Photography by ChiChi Ubiña

Colleen Carroll deVeer is a Co-founder and The Director of Programming of The Greenwich International Film Festival. She spent her early years acting in regional theater and as a dancer. Colleen is a graduate of Boston College with a BA in Theater Arts. She was a director of the Boston College Dance Ensemble, later moving on to The Actors Studio in NYC, where she earned a Master of Fine Arts in Acting. After working for many years in the performing arts with such companies as The Wooster Group, Colleen went on to produce two plays in repertory in New York City. She moved out to Greenwich in 2012 with her husband, Kipp, and their two children, Wallace and Kathryn, who are ages 12 and 9. The same year, she began work on the Greenwich International Film Festival with her partners Carina Crain and Wendy Stapleton and soon after, hired COO and Executive Director, Ginger Stickel. A lifelong cinephile, Colleen has had the pleasure of directing the Programming Team of the Greenwich International Film Festival’s year-long advance screenings and extensive film program for the last 6 years. The festival is held in April and May each year.

During the quarantine…

We are keeping busy! Our team is hard at work with 2 1/2 weeks to “virtual showtime.” We have had to plan 2 separate film programs in the last six weeks. That was a major curveball! When we had to cancel our physical festival, we had to rethink this online opportunity and how to make this accessible to our audience. Our Virtual Festival is going to be a lot of fun and will run from May 1st through May 3rd. Please visit www.greenwichfilm.org for more information about our films and special events. We’ve never done this before. The team has worked so hard. (Major shout out to Shari Angel, Ginger Stickel, Samantha Ryan and Lauren Clayton for scrambling). There is a lot of preparation going into it, but this team has proven that they can adapt, and I have faith that our audience will as well. I’m proud of what we’ve put together- 29 films from 8 countries. The films are a cohesive group of socially impactful, entertaining and thought-provoking stories from an incredibly talented group of filmmakers. I love that we can all hang out in our PJ’s and experience the festival this year together.

What am I cooking during the quarantine?

Well… in all honesty, my husband, Kipp, is doing a lot of cooking. I’m the resident sous chef. I’m good at salads and sides – not so great with grilling. I have a hard time handling raw meat. It’s a weird thing of mine. Remarkably, the kids are helping out a lot when home school is over each day. Katy finally learned to crack an egg and is making pancakes and baking. Wallace is setting the table and washing the dishes:) It’s a team effort. At night, we have a lot of card games going on – especially Hearts. Oh! And lots of Monopoly. I lose every time.

What am I reading these days?

I finally had the chance to sit down and read this last month! What a pleasure. My good friend, R.P. Eddy (who lives in Greenwich) co-wrote a book with Richard A. Clarke that has been sitting on my bedside table for far too long. It is called Warnings: Finding Cassandras to Stop Catastrophes. R.P Eddy is a former director at the White House National Security Council and an author of the first White House policy on pandemics. He also serves as the CEO of Ergo – a global intelligence firm. It is a fantastic and fascinating book. It also happens to be a REALLY timely and interesting read right now given the state of the world. Additionally, I have to mention that R.P. has been working with former GIFF Board Member and Founder of The Nantucket Project, Tom Scott. They are doing bi-weekly briefings about the state of the world via their online platform – very interesting discussions with some of the world’s leading experts on this pandemic.

I’m also reading Deborah Goodrich Royce’s book, Finding Mrs. Ford right now. Deborah and her husband, Chuck, are friends and have been incredibly supportive of the GIFF initiative since inception. Deborah started her career as a film and television actress. She later moved on as a story editor at Miramax. She is the founder of the Stamford, CT Avon Theatre – one of the most beautiful arthouse theaters I’ve ever seen. To round out her career, she is now an author. This is an incredibly talented woman- I have no idea what she’ll do next! Director of Programming for GIFF perhaps?

What are my kids reading?

The kids have a list of required reading for school. Wallace started off with Hunger Games and Katy picked it up when he was finished. I’m not sure I’m going to suggest Lord of the Flies or Animal Farm next. I think they’ve got enough to adjust to with this pandemic. Hah!

I’ve relaxed a bit with the films I’m letting the kids watch during this period. I am the 4th of five kids and I watched it ALL far too early. My siblings sat me down for The Exorcist when I was five years old. I’ve never recovered. I haven’t gone that far yet, but we have had a lot of classics on – What About Bob, Uncle Buck, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. I’m a Midwesterner and love John Hughes. We are also watching American Idol together – what a talented group this season.

Kipp and I just finished Season 3 of Ozark. We started Season 3 of Killing Eve. We are also re-watching all of the films in the program, so that I can answer everyone’s questions about them when the time comes.

If I can conclude with one message… please support your local arts and other local non-profit organizations. This is a tough year for everyone, and we can’t survive without your help.

Highlights from the 2020 Greenwich International Film Festival

 

Bastards’ Road
Like many Combat Veterans, transitioning back to civilian life was very difficult for Jon Hancock. After years of struggling, Jon decided to take an epic journey across the country – on foot. Walking nearly 6,000 miles alone, Jon confronts the demons that had overtaken his life. Visiting his fellow 2/4 Marines – a unit known as The Magnificent Bastards and families of their fallen along the way, Jon finds a mission greater than his own redemption. With remarkable honesty, insight and humor, Jon’s journey gives a uniquely positive approach to the post-war topic. It’s about changing the ways one relates to traumatic memories. It’s about beginning the healing process.

 

The Euphoria of Being
Éva Fahidi was 20 years old when she returned to Hungary from Auschwitz Birkenau. She was all alone, 49 members of her family were murdered, including her mother, her father and her little sister. Seventy years later, at age 90, Éva is asked to participate in a dance-theatre performance about her life. Director Réka Szabo imagines a duet between Éva and the internationally acclaimed dancer, Emese, juxtaposing these two women on stage, young and old, to see how their bodies and their stories can intertwine. Éva agrees immediately. Three women— three months—a story of crossing boundaries. Whilst key moments of Éva’s life are distilled into theater scenes, a powerful relationship forms between the three women.

 

Music Got Me Here
In a snowboarding accident, Forrest, age 18, suffers a traumatic brain injury that leaves him trapped inside himself, unable to speak or walk for nearly two years. Desperate to connect with her son, Forrest’s mother contacts Tom Sweitzer, a music therapist with a troubled childhood whose own life was “saved” by music. For months, Forrest doesn’t acknowledge Tom. Gradually, Forrest begins to respond to the music, starting with a little movement of his finger or smile. Tom uses a music therapy method to teach Forrest to breathe, then hum, and find his “pitch.” After many months, the hums turn into Forrest’s first words, “Good Morning.” Soon, he’s singing entire songs and speaking in sentences. Forrest is finally getting his voice and life back when he’s faced with one medical setback after another. A serious infection requires surgeons to remove the prosthetic implant that is protecting his brain, where a large part of his skull was removed after his accident. Without any protection for his brain from atmospheric pressure, Forrest’s ability to survive is uncertain. A groundbreaking surgery is Forrest’s last hope. This is a story about the power of music to heal and transform lives, often in miraculous ways.

 

Family Matters (Hemelrijken)
When Kelly (Jennifer Welts) comes out of jail, she returns to her birthplace Hemelrijken. Although her sister Samantha (Esmée van Kampen) can barely make ends meet, she is ready to help. She takes Kelly home and arranges a job for her at a package delivery company. As an old acquaintance (Maarten Heijmans) reclaims a large sum of money from Kelly, the financial problems pile up and Kelly sees no other solution than to go and work for him. When Samantha hears that, she doesn’t want to know anything about her. Until things really go wrong… But family doesn’t abandon each other, right?

 

High Tide
Laura has lost control. After she sleeps with Weisman, the lead contractor building a barbecue shed in the backyard of her beach house, the other two workers on the job cross a boundary, making Laura feel that her space has been encroached upon. As Weisman disappears, sheltered and privileged Laura must manage the laborers herself. Her admonishments fall flat, forcing her to retreat behind the pristine glass windows—keeping watch and being watched simultaneously. Tensions churn, the workers become more unruly, and Laura ignores calls from her husband while downing bottles of red wine, waiting for Weisman to reappear.