Film

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Saturday, Sept. 6, brings to the Island a dazzling array of five first-rate movies from the six-day Martha’s Vineyard International Film Festival.

The action starts at 10 am with the French film “Belle and Sebastian.” After this compelling boy and dog story comes a bad-boy and maid story from Singapore called “Ilo Ilo” at 1 pm. The always popular George Plympton’s “Animation Showcase” screens at 4 pm, and the French comedy “Attila Marcel” follows at 7 pm. The evening winds down with a music documentary, “Austin to Boston,” at 9:15 pm.

The show time for “Belle and Sebastian” suggests it’s a film aimed at children, but it deserves a much wider audience. It’s not really appropriate for children under 10, since it opens with a particularly dramatic and harrowing rescue sequence. Sebastian is a six-year-old who lives with his adopted grandfather César in the remote French alpine region of Saint Martin. Based on a popular novel by Cecile Aubry that was made into a TV series in 1965, the story takes place during WWII after the Germans have occupied France.

Director Nicolas Vanier takes full advantage of the breathtaking snow-covered Pyrenees with beautiful cinematography. The film opens with Sebastian and César hiking through the mountains. They hear a shot fired and the camera watches as a mortally wounded deer tumbles down one of the precipitous cliffs. It’s a doe whose fawn is left bleating on a ledge. César quickly ties a rope around Sebastian and lowers him down the dizzyingly sheer cliff to rescue the fawn.

After this opening sequence, the film turns toward the search for what César grumblingly calls “the beast,” because he believes it has been attacking his sheep flock. It is a feral mountain dog that Sebastian, convinced that the animal is not responsible for killing sheep, befriends and names Belle. German soldiers who have entered the area seem more of a threat than the dog as they search for local Resistance fighters who have been helping Jews escape through the mountain passes to Switzerland. That is what Sebastian thinks is America, where he’s been told his mother has gone.

These multiple narrative threads, in combination with the glorious scenery, will keep the viewer interested and satisfied. The only false note in the film is the magical way Belle changes color from dirty gray to pure white after a quick bath in a stream.

“Ilo Ilo,” a film from Singapore by Anthony Chen that won the 2013 Cannes Golden Camera award, is far more somber. Jiale is the classic bad boy, acting out in response to the tensions between his parents, who both hold down busy jobs. Added to the mix are the deteriorating economic conditions in Singapore. Jiale’s mother, Leng, who is pregnant with the family’s second child, has decided to hire a Filipino maid, Teresa, to help run the house and take care of Jiale. Jiale, of course, quickly challenges Teresa’s authority, but as the story unfolds, the audience will see how Teresa balances a firm hand with sympathy for her alienated charge.

The pleasures of “Ilo Ilo” come through its illustration of family life in Singapore, an affluent city-state that mixes democracy with rigid rules. Both Jiale and his father respond to Teresa’s kindness and contrast in personality to Leng, who rules the family with an iron hand. The film works best through its unspoken and understated story telling, most evident in the way it shows how Teresa establishes her position in the family.

“Belle and Sebastian” and “Ilo Ilo” represent just two of the many weekend offerings of the M.V. International Film Festival, which is screening all of its films at the M.V. Film Center in Vineyard Haven for the first time this year.

“Belle and Sebastian,” M.V. International Film Festival, Saturday, Sept. 6, 10 am.

“Ilo Ilo,” M.V. International Film Festival, Saturday, Sept. 6, 1 pm. All films at M.V. Film Center, Vineyard Haven. For a complete listing of Festival films and screening times, visit mvfilmsociety.com.  

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Director Mike Nichols, right, and Richard Paradise on stage at the M.V. Film Center this past Saturday. — Tony Omer

Audience members at the Martha’s Vineyard Film Society’s sold-out screening of The Graduate on Saturday night knew they were in for a retro delight as the 1967 film opened with then-unknown actor Dustin Hoffman playing the vaguely discontented college graduate Benjamin Braddock flying home with The Sound of Silence, Simon & Garfunkel’s signature folk rock hit, setting the just the right tone in the soundtrack.

But the highlight of the evening, a collaboration of the M.V. Film Society and the Martha’s Vineyard Museum, was the appearance of Mike Nichols, the film’s 82-year-young director, for a post-movie question-and-answer session moderated by the Film Society’s founder and director Richard Paradise.

Mr. Nichols, one of the few entertainment industry professionals whose stage, screen, and television work has won Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony awards, along with the National Medal of Arts, Kennedy Center Honors, and the American Film Institute’s Life Achievement Award, provided a behind-the-scenes glimpse at the making of The Graduate, the highest grossing film of 1967 and one of the top earners in history to that date.

Responding to queries from the audience, he discussed the film’s popularity, theme, casting, soundtrack, collaboration with screenwriter Buck Henry, ambiguous ending, use of elaborate detail and metaphor. With wit and wisdom, Mr. Nichols dispelled the myth that Doris Day was a candidate for the role of the seductive older woman, Mrs. Robinson. But he also related a humorous anecdote about being summoned to New York City’s Regency Hotel to discuss the same part with then 44-year-old screen siren Ava Gardner.

“Why wouldn’t I go?” he quipped. According to the director, Ms. Gardner then informed him that she never took her clothes off for anyone and that she couldn’t really act. He assured her that she was marvelous and left shortly thereafter. “We never saw each other again,” he said.

As for the selection of Mr. Hoffman for the part of Benjamin, whose sense of anxiety and alienation from his affluent parents’ southern California lifestyle suffuses the film, Mr. Nichols offered: “We saw over 100 young guys, but Dustin had that thing — like Elizabeth Taylor — they get better on film. He’s a wonderful movie actor, beautiful but plain.” He said that he’d been largely unfamiliar with Mr. Hoffman’s work, deciding to offer him a screen test solely on the basis of having seen him in an off-Broadway play in which the actor had portrayed “a transvestite Russian fishwife.”

“She’s the dream,” Mr. Nichols said, describing the choice of the radiant Katharine Ross as Elaine, Mrs. Robinson’s innocent daughter. Like Mr. Hoffman, Ms. Ross was one of scores of young women who sought the role. “She walked in wearing the rain jacket she wore in the film and I said, ‘She’s the one.’”

As for the sultry, husky-voiced Anne Bancroft, the director maintained that there had never been another choice for the world-weary, manipulative, and predatory Mrs. Robinson. “It was always Annie,” he said simply. “She was brilliant.” He compared her character to that of the devil or heroin, suggesting that she was “all the things that arouse the senses and give you hours of joy and kill you slowly.”

Characterizing the plot of The Graduate as a retelling of the Hippolytus and Phaedra myth of the younger man/older woman, Mr. Nichols said it took him 48 years to recognize its origin. “That’s why it’s such a popular theme,” he said. “It’s an old story but it always comes back.”

Simon & Garfunkel’s quintessential songs, The Sound of Silence, Scarborough Fair, and Mrs. Robinson comprised the soundtrack, along with jazz musician and composer Dave Grusin’s instrumental tracks. Mr. Nichols explained that he had spent hours listening to Simon & Garfunkel as he conceived the film, realizing suddenly and accidentally that, “It was the score.”

“We put the music in and it fit to the frame,” he said. “It changed everything. It means that you’re young. It happens once or twice and then it doesn’t happen again.”

But happening again is what Mr. Paradise and Mr. Nichols promised the audience for next summer. “We’d love to have you come back to spend an evening with us,” Mr. Paradise said. Mr. Nichols nodded in agreement, offering film patrons another opportunity for an intimate event with one of the Island’s most cherished talents.

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— Martha's Vineyard Film Society

An expanded Martha’s Vineyard International Film Festival, hosted by the Martha’s Vineyard Film Society, opens Tuesday, Sept. 2, in what festival director Richard Paradise calls a soft opening.

After two additional days of film screenings, the Festival’s grand opening takes place on Thursday, Sept. 4, at Saltwater Restaurant, followed by A Trip to Italy, starring British comedians Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon. Also for the first year, the festival films will be screened entirely at the state-of-the-art Martha’s Vineyard Film Center in Vineyard Haven.

The Polish movie IDA screens on Tuesday, Sept. 2, followed on Wednesday, Sept. 3,by Land Ho from Iceland, followed by appetizers and Icelandic cocktails at The Port Hunter in Edgartown, with live music by the Mike Benjamin Band.

The documentary Austin to Boston, playing Saturday, Sept. 6, in its U.S. premiere, epitomizes what is best about the M.V. International Film Festival. This independent film is a gem not likely to be found at the local multiplex. It follows the 2012 road tour across the U.S. of a group of primarily British musicians, traveling more than 4,000 miles in five VW buses. Starting out in Austin, the group travels from Oklahoma City to Kansas City, Minneapolis, St. Louis, Nashville, New York, and Woodstock, N.Y. before ending up in Boston. Narrator-musician Gill Landry says, “What drew me into this trip was the ridiculousness of it.”

Beautifully photographed and edited, Austin to Boston, directed by James Marcus Haney, captures the youthful exuberance of a group of scruffy-looking musicians who have none of the slickness of musical headliners but all of the natural talent that the best of them offer. Playing guitar, drums, and bass, as well as other instruments, Ben Howard, the Stave, Nathaniel Rateliff, Bear’s Den, and Communion convey a sense of pure joy performing their folkie-based music. The musical odyssey is for some of them their introduction to America, reminiscent in tone of Simon & Garfunkel’s 1968 hit, America. By the end of the tour in Boston, one member of the group says, “I didn’t think I’d fall in love with America the way I have.” Along the way, the movie illustrates what it’s like to be a musician on tour. “It’s a damn good time,” says another member of the group.

More new elements of the M.V. International Film Festival include post-film coffee discussions at Nat’s Nook Café in Vineyard Haven, and a Closing Night Party at the Film Center with music and refreshments. Reel Food returns on Friday, Sept. 5 with hors d’oeuvres, cocktails, and spirits at Saltwater Restaurant. Following that is the Juried Competition of International Shorts with nine finalists from more than 450 entries. Bill Plympton’s signature Animation Showcase screens on Saturday, Sept. 6.

“What I like best each and every year is the reaction and feedback of the audiences, whether good or bad,” Mr. Paradise said in a telephone interview this week. “The more you can learn about other cultures, the more you understand your own culture. The tolerance for differences is very important.”

Other films playing over the six-day event include Child’s Pose from Romania, Metro Manila from the Philippines, the children’s film Belle and Sebastian from Switzerland, Ilo Ilo from Singapore, Attila Marcel from France, May in the Summer from Jordan, Kumiko the Treasure Hunter from Japan, Hunting Elephants from Israel, and A Five-Star Life from Italy.

Martha’s Vineyard International Film Festival, Tuesday, Sept. 2 through Sunday, Sept. 7, M.V. Film Center, Vineyard Haven, For screening times, additional information, and tickets, visit mvfilmsociety.com.

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— Matt Lankes / IFC

Director Richard Linklater’s new film, “Boyhood,” opens at the Martha’s Vineyard Film Center this weekend. One of the superstars from the 1990s Indie movement, Mr. Linklater is probably best known for his trio of films about a couple, played by Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy, who meet on a train in Europe and fall in love in “Before Sunrise,” (1995); renew their romance nine years later in “Before Sunset,” (2004); and, most recently, continue their seasoned relationship after 20 years together in “Before Midnight” (2013).

A highly versatile director, Mr. Linklater has produced comedies like “Bad News Bears” (2005), “School of Rock” (2003) and his breakout film, “Slacker” (1991); as well as documentaries including “Fast Food Nation” (2006). Linklater fiction films tend to take place over 24 hours and be set in Texas, where the director was born, grew up, and returned after working on an oil rig.

In “Boyhood” the director tries a new approach, following the life of Mason  Jr., played by Ellar Coltrane, from the age of five to 18. Mason lives with his mother, played by Patricia Arquette, and his sister Samantha, played by the director’s daughter, Lorelei Linklater. Mason’s dad –– divorced from his mom –– is played by frequent Linklater cast member Ethan Hawke. Viewers will enjoy the remarkable experience of watching not just Mason Jr., but the actor who plays him, grow up before their eyes, since the film was shot over 12 years.

Mr. Linklater masterfully depicts the messy but loving dynamics of a Texas-based, Middle-America family. Mom runs through three marriages, gets an advanced degree and a job teaching psychology, and moves the family numerous times over the course of the movie. Viewers will watch how Mason Jr., a dreamy, sensitive boy, reacts to the life-changing experiences thrust upon him and his sister Sam by their parents. His father, Mason Sr., plays an important role in Mason Jr.’s life, as do his mother’s other husbands and the stepsiblings who move in and out of his world.

As Mason Jr., moves toward adulthood, the viewers see him struggle with his responses to his experiences and to the decisions that arise over the 12 years covered by the film. Shooting from 2002 to 2013, Mr. Linklater brought the cast together annually, and, in effect, first created a series of 10 to 12 short films, each representing another year in Mason Jr.’s life and that of his family. Amazingly enough, the entire film was shot in 39 days over 12 years’ time. Rather than rely on the conventional Hollywood melodrama formula, “Boyhood’s” two-and-a-half hours unfold in an episodic format. As such, the movie establishes the deeply satisfying kind of intimacy that comes from the serial nature of the best TV shows.

“Serendipity: The Story of Tony Hussein Hinde,” Thursday, August 21, 8 pm, The Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival, Harbor View Hotel, Edgartown. For tickets and information, visit tmvff.org.

 “Boyhood,” Friday, August 22; Saturday, August 23; Monday, August 25; Tuesday, August 26, 7:30 pm, M.V. Film Society, Vineyard Haven. $12; $9 members; $7 under 14. For tickets and information, visit mvfilmsociety.com.

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The Twelve from Bloemfontein in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania in 1961. — B. P. Leinaeng Photographic Archive

The Martha’s Vineyard Branch of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History presents a documentary film, “Twelve Disciples of Nelson Mandela,” on Tuesday, August 19 at the Oak Bluffs Library. “An important documentary,” wrote the New York Times of the film that has won Best Documentary at the Pan African Film Festival and the Santa Cruz Film Festival, and the Henry Hampton Award for Excellence at the Roxbury Film Festival.

Special guest Thomas Allen Harris, filmmaker/producer/director of Chimpanzee Productions, will attend the event, which features two showings: 1 and 3 pm.

“The film is an intimate tale about the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa from the perspective of Harris, an African American stepson of one of the Disciples,” according to a press release. “As part of the first wave of South African freedom fighters, Harris’s stepfather, Pule Benjamin Leinaeng and his comrades left their homeland in 1960 and went into self-exile, to broadcast to the world, the brutality of apartheid and to raise support for the African National Congress (ANC) and its leaders Nelson Mandela and Oliver Tambo. In 1960, the South African government outlawed the ANC, forcing its leaders underground.”

Admission is a $5 suggested donation. For more information, call 508-693-8714.

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On August 18 at 7:30 pm, documentarian Stanley Nelson, who Islanders may be familiar with for his personal retrospective of Oak Bluffs, “A Place of Our Own,” will be joined at the Tabernacle by PBS journalist Gwen Ifill for a screening and discussion of his motion picture “Freedom Summer.” A Vineyard summer resident, Mr. Nelson was awarded the National Humanities Medal by President Obama in late July.

Stanley Nelson, producer and director of "Freedom Summer."
Stanley Nelson, producer and director of “Freedom Summer.”

The film screening is presented by the Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival (TMVFF) and hosted by Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr., with pre-screening music performed by recording artist John Forte of The Fugees.

Through historical footage interspersed with contemporary interviews, Mr. Nelson’s film chronicles the lead up, execution, and aftermath of a significant campaign during the civil rights era called the Mississippi Summer Project.

In 1964, the U.S. south was still infected with many of the same depraved racial attitudes that had helped stoke the Civil War more than a century before. Topping a long list of indignities and injustices regularly inflicted on African-Americans in the region was the systematic suppression of their Constitutional right to vote under the Fifteenth Amendment. Among the southern states, Mississippi distinguished itself as the most staunchly bigoted, and therefore the most unaccommodating, if not oppressive, for African-American voters.

Under the leadership of Robert Paris Moses, regional branches of four civil rights organizations united into an entity called the Council of Federated Organizations and recruited student volunteers from across the nation to travel to Mississippi and help register African-American voters in volume. In many instances those volunteers were greeted with handcuffs. In other instances they encountered the shotguns, truncheons, firebombs, and other tools of terror local African-Americans had been long subjected to. The intimidation of workers for the Mississippi Summer Project reached a crescendo when three of its activists disappeared and were subsequently found under an earthwork dam after a massive Federal search. It was determined they had been shot to death. Several members of the Ku Klux Klan, including a sheriff, were implicated in the crime. The deaths heightened national media attention on Mississippi and helped to further push the momentous issues unfolding there to the forefront of the American conscience.

“This film makes history feel so present, not only because it’s the 50th anniversary of Freedom Summer, but also because it’s a powerful reminder of how a courageous group of people can make positive change in the world. I’d like to think that’s as true today as it was 50 years ago,” said Brian Ditchfield, managing director of TMVFF. “We chose to screen the film at the Tabernacle because it’s in the heart of Stanley’s home town. Also, I think the grandeur of the place should match the energy of the night.”

Film: “Freedom Summer,” 7:30 pm, Monday, August 18, Tabernacle, Oak Bluffs. $16; $8 TMVFF members; $100 reserved seating and drinks with special guests. 508-645-9599; tmvff.org.

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Whistling is an art whose time has come, suggests Kate Davis and David Heilbroner in their film, “Pucker Up: The Fine Art of Whistling.”

These filmmakers, who summer in West Tisbury, have two new films playing at the Martha’s Vineyard Film Center. In addition to “Pucker Up,” their most recent documentary, “Newburgh Sting,” about an FBI sting operation targeting a New York Muslim community, is currently on HBO and has also played at the Film Center. International World Champion whistler Geert Chatrou from the Netherlands will attend the Thursday, July 24, screening of “Pucker Up” and answer questions.

If “Pucker Up,” seems too odd or not a terribly interesting documentary, nothing could be further from the truth. The world of whistlers is intriguing and entertaining. The film introduces viewers to many interesting whistlers and a variety of whistling genres. Bird whistlers, for instance, understand and imitate the songs of our avian friends with great accuracy. One Long Island whistler retired from the advertising business after 35 years to become a full-time whistler.

“My lips are getting so fat I will no longer be able to puckulate,” bemoans a Key West whistler named Tom.

The narrative structure of “Pucker Up” is built around the 2004 International Whistling Convention held in Louisburg, N.C., and interviews with six of its competitors. Interspersed with them is footage of Elvis Presley whistling in one of his movies, as well as Bing Crosby. And, of course, there are the seven dwarfs from “Snow White.”

“Pucker Up” suggests that whistling was, of necessity, the first musical instrument. In Los Angeles and Detroit, where it’s used as a code for gangs, it is against the law. There are whistling corsairs, whistling arrows, and whistling torpedoes. Whistling techniques include use of the hands, fingers, tongue, lips, throat, and palate. A double whistle reproduces the “ooga” sound of a car horn.

Viewers learn about the Golden Age of Whistling in the 30s and 40s, when people relied more on themselves for their own entertainment. “It’s just this pure wave,” explains one whistler interviewed in “Pucker Up.” “Sound is pressure waves sent through the air.” Many cultures around the world depend on whistling to communicate, and whistling sounds carry well because they occur in a different sound register. As an expression of pure feeling, whistling is a good cure for depression, states the film.

Also playing this week at the Film Center are “Detropia,” a documentary about the woes of Detroit by Heidi Ewing, who will attend the screening, and “Last Days of Vietnam” with director Rory Kennedy in attendance, about the fall of Saigon and subsequent end of the Vietnam War.

TMVFF schedules three documentaries

Chilmark’s Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival will screen three new documentaries this week at a variety of locations. Playing at the Harbor View Hotel in Edgartown on Thursday, July 24, is “To Be Takei,” about the quest of “Star Trek” actor George Takei for life, liberty, and love.

In a special event at the Martha’s Vineyard Performing Arts Center on Friday, July 25, the Film Festival will show “Fed Up,” the Katie Couric-inspired and summer Vineyarder Laurie David-directed film about the nation’s epidemic of childhood obesity and reliance on sugar products. The following week, Judy and Dennis Shepard, director Michele Josue, and producers Liam McNiff and Arleen McGlade will attend the screening of “Matt Shepard Is a Friend of Mine,” about the Wyoming gay student who was tortured to death, at the Chilmark Community Center.

The M.V. Hebrew Center’s Summer Institute does not have a film scheduled this weekend.

“Pucker Up: The Fine Art of Whistling,” Thursday, July 24, 7:30 p.m., M.V. Film Center, Vineyard Haven. For tickets and more information, visit mvfilmsociety.com.

“To Be Takei,” Thursday, July 24, 8 p.m., with TMVFF, Harbor View Hotel, Edgartown. For tickets and more information, visit tmvff.org.

“Fed Up,” Friday, July 25, 8 p.m., M. V. Performing Arts Center, Oak Bluffs. For tickets and more information, visit tmvff.org.

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— Photo by Katelyn Partlow

The Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival’s Dinner and a Movie night on Wednesday, July 23 features “Fishing Without Nets,” a dramatic thriller based in the shadowy world of Somali pirates. Dinner at the Chilmark Community Center begins at 7 pm, followed by the film at 8 pm.

The screenwriter is Sam Cohan, an actor and writer who was a seasonal resident of West Tisbury, until a sojourn to Italy several years ago. Mr. Cohan now lives in California, where he is working on another screenplay.

Following the screening, director Cutter Hodierne will discuss the film, which won the directing award at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.

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— Jean Claude Lother

Two of the Island’s independent film venues are screening documentaries this weekend, and the Hebrew Center’s Summer Institute Film Series presents the French farce, “What’s In A Name.”

behind-scenes-Case-Against-8.jpg“The Case Against 8,” a narrative of the fight to rescind California’s anti-gay marriage proposition, plays on Thursday, July 17, at the Harbor View Hotel as part of The Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival’s program. After the screening, directors Ben Cotner and Ryan White will lead a discussion moderated by former Congressman Barney Frank.

The Martha’s Vineyard Film Center opens two new documentaries this week. “An Honest Liar” presents a portrait of magician James “The Amazing” Randi who seeks to uncover fraudulent psychic and paranormal tricks; and “Newburg Sting” is a new film by Islanders Kate Davis and David Heilbroner about FBI persecution of a Muslim community. Puccini’s “Manon Lescaut” comes to the Center on Tuesday, July 22, as part of the Center’s Opera in Cinema Series.

In March 2013, California passed Proposition 8, which repealed the state’s marriage equality act. “The Case Against 8” presents an incisive exploration of the campaign to restore marital equality. Mr. Cotner and Mr. White’s film follows how two gay couples — Paul Katami and Jeff Zarrillo, Kristin Perry and Sandy Stier — committed themselves to overturn the initiative that ousted California’s same-sex marriage legislation.

By focusing much of the documentary on the two couples, their children, and extended families, the directors shed light on how similar the lives of gay couples are to those of heterosexual couples. Mr. Katami and Mr. Zarrillo wanted to marry so that if they have children, their offspring will have the same rights as those of opposite sex parents. Both Ms. Stier and Ms. Perry have sons from previous heterosexual relationships, and the film provides solid evidence for how normal and well-adjusted the lesbian couple’s children are.Case-Against-8.jpg

Another important element of “The Case Against 8” comes in its portraits of the lawyers pursuing the gay couples’ lawsuit. Both Ted Olson and David Boies had participated in the Bush-Gore 2000 election litigation brought before the U.S. Supreme Court, but were on politically opposite sides. The film calls Mr. Olson the most prominent conservative lawyer in America, an illustration of how irrelevant political leanings became to the struggle in California for same-sex marriage.

Although “The Case Against 8” provides plenty of evidence on how vicious the anti-gay marriage lobby could be, its message is primarily positive, documenting how our nation has shifted its cultural values in ways that support gay rights. Also part of TMVFF’s summer series is the children’s animated film “Frozen” playing Friday, July 18, at Owen Park in Vineyard Haven and including a pre-film sing-along. “Fishing Without Nets,” a drama about a Somali who pursues then rejects piracy, plays Wednesday, July 23, at the Chilmark Community Center, and director Cutter Hodierne will answer questions after the screening

A magician debunks magic

Tyler Mason’s documentary, “An Honest Liar” is a multi-faceted examination of one man’s efforts to use his own magic skills to uncover the deceptions practiced by a variety of psychic and paranormal figures. Along the way, the film adds a portrait of Mr. Randi’s partner, Jose Alvarez.

“I’m a liar, a cheat and a charlatan,” Mr. Randi proclaims. Unlike other magician/escape artists, though, he uses his skills to entertain. Directors Tyler Measom and Justin Weinstein use “An Honest Liar” to explore many types of deceivers, some of whom even succeed at fooling scientists from institutions like the Stanford Research Institute. One psychokinesis practitioner, Israeli Uri Geller, appears to be able to bend spoons and locate objects in a bevy of separate boxes. Faith healer Peter Popoff dupes people into filling his pockets with money by professing to cure them. Mr. Randi shows how this scoundrel gets away with his illusions.

In an interesting ancillary to Mr. Randi’s campaign against using deception to conceal instead of reveal, “An Honest Liar” follows the arrest and trial of Mr. Alvarez.

“We all spin personal narratives,” Mr. Randi says by way of explanation. “At the end of the day there is nothing to reveal.” Yet another surprising part of the film shows how many of the charlatans that Randi exposes reinvent themselves and continue to practice their deceptions.

Also playing at the Film Center next week are two Oscar-winning shorts, “Thoth,” and “Marjoe.” Filmmaker Sarah Kernochan will answer
whats-in-a-name-still-2.jpgquestions after the screening.

The Martha’s Vineyard Hebrew Center’s film playing this weekend at the M.V. Film Center is “What’s in a Name?” Alexandre de la Patelliere’s and Matthieu Delaporte’s farce concerns a family that announces the name for their soon-to-be-born baby at a dinner party with unexpected results.

“The Case Against 8,” Thursday, July 17, 8 pm, M.V. Film Festival, Harbor View Hotel, Edgartown.

“An Honest Liar,” Thursday, July 17, and Friday, July 18, 7:30 pm, M.V. Film Center, Vineyard Haven.

“What’s in a Name,” Hebrew Center Summer Institute Film Series, Sunday, July 20, 7:30 pm, M.V. Film Center.

“Thoth” and “Marjoe,” Oscar-winning shorts, Wednesday, July 23, 7:30 pm, M.V. Film Center, Vineyard Haven.  For tickets and information, visit tmvff.org for M.V. Film Festival films and mvfilmsociety.com for M.V. Film Center films, including the M.V. Hebrew Center’s Summer Institute film series.

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— Universal Pictures

Weekends this summer will conclude with shrieks sounding from Edgartown’s Entertainment Cinemas as the Island’s claim to thriller fame hits the screen. Each Sunday at 6:30 pm, the theater will show Steven Spielberg’s 1975 classic, “Jaws,” which was filmed on Martha’s Vineyard. The film is rated PG.