Now in its 21st year, the M.V. Film Festival presents a virtual event March 25 to 28. It includes 12 feature films and two short film series that can be watched anytime over the four-day period. The fall will bring the in-person Film Festival, with dates to be announced. The films will also be shown in collaboration with the YMCA for a drive-in event this spring.
Two documentaries in particular relate to the Vineyard. First comes “Hooked: A Family’s Journey with Addiction,” a documentary about a Vineyard young man with substance abuse issues that he and his family struggle with. Then “Conscience Point” narrates the challenge the Shinnecock Indian Nation faces in dealing with the Hamptons population on Long Island in a documentary with issues similar to ones the Vineyard faces about overdevelopment.
One hundred people die from addiction daily, and in “Hooked,” Jack Conroy was one of them. This documentary uses interviews with his siblings and parents, as well as friends, about their efforts to help Jack end his addiction. He started using pills recreationally, and they became his escape from whatever was bothering him. His mother Barbara was raising younger children, and found it difficult to know what was going on.
On top of that, “Hooked” points out that people don’t want to talk about addiction. Jack’s dad described him as a loose cannon, and being a recreational fisherman like Jack, questioned what was happening below the deck. “I don’t like to think of him as a drug addict,” said one friend. A teacher saw him as Huckleberry Finn. He was high-spirited and had a big personality. His mom describes him as ADHD with poor impulse control. “Nobody saw it,” she says.
Jack’s girlfriend tried to help, but said, “I can’t do it. You need to send him to a facility.” When he went to college, his roommate had a prescription for clonidine, which Jack started using. Unfortunately, he was one of the kids who developed an addiction quickly. He started stealing from his parents to pay for the pills he was taking. He went to several rehab facilities, but each time fell back into addiction.
Because pills were hard to get, he switched to heroin, which was cheaper. Finally Jack overdosed, although a toxicologist concludes that he didn’t intend to. Ultimately addiction is a disease of isolation: “We’ve got to change our culture,” “Hooked” points out.
“Conscience Point,” based on a Native American location, narrates the battle of the Shinnecock Indian Nation to protect its land from overdevelopment. Although the location is the Hamptons on Long Island, the challenges are similar to those on the Vineyard. In particular are the problems the tribe has with the Shinnecock Hills Golf Club. Not only was the golf club built on sacred tribal burial grounds, but it has appropriated the tribe’s name.
“It has basically destroyed my livelihood,” says one Shinnecock tribe member, speaking about the development on the bay that uses antimosquito pesticides. “There are barely any more oysters left,” another tribe member adds. “We are people of the shore. Our livelihood comes from the waters.”
A Realtor describes one of the houses under construction as eventually selling for $10 million. “People don’t want woods, they want openness,” he explains. The Shinnecock tribe is the 11th generation to live in the Hamptons, in contrast to residents who claim colonial life originated there. “This land was stolen from us,” says one tribe member.
When a Shinnecock group protests development, a tractor pushes them out of the way. With 30,000 spectators, the pro tournament held at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club brings in large amounts of money, but not for the tribe. Town officials defend themselves by pointing out that the tribe has use of town facilities.
The lack of understanding of Native American culture is illustrated by the residents putting burial remains inside a house for preservation and display. Eventually the town agrees to create a gravesite preservation act, but it has not drafted the legislation. Any possible restitution for the Shinnecock tribe remains unresolved. Nor is there monetary compensation for the use of their name or image. Finally, the Shinnecock Hills Golf Club continues to deny the tribe any access to their sacred land.
Tickets for films in the M.V. Film Festival are available on a pay-as-you-can basis, with the exception of two films. Streaming information can be found at tmvff.org.