The 2017 New Haven Documentary Film Festival kicks off Thursday

NEW HAVEN Conn. (WTNH) — The New Haven Documentary Film Festival presents an impressive array of 21 documentary features and over 40 shorts over an eleven-day period, from June 1 to 11.

The festival will feature a number of Connecticut premieres, including the opening night feature, Stephen Dest’s I Am Shakespeare: The Henry Green Story (2017), which chronicles the story of 19-year-old Henry Green, living a dual life as a brilliant young actor and inner-city gang member, who was brutally shot and left for dead just shortly after his inspiring performance in Shakespeare’s ‘Romeo and Juliet.’

Other highlights include High School 9-1-1, about a year in the life of the only ambulance service in Darien, Connecticut that just happens to be run by high school teenagers; The Passionate Pursuits of Angela Bowen, about the renown classical dancer, teacher, black lesbian feminist activist, and professor; the world premiere of Twenty Questions, festival co-director Gorman Bechard’s long-lost 1987 documentary experiment; Travel Light, which follows the 500 mile trek across Spain’s Camino de Santiago; Tlaxcala Dreams, focused on New Haven’s Mexican community; and Elegy For the Time Being, inspired by the life of Huỳnh Sanh Thông – the first Vietnamese scholar to arrive at Yale University in the 1950s.

The best local student shorts will be featured in a competition highlighting the best and the brightest young area filmmakers.  This year NHdocs workshops will focus on documentary cinematography, guerrilla film-making, and funding through crowd-sourcing.  Plus offers a look at five works-in-progress from local filmmakers.

Closing out the festival, NHdocs joins forces with the International Festival of Arts and Ideas to present a three-day retrospective of documentaries by award-winning documentarians D.A. Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus, who have played a crucial role revitalizing the cinema verité tradition in the digital era. These span twenty-five years of film-making from a behind-the-scenes look at Bill Clinton’s 1992 campaign for president (The War Room) to Unlocking the Cage, their animal rights feature that was first shown in 2016 but will be screened in a newly updated version. The filmmakers will be present to discuss their films over the long weekend.

NHdocs was started by filmmakers Charles Musser and Bechard to build a sense of community among documentary filmmakers from the greater New Haven area.

Screenings are all free and open to the public (except for the Dylan night at Café Nine): they will take place at Yale’s Whitney Humanities Center Auditorium, 53 Wall Street and the New Haven Free Public Library, 133 Elm Street.

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