World of Cinema Just a Boat Ride Away at the MV Film Festival
By: Elise Hugus, March 16, 2012
Courtesy MVFF - Now in its 12th year, The Martha's Vineyard Film Festival's Winter Film Series runs from Friday, March 16 to Sunday, March 18.
Don’t drive to the movies this weekend: take the ferry.
The 12th Annual Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival will transform the Chilmark Community Center into a destination for film lovers from Friday, March 16 to Sunday, March 18, with samplings of some of the year’s best features, documentaries, shorts and animations, rounded out by filmmaker Q & A’s, local food events featuring Not Your Sugar Mama's chocolate and others, and after-parties that are sure to heat up the off-season vibe.
Cape Codders who prefer to get their culture on this side of the bridge will delight in the films that have already run in bigger markets (Wim Wenders’ Pina; Frederick Wiseman’s Crazy Horse), or those that are currently generating buzz on NPR and HuffPo (Lee Hirsch’s Bully).
One of the best things about the Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival is that you have only a few days to attend, meaning you won’t be stymied by conflicts in the schedule (why do festival programmers always put the films you want to see at the same time slot?). There are just a few films per day, and all at the same venue. Simple.
The festival opens at 7 PM on Friday with the 2012 Sundance Grand Jury Prize-nominated documentary Escape Fire: The Fight to Rescue American Healthcare. With the thesis that health care in the US is more like “disease care”, directors Matthew Heineman and Susan Froemke interweave dramatic personal stories with the testimony of leaders battling to transform healthcare at the highest levels. This screening is sold out but will be shown again on Sunday at 8 AM.
Goon, the Friday night feature, is based on a true story about a dumb but lovable guy who is plucked from obscurity to be the enforcer, or “goon,” for a Canadian minor league hockey team. Film subjects Doug Smith & Adam Frattasio will follow up with Q&A after the screening.
Saturday offers a variety of choices to suit the most discerning film palette. Bird lovers might want to rise early for The Lost Bird Project, a thoughtful film about Vineyard sculptor Todd McGrain’s efforts to memorialize the now-extinct passenger pigeon. The Belgian feature The Fairy and the Spanish documentary The Imposter both promise insight into European cinema.
But I’d save Saturday night for the 2011 documentary How to Start a Revolution. Screening one year after the Arab Spring, this film shows how an American professor’s pamphlet has provided a blueprint for social and cultural change from Eastern Europe to the Middle East. Film subjects Col. Robert Helvey and Jamila Raqib will follow up with discussion after the film.
Sunday kicks off with Bully at 10:30 AM. If you’re a schoolteacher or parent, this film is a must-see. Filmmaker Lee Hirsch has been making the circuit on NPR’s Fresh Air and the Diane Rehm Show, and may be in attendance for this screening.
There’s nothing like going to the movies on a Sunday afternoon to put you in a thoughtful mood. Start the day off with The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom, an Academy Award-winning short (39 minutes) by Lucy Walker, whose Waste Land documentary won an Academy Award in 2010. Fans of the short film genre can also get their fill with an International Shorts Program at 3:30 PM.
Belgium’s Dardenne brothers seduced the jury at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival with The Kid With the Bike, a feature film that follows feisty Cyril, an 11 year-old boy who refuses to accept that his parents have abandoned him. In the Dardenne’s austere Dogme 95-like style, it’s a story of struggle and resilience peppered with moments of honest beauty.
The festival concludes Sunday night with the 2012 Sundance Grand Jury nominated documentary Marina AbramoviÄ‡: The Artist Is Present, featuring the famed performance artist.
Paul Simon fans will want to stick around for Under African Skies, a documentary that examines the role of artists in politics, using Simon’s controversial “Graceland” tour of apartheid South Africa as an example.
Unlike its winter film series (and the MV International Film Festival in the fall), the Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival runs this weekend only. So don’t hesitate! A wonderful world of cinema is just a short boat and bus ride away!