Sprout Film Festival Bring Neurodiversity to the Big Screen

Sprout Film Festival Bring Neurodiversity to the Big Screen

On Sunday, February 28, 2016, Whole Children brings a new film festival to the Pioneer Valley. The Sprout Film Festival aims to make the invisible visible by bringing a collection of films featuring people with developmental and intellectual disabilities to the big screen. Featuring films both entertaining and memorable, Sprout explores neurodiversity and spotlights an ever-present but infrequently artistically explored experience.

Held from 4-6pm at Amherst’s Converse Hall, the festival is appropriate for most ages (audience skills necessary!), and stands out amongst local film festivals in its unique focus: rather than spotlighting artistry and creativity in film, the festival intentionally sheds light on the experiences of people with developmental and intellectual disabilities and invites conversation about community inclusion. After the film, families can stay for a discussion with festival curator and local filmmaker, Ted White – older festival-goers in particular can benefit from this opportunity to hear more about the reasons for the films’ inclusion in the Sprout Film Festival.

The festival connects to a theme of late-winter explorations of film through community-based educational opportunities. Additionally, the Sprout festival encourages families to explore the ways in which people with disabilities of all kinds are included in our society. Using resources recommended in our recent Resources for Learning About the Experiences of People With Disabilities, families can explore neuro- and physical diversity so as to build empathy and understanding for the differences between their own life experiences and those of others.

Environmental Film Festival in the Berkshires

Project Native 4th Annual Environmental Film Festival
March 29 & 30, 2014
Great Barrington, MA

For the past three years, Project Native has hosted a successful day-long environmental film festival. This year they are expanding the festival to include an evening screening at the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center in Great Barrington, MA, on Saturday, March 29th in addition to the festival on Sunday, March 30th at the Triplex Cinema.

The festival will kick off Saturday, March 29th at 7pm with a special screening of Revolution, an award-winning film by Rob Stewart, director of Sharkwater at the  Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center in Great Barrington, MA. Startling, beautiful, and provocative, Revolution has already won awards at international film festivals. Revolution is not just about the environment—it’s a film about hope and inspiration. It is an urgent call-to-action with an uplifting message that tells us it’s possible to alleviate the damage already done. While creating this film, Stewart met with experts in their fields to investigate the important issues affecting our lives. In an effort to uncover the secrets to a safer world, Stewart goes on an adventure filled with action and drama that will leave audiences around the world, at any age, inspired about how they can get involved in the fight to save our planet.

“Our goal is to not only show the problems facing our world, but to also inspire action for positive change,” says Karen Lyness LeBlanc, Education & Outreach Coordinator for Project Native. Project Native is encouraging middle, high school and college students in the area to attend and bring their friends. This event is FREE, thanks to support from the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation. A panel discussion will follow the film.

Then on Sunday, March 30th, screening at the Triplex Cinema…

YouthFilm: Day-Long Festival of Film & Video

Northampton Arts Council Call for Entries

The Northampton Arts Council will once again present YouthFilm, a day-long festival of film and video created by local youth in February 2014. The festival accepts film and video entries from throughout the region by young people from 5–18 years old, due by January 20, 2014… so get crackin’!

Is video the most popular creative medium in your household? Young film and video artists are invited to share their work at the Northampton Arts Council’s annual event, YouthFilm – a celebration of the work created by young budding visual artists. Held as a part of the council’s KidsBestFest, a kid-friendly festival of international film, YouthFilm is not only a celebration of the work of local youth – it is an event that builds a bridge between the examination and admiration of others’ work and creating and contributing original work to the field, allowing young artists the opportunity to become part of the world of film-making at a young age.

YouthFilm will be held on Saturday, February 22nd at the Academy of Music on Main Street in Northampton. However, entries to the festival are due by January 20th in order to be considered for screening. Films must be 30 minutes or less and must be submitted in digital form, but entries are not limited by any other restrictions – all genres and subjects are welcome to be explored within the videos.

Here is Emma Strebel’s submission last year titled, “Finding My  Way”:

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Japanese Animation Festival at Amherst Cinema

Miyazaki Film Festival

Hayao Miyazaki holds a special place in the hearts of lovers of animated films – his hand-drawn animations combine realistic-looking landscapes with expressive imaginary creatures and human characters whose movements have an almost balletic quality to them.  Miyzaki is the creator of classic films such as Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke, Howl’s Moving Castle, and the more recent Ponyo, and his films have become legendary amongst film lovers both Japanese and American.

Amherst Cinema celebrates Miyazaki’s storytelling genius and artistic talent this spring with a series of screenings of the original Japanese versions of some of the filmmaker’s most loved films.  Screenings will take place twice weekly through April 10th, with a new film being shown each week (each film is shown twice).  Catch a showing on either a Sunday afternoon at 2pm, or on a Wednesday evening at 7pm.  Dates and films of screenings are:

  • Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, March 3rd and 6th
  • Castle in the Sky, March 10th and 13th
  • My Neighbor Totoro, March 17th and 20th
  • Princess Mononoke, March 24th and 27th
  • Spirited Away, March 31st and April 3rd
  • Howl’s Moving Castle, April 7th and 10th

Can’t get enough Miyazaki?  You’re in luck!  A new film, titled From up on Poppy Hill, will be released soon and Amherst Cinema will offer it for a full run during May (release date TBA).  For more information, call the cinema at 413-253-2547 or visit amherstcinema.org.

Pioneer Valley Transition Towns Film Festival Seeks Submissions

Pioneer Valley Transition Towns Film Festival
Call for Films

Transition Film Festival

Local area cable access centers in the upper Pioneer Valley are co-sponsoring and can help with equipment and training.

Western Massachusetts is home to many towns in which there is an incredibly strong sense of community – it has helped to shape the culture of the area for generations!  The Pioneer Valley Institute and Pioneer Valley Transition Towns are sponsoring a film festival this fall – made up entirely of local films created by community members that address the idea of community resilience despite the unknown future that we face.

The festival will take place on October 16th, 2012, and community members are encouraged to create their own short films to submit.  Families, teens, and adults can all participate!  All that’s required is a locally made film about building community resilience in an uncertain future.  Younger kiddos can work with older family members to piece together their ideas about community resiliency, then get help executing their work.  Teens can use the festival as an opportunity to learn about and have a hands-on experience with filmmaking – perhaps a new software or type of camera can be learned in the process! Submissions to the festival must be submitted by September 28th.  For more information and an application, visit www.transitionamherst.org.

2010 Ashfield FilmFest

Ashfield FilmFest Gala Screening
September 25th at 7pm in the Ashfield Town Hall

It’s that time of year again for the 4th Annual Ashfield FilmFest. Last year all 450 tickets sold out, so be sure to get your tickets early! Details below.

Here on Hilltown Families we’ve featured a couple of films entered into the festival, including 2009 First Prize, Adult & Audience Choice Award winner Dancing Queens produced by Nancy Hoff, and 2007 Grand Prize winner Three Seasons of Winter produced by David Fessenden.

Last year’s Grand Prize winner, The Great Ashfield Pancaper, produced by Gayle Kabaker,  a story about Secret Agents trying to steal Elmer’s award winning pancake recipe, is featured below. Abe Loomis, Janice Sorensen, Sonya Kitchell, Erica Wheeler & Erin McKeown contribute their vocal and song writing talents.

Nan Parati, proprietress of Elmer’s writes:

When Gayle Kabaker came to me in early summer to say she wanted to make a film about Elmer’s pancakes, I backed away saying, “I don’t think I want to be involved with this,” a project I feared was somehow going to be a five-minute infomercial on our pancakes. I do love our pancakes, but I couldn’t see myself standing there pitching them or standing proudly by while someone else did. I wasn’t sure what she had in mind and did everything I could to dissuade her from the idea.

Then she brought me the script and it was SO goofy and downright funny—AND I would get to wield a gun and smoke a cigar; the casting was very well-thought out, and it featured three of my favorite people in cameo roles, so I agreed and even did my own hair and makeup for the shoot.

Be sure to get your tickets early for the Fourth Annual Ashfield Filmfest. The event was sold out last year. The gala screening will take place at Ashfield Town Hall on Saturday, September 25th at 7 pm. Tickets are $5. Kids are free but they must have tickets. You can purchase tickets at the Ashfield Farmers Market Saturday mornings or at Belding Memorial Library during regular library hours. Tickets are also be available at Elmer’s and at Ashfield Hardware Store. This year a Technical Achievement Award and a Music Award have been added to the list of prizes. Belding Memorial Library will receive a share of this year’s proceeds. All the five minute film entries are in. Be sure to be there for the screening and to vote for the popular Audience Award. For more information visit our website at www.ashfieldfilmfest.org.

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