R-E-S-P-E-C-T. That’s what Aretha Franklin didn’t get enough of at this year’s Grammys, or even her funeral last August. But we will all have to bow to the queen of soul after seeing this film, because her incandescence in it is nothing short of majestic. Shot in 1972, over two days at the New Temple Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles, this footage of the live recording of “Amazing Grace”—the most successful gospel album in history—was shelved for decades. No longer. Behold the sonic glory.
Our first steps in another world, like you’ve never seen before. In July of 1969, three American astronauts—Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins—became the first humans to go to the moon. This immersive film consists entirely of previously unreleased 70 mm footage. From pre-launch preparations to moon landing and triumphal return to Earth, we are taken into the heart of one of humanity’s greatest feats.
Start your day with a smile. From CGI to hand-drawn, these spectacularly animated films will put the whole family (yes, even parents) in a good mood. These films challenge perceptions and excite the imagination, while never failing to elicit good giggles.
Born into a family of surfers in Kauai, Bethany Hamilton began surfing competitively at eight years old. In 2003, at age 13, she was attacked by a 15-foot tiger shark, resulting in the loss of her left arm. But not only did she survive—she was back on the circuit just a year later. Now a mother, Hamilton undertakes her greatest challenge: chasing a toddler, and the biggest wave of her career. A tale of bravery, perseverance, athleticism, and hope, this film gives new meaning to the expression “surf like a girl.”
Discussion to follow (via Skype) with director and film subject John Chester and executive producer Laurie David
What do you do when your barking dog gets you evicted from your apartment? Molly and John Chester decide to create a farm on 200 acres of nutrient-depleted land suffering from drought. Then there’s the wildfires, and plot twists that prove true life is stranger than fiction. This is the inspiring tale of incredibly resilient farmers striving to understand the intricacies and wisdom of nature, and of life itself.
What if you were in charge of making the sun rise every morning? What if the world were made of wool? What if you wanted to be a pilot but were afraid of heights—or if you were a princess but really wanted to fight monsters? The characters in these films from around the world explore answers to these and many other questions.
From the creators of the Oscar-nominated Ernest & Celestine comes another hilarious, heartwarming tale of animal misfits: a fox who mothers a brood of chicks, a rabbit who plays a baby-delivering stork, and a duck who wants to be Santa Claus. This film has the pacing and spontaneity of Looney Tunes shorts, but underneath the gags (and there are plenty) it offers a sensitive portrayal of family and the anxieties of modern life.
Discussion to follow with film subject Eliza Hook
When this film first brings you into an experimental court in Queens, you may not know that it is different—but it is. In this courtroom, the judge, prosecutor, and defense all work together to find the best solution for those on trial. People on opposite sides of an issue cooperate, for the greater good. The film follows a key player (and former Vineyard resident), Eliza Hook, as she gains the trust of her clients and navigates the justice system, trial process, and life circumstances all coming to a head.
Discussion to follow with director and producer Len Morris, co-producers Georgia Morris and Petra Lent, and editor Chris Mara
At Bal Ashram, a refuge in Rajasthan, India, Nobel Peace Prize winner Kailash Satyarthi and his wife Sumedha provide a home, family, and education for boys rescued from child labor. At the 2017 MVFF, the Vineyard’s own Galen Films team gave us a first look at this truly life-changing work. Join us for their completed film!
Discussion to follow with MVRHS teachers Juliana Germani and Corrine Kurtz, and students Brenna dos Santos, Laryssa Fernandes, and Ana Lara Souza
Inspired by blogger Juliana de Faria’s campaign of the same name, this film spotlights an issue many men still don’t bother to ponder. It exposes the culture of catcalls women endure daily in São Paulo, Brasília, and other parts of Brazil. Seeing through the eyes of three—Raquel, a black manicurist and nursing student; Teresa, a white history teacher; and Rosa, a trans woman artist—this film is a reflection of the strong movements challenging traditional patriarchal societies worldwide.
The planet is in crisis, and scientists agree that humans are to blame. In Chasing Ice (MVFF 2012), James Balog transfixed us with his time-lapse photography of melting glaciers in the Arctic. This stunning new film finds him closer to home, capturing the lives of Americans on the frontlines of climate change: coastal communities threatened by the rising sea, children suffering from air pollution, firefighters up against record-setting infernos, and coal miners tunneling out of a dying industry.
In present-day Beirut, a dispute between a Lebanese Christian and a Palestinian refugee gets blown out of proportion until it lands in court. As the media circus surrounding the case escalates, revelations complicate the two men’s understanding of one another, forcing a reconsideration of their beliefs. This stirring, Oscar-nominated film explores how personal politics can be.
What’s it like to be a 12-year-old girl? A Jamaican boy dreaming of becoming an astronaut? Two virtuosic Cuban brothers reunited by music? The imagination, wonder, joy, frustrations, disappointments, hope, and occasional supernatural phenomena of childhood and adolescence—as well as the strength of familial bonds—are the main themes of these sometimes whimsical, often funny short films from around the world.
Irene Taylor Brodsky builds on her moving first feature, Hear and Now (MVFF 2007), by delving into an intergenerational exploration of living with deafness. Brodsky’s son Jonas began losing his hearing as a baby and underwent cochlear-implant surgery as a toddler. Now 11 years old, he has adjusted to a world with sound. Brodsky’s parents also have cochlear implants, but the majority of their lives, unlike their grandson’s, has been shaped by silence.
Discussion to follow with film subject Jonathan Hollander
Battery Dance has been a force on the New York and international scenes for over 40 years. Seeing dance as a universal language, founder Jonathan Hollander created Dancing to Connect, in which his dancers travel the globe to teach the tools of choreography to young people who’ve experienced war, poverty, sexual violence, extreme prejudice, and severe trauma as refugees.
Discussion to follow with director Harry Mavromichalis and (via Skype) film subject Olympia Dukakis
Massachusetts native Olympia Dukakis didn’t become a household name until she took on the Oscar-winning role of Cher’s mother in Moonstruck. But over the decades she has become a standout in everything from Steel Magnolias to Cloudburst (MVFF 2012). This film follows the funny, uncompromisingly intelligent and tenacious Dukakis into her still-firecracking eighties.
Shakespeare for the Masses? Well, at least not just for the bros. One of the Bard’s most beloved plays has received a feminist reworking. Daisy Ridley (of Star Wars fame) fetchingly inhabits the titular role of Hamlet’s paramour—not so ill-fated here—and is ably supported by the no-less-entrancing likes of Naomi Watts (Gertrude), Clive Owens (Claudius), and as the troubled prince of Denmark, George MacKay (last seen deer hunting with Viggo Mortensen in Captain Fantastic, MVFF 2016).
Discussion to follow with director Matthew Heineman
Celebrated war correspondent Marie Colvin (Rosamund Pike) is as comfortable downing martinis with high society as she is brazenly staring down warlords and fleeing gunfire. Driven by an enduring desire to bear witness and give voice to the voiceless, she charges into danger, constantly testing the limits between bravery and bravado.
Discussion to follow with director David Modigliani
Could Beto O’Rourke be the next president of the United States? Some people think so, even though the Texan’s not yet in that race—but only last year the three-term member of the U.S. House of Representatives gave up his seat in order to run for the U.S. Senate. Going behind the scenes of O’Rourke’s unconventional, breakaway campaign to beat incumbent Ted Cruz, this film captures his rise from virtual unknown to national political sensation.
Discussion to follow (via Skype) with film subject Adam Gussow
It’s 1986. Guitarist Sterling “Mr. Satan” Magee is regularly attracting a crowd on a Harlem street corner. Adam Gussow, an Upper West Sider, summons the courage to ask if he can join him on harmonica. The white Ivy League graduate and black Mississippi blues man are an unlikely pair but soon friends—eventually playing before thousands at the New Orleans Jazz Fest—in a partnership that spans decades. This film showcases one of the great blues duos and attests to the unifying power of music.
The world's smallest and most elusive whale, the vaquita porpoise, is only found in Mexico's Sea of Cortez, a place of extraordinary biodiversity. Today, that sea is a death trap because of commercial development and overfishing, but a number of brave souls are fighting for its protection—from drug cartels and the Chinese mafia, no less. This eco-thriller, a winner at the most recent Sundance Film Festival, ventures into the front line of efforts to save the planet's most endangered sea mammal.
Twenty years ago, Wim Wenders and Ry Cooder made what seemed to be the definitive Cuban music doc, the languid Buena Vista Social Club. This film, livelier but just as beautifully shot, makes a bid for that honor. It follows the famed Preservation Hall Jazz Band as they traverse post-embargo Cuba in search of the indigenous beats and rhythms that gave birth to New Orleans jazz.
Discussion to follow with director Benjamin Berman
After gonzo magician/performance artist “the Amazing Johnathan” is given one year to live, he’s forced to retire. Three years later, he’s not only still alive, but on an epic comeback tour. What is truth and what is illusion? Publicity stunt, or greatest magic trick of all time? Filmmaker Ben Berman tries to find out in his debut feature, a buzz generator at the most recent Sundance Film Festival.
Join the incredible adventures of the brave young people making courageous choices in these films. In a comical fantasy, two kids find a way to send messages back and forth in time. A daring girl walks a tightrope in a stunning film set in turn-of-the-century Paris. Then there is the boy told he’d never walk or talk, but now facing his biggest challenge…dating.
Discussion to follow with the directors and writers
Celebrate Vineyard filmmakers! The directors of A Painter Who Farms give us a peek at their newest Island artist biodoc, about stonemason Lew French. Taylor Toole tells the story of his father’s move to the Vineyard. Liz Witham and Ken Wentworth follow the migrations of North Atlantic right whales, and captains Ian Ridgeway and Casey Blum let you in on their plans for the educational adventure of a lifetime—a world-voyaging sailing ship.
Discussion to follow (via Skype) with actor Raul Castillo
Us three. Us brothers. Us kings, inseparable. Three boys tear through childhood, in the midst of their parents' volatile love that makes and unmakes the family many times over. While Manny and Joel grow into versions of their loving and unpredictable father, Ma seeks to shelter her youngest, Jonah, in the cocoon of home. More sensitive and conscious than his older siblings, Jonah increasingly embraces an imagined world all his own.
Glasgow, Scotland, isn't exactly Nashville, but Rose-Lynn Harlan dreams of becoming a country music star—even though she’s just been released from prison. And that’s not all: forced to wear an ankle monitor and keep curfew, she can't return to her job as the house-band singer at the city’s Grand Ole Opry. Up-and-comer Jessie Buckley (Beast) delivers a mesmerizing lead performance in this film, her voice a star of its own. Sophie Okonedo and Julie Walters shine in the supporting roles.
Discussion to follow with David Newell, a.k.a. Mr. McFeely
With his gentle voice, wisdom, and handmade puppets, Fred Rogers connected with generations of American children tuning into public television. He dedicated his life to helping kids through difficult situations, by suggesting tolerance and acceptance. Oscar-winning director Morgan Neville takes us on a tour around Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, exploring the legacy of the man considered radical for saying, “I like you just the way you are.”
What are our origins and how do we connect with them through our collective memories? Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Navarro Scott Momaday has grappled with these basic questions of human existence and identity. This film examines his enigmatic life and mind.
Discussion to follow (via Skype) with director Alexander Baack and writer and actor Hillary Baack
Ella (Hillary Baack) is deaf, but that is hardly the most interesting thing about her. She’s published a collection of short stories and she’s also a literature professor. Having just moved to L.A., she’s too busy for a husband, or even a boyfriend. But then she meets Tony (Paul Guyet), a recently-blinded man. Charming and funny, this is one of the first films to star disabled actors in both leading roles. Sally Struthers also turns in an amazing performance as Tony’s mom.