This is the time of year, this year especially, when the weather turns balmy and the roads are filled with locals instead of out of state cars with stuff (bikes, surfboards, inflatable rafts) seemingly velcroed to the metal. But it's a happy sight. People have a great time on vacation here. It's a more cerebral crowd this month.
Now the weather indicates, with the gorgeous mauve sunrises and sunsets a little later in the day, that it's time for the Martha's Vineyard International Film Festival. The best four days of the year. This year will be the most special because the Festival 2012 has a new home, down at the Tisbury Marketplace, it's close to the Steamship Authority and within walking distance to both theaters in town. The Saltwater Restaurant next door is where the Opening night party is held and the Reel Maker's Dinner, where the filmmakers get together to eat and confab.
Opening and Closing nights and post-screening parties will all take place at the Center. Only announced last September, the Center has come to fruition in time for this year's 7th International Film celebration, thanks to Sam Dunn, architect and leaseholder, and Richard Paradise, founder and visionary (and President of the MV Film Society).
The on-going theme of the Festival continues to be “Other Places”. Over 90% of the movies of over 200 screened are international. What this celebration of film shows is that we are all one.
One of the most popular events at the Festival is the International Short Film Competition. Out of 200 entries, the ten best have been selected and will be screened together with the winner announced at the end. Saba Riazi, an Iranian American, who won last year with “The Wind Is Blowing On My Street", shot in Tehran, will be one of the judges, along with film experts Diana Barrett, president of the Fledgling Fund, Andrew Mer of Snagfilms, and Tim Miller, Cape Cod Times film critic.
Hence the name for the local filmmakers forum, “Think Globally, Shoot Locally”. Local filmmakers screen their work for a group of their peers and then there is a Q & A. It's one of the highlights, the pieces are so original and distinctive. Brothers Dan and Gregg Martino have organized the Forum again this year.
Local couple Liz Witham and Ken Wentworth are the impetus behind this part of the Festival. They produce documentaries concerning socially relevant causes in their 'Film-Truth Productions.' They want to let people know they are not alone and to give audiences unique insight into the lives of people they wouldn't otherwise meet – exactly the goal of the MV Int'l Film Festival.
On Opening Night Witham's cousin Ben Taylor will be singing. Witham and Wentworth also produce Docutunes (http://www.youtube.com/docutune), the melding of film and music, some featuring Liz's own family; her mother is Kate Taylor (Ben's parents are James Taylor and Carly Simon). They have co-directed a short film about Ben Taylor which will be shown at the Festival on Opening night “Ben Taylor – Listening”, and again at the "Think Globally, Shoot Locally" forum.
French films are ever popular and this year the superbly talented Daniel Auteuil's makes his directorial debut with “ La Fille du Puisatier”“ (The Well-Digger's Daughter) in a film he has written and stars in as an eponymous well-digger, a Marcel Pagnol remake from the 1940's.
Geraldine Chaplin and Jane Fonda star together in “If We All Lived Together”. This is Fonda's first French speaking role since the '70's. Suspense and comedy is combined in “Nobody Else But You”; a film noir about a beautiful but blocked writer who thinks she is reincarnated as Marilyn Monro.
This year's dramas hail from all over including Norway, (“Oslo, August 31st”); Finland (“Headhunters”); Paraguay (“Las Acacias”). Over two dozen feature films will be screened with topics from chocolate to Iraq.
In 2011, the MV International Film Festival began collaborating with the Woods Hole Film Festival and the Rhode Island International Film Festival to choose one essential film for all three festivals. This year's joint selection comes from Egypt. “WORDS OF WITNESS”, directed by Mai Iskander (whose “GARBAGE DREAMS” was a festival favorite in 2009), follows a young female journalist who covers Cairo's Tahrir Square protests while grappling with her mother's disapproval over her chosen profession.
This year the digital duo of Joy Vaccese and Noelle Melody of the creative team 'Twins are Weird, curate the crowd-pleasing animation showcase. They also created the little festival trailer view-it.
The Capawock Theater with barrels of free cold water outside will be screening films per usual (filmwatching is thirsty business), as will the Katherine Cornell Theater. Theater number three this year will be the new film center!
Opening night kicks off with a big party at Saltwater Restaurant under the big white tent next to the Lagoon with fabulous hors d'oeuvres, music and general conviviality mixed in with the excitement. Then it's just a few steps along the Lagoon to reach the new MV Film Center with it's 27' screen, 185 cushioned stadium seats with DCI digital projection. Oh – and this year a concession stand! Yea!
During the Festival, the Center will serve, screening venue, and post screening party site; the box office will be on Main Street across from the Mansion House at the old cupcake shop.This is going to be an exciting year! The MVFS has a home!
Last but not least there's an app to help keep up with things. It's free at the iTunes store:
See you at the movies!