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Vermont Fancy Premieres at the 2019 New Jersey Film Festival on Sunday, February 10


By Al Nigrin

originally published: 02/07/2019

Vermont Fancy Premieres at the 2019 New Jersey Film Festival on Sunday, February 10

Kathleen Dougherty Huxley’s 
documentary Vermont Fancy Premieres at the 2019 New Jersey Film Festival on Sunday, February 10. 

Here is my interview with Vermont Fancy Director Kathleen Dougherty Huxley:

Nigrin: Vermont Fancy profiles Doug Densmore, a farmer who lives and works in a bucolic Vermont town nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains. Please tell us more about your film and what made you want to make it? 

Dougherty Huxley: I have known Doug Densmore for close to 30 years.  He is my closest neighbor in Vermont.  As you can see in the film, Doug is a unique individual.  His humanity, intelligence, sense of humor and his deep devotion to his heritage and land are extraordinary – his story is one I wanted to tell.  Watching him make his maple syrup was really the spark that ignited this project.

Nigrin:  Was it difficult filming out in the cold?   I was cold just watching that seen wear Doug was drilling the trees for maple syrup. How long did it take you to make this film?



 
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Dougherty Huxley: This film took a full year and then some to make.  It stretched over two years for some pick up scenes and music.  Regarding working in the cold of Vermont, late winter/early spring are the sugaring months as well as being the famous “mud season”.  As the snow and ice thaw during the day and refreeze at night, the roads become insanely treacherous, and outside you feel that bone chill constantly.  That fluctuation in temperature is what causes the sap to run.  It’s cold, but nothing like what it can be in the dead of winter, when the temp can reach 25 below zero.

Nigrin:  What do you think will become of Doug’s farm in the future?

Dougherty Huxley:  It’s hard for me to have a feel for what will happen to Doug’s farm.  I would imagine Doug would want his daughter to have it, and then fulfill his desire to pass it on to his grandkids – or his niece, or one of many cousins.  Just keep the farm in his family.  

Nigrin:  What has been the reaction from audiences to your film so far?  

Dougherty Huxley: The reaction to Vermont Fancy has been very positive – of course to folks who grew up on a farm or ranch across the country, but urban dwellers as well.  I have noticed people from all backgrounds feel a connection with Doug, not only about his love of land and lifestyle and sense of humor, but also identifying with Doug’s reassessment of his values and “youthful” life choices and their own, adjusting to growing older in the climate of shifting economics that is America today.

Nigrin: Are there any memorable stories while you made this film or any other info about your film you would like to relay to our readers?

Dougherty Huxley: During the course of editing this film there were great scenes that had to hit the cutting room floor. Doug is a great storyteller and raconteur as well as a philosopher, so I had to find a balance.  Doug loves a good limerick; most were not suitable for a younger audience. He is knowledgeable on so many subjects; I learned more about the BTU value of many types of trees – what burned well and warmed your house in winter, and what was just “a pitiful waste of ****time”.   One day Doug and his mom Phyllis showed me the beautiful hand-made quilt his grandmother had made, full of sewn pictures his family history.  This quilt hung prominently in the Smithsonian in the 70s during an exhibition of glorious American handiwork.  Doug is a great trapper – he is considered an expert and teaches at workshops.  It’s akin to watching a detective laying a trap for a perpetrator.  I wanted to film him setting a trap for a fox.  However, as he explained to me with a wry smile, my cameraman and I would “contaminate” the area with our human smells and consequently tip off the prey.  Another idea bit the dust.



 
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Vermont Fancy Premieres at the 2019 New Jersey Film Festival on Sunday, February 10

Three terrific short films precede Vermont Fancy. Here is more information on this screening: 


Introducing Skülly Kirk Wallace (Leominster, Massachusetts)  In this crazy short film, Skülly careens from one animated adventure to the next. 2018; 5 min. 

Yellow Arrows – Yana Sar (New York, New York)  In this gorgeous experimental film, a man named Jack follows a path into a hidden world. As he gets trapped in a maze of the unknown, the answers he was looking for begin to be revealed. Or do they? 2018; 15 min. 

The Last Harvest Alexis Spraic (Watsonville, California)  Critical labor shortages are forcing farmers to abandon valuable crops. Hear from affected communities and the unsung heroes who grow our food. The Last Harvestis a rallying cry for compassionate immigration reform and innovation in our food system. 2018; 20 min.

Vermont Fancy  Kathleen Dougherty Huxley (Brooklyn, New York)  Vermont Fancy  profiles Doug Densmore, a farmer who lives and works in a bucolic Vermont town nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains. As the film tracks four seasons on the farm, Doug--a hilarious raconteur and natural philosopher--shares his concerns and dilemmas as he makes maple syrup, cuts his wood, operates his small sawmill, raises cattle and pigs, puts up hay and grows his vegetable garden. He radiates the joy of this life even as it is under threat.  What will become of his farm in the future?  For him, the question is existential. Having chosen to follow his passion in his youth, he is deeply worried that the harsh reality of the present portends the end of a beloved way of life.  2018; 47 min. Q+A Session with DirectorKathleen Dougherty Huxley!

Co-sponsored by the Rutgers University School of Environmental and Biological Sciences (SEBS) Honors Program!

Sunday, February 10, 2019 at 7PM in Voorhees Hall #105/Rutgers University,
 71 Hamilton Street, New Brunswick, New Jersey


$12=General; $10=Students+Seniors; $9=Rutgers Film Co-op Friends


Information: (848) 932-8482; 
www.njfilmfest.com



 



Albert Gabriel Nigrin is an award-winning experimental media artist whose work has been screened on all five continents. He is also a Cinema Studies Lecturer at Rutgers University, and the Executive Director/Curator of the Rutgers Film Co-op/New Jersey Media Arts Center, Inc.

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