A weekend of thought-provoking flicks

Environmental Film Festival returns to the Film Center.


The Martha’s Vineyard Film Center will bring nine full-length documentaries about the environment to the Vineyard this weekend, along with a group of four shorts. The Film Center’s fourth annual Environmental Film Festival will touch on fascinating film topics, some of which won’t be as familiar to viewers.

A screening of shorts will kick off the four-day festival on Thursday, May 24, at 4 pm. “Permafrost” is a 12-minute film that describes the work of the Woods Hole Research Center’s scientists and their undergraduate interns in the Arctic tundra. Local filmmakers Liz Witham and Ken Wentworth have two of their latest shorts also screening Thursday afternoon. “Bernadette’s Taro Patch” and “Conserving Ant Atoll” are part of the Vineyard’s Film Truth Productions. “Straws” by Linda Booker is a 30-minute film that will leave audiences with an understanding of the problem caused by plastic pollution.

The first full-length film, “Living in the Future,” will screen Thursday night at 7:30 pm. An opening reception with live jazz music by David Hannon will start in the lobby at 6:30 pm. “Living in the Future” is an overview that considers what may happen to the world. The film is narrated by Oscar-winning actor Jeff Bridges, with beautiful cinematography, taking a serious look at evolution, entropy, and dark ecology.

Two films are on Friday night’s lineup. “The Gardener” screens at 4 pm, and is presented in collaboration with Polly Hill Arboretum. Director Sebastian Chabot takes audiences through Frank Cabot’s 20-acre English-style garden in Quatre-Vents/Four Winds in Quebec. Cabot is a well-known gardener and horticulturist who died in 2011. The camera slowly pans and tilts to allow the viewer to absorb images of the flowers and foliage in this lovely spot. The camera lets most movement come from the plants. An award-winning horticulturist, garden designer, and philanthropist, Cabot welcomed his son as filmmaker for the first public view of Quatre-Vents.

Friday’s “Ocean Warriors: Chasing the Thunder” screens at 7:30 pm. It follows the fascinating efforts of Sea Shepherd’s 110-day, 10,000-mile chase of Thunder, an illegal fishing vessel. This film plays like a thriller, with Sea Shepherd’s crew working to end Thunder’s poaching. The MV Fisherman’s Preservation Trust and Sail MV are co-sponsoring this screening.

Saturday’s schedule starts with “Just Eat It,” beginning at 1 pm. The film is about food waste, and co-presented by Island Grown Gleaning and the Island Grown Initiative. “The Serengeti Rules” screens at 4 pm, which is a film directed by Nicolas Brown that profiles scientists with surprising conclusions about the relationship between predators and prey. “Love and Bananas: An Elephant Story,” takes viewers through the declining population of Asian elephants, and the many aspects of their behavior that may be unfamiliar to most.

The MVRHS student art show reception and awards ceremony takes place on Saturday at 3:30 pm in the film center lobby. The event will honor the Island’s young and talented artists. The Art of Conservation, an art competition founded by the Vineyard Conservation Society, will hand out awards at 4 pm.

On Sunday, a youth event at 1 pm is free for kids 14 and under. The documentary “Aldabra: Once Upon an Island” portrays the lives of the animals on the Aldabra Atoll in the Seychelles. Watch giant turtles swim for their lives through shark-infested waters, and turtle hatchlings dash for open sea. Pierce Brosnan narrates the film.

“The True Cost” at 4 pm may surprise viewers with its examination of the ways the clothing industry exploits Third World workers and harms the environment through its seed, fertilizer, and pesticide practices. What’s the real cost of clothing? The film discusses the nation’s materialist values that encourage greater consumption of clothing, which is often tossed away. This film is co-sponsored with the Lauren Morgan Co. The final film of this rewarding and insightful festival is “The Farthest.” It follows the launches of Voyagers 1 and 2 in 1977. The two Voyagers travel past Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune to discover new rings, satellites, and other components of these planets in our solar system. Forty years later, Voyager 1 has moved beyond our solar system, and is still gathering information. Executive producer Josh Rubin will attend the screening and answer questions.


Information and tickets are available for the fourth annual Environmental Film Festival on mvfilmsociety.com.