Board of Directors
Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
Natasha Bacigalupo Ziff
Monina von Opel
Thomas Bena - Founder, President
Thomas graduated from UMass Amherst in 1989, with a degree in marketing, but working in the business world wasn’t for him. After nine short months he headed to Australia to “find himself” and to intern at the Australian Institute of Marine Science. Almost a decade later, his passport filled with stamps, he landed on Martha’s Vineyard, where he learned to work as a carpenter. In 2001, he enlisted the help of friends and family and founded the Martha'sVineyard Film Festival. He also spent 12 years making One Big Home, his first documentary feature. For the past 3 years it has screened in more than 100 venues in the U.S. and abroad. Citizens in Honolulu and Truro have used the film to galvanize support for new bylaws limiting house size. In 2018, it played at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., and became available on iTunes. Thomas is hopeful that the MVFF will one day have a barn to work out of, one that will allow his team to continue to develop their programs and offerings.
Brian Ditchfield - Artistic Director
Brian grew up on Martha's Vineyard, where he first became passionate about the creative arts. After studying at Boston University's College of Fine Art, Brian moved to Chicago and formed Shack Productions, with which he produced and wrote a nationally distributed feature film and award-winning shorts and documentaries. While in the Windy City he also was the program manager for the Chicago Loop Alliance with which he helped produce the first Looptopia, Chicago's all-night arts festival attended by 250,000 people each year. He moved back to the Vineyard in 2006, became the business manager for the Martha's Vineyard Playhouse, and assisted his wife in starting her own theater company, ArtFarm, before finding a happy home at the MVFF. Contact
Hilary Dreyer - Managing Director
An Island girl, born and raised, Hilary grew up with a love for the ocean, her home community, and a passionate curiosity about the rest of the world. She explored this interest in cultural diversity through the examination of global film. In 2009 she enrolled at Hobart and William Smith Colleges where she not only studied cultural anthropology, Latin American Studies, Spanish, and Media and Society, but also spent a year in Mendoza, Argentina, and Cochabamba, Bolivia, where she produced a documentary on the fermented corn drink "chicha" and its use in religious festivals. After graduating in 2013, Hilary spent the summer working for the MVFF, and then continued on to Iceland, where she was a Guest Services Intern at the Reykjavík International Film Festival. Hilary is thrilled to be back working with the incredible team at MVFF. Contact
Ben Durrell - Director of Children's Programs
Ben’s work, while rooted in a conceptual design framework and often made physical via furniture, manifests itself in no one particular form or use. He has participated with design collectives (such as Release1, an organization which he co-founded) on international exhibitions, and also on smaller-scale custom furniture commissions and concept-to-mass-market projects for corporate retailers. For the past fifteen years, the experience and process around objects and spaces has been his focus. Throughout all of his projects, Ben displays a heightened sensibility to an object's "in-the-worldness," inhabited interiors, and contemporary design pedagogy. His thinking and work around design, youth, and children’s experience in the creative process has been shared via lecture at Planningness, Sapient Nitro, RISD, and the Toronto Design Exchange, to name a few. He designed exhibits for Boston Children's Museum for ten years, and spent two years as Director of Product Development for the youth arts and design nonprofit Artists for Humanity, before moving to Martha's Vineyard with his wife and two little ones in 2015. Contact
Ollie Becker - Filmmaker
Ollie was born and raised on Martha’s Vineyard, where he developed an interest in creative writing while a student at West Tisbury Elementary and MVRHS. When he graduated from Bard College in 2008, that interest had merged with filmmaking and he then spent 9 years in Los Angeles writing and producing unscripted series for television networks like CBS, History, and Discovery. Having produced over 200 hours of original content at all levels, from associate producer to showrunner, he's excited to bring his skill set back to the Vineyard and work for the MVFF to tell compelling stories about the people and places that make up this unique island community.
Danielle Mulcahy - Filmmaker
Danielle is a multidisciplinary filmmaker with an extensive documentary and creative catalogue. An accomplished solo videographer and director, her work includes collaborations with farmers, children, dancers, musicians, and numerous other filmmakers. She graduated from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design, with a BFA in film and illustration. Danielle is a full-time resident of Martha's Vineyard, working and living in the artist community and running her small business, BarnYard Saints Art, with her fiancé Walker.
Molly Purves - Ad Sales & Screening Sponsorship
Molly has been handling the ad sales for MVFF since 2008 and every summer you can see her manning the box office at the Summer Film Series on Wednesday nights in Chilmark. She loves working with everyone on the MVFF team and one of the delights of the job has been watching the festival grow and blossom into a remarkable organization that really serves its community. Molly also writes the Aquinnah column for The Martha's VIneyard Times and performs at the Martha's Vineyard Playhouse when she has the opportunity. For fourteen years, she lived in New York City, where she attended NYU and received her B.F.A. in acting--which led to a long waitressing career in the city. She now lives in Aquinnah with her husband, Curtis, and her son, Rodeo. Contact
Chris Mara - Technical Manager, Projectionist
Chris has been doing film production for 30 years. After beginning in his native NYC with corporate and independent productions, Chris relocated to Martha's Vineyard in 1986 and was the original cameraperson, along with Steve McQuiggan, at Channel 58 in Vineyard Haven. Since 1991 he has been at Galen Films in Vineyard Haven, working on broadcast and various video projects. Chris started helping out the Martha's Vineyard Film Festival during its first year and in subsequent years became one of the principal projectionists. Contact
Lilian Robinson - Copy Editor, Programmer
Lilian has been editing for the MVFF since 2007, and also helps program the March festival. When not editing or watching films, she is often on long-distance hikes. Contact
Dana Edelman - Music/Performance Director
Dana signed on as the MVFF's Music/Performance Director in February 2013 and has embraced the role from day one. He is a singer-songwriter/performer best known for his recent music video with son Jaiden Edelman, "The Massachusetts Song (You Athol)," that gained widespread attention upon its release on YouTube. He is also a music composer for video, film, and television. Dana is a passionate family man with great love for the Island and is thrilled to be able to collaborate with the MVFF team. Contact
Anne Evasick - Programmer
Anne is the owner of Martha's Vineyard's best independent video and DVD rental store, Island Entertainment. She is a film projectionist and maven--familiar with essentially every film you've ever or never heard of. Beyond a passion for cinema, Anne walks dogs and is the proud mother of Peter.
Jeremy Mayhew - Graphic Design
Jeremy makes films, illustrates, and animates things. He's been playing with moving images for over 20 years. His first opportunity to use a video camera came at age eleven when his father--a commercial harpoon swordfisherman--had him document their summer voyages, 200 miles offshore. Following a childhood of commercial fishing, coupled with an obsession with comic books, music, and fine art, Jeremy attended the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, where he primarily focused on traditional filmmaking and animation techniques, history, and theory (with 16mm cameras, reel-to-reel recorders, flatbed editing tables, and so on). This base cinematic language, and an ongoing interest in improvisational jazz, electronic, and minimalist music, led him into a playful relationship with music production, sound design, and more recently, motion graphics. Jeremy is currently working as a freelance motion designer and cinematographer. He continues to create films and music from his home on the Vineyard. Contact