Photo by Anthony Esposito.

Photo by Anthony Esposito.

After completing a successful 17th season, the Martha's Vineyard Film Festival's president and founder, Thomas Bena, has announced a substantial expansion.

Mr. Bena named Brian Ditchfield the artistic director and Hilary Dreyer the managing director. Ben Durrell, who was hired on an interim basis, will continue on as the director of children’s programs. “The promotions are an exciting growth point for our organization. I am so incredibly grateful to our staff, patrons, members, and board for helping us get to this point,” said Mr. Bena.

The MVFF just received a three-year grant to create a filmmaking department. Brian Ditchfield will supervise this department while continuing to oversee the programming for the festival in March and the summer film series. He will also work closely with the MVFF’s children’s programs, creating films with Island youth, and help the organization work toward its goal of building a community gathering space for film screenings, discussion, and the performing arts.

“This organization keeps growing and I’m honored to be part of it. I am passionate about creating and sharing stories on the Island. I am so thrilled that I can work with such amazing people to help the MVFF in that mission,” said Mr. Ditchfield.

Hilary Dreyer has been with the organization since 2013. She started as an intern and quickly became a vital part of it as the operations manager. In her new role as managing director she will add to her operational and administrative oversight. “I am so proud to be giving back to the community that shaped me. I am excited to continue connecting the Island with other places, people, and perspectives through film, and to continue growing alongside the MVFF,” said Ms. Dreyer.

Ben Durrell, who is now the permanent director of children’s programs, will continue to grow the MVFF’s school programs, its free afterschool programs and workshops, and its signature children’s event, Cinema Circus. “It’s not often one finds himself working with such an open, positive, and energetic team with a shared focus and commitment to creating compelling experiences and spaces for dialogue,” said Mr. Durrell. “And our kids—to be able to lead this end of the effort for them is an honor.”

As part of its grant to create a filmmaking department, the MVFF will be hiring a full-time filmmaker who will fulfill the many requests, from MVFF patrons and collaborating organizations, to create video content. She or he will also work with the educational programs, teaching kids and helping edit their films. The organization will also encourage the filmmaker to create meaningful content about the Island and the issues of our time. “We are so excited to be adding this position,” said Mr. Bena. “This is an extension of the festival’s original mission to produce and present film. It is a logical next step for the organization.”

In addition to a filmmaker, the MVFF will be hiring festival and marketing coordinators, and production and development managers. More information about these jobs can be found at


Video by Lana Boy


The Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival Brings the Magic of Indie Films – Chilmark

photo by guinevere Cramer

photo by guinevere Cramer

"A film like this captures a bit of your soul and stays with you. This is the magic of the movies, and this is the magic of the Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival."
Read the full blog.

Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival returns with a stacked schedule

a scene from " holy hell."

a scene from "holy hell."

"Among other treats, this year attendees will have the chance to meet the group of brothers featured in the much-talked-about documentary “The Wolfpack”; view the feature documentary “Tony Robbins: I Am Not Your Guru” before it is released on Netflix in July; take part in a Skype Q & A with the directors of the Sundance Grand Jury Prizewinner “Weiner,” a surprisingly candid look at the scandal-plagued ex-congressman; and be among the first to check out the latest film by Werner Herzog, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January."
Read the full article.

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.