The Martha’s Vineyard Hebrew Center has launched its Summer Institute Film Series. Playing Sunday, July 13, is “E-Team,” a documentary about Human Rights Watch’s investigative wing that premiered at the Sundance Film Festival last winter.
“E-Team” describes the work of four members of the Human Rights Watch’s Emergencies Team, which works to uncover evidence of human rights violations and then document and publicize them. Ross Kauffman and Katy Chevigny have directed the cinema vérité style documentary, and one of the four E-Team members interviewed is Fred Abrahams, a member of the Vineyard Cronig family; he will answer questions after the screening.
“We knew they were very accomplished,” Mr. Abrahams said of the two directors in a M.V. Times interview last weekend. “They wanted creative independence, but we didn’t want a puff piece.” Mr. Kauffman previously directed the Oscar-winning documentary “Born into Brothels,” and Ms. Chevigny directed “Deadline,” a film about former Illinois governor George Ryan’s commutation of death sentences that was broadcast on NBC. In the case of “E-Team,” the question was whether the production crew could safely go into difficult, even dangerous situations with members of the E-Team.
“My mother [Carol Cronig Abrahamson] grew up on the Vineyard,” Mr. Abrahams said. His grandparents Henry and Mae Cronig emigrated from Lithuania and ultimately settled on the Vineyard, where they opened Cronig’s Market. Another relative, Ruth Stiller, worked for more than 40 years at the Tisbury Elementary School.“I spent every summer of my childhood on the Vineyard, and now my children, Milan, four, and Simon, one, do the same,” said Mr. Abrahams, who lives in Berlin with his wife Natasa in the off-season. He has worked for Human Rights Watch for 20 years, predominantly in Eastern Europe, visiting seven or eight different war zones to document human rights abuses. Most recently he has investigated abuses in Libya after the fall of Muammar Gaddafi.
Also interviewed in the film are Russian émigré Anna Neistat and Norwegian Ole Solvang, a married couple. Peter Bouckaert, the fourth member of the team, has been called “The James Bond of human-rights investigators” by Rolling Stone. Upcoming films in the Summer Institute series include “What’s in a Name,” “The Outrageous Sophie Tucker,” and “Soft Vengeance: Albie Sachs and the New South Africa.” For more information, visit mvsummerinstitute.org.
Dakota Fanning, Peter Sarsgaard come to M.V. Film Festival
On Saturday, July 12, director, screenwriter and Vineyard summer resident Naomi Foner (mother of actors Jake and Maggie Gyllenhaal) will appear with her new film, “Very Good Girls,” a coming-of-age story. Also attending the Chilmark Community Center screening will be actors Dakota Fanning, Peter Sarsgaard, and cinematographer Bobby Bukowski. Along with Mr. Sarsgaard, the star-studded cast of the film includes Ellen Barkin, Richard Dreyfuss, Elizabeth Olsen, and Demi Moore.
In a Brew and View event, which gets its name from the opportunity to purchase beer and drinks from the venue’s bar, the Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival screens “Appropriate Behavior” on Thursday, July 10, at the Harbor View Hotel in Edgartown. This film is about a hip young bisexual woman in Brooklyn.
The Film Festival’s children’s program, Cinema Circus, will be held on Sunday, July 13, at the Chilmark Community Center. And on Monday, July 14, actress Maggie Gyllenhaal will attend a screening of the comedy, “Frank” at Edgartown Cinemas, where she will answer questions following the film. The film also stars Michael Fassbender.
Former Congressman Barney Frank and his husband Jim Ready will answer questions after a Wednesday, July 16, screening of the documentary “Compared to What: The Improbable Journey of Barney Frank.” For more information, visit tmvff.org.
“Supermensch” at M.V. Film Center
Opening this weekend at the M.V. Film Center is “Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon,” a Mike Myers documentary about the celebrated Hollywood agent. The film opens with a series of celebrity testimonials ranging from actor Michael Douglas to comedian Groucho Marx.
Mr. Gordon started out as a young man thinking he wanted to become a probation officer. But after he was beaten up by the youthful offenders he was put in charge of, musician Jimi Hendrix said to him, “Are you Jewish? You should be a manager.” His first client was the Godfather of Shock Rock, Alice Cooper. As soon as Mr. Gordon handed the musicians in this group a container of marijuana, he was hired.
In addition to interviewing a host of celebrities, “Supermensch” offers viewers insights into how a successful agent develops publicity for his clients. In the case of Alice Cooper, Mr. Gordon got the music group a gig performing between John Lennon and The Doors. He developed outrageous stunts like having lead musician Alice Cooper photographed nude with a reptile covering his genitalia and, another time, packaging female panties as part of the group’s album, “School’s Out.” Another time Mr. Gordon arranged for Mr. Cooper to appear to be shot out of a cannon. To boost Canadian singer Anne Murray’s profile, he booked the singer into Hollywood’s legendary Troubadour Club with the Hollywood Vampires and John Lennon.
In a special, live performance on Tuesday, July 15, Adam Strauss brings his one-man show, “The Mushroom Cure,” to the Film Center. Mr. Strauss, who won the Leffe Craft Your Character international storytelling competition, describes how he tried hallucinogenic mushrooms as a way to cure his obsessive-compulsive disorder.
For more information, visit mvfilmsociety.com.
“Appropriate Behavior,” Thursday, July 10, 8 pm. Harbor View Hotel, Edgartown.
“Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon,” Friday, July 11, and Saturday, July 12, 7:30 pm, M.V. Film Center, Vineyard Haven.
“Very Good Girls,” Saturday, July 12, 8 pm, Chilmark Community Center.
“Cinema Circus: Kickin’ Off in Chilmark,” Sunday, July 13, 12 noon–6 pm, Chilmark Community Center. Free TMVFF event.
“E-Team,” M. V. Hebrew Center Summer Institute Film Series, Sunday, July 13, 7:30 pm, M.V. Film Center, Vineyard Haven. For information, see mvsummerinstitute.com.
“Frank,” Monday, July 14, 7 pm, Entertainment Cinemas, Edgartown.
“The Mushroom Cure,” live by Adam Strauss, Tuesday, July 15, 7:30 pm, M.V. Film Center, Vineyard Haven.
“Compared to What: The Improbable Journey of Barney Frank,” Wednesday, July 16, 8 pm, Chilmark Community Center.