Music and movies make a winning match at the Martha’s Vineyard Film Center this weekend. The second annual Film and Music Festival opens Thursday, June 26, and runs through Sunday, June 29.
On Friday, “Dancing in Jaffa” demonstrates how dance can overcome the political and cultural tensions of that Middle East region. After an opening night reception, Argentina provides the setting for “Living Stars,” a film about dance music. A dance contest will follow this comedy, with prizes awarded to the best moves. “Finding Fela” follows with a look at the life and music of Nigerian singer Fela Kuti, father of the Afro-beat movement.
“We Are the Best” headlines the schedule for Saturday, June 28. This Scandinavian film follows the antics of three 12- and 13-year-old girls who decide to form a punk band. The film captures perfectly the chaotic energy of girls that age who want to rebel, but do so with thoughtfulness. The first sign of Bobo’s (Mira Barkhammar), Klara’s (Mira Grosin), and Hedvig’s (Liv LeMoyne) free-spirited rebelliousness comes from their punk hairdos. Parents remain in the background, not because they are neglectful but because the girls want to keep them on the periphery of their lives. Their conversations often turn to faith and God, particularly once Hedvig joins the group since she is Christian, something Bobo and Klara see as not being cool. “We Are the Best” captures the openness and sense of possibilities that goes with this age group and does it with remarkable insight and accuracy.
“Mateo” follows with the story of the first white mariachi singer in the U.S. Director Aaron Naar will participate in a Q&A session via Skype following the screening. The closing film on Saturday is “Brasslands,” a documentary about the first international brass band competition, held in the small town of Guca, Serbia, on the 50th anniversary of what is the world’s largest brass band festival. Michael Ginsberg of Zlatne Uste, a Brooklyn-based Baltic brass band formed in 1983, helps narrate the film. “Brasslands” emphasizes the way this “really gutsy” music erases political and cultural barriers, including the friction between the U.S. and Serbia after the U.S. bombed the country in the 1980s, and between ethnic groups such as white Serbians and black Serbian Romas.
On Sunday, “Alive Inside,” directed by Michael Rossano-Bennett, explores the way music helps free up the elderly suffering from dementia. Leslie Clapp, executive director of the Martha’s Vineyard Center for Living, and Marvin Rosecrantz, who appears in “Marvin and Saralee,” which precedes “Alive Inside,” will discuss the music and memory program of this institution after the screenings. Directed by Rebecca Sesny, “Marvin and Saralee” tells the story of a Martha’s Vineyard couple dealing the Alzheimer’s Disease. “Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon,” will close the festival. Directed by “Saturday Night Live” alumnus Mike Myers, this film traces the story of this Hollywood music manager’s life and his embrace of Buddhism.
The festival opens with — believe it or not — a silent film, “Safety Last!” Live music will be played by the 11-member Berklee Silent Film Orchestra, which has composed a new score to accompany this comedy, which stars Harold Lloyd.
“Safety Last!” is one of the most enduring silent film classics. The film features the acclaimed comedic genius Harold Lloyd and boasts an iconic image of cinematic history – that of Lloyd dangling from a giant clock on the side of a building over a bustling Los Angeles street.
Lloyd, who is among the ranks of silent screen comic greats Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton, and led the pack as the biggest box office star, navigated his own hilarious and daring stunt work. The quintessential motion picture treasure is in the Library of Congress’ National Film Registry.
Meticulously preserved for decades by the Harold Lloyd estate, the Martha’s Vineyard Film Society will present a gorgeous new digital restoration from Janus Films, sourced from an original nitrate print.
A short documentary, Punches and Streamers: The Making of a Film Score, will precede the feature.
“Safety Last!” with the Berklee Silent Film Orchestra, Thursday, June 26, 7:30 pm. Preceded by a documentary short on how the live musical score for “Safety Last!” was composed.
“Dancing in Jaffa,” Friday, June 27, 4 pm. “Living Stars,” Friday, June 27, 7:30 pm. “Living Fela,” Friday, June 27, 9 pm. “We Are the Best!” Saturday, June 28, 4 pm. “Mateo,” Saturday, June 28, 7:30 pm. “Brasslands,” Saturday, June 28, 9 pm. “Alive Inside,” Sunday, June 29, 4 pm. “Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon,” Sunday, June 29, 7:30 pm. All films at M.V. Film Center, Vineyard Haven. $12; $9 M.V. Film Society members; $7 ages 14 and under. Festival pass: $75; $60 for members. For information, tickets or passes, visit mvfilmsociety.com.