Filmgoers can travel to 19 different countries at the annual Martha’s Vineyard International Film Festival. The festival runs from Tuesday, Sept. 4, through Sunday, Sept. 9, and includes multi-nation shorts.
“At this year’s Martha’s Vineyard International Festival, our film programming examines the walls, barriers, and borders we face in life — both real and emotional,” said Film Society founder Richard Paradise last week. “I’ve always been attracted to the cinema of Latin America and its multiple cultures. This year’s festival brings a special focus to the best of recent Latin American cinema.”
Two films will screen before the festival’s official opening. From Paraguay comes the awardwinning film “The Heiresses,” which screens on Tuesday, Sept. 4, at 7:30 pm. Chela and Chiquita have been together for 30 years, but they’re running out of money. To survive, Chela starts a taxi business.
On Wednesday, Sept. 5, the Argentine film “Zama” describes the eponymous Spanish officer who waits in vain for a transfer, but ends up joining soldiers to pursue a bandit.
The festival officially opens on Thursday, Sept. 6, with a reception under the tent at the Tisbury Marketplace, which is adjacent to Ferryboat Pond, just off Beach Road. The tented reception runs 5:30 to 7:30 pm, and guests will have the chance to meet fellow festival attendees as well as special guests while enjoying wines, beers, and Mexican-inspired appetizers.
A screening of the Mexican film “Happy New Year Tijuana” follows at the Film Center at 8 pm. Mexican native Alejandro is an L.A. college professor who gets stranded in Tijuana on New Year’s Eve. While there, he experiences a raft of emotions about romance, belief, and identity.
Three films are scheduled to screen at the Film Center on Friday, Sept. 7. The Congolese film “Makala” was the Grand Prize winner at Cannes Critics Week. The film follows the struggles of a young man who hopes to build a house for his wife and daughter in one of the poorest nations in the world. The film begins at 4 pm. “The Day After,” a darkly comic Korean tale of infidelity and mistakes, was nominated to compete for the Palme d’Or during the 2017 Cannes Film Festival. The film starts at 7 pm. “The Charmer” screens at 9 pm, and tells the story of a desperate Iranian who tries to find a marriage partner so he can stay in Denmark.
The Capawock will screen another three films on Friday, Sept. 7. “Loveling,” from Brazil, depicts a married couple with four children living from hand to mouth, until their eldest son joins a professional German handball team. The film begins at 4:30 pm. “Smuggling Hendrix” is a film from Cyprus, and tells the comic story of Yiannis, a fading musician, who hopes to escape Cyprus for a better life. It starts at 7:30 pm. The last film of the day is “The Saint Bernard Syndicate,” which is a Danish and Chinese comedy that narrates how two men go to China to sell Saint Bernard dogs.
On Saturday, Sept. 8, at 4 pm, the Film Center will showcase a screening of animated shorts curated by Oscar-nominated animator Bill Plympton. At 7 pm, Isabelle Huppert stars in the French film, “Claire’s Camera.” Huppert plays a schoolteacher who visits Cannes with her camera, where she explores the transformative power of images. “People’s Republic of Desire” is a film from China that screens at the Film Center at 9 pm. The film explores live streaming, that nation’s most popular form of online entertainment.
The Capawock Theater screens three more films on Saturday, Sept. 8. At 4:30 pm, the Norwegian and Pakistani production “What Will People Say” tells the story of a Pakistani teenager living in Norway who gets caught in a crime with her boyfriend, and her parents send her back to Pakistan. At 6:30 pm, the Juried Competition of International Short Films features 11 finalists chosen by a festival selection committee from over 300 entries. At 9:15 pm, “Oh Lucy!” concludes Saturday night’s screenings. The Japanese comedy follows a woman who enrolls in an English class, acquires a blonde wig, and assumes an American identity.
Four films will close the festival on Sunday, Sept. 9. The Film Center will screen “The Last Suit,” a film from Argentina, at 12 pm. The film tells the story of a Holocaust survivor who survives his children’s efforts to put him in a retirement home. The Venezuelan drama “The Family,” also at the Film Center, narrates how a single father handles his son’s stabbing of a boy in a gang fight. The film begins at 2 pm. At 12 pm, the Capawock Theater will screen “Tea with the Dames,” a story of four old friends and actresses who meet up in the English countryside to gossip. It is a documentary from the U.K. Following “Tea with the Dames” is the Israeli film “The Women’s Balcony,” at 2:15 pm. Women in an Orthodox Jewish community in Jerusalem are appalled when their synagogue gets a strict new rabbi who preaches rigid gender roles. The final closing-night film is “Ears,” which is an Italian comedy about a man who wakes up with a ringing in his ears. He soon finds out his life will change. It begins at 4:30 pm.
The festival’s closing night party will take place at La Soffitta in Vineyard Haven. Guests can enjoy a hearty Italian buffet, and wines and beer from Italy. Live music from David Hannon and his quartet will feature the Frank Sinatra songbook.
“It’s my favorite event of the year,” Paradise said. “World cinema and a fiesta all rolled into one long weekend.”
For more information, and for festival passes, visit mvfilmsociety.com.