Parties & Openings
April 14 – Pittsfield
Susan Merrill Exhibit Opening
April 7 – Ghent
Ghent Playhouse Gala
March 31 – Hudson
Lil' Deb's Commitment Ceremony
BIFF’s Sixth Wraps in Style
Cultural correspondent Bess J.M. Hochstein reports: The sixth annual Berkshire International Film Festival set Great Barrington and Pittsfield reeling with four days of nearly nonstop screenings and almost as many parties, and Festival founder Kelley Vickery (right, with BIFF board chair Al Togut) seemed to be everywhere at once. Following the Opening Night festivities on Thursday, June 2, VIPs regrouped under the same tent on Friday for the Filmmakers’ Cocktail Party before the Pittsfield Opening Night party at the Beacon Cinema, where a sold-out audience gave a multitude of thumbs-up to the documentary Buck. The late-night crowd gathered at Fiori to celebrate Great Barrington filmmaker Alethea Root’s homecoming with her directorial debut, Part Time Fabulous, which won the Festival’s Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature. Saturday evening’s tribute to visual effects pioneer Douglas Trumbull, which included an exclusive screening of Terrence Malick’s Palme D’Or-winning feature, Tree of Life, for which Trumbull served as visual effects consultant, was preceded by yet another party, this time at Allium. The Festival’s awards were unveiled Sunday morning; in addition to Part Time Fabulous, the Audience Award for Best Documentary Feature went to Crime After Crime by Yoav Potash, which also won the Juried Prize Award in that category, and seemed to generate the biggest buzz of the weekend. Michael Rymer’s feature Face to Face won in the Juried Narrative category, and Dustin Grella’s stop-motion animated short, Prayers for Peace, won Berkshire Bank’s “Next Great Filmmaker Award.” Throughout the Festival, local fimmakers were front and center, with more than a dozen movies made in the Berkshires or by Berkshire cast and crew on the roster, including films made at Hancock Shaker Village and Jacob’s Pillow, as well as a special appearance by noted film critic and scholar Kent Jones, who was awarded the Key to the City of Pittsfield, his hometown, by Mayor James Ruberto.
From Born Sweet: Academy Award-winning director Cynthia Wade and producer Matthew Syrett, who live in South Egremont with their daughters Haley and Genevieve Syrett; former head of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Sid Ganis with actress and knitwear designer Karen Allen, from White Irish Drinkers.
Filmmaker, critic, and scholar Kent Jones (right) shows off his newly awarded Key to the City of Pittsfield to high school buddies Kate Baldwin, Red Lion Inn general manager Bruce Finn, and IS183 Art School registrar Amy Butterworth.
At Allium before the Tribute to Douglas Trumbull: Actor Stephen Vause and director/writer Marc Maurino, whose short All in the Game screened during the Festival; actor/PR whiz Elizabeth Aspenlieder of Shakespeare & Company with photographer Sean McLaughlin.
AmfAR vice president of public information AnnMari Shannahan with former Douglas Trumbull associates Arish Fyzee, creative director of Prana Studios, who travelled from Mumbai to speak at the tribute, and social media consultant Eugenie Sills.
At the Mahaiwe podium, visual effects master Douglas Trumbull, the BIFF honoree, said he was “completely undone” and fought back tears after tributes by his former colleagues, from left, Arish Fyzee, Richard Yuricich, Diane Pearlman, Eugenie Sills, and John Whalan.