The Martha's Vineyard Film Festival announces summer schedule

Films once again address current subjects, and bring top talent to the Island.

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Jake Gyllenhaal portrays a prizewinning boxer in "Southpaw." – Photo by Scott Garfield

Updated Monday June 29

The Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival (MVFF) released the lineup of its summer film series, scheduled for July 1 through August 26. According to a press release, the MVFF’s summer series will take place across seven different Island venues, and as in past years, will feature conversations with world-class directors, producers, film subjects, celebrities, and political leaders. The festival will include events at Owen Park in Vineyard Haven; the Performing Arts Center, the Tabernacle, and Union Chapel in Oak Bluffs; the Grange Hall in West Tisbury; and the Chilmark Community Center and Menemsha Beach in Chilmark.

This year esteemed actor Jake Gyllenhaal (Zodiac, Jarhead), musician Che “Rhymefest” Smith, and Harvard University Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. are among the notable attendees that will be highlighted.

Mr. Gyllenhaal will be participating in a discussion focusing on his new film, Southpaw, at the annual MVFF Fundraiser on Sunday, July 5, at the Performing Arts Center. Additionally, Mr. Gyllenhaal will attend a prescreening dinner prepared by Chef Chris Fischer at the fundraising event. Gyllenhaal is receiving critical acclaim for his performance (and body transformation) in Southpaw, in which he portrays Billy “The Great” Hope, reigning light-heavyweight boxing champion of the world.

The MVFF will also focus its lens on a variety of influential women, including producer Geralyn Dreyfous (The Square, The Invisible War), political activists Bonnie Raines and Kathleen Cleaver, and filmmakers Barbara Kopple (Harlan County U.S.A., Shut Up & Sing), Amy Berg (Deliver Us from Evil), Ricki Stern (Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work), and Annie Sundberg (The Trials of Darryl Hunt).

Ms. Stern and Ms. Sundberg will be participating in a panel discussion on July 20 following their new documentary In My Father’s House, about a father and son reconnecting on Chicago’s South Side. Hip-hop artist and Grammy Award-winning songwriter Che “Rhymefest” Smith is featured in the film, and will perform a 30-minute concert following the screening.

New Yorker cartoon editor Bob Mankoff will attend with the documentary Very Semi-Serious, a behind-the-scenes look at the cartoon department at the magazine. Two-time Academy Award-winning documentary filmmaker Barbara Kopple brings her film Hot Type: 150 Years of The Nation, which explores the country’s oldest continuously published weekly magazine.

As our nation grapples with issues of racial tension, the MVFF provides an outlet for discussion and debate with three films that tackle the issue. Henry Louis Gates Jr. will introduce James Baldwin: The Price of a Ticket and The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution. Both films explore black history, and will be followed by panel discussions. Wrapping up the series, 3½ Minutes, Ten Bullets gives a deeply personal exploration of the racial prejudices within the American criminal justice system. The screening will be followed by a discussion with Ron Davis and Lucia McBath, parents of Jordan Davis, a teen killed outside a Jacksonville gas station when he refused to lower the volume of his car stereo.

On select Thursday nights, the entire family can enjoy outdoor films at Owen Park in Vineyard Haven and free workshops for kids. Workshop topics include circus performing with Dave Darwin, the One-Man Sideshow; acting and directing with Amy Brenneman and Brad Silberling; youth Consenses with Sally Taylor; puppetmaking with Caroll Spinney (the man inside the Big Bird costume); and making a short western.

Once again, big-wave surfer Greg Long will host the second annual Surf Night on Thursday, August 6, which will include a night of paddleboarding around Vineyard Haven Harbor, a community dinner provided by Porto Pizza, and screenings of surf films Net Positiva, Into the Mind of Greg Long, and To the Edge and Back, followed by a discussion with Mr. Long.

The annual family-friendly Cinema Circus event will take place on August 15 at the Grange Hall. Ringmaster Rory the Lion and Ellie the Elephant will host a day of fun, including filmmaking, acting, and improvisation workshops, live shows, face painting, balloon art, foods, dress-up, craftmaking, and a screening of international short films.

The MVFF Summer Film Series

Most Likely to Succeed, prescreening dinner and live music, film followed by a discussion with Producer Ted Dintersmith. Wednesday, July 1, 7:30 pm, Chilmark Community Center.

Southpaw, fundraiser and prescreening dinner with Chris Fischer, film followed by discussion with Jake Gyllenhaal. Sunday, July 5, 8 pm, Performing Arts Center.

Prophet’s Prey, with dinner and live music, film followed by a discussion with Director Amy Berg and Executive Producer Geralyn Dreyfous. Wednesday, July 8, 7:30 pm, Chilmark Community Center.

Hot Type: 150 Years of The Nation, prescreening dinner and live music, film followed by a discussion with Director Barbara Kopple. Wednesday, July 15, 7:30 pm, Chilmark Community Center.

In My Father’s House, prescreening performance by Che “Rhymefest” Smith, film followed by discussion with film subjects Che and Donnie Smith, and Brian Tillman, and Directors Ricki Stern and Annie Sundberg. Monday, July 20, 7:30 pm, Union Chapel, Oak Bluffs.

James Baldwin: The Price of a Ticket, prescreening dinner and live music, film followed by discussion with Director Karen Thorsen and Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr.

Wednesday, July 22, 7:30 pm, Chilmark Community Center.

Consenses: The Story, followed by discussion and performance with Sally Taylor. Thursday, July 21, 8 pm, Owen Park, Vineyard Haven.

Very Semi-Serious, followed by discussion with film subject Bob Mankoff and New Yorker cartoonists Paul Karasik and Mick Stevens. Friday, July 24, 7:30 pm, Performing Arts Center, Oak Bluffs.

Seymour: An Introduction, prescreening dinner and live music, film followed by discussion with film subject Seymour Bernstein. Wednesday, July 29, 7:30 pm, Chilmark Community Center.

I Am Big Bird: The Carroll Spinney Story, followed by discussion with film subject Carroll Spinney. Thursday, July 30, 8 pm, Owen Park, Vineyard Haven.

The Black Panthers: Vanguards of the Revolution, followed by discussion with Director Stanley Nelson and film subject Professor Kathleen Cleaver. Monday, August 3, 8 pm, the Tabernacle, Oak Bluffs.

3½ Minutes, Ten Bullets, followed by discussion with film subjects Ron Davis and Lucia McBath. Saturday, August 8, 7:30 pm, Union Chapel, Oak Bluffs.

1971, prescreening dinner and live music, film followed by discussion with Director Johanna Hamilton and film subjects Bonnie and John Raines, moderated by Dawn Porter. Wednesday, August 12, 7:30 pm, Chilmark Community Center.

Becoming Bulletproof, followed by discussion with film subjects A.J. Murray and Illa and Peter Halby. Thursday, August 13, 8 pm, Owen Park, Vineyard Haven.

Racing Extinction, film followed by a discussion with  Director Louie Psihoyos. Tuesday August 18, 8 pm, outdoor screening at Menemsha Beach, Chilmark.

Radical Grace, prescreening dinner and live music, film followed by discussion with Director Rebecca Parrish and film subject Sister Simone Campbell. Wednesday, August 19, 7:30 pm, Chilmark Community Center.

Learning to Drive, Wednesday August 26, Chilmark Community Center.

Please note corrections to film on August 19 and addition of film on August 18 and 26.