Essay: Cinema Circus and M.V. Film Festival films create community

Eli Dagostino

The Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival is growing by leaps and bounds. When we say “more than movie,” we mean it. More then ever, we are committed to gathering our community around film, and facilitating discussion, debate, and action.

Our Summer Film Series and Cinema Circus were again tremendously successful. With sold-out events in Chilmark and Edgartown, audiences up Island and down were treated to inspiring films and thoughtful discussions. Next summer, we will again be producing events at the Chilmark Community Center and the Harbor View Hotel.

Expanding exponentially are our educational programs for children. With projects at the West Tisbury, Chilmark, and Charter Schools, and a preschool program developing, our ambition to promote film literacy in children is becoming a reality.

Students are learning the production skills involved in filmmaking — camera work, sound engineering, animation and editing, as well as how to develop scripts, characters, and plots. Students are thinking critically about film and examining the ways filmmakers use the medium to tell compelling stories.

In the digital age, when information is conveyed through film and video more than ever before, teaching children to be discerning media consumers provides them with necessary skills to assess messages, communicate information, and express themselves.

Our “Professor Projector” series engaged Cinema Circus audiences with quirky lessons exploring a variety of film production topics. This nutty character demonstrated how filmmakers use their tools to make you feel a certain way, create special effects, show time passing, and other backstage secrets.

Cinema Circus presented families with a slate of fantastic short films from around the world. With our eye on high artistic quality, positive messages, and multiculturalism, Cinema Circus fun and films are a treat for adults and children alike. Now we are bringing our programming to you. Coming to local libraries this winter, the “Best of the Big Top,” our four-volume series of this year’s favorites, will be available to families across the Island.

Our programming has caught the eye of communities off our shores as well. Our first franchise, Cinema Circus West, in Bozeman, Montana, was a tremendous success. We are poised and ready to share these great films with other communities in need of quality short films for kids. Be in touch if you are interested in bringing Cinema Circus to your organization or your community.

Planning for our 13th annual March Festival, March 15 to 17 at the Chilmark Community Center, is underway. As always, the weekend promises to be full of fantastic films, inspiring guests, great food, and wonderful company.

Lindsey Scott is the Director of Children’s Programs at the Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival. She was previously an art teacher at the M.V. Public Charter School.

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