Northern Borders tells the story of ten year-old Austen Kittredge, who is sent by his father to live on his grandparents’ Vermont farm, where he experiences wild adventures and uncovers long-festering family secrets. It’s 1956 and Austen experiences Kingdom County as a place full of eccentric people, including his stubborn grandparents, whose thorny marriage is known as the Forty Years War. Initially feeling stuck in this fractured household, young Austen plans a quick exit but ends up stranded with no choice but to navigate and endure. A humorous and sometimes startling coming-of-age story, Northern Bordersevokes Vermont’s wildness, its sublime beauty, a haunted past, and an aura of enchantment.
The film takes viewers into a world that includes the region’s wobbly first steps toward rural electrification, an unruly one-room schoolhouse, and town maple festival that turns upside down when an FBI agent shows up to accuse young Austen’s Aunt Liz of having robbed the local bank with her former husband, a descendant of notorious Jesse James. Writing for the New York Times Book Review, Fannie Flagg called Mosher’s novel “a touching and unforgettable portrait of a people and time.” The London Guardian recently named it “one of the (all-time) ten best stories about grandparents.”
The film marks Jay Craven’s fifth collaboration with writer Howard Frank Mosher and it stars Academy Award nominated actorsBruce Dern (Coming Home, Hitchcock’s Family Plot) and Geneviève Bujold (Anne of a Thousand Days, King of Hearts),Seamus Davey-Fitzpatrick (Moonrise Kingdom), Jessica Hecht (Sideways, Seinfeld), and a supporting cast of Mark Margolis (Scarface, The Wrestler), John Shea (Missing, Lois and Clark), Jay O’ Sanders (JFK, Tumbleweeds), John Rothman(Sophie’s Choice, Ghostbusters), Tom Bodett (NPR’s Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me), Jim Fitzpatrick (The Lottery), Brent Crawford(Sex and the City) and 6 Vermont and NH actors: Rusty Dewees, John Griesemer, John Kiedaisch, Karin Shearer, Tara O’Reilly, and Nettie Lane. Also, emerging actresses including 10 year-old Jacqueline Hennessy (30 Rock, Saturday Night Live),16 year-old Irene Shamas, from Brattleboro, and Kaley Ronayne and Alicia Lyn Hunt who participated while finishing their final year in the acting conservatory at Boston University.
Part of a unique collaboration between Kingdom County Productions and Marlboro College, Northern Borders was produced in Vermont, New Hampshire and Massachusetts with 20 filmmaking professionals working with 34 students and recent grads from 15 colleges. Participating colleges include Wellesley, Sarah Lawrence, Mount Holyoke, Champlain, Connecticut College, Wheaton, Boston University, and NYU. A second Marlboro-based film intensive is planned for the winter-spring semester 2014. Information is available at http://movies.marlboro.edu or by contacting Jay Craven (firstname.lastname@example.org).