Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival comes to Chilmark

Sold out screenings and fruitful discussion marks 17th annual film fest.


Friday, Saturday and Sunday marked the 17th annual Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival. The festival featured 24 films in addition to short film screenings and workshops for kids.

Thousands of people came to the Chilmark Community Center and Chilmark School for film screenings over the weekend of March 17.

This year saw more than 3,000 tickets sold and more than  100 pass holders attend, making it the biggest in the festival’s history. The festival expanded to four venues this year to accommodate audience members.

Adults watched 24 different film programs for adults and kids had the chance to partake in nine different film programs and workshops.

Over the weekend 22 events were sold out, including screenings for “I Am Not Your Negro,” “City of Ghosts,” and “Obit.”

The first screening of “I Am Not Your Negro” was standing room only and the festival added an extra screening of the film on Friday night for one of the more popular films of the weekend.

Festival organizers Brian Ditchfield and Hilary Dreyer welcomed festival goers to the Chilmark Community center on opening night on Thursday with a screening of “Bill Nye: Science Guy.”

“I love the Thursday night openings,” Mr. Ditchfield said. “It’s like an intimate family gathering before everyone else comes.”

“Highlights of the festival for me always revolve around connecting our audience with the special guests and filmmakers we fly in from around the country,” Ms. Dreyer said in an email. “Seeing just how much the films resonate with people, and also being able to create space for discussion and collaboration is so rewarding. As I brought Judge Claudette White to the airport on Monday (she was the last guest to leave the Island), she told me how included and welcomed she felt by our community.”

Many of the screenings offered intimate discussions with film directors. This included “Adventure Shorts” director Taylor Toole, “Charged: The Eduardo Garcia Story” director Phillip Baribeau, “Bill Nye” Science Guy” director David Alvarado, “City of Ghosts” director Matthew Heineman, “Disturbing the Peace” director Stephen Apkon, “Island Earth” director Cyrus Sutton, “Spettacolo” director Jeff Malmberg, and “Look and See: A Portrait of Wendell Berry” director Laura Dunn, among others.

“I am so grateful to the community of people who helped to produce this event and to all of those who attended,” festival founder Thomas Bena said. “It was truly a multicultural gathering with a Brazilian trio on Friday night, the Black Brook Singers on Saturday night, and films from all around the world.”

“I couldn’t be happier with how the weekend went,” Mr. Ditchfield said. “We feel so supported and loved by the community. The saddest part is now when we take everything down. I say it every year but, it was the best festival ever. I hope we get to say it again next year.”