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April 24, 2013

Film News: White River Indie Films Goes Transmedia; Feminist Docs in Burlington

CCSketchBkflt_midresThis year, White River Indie Films is going trans — transmedia, that is.

In addition to film screenings, this weekend’s three-day fest will feature iWRIF, a series of panels and workshops devoted to “Transmedia: The Future of Storytelling Across Platforms.”

“People kept asking me if it was a transgender festival — which would be cool, too!” says festival coordinator Emma Mullen.

But transmedia — as opposed to trans media — is simply storytelling across media, such as a documentary film supplemented by a “website with an audience-participation video” and a social-media component, Mullen explains. The term “transmedia,” she adds, is gaining favor in academic and professional circles now that the so-called “new media” are “not that new.”

Transmedia, Mullen says, is “about expanding your engagement.” “How do you tell a story through the use of new formats, and using it to your best advantage?”

That story could be an online archive like the one New York artist Melanie Crean is building to help Americans and Iraqis exchange their views on “home.” (WRIF participants can become part of it at the “Shape of Change” workshop.)

It could be a transmedia documentary — there’s a workshop on that, too. It could be a DIY e-book that incorporates maps, videos and charts, as demonstrated at WRIF by Olivia Koski of software company Atavist. Or it could be an online multimedia exhibit of local history, as detailed in yet another workshop.

“The festival itself has kind of become a transmedia project,” Mullen says, with live blogging; Dartmouth College students shooting video; and Skype sessions with filmmakers whose works are being screened, such as Jeff Orlowski, director of the global-warming doc Chasing Ice.

And … oh yeah, there are films! WRIF’s Friday gala sees the local fest premiere of Cartoon College, a documentary about two years at the Center for Cartoon Studies that’s as colorful and quirky as, well, an indie cartoon. (Read my review.) Students from CCS will be on hand for live cartooning.

Local filmmakers are the stars of a free Sunday brunch — complete with food and coffee — where you can watch their work and quiz them afterward. Come early: Mullen says the brunch was a “smash hit” last year.

Some of the other films screened have local connections. Upper Valley native Reed Morano will discuss the indie For Ellen, starring Paul Dano; he was its director of photography. Eugene Jarecki’s doc The House I Live In will have another screening. And former Vermonter Andrew Neel will be there to present his media satire King Kelly.

Speaking of media (or transmedia) satire, one of the most intriguing-sounding films on the program is Punishment Park, a 1971 dystopian faux-documentary from British director Peter Watkins. The Atlantic has called him “the forgotten filmmaker who anticipated our modern media madness.”

Mullen says WRIF had its “best year yet last year,” with more than 1200 attendees, and the board is “hoping to continue to expand.”

Two indie documentaries screening this Saturday at Burlington’s Main Street Landing offer a taste of the turbulent 1970s: specifically, the women’s movement. Catherine Russo’s A Moment in Her Story: Stories from the Boston Women’s Movement draws on archival footage of a second-wave struggle close to home. Myriam Fougère’s Lesbiana: A Parallel Revolution features interviews with the East Coast lesbian intellectuals and activists who were instrumental in creating “women-only” spaces. Come get a blast from the revolutionary past.

White River Indie Films
Friday through Sunday, April 26 to 28, most events at Tupelo Music Hall in White River Junction. Opening gala $35, workshops and panels $10, film screenings $9, Local Filmmakers’ Brunch and 48-hour film-slam showcase free. For schedule, see

Two Feminist Films
Saturday, April 27, 5 p.m. at Main Street Landing Performing Arts Center. Sliding-scale admission $5-15. Info, [email protected].

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