Another stacked schedule for the Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival

Free films, outdoor screenings, and a first ever drive-in movie night.


The Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival (MVFF) summer series is well underway, and there are still plenty more screenings, discussions, and events to look forward to.

The Chilmark-based MVFF has a jam-packed lineup, with 21 upcoming screenings, including four of their popular Cinema Circus events for children. Many of the films will be held outdoors at the Beach Plum Inn, Aquinnah Circle, Menemsha Beach, or Owen Park. Many screenings feature dinners beforehand, and most include discussions with film principals and directors. Some screenings are even free.

“That’s how we focus our programs and get good people to come,” artistic director Brian Ditchfield said. This year the schedule is oriented toward politics.

Playing on Monday, July 16, at 8 pm, is the documentary “Robin Williams: Come Inside My Mind.” Emmy awardwinning director and producer Marina Zenovich explores the popular late comedian’s quick wit, spontaneity, and inventiveness. Zenovich will attend dinner at the Beach Plum Inn before the outdoor screening.

Journalist, author, and Vineyard summer resident Charlayne Hunter-Gault will lead the discussion following “Blindspotting,” a film screening at 8 pm at the Chilmark Community Center on Wednesday, July 18. The film is directed by Carlos López Estrada and narrates the fictional story of a black and white friendship between two Oakland house movers, one of whom is ending his probation. Jan Buhrman of Kitchen Porch Catering will offer dinner, and there will be live music starting at 6:30 pm.

On Thursday, July 19, “Keepers of the Light,” directed by Vineyard filmmakers Ken Wentworth and Liz Witham, screens outdoors at the Aquinnah Circle at 8 pm. They will lead a discussion following the film about the Gay Head Lighthouse. The event is free.

Outdoors at the Beach Plum Inn on Monday, July 23 at 6:30 pm, the documentary “Intelligent Lives” examines three individuals with intellectual disabilities and the misconceptions many have about them. Narrator and Oscar awardwinning actor Chris Cooper will attend dinner before the screening, as will director Dan Habib and executive producer Marianne Leone Cooper. They will lead a discussion.

“American Chaos” plays on Wednesday, July 25, at the Chilmark Community Center at 8 pm. In this documentary, director James D. Stern examines why red-state Trump supporters believed in their candidate. Former law professor and Vineyard summer visitor Alan Dershowitz and labor lawyer Jules Bernstein, also a Vineyard summer visitor, will discuss the film. Dershowitz is the author of “Case Against Impeaching Donald Trump,” and Bernstein sponsors an online petition requesting President Trump be censured. Jan Buhrman will provide a meal, and there will be live music before the film, starting at 6:30 pm.

A duo of free films is on deck for Thursday, July 26, at Menemsha Beach at 8 pm. “The Changing Tide” is by Vineyard directors Jeremy Mayhew and Wes Brighton. The film explores the history of Vineyard fishing and the plight of Vineyard fisherman. Comic Lenny Clarke then narrates “American Heroes: Saltwater Challenge,” which is a film directed by Oscar-nominated and Menemsha summer resident Robert Nixon and producer Sarah Nixon. This documentary was inspired by the Nixons’ son Jack, and describes how soldiers wounded in Afghanistan compete in one of America’s oldest fishing tournaments, the Martha’s Vineyard Striped Bass and Bluefish Derby. All principals will discuss their films after the screening.

“Resist” is the documentary scheduled for Monday, July 30, with journalist Hunter-Gault and Patrice Cullers, co-founder of Black Lives Matter. They will lead a discussion before the film over dinner at the Beach Plum Inn. Dinner begins at 6:30 pm. The outdoor screening of the film will follow.

Steven Spielberg’s classic “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” screens on Tuesday, July 31, at the West Tisbury Agricultural Hall for the Island’s first ever drive-in movie night. It is a collaborative fundraiser for the MVFF and the M.V. Agricultural Society. The rain date is Wednesday, August 1, and the film begins at 8 pm.

In a free outdoor screening on Friday, August 3, at Owen Park, “Bethany Hamilton: Unstoppable,” tells the remarkable story of surfer Hamilton who lost an arm to a shark, but continues to surf competitively. Discussion to follow with producer Penny Edmiston. The screening begins at 8 pm.

“Bobby Kennedy for President” will play on Monday, August 6, at 8 pm. Before the Beach Plum Inn screening, there will be a 6:30 pm dinner with director Dawn Porter and journalist and author Hunter-Gault. A discussion will follow the film.

“Above and Beyond: NASA’s Journey to Tomorrow” is the selection for Wednesday, August 8, at the Chilmark Community Center at 8 pm. Jan Buhrman will provide dinner, and director Rory Kennedy will lead the postfilm discussion about the inspiring history of NASA.

On Monday, August 13, the Beach Plum Inn will host a screening of “Crime + Punishment” which is about the New York Police Department’s racial discrimination and confrontation by a group of officers. The documentary is directed by Stephen Maing. Following the film, join a discussion with Harvard University professor and Vineyard summer resident Henry Louis Gates Jr. and film subject Edwin Raymond.

Key Art for the Showtime original documentary series THE FOURTH ESTATE. – Photo: SHOWTIME – Photo ID: THEFOURTH_KA01.R

“The Fourth Estate” is a docuseries that examines the New York Times coverage of President Trump’s first 100 days. It will screen at the Chilmark Community Center on Wednesday, August 15, at 8 pm. Co-director Liz Garbus will join for a discussion after the film, and dinner with Kitchen Porch Catering begins at 6:30 pm.

In light of the #MeToo movement, the 1991 film “Thelma and Louise” will play on Monday, August 20, outdoors at the Beach Plum Inn. Oscar awardwinning screenwriter Callie Khouri will attend dinner before the screening, and follow up with discussion after the film.

Last but far from least is “Time for Ilhan,” the story of the Somali woman who ran for a Minnesota legislator slot in 2016. The film screens on Wednesday, August 22, at the Chilmark Community Center at 8 pm. Film subject Ilhan Omar will attend the screening and discussion, along with director Norah Shapiro. Join for food and live music at 6:30 pm.

The ever-popular Cinema Circus will provide a variety of activities for families on July 18, July 25, August 8, and August 15 at the Chilmark Community Center. Cinemas Circus begins at 5:30 pm, and in case of rain, all outdoor programs will move inside the Community Center.


For more information and tickets for the MVFF lineup, visit