The Northampton Arts Council works to support and nurture the arts in the city of Northampton. The Council awards grants twice each year to artists and arts groups from both state and locally-raised funds, and seeks to improve public awareness of the arts. Its' goals include maintaining and preserving the rich and diverse cultural heritage of Northampton, programming such annual events of interest to the community as First Night Northampton and Transperformance.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

The all new Northampton Film Festival is here

The all new Northampton Film Festival is here.

A team of community organizations and leaders is set to launch the newly designed Northampton Film Festival as a modern experience of media.

In redesigning the Northampton Film Festival, NCTV Executive Director Al Williams of Northampton Community Television, the festival’s new founding organization,  and a dedicated team including Dylan Gaffney, Dave Newland, Jason Mazzotta, Otis Wheeler, and many others have been asking themselves what constitutes an updated version of a curated art experience that many people can now simulate in their own homes. The answer, or the beginning of that answer, is this year’s Northampton Film Festival.

For more information go to and attend the festival in Northampton from September 28th-October 2nd, 2016.

The festival launches on Wednesday September 28th with a free public screening of Star Wars: The Force Awakens in Northampton’s newly renovated Pulaski Park right in the middle of downtown Northampton. “Star Wars is something akin to the Beatles of film history. And Pulaski Park is something of a symbol of the new center of our community. So what better place to start?” said Williams. That kickoff will also include stormtroopers from Vader's 501st Legion of New England wandering the city, a Star Wars costume contest for area youth with prizes from local businesses, and an adult costume-optional after party at the secret Rebel Base, Northampton’s The Foundry, where Star Wars themed beer taps will greet film fans.

The festival will activate spaces and experiences throughout downtown Northampton, across traditional and not-so-traditional film mediums. There will be features like the new film from Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind director Michel Gondry, Microbe and Gasoline, and the new documentary from David Byrne Contemporary Color, following top national color guard teams performing to live music from elite musical acts. There will be appearances from filmmakers like Alan Edelstein and a curation of the 10th International 100-Second Iranian Film Festival. 

And there will be a whole day of VR experiences hosted for free to the public at APE Gallery. Those will include local content from the Pioneer Valley Game Developers, immersive journalism pieces from Frontline, interactive art tools, and narrative pieces on cutting edge technology. There will be a 16mm and Super 8mm film and developing class, and a photo booth. There will be a preview screening of a portion of the yet-unreleased Hamilton’s America on the hit Broadway play. And the entire festival will cap with the premiere of Northampton’s own participatory-public-art-film-project Crowdsourced Cinema : The Princess Bride at the Academy of Music.

Films and activities will spread from Union Station to the Sanctuary of First Churches to the Academy of Music, from APE Gallery and the Parlor Room to the Yoga Sanctuary on the 4th Floor of Thorne’s. The festival will embrace and engage the city in viewing film, in making film, and in discussing what the future of film might look like.

This is a film festival unlike any Northampton has seen, despite its long history of previous festival incarnations like the Northampton Independent film Festival and Northampton International Film Festival. Some of the new format has been inspired and informed by the work of some of the NFF team on the Cinema Northampton project where classic films have been drawing large audiences to outdoor spaces like the Forbes Library lawn and Maines Field for the past three years.

“This is part of our attempt to evolve the festival”, said Williams. “When we found out the festival was not being held in Northampton last year we took it over and programmed it in a very hectic and last minute month. This year we have begun the process of looking at it with new eyes. And we are committed to continue to shape it for at least another year past this. We believe the festival can succeed as an event that honors this community and the rapidly shifting field of these visual mediums.”

For more information go to and attend the festival in Northampton from September 28th-October 2nd, 2016.

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