Lineup at Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival & Hebrew Center


Chilmark’s Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival (MVFF) launches its regular adult summer series on Wednesday, June 29, with “Buck,” a documentary about a cowboy who gentles horses. The nine-film series will run Wednesdays through August 31 at the Chilmark Community Center.

Joining the adult series for the third year, Cinema Circus will offer children’s films and a roster of family events in collaboration with members of Edgartown’s ArtFarm. This year The Yard’s visiting artist Doug Elkins will lead the Circus performers under the big top. The children’s films start at 6 pm.

“We’re really adding to the kids’ part,” says MVFF Managing Director Brian Ditchfield. The goal is to increase children’s understanding of how the films they view are created.

West Tisbury exhibit designer Doug Phear will provide installations that focus on helping children learn about animation, filmmaking, and the process of capturing and creating motion pictures. In addition to entertaining kids and families with arts and crafts activities, stilt walkers, face painting, unicyclists, and minstrels, MVFF’s organizers aim to encourage media literacy and community spirit through the films chosen.

Jan Buhrman’s Kitchen Porch will provide family-friendly food, including wraps, burritos, smoothies, and a Chilmark Coffee Roasters coffee bar. Organic juice popsicles and fresh popcorn will also be available.

Ms. Buhrman and her catering partner, Robert Lionette, will serve dinner menus prepared with locally produced ingredients that moviegoers can enjoy on the Community Center patio before the 8 pm screening.

The first adult film, “Buck,” is one of several in current release that MVFF will present. According to Mr. Ditchfield, commercial distributors have begun approaching MVFF and asking the Chilmark organization to screen their films. “Page One: Inside the New York Times,” which will play July 27 in the Chilmark series, has also just been released.

Both in the summer series and at their March festival, MVFF has brought filmmakers and members of production teams to speak at their screenings. On July 6, oceanographer Sylvia Earle and director Robert Nixon will lead a discussion following screening of “Mission Blue,” a documentary about the conservation initiative to protect the ocean that Dr. Earle spearheaded at a meeting of scientists, philanthropists, and conservationists in the Galapagos.

Activist Robert F. Kennedy Jr., as well as director Bill Haney will lead the discussion on August 17 after “The Last Mountain.” This documentary examines the environmental impact of mountaintop coal removal in West Virginia.

MVFF also spotlights locally made films and will bring back “Charlotte,” a documentary about the Gannon & Benjamin Marine Railway, on July 13, and again on August 6 in a special Saturday screening. Vineyard summer resident Jeffrey Kusama-Hinte directed the film and will lead the post-film discussion, along with cinematographer Brian Dowley, Nat Benjamin, and Ross Gannon. August 3 is the only Wednesday that will not have a MVFF film this summer.

“The Other F Word,” a documentary focusing on punk rockers who have become fathers, will play on August 10. Mr. Ditchfield said MVFF is working to bring one of the featured musicians to speak after this screening.

Three fiction films will also screen as part of MVFF’s series. “Cairo 678” addresses the issue of sexual harassment in Egypt at a timely point in that nation’s political history. It tells the stories of three Cairo women from different social and economic strata.

From France comes “The Women of the Sixth Floor,” a comedy of manners playing August 24, and “My Afternoons with Marguerite,” an intimate drama closing the festival on August 31.

Summer Institute’s “Saviors in the Night”

Playing at the Summer Institute on Sunday, June 26, is “Saviors in the Night,” a compelling drama directed by Ludi Boeken about a German-Jewish family who is hidden during World War II by a family of German farmers. It is based on the memoir of Marga Spiegel.

Menne Spiegel, played by Armin Rohde, earned an Iron Cross fighting for the Germans in World War I. His friends in combat hide him once the scene shifts to World War II and it becomes clear that Jews are being exterminated. Menne’s wife Marga (Veronica Ferres) and daughter Karin, who can pass for Aryan, go to the Aschoff family farm, where their reception is mixed.

Menne finds refuge with another combat colleague. Gradually, the members of the Aschoff family, including Anni (Lia Hoensbroech), the daughter who belongs to a Nazi youth organization, come to accept Marga and Karin.

Many films have been made about the Holocaust, but what makes this one so appealing is the way the war affects an ordinary rural family. The travails that Menne and his wife Marga must endure keep the level of suspense high.

Heinrich Aschoff (Martin Horn) listens to BBC broadcasts on the sly, and his wife (Margarita Broich), whose son has gone off to fight with the Nazis, are not Hollywood types, but ordinary people who grow persuasive because of how they live their lives.

Their daughter Anni struggles with her attraction to a young Nazi youth group leader and her affection for Marga. Once American forces arrive, they do not believe Menne and his family are Jews.

“Saviors in the Night,” Sunday, June 26, 7:30 pm, MV Hebrew Center, Vineyard Haven. $10 suggested donation. For more information, see

Cinema Circus, Wednesday, June 29, 5 pm, Chilmark Community Center. Films start at 6 pm. $10; $5 for MVFF members. For information, see

“Buck,” Wednesday, June 29, 8 pm, Chilmark Community Center. $14; $7 for MVFF members. For information, see