News & Updates

The MVFF Welcomes Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. as Newest Board Member

Photo by Anthony Esposito

Photo by Anthony Esposito

The Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival (MVFF) is thrilled to announce the addition of Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. to its board of directors. Professor Gates joins Thomas Bena, Steve Bernier, Joanna Cole, Anne Evasick, Jeffrey Kusama-Hinte, Dawn Porter, and Mitch Rubin on the board of the festival that now enters its 16th year.

Continuing its mission to spark discussion, debate, and action, the MVFF produced its first “Race in America” series. Professor Gates had an influential hand in shaping the summer-long series that created a community dialogue about the African American experience. He moderated a discussion with director Stanley Nelson and former Black Panther Kathleen Cleaver following The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution. He was also a guest speaker at the screening of the film James Baldwin: The Price of the Ticket.

The MVFF’s “Race in America” series is not the first collaboration between the MVFF and Professor Gates. In 2014, he introduced the screening of Stanley Nelson’s Freedom Summer, with journalist and author Gwen Ifill moderating the event. In 2013, he helped produce the screening of Free Angela and All Political Prisoners, with guest speakers Angela Davis, Margaret Burnham, and Charlayne Hunter-Gault.

Henry Louis Gates, Jr. is the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor at Harvard University, as well as Director of the Hutchins Center for African & African American Research. He is an Emmy Award-winning filmmaker, literary scholar, journalist, and cultural critic, and has authored or co-authored nineteen books and created fourteen documentary films. He has been named one of Time magazine’s “25 Most Influential Americans” and was the first African American scholar to be awarded the National Humanities Medal.

“It’s an honor to have someone of the stature and intellect of Professor Gates join our already outstanding board,” says the MVFF’s Executive Director, Thomas Bena. “I know he will push our organization forward and help further our desire for social change and discourse with our community.”

The MVFF is the longest-running film festival on the Island. Its staff is currently teaching an investigative documentary course at the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School and gearing up for the 16th annual MVFF on March 17-20, 2016.

The Documentary Project: Martha's Vineyard Regional High School Finds More Ways to Tell Stories

Photo by Courtney Howell

Photo by Courtney Howell

"A few weeks ago, small groups of senior English students at the high school huddled near their digital editing stations, working to complete their short video documentaries as part of a new digital documentary-making program at the high school. 'The Martha's Vineyard Film Festival is expanding its programs in the schools,' Brian Ditchfield told The Times, 'and I'm really happy to be pushing those efforts forward. I want to be part of creating the next generation of documentarians, filmmakers, and storytellers.'"
Read the full article.



The MVFF Welcomes Laurie David, Mahsa Noble, and Nancy Parrish to Advisory Board

Along with adding Henry Louis Gates, Jr. to its board of directors, the MVFF has added three new members to its advisory board: environmental activist Laurie David, global child welfare advocate Mahsa Noble, and human rights activist Nancy Parrish.

Laurie David is a producer, author, and advocate. She produced the documentary Fed Up and the Academy Award-winning An Inconvenient Truth. Laurie is a trustee of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), and in 2005, she was one of a small group of financiers who helped launch the Huffington Post.

Iranian born, Mahsa Noble moved to the U.S. at age 14. She serves on several boards that work on child advocacy, welfare, personal health, and human rights. In August 2015, she wrote a controversial piece about the U.S.-Iran deal. Published in the Huffington Post, it got the attention of some prominent politicians in the White House. In addition to her activism, Mahsa worked in the fashion industry for more than a decade before founding her lifestyle company, Mahsa Rahmani LLC, in 2005.

Nancy Parrish is an active leader in community and public affairs. In 2011, she founded Protect Our Defenders, an organization that works to educate the public and policymakers about the crisis of sexual violence in the military. She has also worked with others, such as President Carter, in support of the international humanitarian work at the Carter Center. Nancy’s work is driven by a fundamental commitment to defend and protect human rights worldwide.

The MVFF is thrilled to have the opportunity to join forces with these dedicated and hardworking activists.