Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival Announces 2013 Line-Up

From opening night March 15 to the closing night party March 17, here are the film times and descriptions for the 2013 Martha's Vineyard Film Festival at the Chilmark Community Center.

Friday, March 15

Opening night reception, 5:30 p.m., with dinner provided by Chris Fischer of Beetlebung Farm. 

7 p.m. The Crash Reel, Dir. Lucy Walker Documentary | U.S.A. | 2013 | 109 min.

The latest film from Academy Award–nominated director Lucy Walker (Waste Land, The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom) is the story of U.S. champion snowboarder Kevin Pearce, who suffered a severe traumatic brain injury while training for the Olympics. She uses years of vérité footage to expose the excitement and appeal of extreme-action sports, while getting an insider’s view into Kevin’s tight-knit Vermont family as they begin the intensive process of trying to rehabilitate him. This thoughtful and probing documentary sheds light on the alarming trend of athletes pushing the boundaries past the limit, while letting us share one family’s remarkable journey.

“By turns pulse-quickening and contemplative, The Crash Reel is a thoroughly winning docu portrait…” – Rob Nelson, Variety

9:15 p.m. Pussy Riot – A Punk Prayer Dirs. Mike Lerner and Maxim Pozdorovkin Documentary | Russia / U.K. | 2012 | 90 min. In Russian, with English subtitles; discussion with directors Mike Lerner and Maxim Pozdorovkin to follow.

Last year, Vladimir Putin was controversially reelected president of Russia. In response, hundreds of thousands of citizens rose up to challenge the legitimacy of his rule. Among them was a group of young, radical feminist punk rockers better known as Pussy Riot. Wearing colored balaclavas and summer dresses, they entered Moscow’s most venerated cathedral and dared to sing “Mother Mary, Banish Putin!” This film shows how one small act of protest grew to become an international story of human rights abuse. Three members of Pussy Riot are imprisoned, prepared to defend their actions no matter the cost—but who is really on trial, these young artists or the society they live in?

Remarkable in its timeliness … an extensive and thoughtful look at Pussy Riot's arrest and subsequent trial. If you think you already know this story, Lerner and Pozdorovkin's doc proves that there is a lot more to it.” – Peter Knegt, Indiewire

Saturday, March 16

Coffee and treats 9:30 a.m.: Arrive early and stay late. Enjoy the films, food, live music, and of course, the Hay Café.

10 a.m. Fall to Grace Dir. Alexandra Pelosi Documentary | U.S.A. | 2012 | 48 min.

Director Alexandra Pelosi is no stranger to politics, not only because her mom is Minority Leader of the U.S. House of Representatives, but because she has made a career of documenting politicians. In her latest film, she follows former New Jersey governor Jim McGreevey, who famously resigned from office after declaring himself “a gay American.” Since then, he has been working as a spiritual advisor to women in prison, and training to become an ordained minister. We join McGreevey as he opens up about the emotional crisis he endured following his resignation, discusses how it felt to be gay growing up in a Catholic family, and reveals his true self and the work that now gives his life meaning.

11:30 a.m. Shorts Program 65 minutes

1 p.m. Lunchtime

1:30 p.m. Muscle Shoals Dir. Greg “Freddy” Camalier Documentary | U.S.A. | 2012 | 102 min.

Located along the Tennessee River, Muscle Shoals, Alabama is the unlikely breeding ground for some of America's most creative and defiant music. Under the spiritual influence of the “Singing River,” as Native Americans called it, the music of Muscle Shoals changed the world and sold in the millions. At its heart is FAME Studios founder Rick Hall, who overcame crushing poverty and staggering tragedies to bring black and white together to create the music which would give birth to the “Muscle Shoals sound.” Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Percy Sledge, Gregg Allman, Clarence Carter, Etta James, Alicia Keys, Bono, and others bear witness to the magnetism and mystery of Muscle Shoals—and why it remains influential today.

3:30 p.m. May I Be Frank Dirs. Gregg Marks, Ryland Engelhart, Conor Gaffney, and Cary Mosier Documentary | U.S.A. | 2010 | 90 min. Discussion with film subject Frank Ferrante to follow

At age 54, Frank Ferrante weighs 290 pounds and has contracted Hepatitis C after a lifetime of drug and alcohol abuse. He's on multiple medications, undergoing chemo, and drinks ten espressos a day. At Café Gratitude, a raw food café in San Francisco, Frank meets Ryland, the café's manager, who asks, “What is one thing you'd like to do before you die?” Frank answers, “I want to fall in love one more time, but with a body like this, no one will love me, because I don't love myself.” Ryland, his brother Cary, and best friend Conor take this as a challenge to help Frank address his weight, health, relationships, and learn to love himself in just 42 days.

6:15 p.m. Central Park Five Dirs. Ken Burns, Sarah Burns, David McMahon Documentary | U.S.A. | 2012 | 120 min. Discussion to follow with Yusef Salaam, one of the Central Park Five, and his family

In 1989, five black and Latino teenagers from Harlem were arrested and later convicted of raping a white woman in Central Park. They spent between six and thirteen years in prison before a serial rapist confessed that he alone had committed the crime, leading to their convictions being overturned. Set against the backdrop of a decaying city beset by violence and racial tension, this documentary tells the story of a horrific crime, the rush to judgment by the police, a media clamoring for sensational stories and an outraged public, and the five lives upended by this miscarriage of justice.

9:15 p.m. Safety Not Guaranteed Dir. Colin Trevorrow Narrative Feature | U.S.A. | 2012 | 86 min. Discussion with director Colin Trevorrow and screenwriter Derek Connolly to follow.

When an unusual classified ad inspires three cynical Seattle magazine employees to look for the story behind it, they discover a mysterious eccentric named Kenneth, a likable but paranoid supermarket clerk who believes he’s solved the riddle of time travel and intends to depart again soon. Together, they embark on a hilarious, smart, and unexpectedly heartfelt journey that reveals how far believing can take you.

Sunday, March 17

Coffee and treats 9 a.m. 

10:00 a.m. Love and Other Anxieties Dir. Lyda Kuth Documentary | U.S.A. | 2012 | 65 min. Discussion with director and film subject Lyda Kuth to follow.

When faced with the reality that her only child will “flee the nest” for college, documentary funder-turned-filmmaker Lyda Kuth gets anxious, not only about her aspirations for her daughter but also about her relationship with her husband of 20 years. She begins to ask hard questions.  What is the real meaning of love, marriage, long-term commitment? She queries non-experts and experts alike, including indie filmmaker Josh Safdie, playwright and budding rock star Kyle Jarrow, and author and scholar Stephanie Coontz. With the help of editor/co-writer Lucia Small, Kuth has crafted a meditative documentary that is intimate and universal. 

11:15 a.m. No Place on Earth Dir. Janet Tobias Documentary | U.S.A. | 2012 | 83 min.

New Yorker Chris Nicola made a remarkable discovery while in Ukraine, exploring some of the longest horizontal caves in the world. When he came across signs of former human habitation—buttons, an old house key, a woman's dress shoe—nearby villagers told him that during World War II there were rumors of Jewish families escaping the Nazis by hiding in the caves. It took Nicola nine years to uncover the secret that the cave dwellers had kept to themselves, but now they are ready to tell their amazing story in this gripping documentary about the longest uninterrupted underground survival in recorded human history.

1:00 p.m. My Brooklyn Dir. Kelly Anderson Documentary | U.S.A. | 2012 | 85 min. Discussion with director Kelly Anderson and film subject, MIT historian Craig Wilder, to follow.

Director Kelly Anderson journeys, as a Brooklyn gentrifier, to understand the forces reshaping her neighborhood. The film documents the redevelopment of Fulton Mall, a bustling African-American and Caribbean commercial district that is the third most profitable shopping area in New York City but maligned for its inability to appeal to the affluent residents who have come to live nearby. As a hundred small businesses are replaced by high-rise luxury housing and chain retail stores, Anderson uncovers the web of global corporations, politicians, and public-private partnerships that is behind the seemingly natural neighborhood change. Who has a right to live in cities and determine their future?

3:15 p.m. Caesar Must Die Dirs. Paolo Taviani and Vittorio Taviani Narrative Feature | Italy | 2012 | 76 min. (total program 110 min.) In Italian, with English subtitles. Preceded by a performance of Julius Caesar by Shakespeare for the Masses.

This winner of the Golden Bear at the Berlinale deftly melds narrative and documentary in a transcendently powerful drama-within-a-drama. The film was made in Rome's Rebibbia Prison, where the inmates are preparing to stage Shakespeare's Julius Caesar. The prisoners begin to explore the text, finding in its tale of fraternity, power, and betrayal parallels to their own lives and stories. As we witness the rehearsals, beautifully filmed within the prison, we see the inmates also work through their own conflicts, both internal and between each other.

5:15 p.m. Shepard & Dark Dir. Treva Wurmfeld Documentary | U.S.A. | 2012 | 92 min. Preceded by a performance from Sam Shepard’s Buried Child.

Sam Shepard and Johnny Dark met in Greenwich Village in the early 1960s and have remained close friends ever since. While Dark was a homebody with a penchant for letter writing and photography, supporting himself with odd jobs—dogcatcher, deli worker—Shepard became a Pulitzer Prize–winning playwright and an Academy Award–nominated actor. Now in their late sixties and trying to compile their many decades of correspondence into a book, the two best friends are reminded of all that they have gone through over the years. The letters force them to look into the past and confront the choices that they have made, both good and bad.

7:30 p.m. One Track Heart: The Story of Krishna Das Dir. Jeremy Frindel Documentary | U.S.A. | 2012 | 72 min.

In 1970, Jeffrey Kagel walked away from the American dream of rock 'n' roll stardom, turning down the chance to record as lead singer for the band soon to be the Blue Oyster Cult. Instead, he sold all his possessions and moved from the suburbs of Long Island to the foothills of the Himalayas in search of happiness and a little-known saint named Neem Karoli Baba. This compelling character study follows his journey to India and back, witnessing his struggles with depression and drug abuse, and his eventual emergence as Krishna Das, world-renowned spiritual teacher and chant master. Featuring interviews with Ram Dass, Rick Rubin, Sharon Salzberg, and Daniel Goleman, this is the inspiring story of how one man's heart-expanding journey continues to transform countless lives.

9:30 p.m. Closing Night Party.

Tickets are $7 members / $15 general public. Couch seating is an additional $5. Weekend Passes are $150 for General seating and $250 for Couch Seating.  Passes are only available to members.   Memberships can be bought online or at the door.

Advance tickets and MVFF memberships can be purchased at www.tmvff.org, or by calling the MVFF Box Office at (508) 645-9599. The MVFF Box Office at the Chilmark Community Center opens at 5 p.m. on Friday, March 15th and will be open during all screenings throughout the weekend.

For the second year, the Harbor View Hotel & Resort in Edgartown will be partnering with the festival and offering special hotel and film festival package discounts.

For more upcoming Martha's Vineyard events, please see: When is Illimination Night? And Other 2013 Events.

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