“In a World…,” which returns to the Martha’s Vineyard Film Center this weekend after opening the Martha’s Vineyard International Film Festival, brings newfound insights to screwball comedy, thanks to writer/director Lake Bell.
Ms. Bell won the 2013 Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award at the Sundance Film Festival for good reason. Her take on the Hollywood world of voiceovers is wise, textured, and good-humored. She brings to life a slice of the Hollywood scene that most viewers will not be familiar with. Voiceover artists for movie trailers share enough of the movie industry’s glamour to be interesting, yet they remain accessibly real-life. It’s a field almost devoid of women, and Ms. Bell lays bare the entrenched sexism it shares with the rest of the movie world.
Ms. Bell plays Carol, a 30-something voice coach and aspiring voiceover star who still lives at home with her widowed dad, Sam (Fred Melamed), an ego-inflated voiceover superstar. After Dad kicks her out to make room for his new young girlfriend, Jamie (Alexandra Holden), Carol crashes with her sister Dani (Michaela Watkins) and husband.
Carol’s home life may seem a bit bumpy, but her professional life begins taking off. She finds herself in the running to voice a trailer for a hot new movie series about women warriors. In the meantime, Gustav (Ken Marino), her hunky and clueless competition for the trailer gig — and her dad’s protégé, puts the moves on her at the same time that Louis (Demetri Martin) fumbles around with more genuine romantic intentions.
If “In a World…” seems busy with characters and plot twists, it rings true to life and moves in sometimes unexpected directions. Dad is a sexist dolt, but his girlfriend is not quite the empty-headed bimbo one might expect. Most important, Carol doesn’t lose her head in a world where the cards are stacked against women.
Also returning to the Film Center this weekend is the International Film Festival’s program of shorts. Selected from more than 300 entries, the nine finalists include the winning entry, “Not Anymore: A Story of Revolution.” This film offers a brief but eye-opening view of life in Syria. Another powerful short in the program is “On the Road to Tel Aviv,” which captures the sense of fear caused by terrorism threats. Viewers may remember “Head Over Heels,” a charming stop-motion vignette about a couple’s efforts to manage in their upside-down world, from last year’s Manhattan Shorts Festival. “Every Tuesday” drops in on cartoonists who publish in The New Yorker.
Rounding out the weekend’s offerings at the Film Center are “Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf’s,” and “20 Feet from Stardom.” Then on Wednesday, September 25, the Film Center will present “The Other Side of Ice” in collaboration with MVYradio.com. This documentary describes the 2009 journey of Sprague Theobald and his family through the Northwest Passage from the Atlantic to the Pacific oceans via the Arctic Sea. Mr. Theobald will attend the screening to answer questions.
“Bury My Ashes at Bergdorf’s,” Thursday, September 19, 7:30 p.m.
“20 Feet from Stardom,” Friday, September 20, 4 p.m.
“In a World…” Friday, September 20, 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, September 21, 4 p.m.; Sunday, September 22, 7:30 p.m.
“MV International Film Festival Juried Shorts Program,” Friday, September 20, 4 p.m.; Saturday, September 21, 7:30 p.m.; Sunday, September 22, 4 p.m.
“The Other Side of the Ice,” Wednesday, September 25, 7:30 p.m.
All films at the M.V. Film Center, Vineyard Haven. Tickets $12 (M.V. Film Society members $9). For tickets and information, see mvfilmsociety.com.