Connecticut Film Festival opens

After a series of preview mini-fests — including one in Trumbull a few weeks ago — the Connecticut Film Festival kicks off its official six-day run in Danbury today.
These are difficult times for theatrical movies — with grosses slightly up so far this year while the number of tickets sold continues to decline — and film festivals face the added challenge of generating interest in little-known independent movies.
Because of the declining art house market, festivals have sprung up all over the country in recent years, but Connecticut has seen a number of them come and go in the past ten years (remember Film Fest New Haven and the Director’s View Film Festival in Stamford?).
Connecticut Film Festival executive director Thomas Carruthers has had a hard time finding one town in which to base the festival. Many people have been confused over the past few years by the way the festival roamed from theater to theater in this part of the state. The CFF also has been plagued by technical glitches involving its website and scheduling (a few years ago I was mortified when the private judges’ ballots popped up on the festival website, including my own not so nice comments about a few of the entries!).
So, here’s hoping the festival finally clicks into gear in Danbury this week and is able to remain there in years to come.
Unlike the popular gay and lesbian festival in Hartford every June — which has a clearly focused mission — the CFF is offering 130 fiction and non-fiction films dealing with a wide range of subject matter and storytelling styles.
The line-up includes a wonderful new documentary, “Uncounted” (above), about the looming horror of paperless computerized voting machines spreading across the country. The movie digs into the disaster in Ohio during the last national elections and ends with a stirring call to arms demanding paper copies of every vote cast (in case someone calls for a recount).
One of the late night attractions will be the striking sex drama, “Leave You in Me,” by Stamford filmmaker Dutch Doscher which I recently had the privilege of screening with “Last Tango in Paris” at the Avon Theatre Film Center in Stamford. Doscher has had a hard time getting the award-winning film publicly shown due to the casual frontal nudity and blunt langauge, so it’s great that the festival has agreed to include the short film.
Tonight’s opening festivities will center around “The Flyboys” starring Stephen Baldwin and Tom Sizemore.
The six-days will be packed with special parties and networking events for aspiring moviemakers and there will be a festival awards ceremony Sunday night.
For complete schedules and ticket information, go online to www.ctfilmfestival.com