Film

C.r.a.z.y.
'C.r.a.z.y." will be shown on Sunday.

Film festival brings the world to the Vineyard

By Brooks Robards - September 13, 2007

The Second Annual Martha's Vineyard International Film Festival gets underway today (Sept. 13), promising a busy, fun-filled weekend in Vineyard Haven with more than 30 films from over 25 countries. Film lovers from on and off Island will find plenty of other activities to enjoy as well. Directors Richard Paradise and Nevette Previd have planned nightly pre- and post-film parties, a gallery walk, morning coffee chats for pass holders, an animation workshop, locally made films and plenty of other special events.

"We have really made a big leap from last year in terms of quality and quantity," said Mr. Paradise. He added that use of the Capawock Theatre, owned by the Hall family, has made a big difference in what films can be shown, since that theatre offers 35-mm projection.

New this year is an emphasis on World Music at the post-film parties. On Friday night from nine to midnight, the theme at Che's Lounge, Main Street, is Balkan and Buddha Bar Beats with DJ Di. On Saturday night, the post-film music scene shifts to the Oyster Bar in Oak Bluffs, where Senegalese guitarist and drummer Momadou will play dance music with a Senegalese beat from nine to midnight. The closing night party Sunday from 6 to 8 pm will be held on the Black Dog Tavern beach and on board the schooner Alabama and features the Beetlebung Steel Drum Band.

The festival has invited a number of producers and directors to come to the Vineyard and take questions from the audience after the screening of their films on Saturday. Also, New York-based, Oscar-winning cartoonist Bill Plympton will lead a workshop on animation. Check last week's pull-out section or the festival web site (www.mvfilmfest.com) for presenters, which are listed with their films, and locations.

Well-known local figures like humorist Marty Nadler, singer-songwriter Kate Taylor, and Yard artistic director Wendy Taucher are also taking part in the screenings by introducing films related to their fields.

Other members of the Vineyard community are playing roles in the festival as well. Island filmmakers Liz Witham and Ken Wentworth will provide a free screening of "A Home for Us All," their documentary about the Island's affordable housing program. The "Think Globally, Shoot Locally" forum will feature shorts by a variety of Island filmmakers. Plum TV will conduct live interviews with visiting filmmakers. Check last week's pull-out section or the web site for locations, dates and times.

The bluegrass sextet Ballyhoo will perform on Main Street Saturday afternoon, and six Vineyard Haven art galleries will open their doors to serve refreshments during the gallery walk later that day. During the walk, the Louisa Gould Gallery will host a meet-and-greet with "Deep Water" director Louise Osmond.

Moviegoers can satisfy their sweet teeth in two ways. Big Brothers Big Sisters of Martha's Vineyard is selling candy at the Mansion House Festival headquarters and at the Vineyard Playhouse. High tea will be offered for a fee by Edgartown's The English Butler at the Vineyard Playhouse during most of the weekend.

Events for what the directors call "The Big Picture from a Small Island" begin today at 5:30 pm with a reception at the Mansion House rooftop, one of the best lookouts on the Island. Vineyard musician Phil daRosa will play acoustic folk until 7:30 pm.

Opening the film events is "The Owl and the Sparrow" (See Box) the slice-of-life story of a Vietnamese street orphan who plays matchmaker to the flight attendant and zookeeper she befriends. The movie was written and directed by Stephane Gauger, a Vietnamese-American who will attend the screening and answer questions.

On Friday, moviegoers will have their pick of 10 different programs scheduled in the afternoon and evening. "Into the Wild," Sean Penn's adaptation of the Jon Krakauer bestseller, plays at the Capawock at 2 pm, while the Japanese comedy, "Hula Girls" ("Hula garu") screens at the Vineyard Playhouse then. A Swiss film about a musical prodigy, "Vitus," and a French movie, "My Best Friend" ("Mon Meilleur Ami"), which follows the fortunes of an antiques dealer hunting for one true friend, are both offered at 4 pm.

Friday evening's 7 pm fare includes "Amu," where an Indian-American woman explores her roots in Delhi; "Crossing the Bridge: The Sound of Istanbul," a documentary about Turkish music introduced by Kate Taylor; and "The Boss of It All" ("Direktoren for det hele"), celebrated Danish director Lars Von Trier's comedy about an imaginary company head. Three more programs will start at 9 pm: "Ten Canoes," an aborigine tale drawn from Australia's past introduced by Marty Nadler; a program of three shorts from the Berlin Film Festival; and "12:08 East of Bucharest," a comedy about the toppling of Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu.

Nine more films make up the roster of events on Saturday. "Opal Dreams" by "Full Monty" director Peter Cattaneo is scheduled for 2 pm, along with "Cinema 16: European Short Films." Island filmmakers will also present their works in progress at 2 pm during the "Think Globaly, Shoot Locally" forum.

A polar bear cub and a walrus pup star in "An Arctic Tale" at 4 pm, and cartoonist Bill Plympton will hold his animation workshop at that time. The 5:30 pm slot has been reserved for Ms. Witham and Mr. Wentworth's documentary, "A Home for Us All," which will be followed by a reception at Che's Lounge.

Hollywood star Charlize Theron has co-produced "East of Havana," a documentary about Cuban hip-hop artists that will screen at 7 pm with an introduction by filmmakers Jauretsi Saizarbitoria and Emilia Menocal. AFI Grand Jury prize winner "Land of My Dreams" ("Grbavica") also runs at 7 pm and tells of the story of two teenagers who lost their fathers in the Bosnian war. A third film on the schedule at 7 pm on Saturday is "Deep Water." This prize-winning documentary follows the round-the-world voyage of inventor-sailor David Crowhurst and its tragic outcome. Director Louise Osmond will answer questions after the screening.

A documentary, a comedy, and an anime will be shown at 9 pm on Saturday. Sundance Best Documentary prize-winner "Send a Bullet" ("Manda Bala") explores class warfare in Brazil. Banned in Iran, "Offside" tells the humorous story of Iranian women sneaking into a soccer match. From Japan comes the sci-fi anime "Paprika," in which a dream-interpreting machine is stolen and must be recovered.

On Sunday, screenings begin at noon with three selections: "Paris je t'aime," a love song to the city of love by a group of celebrated filmmakers and actors; "Singapore Dreaming" ("Mei man ren sheng"), which examines cultural change in Southeast Asia; and a "Live Earth-SOS Short Films" program, including seven shorts on global warming by well-known directors.

The two films offered at 2 pm on Sunday are: "Little Red Flowers ("Kan shang qu hen mei"), about a four-year-old negotiating the treacherous shoals of kindergarten; and "C.R.A.Z.Y," a mystical Canadian portrait of family relationships. Playing at 2:30 pm is "Son of Rambow: A Home Movie," a British comedy about the media-inspired imaginings of two 1980s boys.

The final round of film screenings includes "Men at Work" (Kargaran mashghoole karand), an Iranian spoof of male preoccupations, at 4 pm. The final films of the festival, shown at 4:30 pm, are "Live-In Maid" (Cama adentro), about the relationship between an Argentinean aristocrat and her maid when they fall on hard times, and the poignant Ugandan documentary, "War Dance" (See Box).

New faces helping out at the film festival include Kristy Park, who supervised party arrangements, and Bank of Martha's Vineyard Vice President Mary Spencer, who is overseeing between 30 and 40 volunteers. "We can never get enough help," she says, and encourages film buffs interested in volunteering to show up at the Festival box office, located in the Mansion House.

"It's kind of all-around spectacular," says co-director Previd. She explains that the staff worked to acquire unreleased films not available through other channels. She also says they targeted award winners and sought at least one film from every continent. She had high praise for the town of Vineyard Haven for its cooperation at many levels.

Martha's Vineyard International Film Festival runs Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, Sept. 14-16. Locations vary. For a complete list of the films, gatherings, other festival events, and prices, visit www.mvfilmsociety.com or call 508-696-9369.

Brooks Robards is a contributing writer to The Times.