Films

Jay Craven

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Jay Craven—Director/Producer

Kingdom County Productions co-founder, Jay Craven, is an award-winning director, writer, and producer, whose narrative films include High Water  (1989); Where the Rivers Flow North (1993); A Stranger in the Kingdom (1997); In Jest (1999); The Year that Trembled (2003); Disappearances (2006); Northern Borders (2012); Peter and John (2015); and Wetware (2018). He is currently preparing a 2019 production of Martin Eden, based on Jack London’s autobiographical novel.

Craven also directed, produced, and co-wrote the 2005 Emmy Award-winning public television comedy series, Windy Acres, along with four episodes of the Queen City Radio Houra comedy and music variety show performed before a live audience and broadcast over Vermont Public Radio. His documentaries include After the Fog: Interviews with Combat Veterans (2006); Dawn of the People (1984); and Gayleen (1985). 

Jay directs the biennial Cinema Sarah Lawrence program (formerly Movies from Marlboro) where 25 professionals mentor and collaborate with 35 students from multiple colleges to make an ambitious narrative feature film for national release. Email Jay Craven for more information about this “semester away" program and information on how college students can get involved.

Craven founded and directed Catamount Arts (1975-91) in St. Johnsbury and directed its wide-ranging, multi-disciplinary film and performing arts program.  In 1987 he co-founded (with Rob Mermin) Circus Smirkus, America’s only touring youth circus.  And from 1979 to 1991 he co-produced Don Sunseri’s G.R.A.C.E. project for older indigenous visual artists.  

Craven continues (2009 - present) to curate and produce performing arts events through the KCP Presents series in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom.  He also curates the Middlebury (VT) New Filmmakers Festival and the Woodstock (VT) Film Series, and produces the annual Nantucket Youth Circus Workshops along with the Nantucket Young Playwrights residency Program for teen writers. 

Craven writes regular arts and public issue commentaries for Vermont Public Radio and is currently writing a memoir that will be completed in 2019. He is also a professor of screenwriting and film studies at Sarah Lawrence College.  

 

Awards & accolades

  • Two New England Emmys for Windy Acres.

  • 1995 Producers’ Guild of America NOVA award for Most Promising New Motion Picture Producer of the Year for Where the Rivers Flow North.

  • 1998 Vermont Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts.

  • MacDowell Colony Fellowship; one of Knight Ridder’s “Ten Best Films of 1995” for Where the Rivers Flow North.

  • Two National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Regional Film fellowships for Gayleen and High Water.

  • Two NEA Film Production Grants for Where the Rivers Flow North and Disappearances.

  • Special screenings include The Smithsonian, Lincoln Center, Harvard Film Archive, Boston Museum of Fine Arts, Cinematheque Francaise, Cinemateca Nacional de Venezuela, the Constitutional Court of Johannesburg, and Beijing Normal University. Festivals include Sundance, SXSW, and AFI Fest.

 

quotes & press

Palpable, intimate and magical with the vivid textures of rural outback life, Craven’s delightfully simple narrative operates on powerful metaphorical levels.
— Shaz Bennett, Senior Programmer, American Film Institute

As usual in Craven’s films, there are many strong performances and the kind of richly evocative landscape photography one associates with the work of Carroll Ballard or Terrence Malick.
— Scott Foundas, LA Weekly

Craven’s poetic sensibility is steeped in an appreciation of nature, as well as an awareness of man’s ability to exist both in harmony and at odds with it, sometimes simultaneously.
— Justin Chang, Variety

Jay Craven’s Disappearances is an extraordinary accomplishment, a Depression-era piece made on a sub-shoestring budget. This Peckinpah-like Eastern Western stars grizzled Kris Kristofferson as an ex-moonshiner on a last quest, an optimist forever. “Just the opposite of me,” Kristofferson said at Austin.
— Gerald Peary, Boston Phoenix

Where the Rivers Flow North communicates the special character of Vermont at a pivotal point in its history so effectively that it ends up being a strong argument for regional cinema: the idea that an area of the country is best interpreted on film by those who know and love it.
— William Arnold, Seattle Post Intelligencer

From his kingdom amid the majestic mountains and forests of Kingdom County, Vermont, Jay Craven has established himself as one of America’s foremost independent regional filmmakers. Craven uses the Canadian border as distinctively as Sam Peckinpah used the Mexican one.
— Marty Rubin, Curator, Gene Siskel Film Center, Art Institute of Chicago