Forgotten Rails” is a documentary series by Townshend filmmaker Tim Lawrence that, as the title indicates, explores abandoned rail lines. Gilpin says local railroads are included in Lawrence’s travels, and the idea for the series was sparked by research on the Hoosac Tunnel.

At least two of the selections have connections to the Deerfield Valley. “The Shape of Things to Come” is a documentary about musician Nick Zammuto, formerly of The Books. Zammuto is from Readsboro, and much of the film is shot in his Readsboro studio. He’s known for his experimental style, incorporating sound samples from non-instrumental sources into the music. Filmmaker Matt Day is from Burlington.

Part-time Wilmington resident Marty Kasindorf’s film “The Little White School House on the Lake” will be shown at the festival’s Wilmington venue, Memorial Hall, only once, at 1 pm Saturday. The film documents Kasindorf’s research into the house he and his wife, Irma Hawkins, own on Castle Hill.

Hawkins’ family had owned the cottage since the 1950s. Curious as to how the place had survived the flooding of the valley to become the only house on the shore, Kasindorf set out to track down its history. Through his research, Kasindorf discovered that the history of the house was intertwined with the history of Wilmington and the rise and fall of industry and railroads in the Deerfield Valley.

Now a four-season house, the building was originally built in the 1840s as a school on land donated by a local resident. According to records Kasindorf found at Pettee Memorial Library, 36 children attended the school during its first 18-week school year. After the Civil War, the Castle School became Wilmington’s District 14 school.

The school operated throughout the 19th century, mainly serving schoolchildren who lived on nearby farms.

In the late 1800s, the Newton Brothers development of the local logging industry attracted workers from out of the area. The village that sprang up around the mills on the Deerfield River was known as Mountain Mills, and the children of Mountain Mills attended the District 14 school.

In the 1920s the area was developed for hydroelectric power and Harriman Dam and reservoir were built, flooding what was once the village of Mountain Mills. Although the developers purchased all of the land that would be under the water, and almost all of the land that would become the new reservoir’s shore, they never purchased the old schoolhouse.

The building stood empty for more than a decade and was eventually purchased for a fishing camp. The property eventually passed to Hawkins’ parents, who bought it as a summer getaway. Kasindorf’s documentary is about 40 minutes long, and includes plenty of local history.

To watch trailers of the selections or to purchase passes to attend the festival visit It runs from Thursday, September 26, to Saturday, September 28.

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