And the Winners Are ...

Film Fest Organizers Pleased With Results

The verdict is in on this year’s White River Indie Festival, which concluded on Monday. More ambitious, more movies, bigger audience.

“My sense was that it was larger than last year,” said Michael Beahan, president of the WRIF Board. “There were decent-sized audiences for all the films that were shown.” Also successful was the screening of movies by local filmmakers, which were for the first time shown in their entirety, rather than as excerpted clips.

Beahan said that the festival’s growth makes it more likely that the White River Indie Festival will explore doing two to three additional events yearly. “It’s a way to keep our name out in people’s minds,” he said.

This year’s Film Slam drew 13 entries that competed in the adult, high school and middle school categories. In Evil’s Shadow, a clever short film about a private eye, a dodgy dame, a priceless stolen ring and a weasely villain, won the prize for Best Film shot in White River Junction at this year’s Film Slam at the festival.

Life Drawing, a quirky film about a cartoonist whose drawings come comically to life, won first prize in the Adult category. Both first prize films were awarded $500 each.

“I think it’s amazing what people can create in 48 hours,” said Signe Taylor, a documentary filmmaker who was a judge, as well as the WRIF organizer working in conjunction with CATV in White River Junction, which provided cameras and editing equipment.

That 13 teams of filmmakers could put together such well-conceived and executed short movies in two days speaks not only to the talent pool in the Upper Valley but to the ease and availability of the technology. “I think that film is way more accessible than it was, even 10 years ago,” Taylor said.

“I know that some of the people who entered this year have entered before. They’re all improving, they’re all getting more adept and more creative,” said Barbara Krinitz, another of the seven judges.

Teams of filmmakers were assigned such genres as sci-fi or film noir, and told to incorporate two objects into the film: a window and a screen saver.

Working in the genre of sci-fi, the eight-person team Appalachian Morticians Club, which had entered CATV’s Halloweenathon film slam last year, came up with the idea of a cartoonist whose creations make a leap off the page and into his studio. The lead actor Jesse DuRona is, in fact, a graduate of the Center for Cartoon Studies.

“We knew we really wanted to incorporate cartooning into the story. We thought that would be a really unique aspect to our group and so key to White River Junction,” said Vreni Gust, who did a little bit of everything on the film: hair, makeup, costume, camera, editor and caterer. The team was “thrilled” to win, she said.

Noah Detzer, the director of In Evil’s Shadow, and an English teacher in training at Hartford High School, knew all the film noir tropes well before he was assigned the genre. He and the two other actors and writers knew that they would film modern-day White River Junction but with “a quirky main character who still behaves as if it’s the 1940s.” So the film boasts classic film noir voice-over narration, a menacing musical score, and in one brief cameo, the Maltese Falcon.

“Making movies is a hobby of mine,” said Detzer, who also won first prize at last year’s Halloweenathon. He hopes to use film in conjunction with his English classes in the future. “Any way that I could incorporate film into my job would be awesome.”

All of the Film Slam movies will be shown this evening on CATV-Channel 8 beginning at 8 p.m.

Nicola Smith can be reached at


View the White River Indie Fest 48-Hour Film Slam Videos

Friday, May 2, 2014

As reported in today’s Valley News, organizers of the recently concluded 10th annual White River Indie Festival (formerly the White River Indie Film Festival) are calling it a success. “My sense was that it was larger than last year,” Michael Beahan, president of the WRIF Board, told Valley News reporter Nicola Smith. “There were decent-sized audiences for all the films …