WHAT: 2009 Vermont International Film Festival.
WHEN: Friday through Nov. 1.
WHERE: The Place 9 Cinemas, 10 Fayette Road (off Shelburne Road right behind McDonald's), South Burlington.
SCHEDULE: Find the festival program guide at www.vtiff.org.
TICKETS: Matinee (prior to 6 p.m.) general admission $6.75, children (11 and under) $5.75, senior (62 and up) $5.50. Evening films (after 6 p.m.) general admission $8.75, children and seniors $5.75, college students and military personnel with ID $6.75. Festival pass $75 (Not valid for gala events). Buy at the theater or at www.Movietickets.com.
PHONE: Film and festival information (802) 660-2600. Ticketing and theater information (802) 660-9300.
WEB SITES: www.vtiff.org and www.palace9.com
SOUTH BURLINGTON — Saturday's "Meet & Greet" with actor Luis Guzmán and screening of his new movie "Maldeamores" (Lovesickness) is one of the 2009 Vermont International Film Festival's gala events.
Directed by Carlos Ruíz Ruíz and Mariem Pérez Riera, Guzmán portrays "Ismael" in the love-at-all-ages feature whose plot includes a love triangle, a marriage on the rocks and a hostage crisis. The cast includes Ángel Álvarez, Chavito Marrero and Silvio Brito in the contemporary Puerto Rican drama produced by Benicio del Toro.
At the red-carpet event, Guzmán will be interviewed by Tim Kavanagh and Charlie Papillo. An audience Q&A; will follow.
"Luis will be there with his family for an hourlong discussion and the screening of his film," said Deb Ellis, president of the Film Festival Board of Directors. "That will be great. Luis lives in Vermont in the Northeast Kingdom. We have people tucked away in the corners here. One of our goals is to share that with our community."
Guzmán's recent filmography includes "He's Just Not That Into You," "Fighting," "Still Waiting" and "The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3." Born in Cayey, Puerto Rico, he was raised in Greenwich Village and graduated from American University. He segued from social work to acting. He and his wife, Angelita Galarza-Guzmán, and their five children live on their Sutton, Vt., ranch.
"He's getting a Vermonter of the Year Award from the festival," Ellis said. "It's our attempt to celebrate the film community that exists here. There are a lot of people audiences know from the big screen who live here, too. He's one of them. A lot of people are hidden away here."
Working on a film in New York City, Guzmán will fly to Vermont for the event.
Gala events include director Grant Heslov's "The Men Who Stare at Goats," a Dr. Strangelove-esque super-soldiers comedy starring George Clooney, Jeff Bridges, Ewan McGregor and Kevin Spacey that opens the festival Friday evening.
At 7 p.m. Oct. 30, there will be a gala screening of "Precious" starring Gabourey Sidibe, Paula Patto, Mo'Nique, Maria Carey and Sherri Shepherd. Directed by Lee Daniels, the feature, based on the novel "Push" by Sapphire, won the Grand Jury Prize, Special Jury Prize for Acting (Mo'Nique) and Audience Award at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival.
The festival concludes with director Jean-Marc Vallee's "The Young Victoria" starring Emily Blunt, Rupert Friend, Jim Broadbent and Miranda Richardson in the love story about Victoria, who ascends to the royal throne at 18.
"We don't have a particular theme other than a desire to maintain our mission to screen films that normally would not be here in Vermont," Ellis said. "We have two sets of films — one group that will come out theatrically in the upcoming months that may or may not make it to the market here or will make it much later than they do in urban markets. The festival is an opportunity for a local audience to see these films now."
Some of the films are brand new and recently premiered in New York City. This is the second year the festival has partnered with Harold Blank, who owns the Palace 9.
"That connection really allows us a lot more flexibility in programming," Ellis said. "Harold was able to use his connections to get us really special films like 'Precious' and 'Men Who Stare at Goats.' That partnership is really great."
In the festival guide, Blank writes:
"We have moved all the films under one roof including the student films and the Vermont Film Makers' showcase and hopefully you will enjoy the program and the events. There are many exciting films, events, film discussions and more."
The Vermont Filmmaker's Showcase includes documentaries "Orgasm, Inc." by Liz Canner, "Deer Tick: To the City of Sin!" by Cory Lovell, "Finding Our Voices: Stories of American Dissent" by Holly Stadtler and "Our Plastic Footprint" by Emily MacKenzie. The showcase's "New American Films" are "Stories of Extraordinary Courage" by Alison Segar, "Neighbors" by Meredith Holch and "A Man With Blue Hands" by Stefan Milovanovic. The "Struggles With Adversity" section features "Shooting Beauty" directed by George Kachadorian, "Bill's Bill" directed by Jim Heltz and "Tremors in the System" directed by Nora Jacobson and Mark Berthold.
"One of our big things this year was to have a program that will bring in more audience, making things more accessible and mixing that with more obscure, independent films," Ellis said. "We don't always have as big films but this year there was a real effort. Harold Blank helped a lot with that."
E-mail Robin Caudell at: email@example.com