Columbus Day line up at the Martha’s Vineyard Film Center


The new Martha’s Vineyard Film Center has scheduled a lineup of three very different and equally interesting movies for Columbus Day weekend.

The headliner is a the energy documentary, “Switch,” which will be screened on Saturday afternoon at 4:30 pm, with special guest speaker Jessie Ausubel, Director and Research Associate of Rockefeller University’s Program for the Human Environment. This event is part of the Green on Green series produced in collaboration with the Vineyard Conservation Society.

In a return engagement from the M.V. International Film Festival earlier this month comes an old-fashioned French romance, “The Well-Digger’s Daughter.” It will be shown nightly at 7:30 pm from Thursday, Oct. 4, through Sunday, Oct. 7.

And playing Sunday, Oct. 7, and Monday, Oct. 8, at 4 pm, is the animated feature, “A Cat in Paris.” This well-crafted film will appeal to both children and adults.

“Switch” asks the audience how the world can make a transition to viable energy sources for the future. It follows scientist Dr. Scott Tinker as he travels worldwide to explore potential solutions to the current global energy crisis. In each case, Dr. Tinker measures the effectiveness of the energy source investigated in terms of how many people’s energy needs it will meet.

Dr. Tinker begins in Norway, which is said to have made the most successful energy transition in the world. Water generates 99 percent of this nation’s electrical power. The catch is it took 70 years to achieve this result in a nation significantly smaller than the U.S.

The next stop is at the world’s largest coal reserve. Coal provides the cheapest electricity in the world, but it is a major polluter. Dr. Tinker travels to an offshore oil rig to examine the place of oil as an energy source. He looks at the status of biofuel research, the challenges of oil sands, geothermal supplies, advances in solar energy, wind farms, various forms of natural gas, and nuclear energy. Last but not least on Dr. Tinker’s list is energy conservation by individuals.

By taking viewers to energy production sites where he discusses with experts the pros and cons of various energy sources, “Switch” puts a complex issue into digestible form. His summary at the end offers valuable comparisons, projections into the future, and a solution to how we can manage our immediate energy needs. The upshot is that we all have to change the way we think about energy. “Switch” does a good job of laying out the problem and making it look interesting from a cinematic point of view.

If “Switch” looks towards the future, “The Well-Digger’s Daughter” takes viewers back to an earlier era. Well-known French actor Daniel Auteuil directs this remake in which he plays a simple widower with six daughters. Eighteen-year-old Patricia, the oldest and most beautiful, falls in love with a rich family’s son, Jacques. The film is set in Provence during the early days of World War I.

With twists and turns reminiscent of “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg,” the story of their romance unfolds in the idyllic rural landscape of southern France. Only the French could make the romantic worldview of “The Well-Digger’s Daughter” believable. The film is a feast for the eyes and a pleasure-filled return to traditional storytelling.

Prefaced by a comic short titled “The Extinction of the Saber-Tooth Cat,” the M.V. Film Center’s third Columbus Day weekend entry, “A Cat in Paris,” will immerse the viewer in tour-de-force of animation. The story is a mystery-adventure about a little girl who stopped talking after her detective-father was killed by a crime boss.

Also on the Paris police force, her mother is determined to capture the villain responsible for her husband’s death. The film’s use of genre conventions incorporates enough variations to keep the action from bogging down, and the vivid coloring, lighting, and angular draftsmanship of the animation will impress and entertain viewers.

The MV Film Society now offers classic films on Wednesday nights. Playing Wednesday, Oct. 10, at 7:30 pm is Francois Truffaut’s French New Wave film, “Jules and Jim.”

“The Well-Digger’s Daughter,” Thursday–Sunday, Oct. 4–7, 7:30 pm.

“Switch,” with special guest speaker Dr. Jessie Ausubel, Saturday, Oct. 6, 4:30 pm.

“A Cat in Paris,” Sunday, Oct. 7, and Monday, Oct. 8, 4 pm.

“Jules and Jim,” Wednesday, Oct. 10, 7:30 pm.

All films at M.V. Film Center, Tisbury Marketplace, Vineyard Haven. $10; $7 for MVFS members and children under 12. For information, visit