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A young woman and child in Guatemala. – Photo by Derrill Bazzy

To celebrate Latin American History Month and the just-past International Women’s History Month, Adult and Community Education of MV (ACE MV) hosted a presentation discussion on Tuesday night titled “Eyewitness Report from the Border Update: Women and Children in Detention.”

The event included a photography exhibition of Guatemala by local photographer and South Mountain architect Derrill Bazzy, and social justice projects from the spring session of the Fitchburg State University Arts, Education and Social Justice graduate course. The presentation also featured the group Nightmares and Dreams: Immigrant Voices, who did a staged reading of narratives depicting social injustices in Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras, including stories of women and children seeking asylum.

A diverse audience showed up, including several student attendees, among them MVRHS graduate Mariane Quintao, who came to the Vineyard at age 9, and was detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) at age 17, when she was pulled over in a car and did not have proper identification. Ms. Quintao spent more than a month in detention before being released to her father. As a result of her time in detention, she became depressed, and ultimately decided to leave voluntarily for Brazil, where she is now studying International Relations and is working on her thesis, “Immigration Detention of Children in the U.S. and Australia,” as well as being active in the “End the Detention of Children” campaign.

The presentation, along with arts/social justice scholarships for the Arts, Education and Social Justice graduate-level course from Fitchburg State University on-Island, in affiliation with ACE MV, was supported in part by a grant from Martha’s Vineyard Cultural Council. For information on additional presentations and events by ACE MV, visit

Lynn Ditchfield if the founder and program director for Adult and Community Education of Martha’s Vineyard (ACE MV).

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Edgartown School third graders practice water safety just in time for summer.

Students of the YMCA water safety course Quinn Filiault, Tayla BenDavid, Reeland Oliveira and Leilane Dias conquer their fears by learning how to safely maneuver a small watercraft with the help of Elizabeth Lytle. – Photo by Michael Cummo

This past Tuesday, the Edgartown School third grade class visited the YMCA for the second installment of the YMCA of Martha’s Vineyard Third Grade Water Safety program. The teachers relayed that the students couldn’t wait to come to the Y, and were talking about how excited they were all morning.

Each year, 125 Island third graders participate in the fun and educational program known as Third Grade Water Safety, as a part of the Y for All Community Outreach Program, kept alive through community financial support. Kelly Neadow, Y Aquatics and Camp director, says, “This program is designed to help educate our Island youth in safe water practices. By participating in two one-hour water-safety sessions, students learn how and when to use a personal flotation device safely, basic swim skills, basic small-craft safety, what to do if you capsize a small boat, and precautions for safely assisting those in trouble in the water without entering the water themselves. During each of the sessions the students also enjoy about 15 minutes of recreational swim time to have some fun, and end the session with a trip down the water slide — a program highlight!”

Edgartown School teacher Summer Clements, a graduate of Martha’s Vineyard schools, said, “Our kids are so lucky to have this program and the Y; we didn’t have this when I went to school on the Island. The kids are taking big chances in this program. Those who are scared or don’t know how to swim can cope by getting into the water and going down the slide.”

One of Ms. Clements’ students, Leiliane Dias, wrote before class, “I’m excited to go to the YMCA because I want to learn how to swim and get over my fears of deep water. Last Tuesday, I was afraid of swimming in deep water and I was using a life jacket.”

After their first visit, Edgartown School teacher Tess Temple says, “you could hear a pin drop in the computer class following their water-safety field trip. They were so exhausted from releasing so much fun energy in the pool all morning. This program is great, because it brings them together as a class.”

Fun and learning doesn’t stop here. The goal of the Y Water Safety and other free Y Community Outreach programs is to help keep our kids and community safe, active, and healthy all year long. As part of that mission, the Y hosts the annual Healthy Kids Day, which will take place Saturday, May 2, from 11 am to 2 pm, and is a free family fun and fitness day open to the community. Together with the support of community youth partners and volunteers, the event celebrates healthy living, having fun, and strengthening family bonds.


Sarah Soushek is the director of mission advancement, financial development, marketing, and communications for the YMCA of Martha’s Vineyard.


It was a beautiful day for wagon rides at the FARM Institute on Saturday. – Photo by Lynn Christoffers

Last Saturday The FARM Institute hosted more than 350 guests for their 5th annual Sheepapalooza event, a celebration of sheep and shepherds, local food, farming, and fiber. Guests were treated to meet-and-greets with the farm’s 90 new lambs, and all 21 of the farm’s Cotswold flock were prepared for summer with shearings by expert shearer Andy Rice. There were also fiber arts and crafts, lamb bottle feedings, sheepdog demos, wagon rides, and spinners. For the first time this year, the Artcliff Diner Food Truck joined the fundraiser by cooking up local food for event-goers, with proceeds benefiting The FARM Institute.

Miniature alcohol bottles, or nips, were among the most common trash items found across Island beaches. – Photo courtesy Vineyard Conservation Society

The Vineyard Conservation Society hosted the 23rd annual Earth Day beach cleanup this past Saturday. The event fell a little early this year, but that didn’t stop more than 200 volunteers from picking up trash from across 22 Island beaches. Islanders young and old, some independently and others as part of the 17 different local organizations that attended, helped to hand out trash bags and gloves for eager participants.

Trash and debris were picked up from Island beaches by more than 200 volunteers last Saturday. Photo courtesy Vineyard Conservation Society
Trash and debris were picked up from Island beaches by more than 200 volunteers last Saturday. – Photo courtesy Vineyard Conservation Society

From the 22 beaches, 212 bags of trash were collected, with the top litter offenders being nip bottles, cigarette butts, plastic and styrofoam debris, balloon and strings, and plastic bags.

Unfortunately, significant amounts of large items, including fishing nets, rope, plastic barrels, bait buckets (one which may have originated in Greece), microwaves, deer carcasses, dead birds, and bagged dog poop were also discovered across the sand.

For the third consecutive year, the Harbor View graciously hosted over 100 people for lunch, where food was donated from Sharky’s, Isola, and the Wharf. Fun was had by all, especially the younger generation, who got to leave with a brand-new VCS Island Adventure Book, geared to getting children more engaged in their natural surroundings.

The day of environmental service reminded many that we all have a responsibility to the Island’s beaches, one of our most precious resources. For more ways you can help preserve the natural beauty of our Island home, visit


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The Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival brings international talent and topics to the Island.

An audience takes in a film at the Chilmark Community Center. – Photo by Maria Thibodeau

From the scene inside a tent hanging off the side of a 20,000-foot mountain in the Himalayas to the midst of a smoke-filled gunfight between Mexican drug cartel gangs, some of the country’s hottest independent filmmakers brought audiences at the 15th annual Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival to places very few will ever witness firsthand.

The range of movies presented at last weekend’s four-day festival represented some of the most daring — both physically and professionally — work to be found in the documentary arena today. Among the selections were the aforementioned, Meru and Cartel Land respectively, along with the story of a British journalist who spent 118 days as a political prisoner in Iran, an indictment of the administrations of universities from Harvard to Notre Dame to Florida State University on their handling of sexual-abuse cases, to an exposé on the Church of Scientology that piles up one startling revelation after another.

Not all of the selections dealt with weighty subjects. The documentary-heavy lineup also featured uplifting human-interest stories, like a profile of concert pianist Seymour Bernstein, and the story of a young man who took on the challenge of a solo nonstop sail around the Americas, as well as a handful of narrative films, including a few comedies.

But if a theme had to be extrapolated from this year’s festival, it would be human endurance. Many of the selections proved that with passion and determination, a committed individual can overcome all obstacles.

From left to right: Diana Whitten (director of Vessel), Miriam Hawley and Vilunya Diskin (co-founders of Our Bodies Ourselves), Andrea Pino and Annie Clark (film subjects of The Hunting Ground), and documentarian and MVFF board member Dawn Porter. – Photo by Maria Thibodeau


One of the best things about the festival was that, as always, many of these brave individuals, both filmmakers and film subjects, were on hand to add further insight to their films and to field audience questions. More than half of the festival’s 22 featured films were followed by live or live-video Q & A sessions. Skype technology, new to the festival this year, was employed very effectively for postscreening discussions with, among others, Emmy and Academy Award-winning documentarian Alex Gibney and the subject of Jon Stewart’s film Rosewater.

Filmmaker Matthew Heineman, whose film Cartel Land was honored with Best Director and Best Cinematography awards at Sundance, was on hand for discussions after both screenings of his film.

Cartel Land, which will be released theatrically around the country in July, was offered as a special “sneak peek” screening at the Film Festival. Mr. Heinemann was happy to share his remarkable film with Island audiences, partly because he has a long history with the Vineyard, as well as a connection to the Film Festival. The filmmaker has been visiting his family’s home here since he was a child. As a teenager, he spent a couple of years working as a volunteer for the festival. Two years ago he was on hand for a Film Festival screening of his previous film, Escape Fire, which focuses on the state of the American health care industry.

“I have screened all my films here,” said Mr. Heinemann. “I’ve spent my entire life coming here. I love the community. It’s always interesting to hear what people here have to say. It’s a pretty opinionated group. You always get questions you don’t get elsewhere. I love being challenged and hearing other points of view.”

Mr. Heinemann said that Cartel Land is the film that is most “deeply personal” to him. “I was embedded with these groups for over a year,” he said, referring to the armed citizen defense groups that he profiles, along with American vigilantes, in his amazingly up-close and personal look at violence in Mexico.

Annie Clark and Andrea Pino, subjects from the film The Hunting Ground, participated in an extensive audience discussion on Saturday night. The two young women who have turned their experiences as rape victims into a full-time crusade to change legislation in this country, were rewarded here for their efforts when festival founder and executive director Thomas Bena passed around a donation basket on their behalf to raise money for their organization, End Rape on Campus ( Both women stuck around all weekend, taking advantage of the socializing nature of the festival to raise awareness for their cause.

Children participated in festival activities at the Chilmark library. – Photo by Maria Thibodeau
Children participated in festival activities at the Chilmark library. – Photo by Maria Thibodeau

The festival sprawled across the area, encompassing a number of facilities in Chilmark. Screenings took place at the Chilmark Community Center and the Chilmark School. Children’s films and activities took place at the Chilmark library, and in a makeshift art shack. The Hay Cafe, a heated tent furnished with hay bales and picnic tables, served as an entryway and gathering space. Between screenings, attendees dined communally at long wooden tables, enjoyed entertainment provided by a laundry list of local musicians, perused the collection of paintings by local artists, and mingled with filmmakers, film subjects, and fellow spectators.

The food this year was provided by Robert Lionette of Morning Glory Farms, who prepared a different farm-to-table entrée and salad each day. In the Hay Cafe filmgoers could purchase Chilmark Coffee Company coffee, Not Your Sugar Mamas chocolate, Morning Glory Farm popcorn, cookies, and wine and beer.

The scene, as always, was a lively and convivial one. The festival attracts a wide range of movie fans representing all ages and all walks of life, and both visitors and locals. It’s a special treat for attendees to get the chance to interact with the filmmakers, and the filmmakers themselves find that the festival allows for a welcome exchange of both ideas and resources.

“Finish funds have been raised for movies here in the past,” said programming/managing director Brian Ditchfield. “At least one filmmaker hired an editor that he met here.”

Brian Ditchfield, Programming/Managing Director of the Film Festival, congratulates his sister, Miriam Ditchfield, skyping in after the showing of her short, "Day 90." – Photo by Maria Thibodeau
Brian Ditchfield, Programming/Managing Director of the Film Festival, congratulates his sister, Miriam Ditchfield, skyping in after the showing of her short, “Day 90.” – Photo by Maria Thibodeau

Actor/writer/filmmaker Peter Stray, whose short film You Were Great in This Scene was part of the Vineyard Shorts screening, has found that the festival provides many opportunities. “It’s a great way to get audience response,” he said. “I can also network as an actor as well as being here for my film. Making connections like this beats mailing out 100 résumés and head shots.”

While the festival here is far less of a celebrity schmoozefest than many of the larger film festivals, it has quickly earned a reputation among the film industry. “This year we had more submissions than ever from filmmakers and distributors,” said Mr. Ditchfield. “For the first time, I came out of all of this thinking that we could have a weeklong festival.”

While gaining national attention and attracting filmmakers from all over the country is flattering to Mr. Bena, what he was most pleased about was the hyperlocal nature of the festival.

Speaking of the Saturday morning film and breakfast event that featured The Future of Farming: Five Short Films, which brought together people involved in local agriculture, Mr. Bena said, “When we played the farming shorts here, there was this feeling that something happened. The visions were more realized than before.

“This is not a movie theater we’re building. It’s a gathering place and an arena for discussion. To have this level of industry success is amazing. But to realize community success on the same level is just as great,” said Mr. Bena.

Seems like the Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival team is doing something right. Not only did sales increase from last year by 800 additional tickets sold, but three patrons made very generous contributions to the cause of some of the film subjects.

“That’s the sort of thing Brian and I are most proud of. Our mission is to produce community events, educational programs, and films that spark discussion, debate, and action,” said Mr. Bena.

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From left, Taylor Jackson, Megan Zeilinger, Sally Caron, Amanda Bernard, and Ava BenDavid showed off their precision to Aerosmith's "Walk This Way," in the 2014 show.

The Martha’s Vineyard Figure Skating Club’s 27th Ice Show will present a lineup of family entertainment and skating skill this weekend at the Martha’s Vineyard Ice Arena in Oak Bluffs.

The program features tots, learn to skate, bridge program, freestyle skaters, Polly the Penguin, and returning guest skater and national competitor Alex Aiken.

Shows Friday, March 27, at 6 pm and Saturday, March 28, at 1 pm.

Tickets are available at the door ($5 students/seniors, $10 adults, and a cap of $25 per family).

Local documentarians share the making of their latest film, coming to the Film Festival.

Filmmaker Georgia Morris dances with baby Ivy at a birth ceremony while producing "The Same Heart." Photos courtesy of Petra Lent

This Friday, March 20, at 4:30 pm, the Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival will screen The Same Heart, a documentary exploring child poverty that was made by Galen Films of Vineyard Haven. After the film, Galen Films documentarians Georgia Morris, Len Morris, and Petra Lent, will hold a discussion with the audience. Through email, The Times asked a few questions of its own ahead of the screening.

How long did it take to make the film?

Len Morris: The first shoot for the film was in 2006 at a Millennium Village in Sauri, Kenya. We were working on other projects and shooting intermittently in Rome and New York and Atlanta [for Nobel laureate interviews], and then back to Kenya. We began concentrating exclusively on The Same Heart in 2010 — so it’s taken five years in all. We expect the distribution will involve another two years.

What was your motivation for choosing the film’s subject?

Len Morris: The subject of poverty and the impacts of inequality on children here in the U.S. and around the world came directly from our experience making Stolen Childhoods (2005), on global child labor, and Rescuing Emmanuel (2009), about street children. With each of those films, we saw over and over the unmet needs of children and the results of a broken aid system that essentially provides too little funding too late.


We wanted to highlight these unmet needs, examine the aid system and propose a different way to raise the resources needed for children’s basic needs: food, health care, education, clean water, sanitation, shelter, and security. This led us to the financial transaction tax (FTT, also Robin Hood Tax) which is at the heart of the film. The film has many positive ideas for helping children, but the FTT has the potential to be a real game changer. Imagine a world where antiretroviraldrugs are free to all children who are HIV-positive, instead of our system today, where one child in five gets the life-saving drugs they require. The funds raised through an FTT will help prevent the deaths of millions of children every year from wholly preventable causes.

Has the late Robin Romano’s [photojournalism] work influenced this film?

Len Morris: Robin’s work suffuses the film. Ninety-five percent of the still photography in the film is Robin’s, and footage from Liberia, Panama, Mali, Nepal, and Afghanistan was shot by Robin. What’s different about The Same Heart is that we used moments where children act like children, at play and in the casual moments, and also in their reactions to being filmed … we felt the children make their own best argument, and so we used those moments and found them abundantly, in every country. No matter how poor a child is, their resilience shines through. Robin saw this and celebrated their spirit and beauty through his photography.

Petra, could you describe your role in the filmmaking process and what you’ve found rewarding about it?

Petra Lent: We’re a tiny group, and I’ve worked as a producing partner with Len and Georgia for close to 30 years. At this point, we’ve worked together for so long that we finish each other’s sentences. My work on the film ranges from research on the initial idea to distribution, soup to nuts. Sitting in the editing room is where the film really happens, and that’s the part of it that I enjoy the most.

Geoffrey Bakhuya dancing with his grandmother during filming. – Photo courtesy of Petra Lent
Geoffrey Bakhuya dancing with his grandmother during filming. – Photo courtesy of Petra Lent

Len, what challenges did this film present for you as a director?

Len Morris: This film is about a lot of very serious stuff; my greatest challenge was to find a way to present it without crushing any sense of optimism or desire to help the audience brings to the topic. People care about children in every country, and I wanted to take that most basic human impulse and find a way to harness it for good. So much of what is needed can’t happen without a consistent flow of aid to pay for food, medicine for diseases we have cures for, and education. So I want to offer a path for change … the goal would be to make my own films obsolete.

Georgia, what challenges did this film present for you as a writer?

Georgia Morris: We made this film over a period of years in various cultures. I was dealing with transcripts of poor children, Nobel laureates, world economists, grandmas raising AIDS orphans, philanthropists, people protesting in the streets. It was quite a rich pile of ingredients to cook with, but I had to keep focusing in on the message, while being true to each voice. It was a fun challenge.

Len, how did the elements affect production?

Len Morris: Shooting in Africa brings its surprises. One day the heavens opened with torrents of rain, and we learned the power of mud. The van literally slid off the road. We got out to push and sunk to our ankles; the van sunk to its axle. And somehow the locals stayed relatively clean, while we yanked on the same ropes and looked like the mud men of Borneo. Hours later at the street market in Kisumu, a bucket brigade of kids capitalized on our disaster, making a king’s ransom washing our precious boots and socks. Sometimes capitalism works like a champ.

Georgia, can you recall any moments of surprise during production?

Georgia Morris: The time we came up over a hill to film a birth celebration in a remote village, and because I was the only woman on the crew and the ladies were lying in wait, before I could see what was happening a grandma threw a kanga cloth over me and pulled me into the women’s dance, handing me the baby to bounce up and down over my head. I was stunned with the privilege, touched, giddy, and scared out of my wits. What crumbled that day was the cultural wall that I was sure would always separate us. We were just women dancing with hope for baby Ivy.

What do you hope this film will achieve?

Len Morris: As Nobel laureate Mairead Maguire of Ireland says in the movie, ” Everybody can do something to make the world a better place for children,” and we’re hoping that first and foremost the film will help the campaign underway to adopt the FTT, which would generate billions of dollars every year that can be used to meet the unmet needs of children in the U.S. — where 17 million kids live in poverty — and around the world, where 1 in 2 children go to bed hungry.

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The event features hands on workshops for children.

Toddlers enjoy the Martha's Vineyard Film Festival in 2014. – File photo by Eli Dagostino

Updated Wednesday March 18 at 10:15 pm 

Island children will have the chance to learn about many aspects of filmmaking during the annual Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival on Saturday, March 21, and Sunday, March 22, as well as see films, and make their own short film.

With the festival entering its 15th year, Children’s Programming Director Alexandra London-Thompson is excited for the children’s programming, and the festival as a whole. “This is the best thing that we do,” says Ms. London-Thompson and added, “Hands down, this year’s is the best [overall] programming I’ve ever seen.” A summer Chilmark visitor, she has been attending the festival since its inception.

Children’s events begin Saturday morning at 9 am in the Chilmark School, with a program of shorts from Germany, Britain, Canada, France, the Czech Republic, Croatia, Japan, Norway, Spain, and the U.S. Ms. London-Thompson selected the shorts from the Chicago Children’s Film Festival, which she attended in October. “It’s the Sundance of children’s films,” she says, “and these are my top picks.” Alternatively, children are invited to attend The Future of Farming: Five Short Films, at 9 am in the Chilmark Community Center.

A program of stories and songs, led by Chilmark children’s librarian Kristin Maloney, will follow at 10:30 am. This interactive mix of storytelling and music is unique, according to Ms. London-Thompson, who works as drama director at Miss Porter’s School in Farmington, Conn., in the off-season.

Children will create their own live-action short film at this year's event. – Photo by Anthony Esposito
Children will create their own live-action short film at this year’s event. – Photo by Anthony Esposito

From 12:30 to 4:30 pm, children can participate in a filmmaking workshop that will produce a live-action short under the supervision of playwright Scott Barrow and screenwriter Peter Stray. A frequent Island summer theatre performer, Mr. Barrow belongs to New York’s Tectonic Theater Project, probably best known for the Laramie Project, and he teaches acting in the New York parochial school system. Mr. Stray, also a summer Vineyard presence, is a classically trained British actor who has just completed principal photography for his first feature film. Also helping with children’s programming are Hanna MacDougall, who teaches at the Oak Bluffs School, and Ms. Maloney. In addition, Ms. London-Thompson will bring several of her students from Miss Porter’s to help oversee the filmmaking project, which will take place in the Chilmark Community Center Art Shack.

“It’s scary and exciting — organized mayhem,” she says. “We have no idea what will happen.” At last year’s festival, participating children created a documentary film short. A screening of a 2015 Oscar-nominated animated Irish folk tale, Song of the Sea, will follow the filmmaking workshop at 5 pm in the Chilmark School.

A series of four free workshops on filmmaking will happen on Sunday, March 22, at the Chilmark library. Participants will learn how sound and music help make movies come to life in Hearing the Movies from 9 to 9:45 am. Acting in the Movies takes place from 10:30 am to 12:30 pm, and Sound and the Movies, a workshop on creating sound in movies, occurs from 1:45 pm to 2:45 pm. Finally, Directing and the Movies is scheduled from 3:30 to 5:30 pm.

Sunday’s events will culminate with a 6:30 pm free screening of the film short written, directed, acted, and filmed by participating children. Added to that program will be several more shorts from the Chicago Children’s Film Festival. An anonymous donor has made funding for the workshops possible. Participants can register for these activities on the children’s page of the web site.

International Women’s Day is celebrated at Chilmark Tavern.

The Yard's Jesse Keller spun and leaped to the music of Phil DaRosa. – Photo by Michael Cummo

International Women’s Day is one of those holidays that slips right past us without anyone much noticing (and it has slipped: It took place last Sunday, overshadowed by Daylight Savings, an event that leaves us dazed and grateful). But it was celebrated to a fare-thee-well at the Chilmark Tavern on Saturday night.

Anyone who lives here year-round, and who pursues the arts — either as artist or audience member or both — is aware that up in the dark and winter-icy reaches of Chilmark, the lights are on at the tavern. Two or three evenings a week, one may shuffle in from the cold, grab a glass of wine or a cup of tea, a plate of cheese and crackers, sit at one of the linen-draped tables, and be thoroughly entertained by a winter program of the arts — mixed and shaken and stirred — called Pathways.

The host and modern-day Gertrude Stein, Marianne Goldberg, chose last Saturday to celebrate International Women’s Day with the call-to-arms of “Making Art/Enacting Change.” Under the stunning high rafters of the tavern, the emcee of the event, Brit-born Natasha Taylor, read an essay that answered once and for all — or so she hoped — the question that constantly confronts her: “How Did You End Up Here?”

Ms. Taylor’s humor is of the ribald, smashing, hilarious variety, and she started off her musings with tales of her early single-mom days in London, wondering when her infants would “bugger off to college” so she could pack a suitcase and take a trip.

Next up appeared Pathways regular, the young, blithe dancer and choreographer Jesse Keller, with a short bristle mop of red hair, red leggings, and tank top, accompanied by singer and composer Phil DaRosa on acoustic guitar. Mr. DaRosa sang of lost love while Ms. Keller spun and leaped in the concise space ringed by tavern tables.

Elegant dancer Christina Montoya, her work compromised by scoliosis, produced a video of her extraordinary back — bare, feminine, muscled, embellished with a hennaed snake — as the dancer moved sinuous and slow, the camera caught between the figure and changing rays of light, with words of the artist invoking what Ms. Montoya describes as “Snake Medicine.”

Pathways founder Marianne Goldberg hosted the event, titled "Making Art/Enacting Change.” – Photo by Michael Cummo
Pathways founder Marianne Goldberg hosted the event, titled “Making Art/Enacting Change.” – Photo by Michael Cummo

Ms. Goldberg rose from her seat and invited revelers to look up — way up — to the human-length portraits hung on high and snapped by photographer Paul Lazes of half-a-dozen women artists in our midst, including Nancy Aronie of the Chilmark Writing Workshop, clad in jeans, her fists braced in benevolent attitude on her hips, and director Wendy Taucher, recognizable even covered in a heavy down jacket, cap, and dark shades.

Next up came Caroline Curry, sharing three short poems, the last about “princes” who are anything but. Susan Puicil of Cleveland House Poets shared three of her own aperçus, the most striking about childbirth: “All seams burst and you will never be the same.”

Gwyn McAllister also decanted three poems, brash and hilarious, including one about adopting a cat, as she admits outright, “I hate him,” until at last she confides, “He hates me.” Next came Sian Williams with two poems, one titled “Canned Heat,” the other, “Year-Round Island Girl,” so sharp and searing and forthright that one could hear, as she finished, a collective groan of recognition.

Singers and composers Rose Guerin and Jemima James changed up the energy as they each sang a song, swapping a single guitar. Ms. James provided a verbal prologue to her offering: A few months back she noticed a full moon which she learned had the unusual nomenclature “Beaver Moon.” She then proceeded to compose a song about it. She sings with a wise-woman voice, and her flair for words reminds those who happen to know this about her: she’s a descendant of the James family, as in William and Henry. Together Ms. James and Ms. Guerin, with a high and low vocal range, gave voice to that old mountain folksong and stern warning to young girls, to spurn that married man who offers to carry them “across the blue mountains to the Allegheny.”

Teen poet of great precociousness, Claudia Taylor read new work in which she plays with a construct of reverse words, so that girlhood changes to hood girl, shockwaves to wave shock, fireworks to work fire, and so on. As always, she impresses mightily, and we look forward to the time when we’ll be able to say we were part of the village that raised her (as did her mom, Ms. Taylor, whose other daughter, Paige, is also an emergent poet).

Musician Phil DaRosa performed throughout the evening on acoustic guitar. – Photo by Michael Cummo
Musician Phil DaRosa performed throughout the evening on acoustic guitar. – Photo by Michael Cummo

Gabriella Grecco, with a Broadway background and a passion for the music of Judy Garland, introduced her video-in-progress tracking the album, also in progress, of her singing Garland standards. Next on deck was Ellie Bates with another trio of poems, one a new take on Emily Dickinson’s “Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul.” Ms. Bates contradicts the belle of Amherst with “hope is not that thing with feathers,” but we’d like to think both poets make a strong case.

Last up was musician Kim Hilliard, who led with a song that beautifully summed up the evening, “When I Was a Boy” by Dar Williams, a meditation of that time in childhood when we’re not one gender or another but simply pure being, pure awareness, a bicycle-riding, fastball-pitching child of nature.

Perhaps the most special part of the evening — even above and beyond the striking talent on display — was the fact that men made up nearly half the audience of 82 people (headcount provided by the indefatigable production manager Scott Crawford). And these weren’t poor sad sacks dragged to the event by the females on stage, but rather many of the usual suspects who turn up at Pathways on cold winter nights, sometimes themselves reading, performing, and sharing videos.

These days, with law schools and med schools packed with more girls than boys, surely all the arts draw similar demographics. The day will come when there’ll be no more need for an International Women’s Day, because all the other 364 days of the year bring men and women in equal proportions to our attention, as each in turn takes the stage.

Next at Pathways: Thursday, March 12, at 6:30 pm, “Digital Visions/Creating Realities,” and on Tuesday, March 17, at 6:30 pm, “Playwrights Read.” All events free and open to the public.

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The annual festival hosts more films than ever before.

Ben Kalina and his daughter during the 2014 Martha's Vineyard Film Festival in Chilmark. — Photo by Eli Dagostino

Entering its 15th year, the Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival brings a welcome touch of spring to the Island with 23 new films, showing Thursday, March 19, through Sunday, March 22. “It’s the most we’ve ever programmed,” says TMVFF managing director Brian Ditchfield. This year the festival has also upgraded its technology to provide digital film projection, which means higher-quality sound and image reproduction.

Opening night features Red Dot on the Ocean: The Matt Rutherford Story, a documentary about the 27,000-mile solo sailboat voyage by Mr. Rutherford through the Northwest Passage to Cape Horn and back home to Annapolis, Md. It’s an engrossing story of courage and determination that should interest many Islanders. Director Amy Flannery relies on footage shot by Mr. Rutherford during his trip, on roiling close-ups of ocean waves, and on home video from the sailor’s past.

Red Dot may not offer the cinematic frissons of Robert Redford’s All Is Lost, but it remains truer to the grueling, often monotonous reality of long-distance solo sailing. The viewer learns what motivated such achievements for Mr. Rutherford, and what solitary life on a 27-foot sailboat for 300-plus days consists of. After he weaves his way past icebergs en route through the Northwest Passage, Mr. Rutherford says, “I feel like I sailed through another planet,” and calls Poseidon his only boss. Mr. Rutherford, who taught himself how to navigate, set two Guinness World Records — one for the first solo nonstop circumnavigation of the Americas, and one for the smallest boat to navigate the Northwest Passage.

Jaiden Edelman and TMVFF executive director and founder Thomas Bena. – Photo by Eli Dagostino
Jaiden Edelman and TMVFF executive director and founder Thomas Bena. – Photo by Eli Dagostino

As the director delves into his past, Mr. Rutherford doesn’t seem like an obvious candidate for the kind of heroism ultimately displayed in Red Dot. He spent his early years in the small Truth Fellowship cult, and once his family left the cult, he turned into a juvenile delinquent, suffering from attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, entering a drug rehab program at 13, and committing numerous petty crimes that sent him to prison. After a jail-cell epiphany that his life was going nowhere, he discovered his passion at age 21, and sailed from the U.S. to Europe, Africa, and back.

At the end of his epic, record-setting voyage, this sailor arrived back home in Annapolis with $30 in his pocket. His journey was not merely one of self-actualization. He raised $120,000 for Chesapeake Region Accessible Boating, an organization devoted to teaching the handicapped how to sail. He has gone on to form the nonprofit Ocean Research Project, which helps scientists understand the problems facing the world’s oceans. Mr. Rutherford will lead a discussion of Red Dot after its screening.

One of the assets of the Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival is that it offers audiences face-to-face contact with filmmakers and the subjects of their work. Summer resident Matthew Heineman, who won this year’s Sundance awards for best director and best documentary, will be present for two post-screening discussions of his powerful new film on Mexican drug cartels, Cartel Land. Vineyard Haven’s documentarists Georgia and Len Morris will lead a discussion of their latest film on human rights and children, The Same Heart, after its screening. Island farmers will participate in the discussion following The Future of Farming: Five Short Films, and at a Farmer’s Breakfast to follow in the Hay Café. Not only She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry filmmaker Dawn Porter, but film subjects and co-founders of Our Bodies Ourselves, Miriam Hawley and Vilunya Diskin will be present for the screening of that film, on the founding of the modern women’s movement. Film subjects Andrea Pino and Annie Clark will discuss The Hunting Ground, about rape on college campuses, moderated by Dawn Porter. Documentarist David Quint and producer KT Eaton will be present to discuss their new film, Father Unknown, and director Diana Whitten will be present for Vessel, her film about abortion-rights activist Dr. Rebecca Gomperts. Six Island filmmakers will discuss their films in Vineyard Shorts.

This year Skype will allow several other filmmakers and subjects to talk with audiences about their work. Included are Maziar Bahari, the subject of Jon Stewart’s new film, Rosewater, about the detention of the Iranian journalist, and the principals of Most Likely to Succeed, about the epidemic of jobless college graduates.

Another addition to the festival this year is an Art Walk and Silent Auction, with work by Vineyard artists Claire Lindsey, Sarah Nelson, Colin Ruel, and Ken Vincent. This event is a fundraiser for the festival. A series of free workshops for children will give them the opportunity to make a narrative film during the festival. Rob Lionetti of Morning Glory Farm will provide food over the four-day affair, and the Festival will provide its own popcorn stand with Martha’s Vineyard Sea Salt.

For a full listing of the many films scheduled at the Chilmark Community Center, the Chilmark public library, and Chilmark School, see For the first time, viewers may have to choose between different films showing at the three venues, because of the large number of films.