It was here in White River Junction where I watched one of the most enlightening films ever. It was a few years back, at the White River Indie Film Festival, and it was shown in the Freight House building-turned-theatre-for-a-weekend.
The WRIF Film Festival has grown since then and now screens its cinematographic brilliance to audiences ready for the great, the unusual, the emotional, and the brave at Northern Stage's Barrette Center for the Arts, the Briggs Opera House, and the Main Street Museum. I've been in those audiences and can tell you this is one film festival worth attending.
(of a pop group, record label, or film company) not belonging to or affiliated with a major record or film company.
WRIF may still be small, it's not affiliated with the big silver screen powers, yet it packs a serious punch. Click Here
to have a look at its 3-day program of films and talks and you'll see what I mean. From films about birth and death, to veterans returning from war, rapping and shorts/hybrid shorts that titillate and amuse, devour and consume you, you'll find something to carry you away and carry away with you (Or copy and paste this link to see the WRIF website/program online: http://www.wrif.org
Saturday's program (in part). Visit http://www.wrif.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/wrif_program_2018.pdf for the entire 3-day schedule of films and talks.
A few years back, sitting in the darkness of the Freight House building with its screen and sound system at peak performance, I watched La Vida Precoz y Breve de Sabina Rivas (The Precocious and Brief Life of Sabina Rivas) riveted and frightened while a young Honduran girl was portrayed on the screen desperately trying to make her way through Mexico and into the United States to pursue a singing career. Her life was miserable, yet she persisted. Sabrina's story carries forward to today, as refugees the world over continue to strive for better lives.
Had I not seen the movie about Sabina Rivas, I'd never have known how deeply desperate and hungry she was to build herself a better life. All the Sabina's, multiplied by millions of immigrants, always faced long odds of success. But all the Sabina's and their immigrant peers created the strongest nation in the world with their drive and passion to better themselves.
Lady Liberty in her finest welcoming pose. (Above from theatlantic.com)
As the plaque at the base of the Statue of Liberty proclaims (in part):
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
During America's still-brief experiment with democracy we've learned it is those who strive for better lives, those willing to risk their own lives to get to this storied land, those who harness the strength of will to find a way into this country beyond all odds who are the people who have made, and indeed, will continue to make this country great.
offers a strong case for remembering that the U.S. was founded and built by immigrants — many as self-annointed refugees who fled their homelands in search of better lives for themselves and their families. Through the diversity and power of those once downtrodden and forgotten sprang our great country. Funny how things come around full circle in time. (Click Here
to see a trailer for the movie Sabina on YouTube, or visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rq0u2h4bcgo
I thank WRIF and its curators for enlightening and educating me. WRIF has not only taken us "out of our minds" with its films over the years, it has cast my mind into spaces of thought it would never have ventured on its own. Such is the power of film as art, and art as film. Since Sabina—and I think of my life as "before Sabina (BS) and after Sabina (AS)" — I've come to realize the vastness of humanity that exists in refugees and those who choose to flee their countries. These are not "animals" or people from "___hole" countries. No. These are good and talented and brave people who live and breathe, laugh and cry, and feel pain and anguish, happiness and joy just like I do. It takes an almost unnatural strength to fling yourself into the unknown as one of the homeless, tired, poor, and tempest-tossed. It is these huddled masses yearning to breathe free that we should thank today and every day for feeding the pipeline with their unnatural strengths that make our nation great. Indeed, we already love and celebrate these self-same ilk as our very own ancestors and nation builders. Why stop now?
Get your head ready to get WRIF'ed!
This year's White River Indie Film
Festival 2018 is sure to offer more moments of enlightenment and entertainment. Yes, you can watch all kinds of Indie films from the comfort of your own living room on a big screen TV, but you'll lose the powerful translations of murmurings, laughs and exclamations, and the camaraderie of post-film conversations with others surrounding you as film-lovers and adventure seekers in a closely-knit community's hall. You'll miss the bonds a great film will form between and among strangers-soon-to-become-friends. And you'll never enjoy all those memories of experiencing films in a group setting so powerful they will stay with you forever. Go Indie this year, then again and again!
Yes, WRIF is coming back around on the 1st—3rd of June. Each year it gets better and better. Best get your tickets soon.
Dave Celone is a writer, a poet, and a film lover, who also happens to own Long River Gallery & Gifts in White River Junction, Vermont. You can bet you'll see him this year eagerly watching the WRIF menu of film options, sucking them up like a sponge, ready for more. Click Here
to follow Dave whenever he posts to the dailyuv.com.