Custom-made by Festival sponsor Vermont Teddy Bear Company, the VTeddies represent the creativity and joy that are at the heart of the Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival. The festival hopes that all their winning filmmakers will find a lovely spot for their bear in their hearts and their homes.
The 2019 Festival introduced another new VTeddy Award, with a $1,000 cash prize attached: the Shouldice Family Prize for Best Vermont-Made Film. Returning for a second year: the Gaia Prize for Environmental Filmmaking [$1,000], endowed by a generous anonymous local donor. The Hernandez/Bayliss Prize [$1,000] was awarded for a third year to the feature film director whose work best captures the triumph of the human spirit as was the Clio Visualizing History Prize for the Advancement of Women in Film [$1,000], to a woman feature filmmaker who boldly explores a person or event of historical significance.
And back for a fourth year at MNFF5, the significant and singular Vermont Symphony Orchestra Award for best integration of music into film, selected by the VSO and presented to a short film director. The VSO will again pair the winning filmmaker with a selected rising composer to co-create a new short film with original music. Everyone hopes that the project will be ready for MNFF6 next August so that it can be screened alongside a live VSO performance of the original score. As this year’s screening of winner Jeremy Lee Mackenzie’s film, The Greatest Night with a simultaneous performance of an original score by Matthew Evan Taylor by the VSO demonstrates, this marvelous collaboration continues to evolve in exciting and highly original ways.
MNFF was also pleased to present special guest and legendary writer/director Paul Schrader with a VTeddy for “Sustained Excellence in Cutting Edge Filmmaking.” Notable also was the presentation of a VTeddy to Bruce Greenwood for “Sustained Excellence in Acting.” Awards were presented at the MNFF Closing Ceremonies on Sunday evening, August 25, 2019 at Town Hall Theater.