Here’s a primer for Martha’s Vineyard film groups


Accommodating a community of film lovers and makers, the Island has two main organizations that act as venues throughout the year for both local and non-local films, seeking out highly acclaimed works that may otherwise get lost in the hype about popular blockbusters at larger theatres.

Martha’s Vineyard Film Society

Founder Richard Paradise began the Martha’s Vineyard Film Society (MVFS) in 2002, and it has since brought many foreign language, documentary, and independent films to the Island.

“The goal of MVFS is to further the appreciation of film of all types throughout the year,” Mr. Paradise said. The member-funded nonprofit presents movies in both the on and off seasons at places such as Vineyard Haven’s Capawock Theatre, Katharine Cornell Theatre, The Vineyard Playhouse, and the Tabernacle and Union Chapel in Oak Bluffs.

The Film Society is perhaps best known for producing the Martha’s Vineyard International Film Festival each September, which has become a highlight of the end of summer on the Island with four days of award-winning films from festivals such as Sundance and Cannes, and discussions with directors, writers, and artists. This year’s festival will run September 6–9.

On the final day of the festival is the local film forum “Think Globally, Shoot Locally,” coordinated by Island filmmaker Dan Martino. Filmmakers have the opportunity to show their work and get feedback from the audience.

MVFS currently awaits the completion of a film center at which to show their films in the Tisbury Marketplace in Vineyard Haven.

“We want the [M.V. International] Film Festival to have a home with its own screening equipment and comfortable seating so people can enjoy the movies,” Mr. Paradise said. The center is expected to be ready for use by this year’s festival.

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Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival

Thomas Bena founded the Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival (MVFF) in 2001 as a way to bring films other than the diversionary blockbusters shown at most mainstream theaters to the Island.

The staff consists of filmmakers and artists who produce annual events and movie screenings at the Chilmark Community Center. In addition to its weekly screenings in the summer, MVFF is known for its March Film Festival, a weekend of film, discussions, music, and local food. Past films include “An Inconvenient Truth,” “Man on Wire,” international shorts, and this year’s “Pina.”

According to the MVFF website, its mission is “To produce community events that celebrate all genres of film and spark discussion, debate, and action.”

Each Wednesday at 8 pm a film will be shown at the Chilmark Community Center, and again on Thursdays at the Harbor View in Edgartown.

The Film Festival is not only for adults — with the addition of Cinema Circus kids too can enjoy the summer events. Cinema Circus brings both a circus and children’s movies each Wednesday to the Community Center.

Said Mr. Bena, “At the festival we’ll oftentimes have standing ovations with people crying and laughing. When the room comes together like that and people talk about it afterwards, that’s our whole aim.”

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