hgazette.com, Haverhill, MA

May 9, 2013

Brothers organize local film festival

'Experimental' event showcases independent films

By Shawn Regan
Staff Writer

---- — When most people think of film festivals, names like Cannes and Sundance come to mind.

How about Haverhill?

The Haverhill and Massachusetts cultural councils will sponsor the inaugural Haverhill Experimental Film Festival on June 7 and 8 upstairs from the Peddler’s Daughter restaurant and pub at 45 Wingate St.

The Haverhill twin brothers and filmmakers organizing the event are billing it as the only experimental film festival in Massachusetts. More than 40 works will be screened in the two-day showing.

The festival “will bring films and videos to this community that fervently rejects the Hollywood hogwash unknowingly burdening most of our citizens,” is how brothers Brendan and Jeremy Smyth describe the festival.

“Too many festivals still falsely claim themselves as independent,” Brendan Smyth said. “It is time to show the people of Massachusetts the true meaning of independent cinema: one mind, one camera, one work of art.”

The 23-year-old brothers recently returned to Haverhill from shooting their second 16-mm documentary in Bali, Indonesia. They are focusing their attention on directing the Haverhill festival.

“We don’t even consider ourselves filmmakers at the moment. We consider ourselves full-time event planners,” Brendan Smyth said. “This festival has to be an experience.”

Brendan said he and his brother grew up in Florida, but traveled to Haverhill several times every year to spend time with their father, who lives here.

“Haverhill was always our second home,” Brendan said. “When we finished school, we left Florida and moved here a year ago.”

Both nights of the festival will feature two competitive screenings. The films and videos will be judged by award-winning filmmakers Kristin Reeves and Georg Kozsulinksi.

Admittance to each screening is $3 or an all-access pass for $10 for five films. Anyone with a ticket showing they traveled to Haverhill by train to attend the festival will be admitted to that night’s screenings for free, Brendan Smyth said.

Opening night of the event, June 7, begins at 7 p.m., with a showcase of 11 works, featuring “West: what I know about her” by Kathryn Ramey, an Emerson College professor and experimental filmmaker.

The second screening of the night is at 9 p.m. Live music will be performed after the films are shown, with discounted food and drinks at the Peddler’s Daughter Irish bar below the screening room.

The second night of the event begins at 5:30 p.m. with a screening that showcases the work of the jurors, those judging the films in the competition.

Reeves will present three pieces, one of which will be a 9-projector performance entirely on 16-mm film. Kozsulinski will present two 16-mm films. He will perform live music during his seven-minute piece, “Message from my Centenarian.” The juror screening will be followed by two additional competitive screenings at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m.

“The festival will present artworks that break boundaries and tear through tradition,” Jeremy Smyth said. “It will bring to Haverhill the abstract, the riveting, the beautiful, the rugged, the emotional, the bold, and the raw. Best of all, it hopes to boost the creative economy in Haverhill for years to come.”

More information about the festival can be found at www.haverhillexperimental.org and www.facebook.com/heff2013.

Haverhill Experimental Film Festival :When: June 7 at 7 and 9 p.m.; June 8 at 5:30, 7 and 9 p.m. Where: 45 Wingate St., above Peddlers' Daughter restaurant and bar