thomas bena 2.jpg

Thomas Bena  -  Founder / Executive Director

Thomas graduated with a degree in marketing from UMASS Amherst in 1989. But working in the business world wasn’t for him, so after nine short months he grabbed a backpack and a surfboard and headed to Australia to “find himself.” Almost a decade later, Thomas discovered Martha’s Vineyard, and shortly after that he enlisted the help of his friends and founded the MVFF in 2001. For the past seven years he has been working on Home, his first documentary feature. He loves creative woodworking, surfing, playing music, singing, and spending time with his daughter, Emma, and his wife, Mollie Doyle. Thomas enjoys questioning his beliefs about everything and is a sucker for a good story. contact



Brian Ditchfield  -  Programming  / Managing 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 Vineyard Playhouse, and assisted his wife in starting her own theater company, ArtFarm, before finding a happy home at the Festival. contact



Anna Merhalski  -  Production Manager / Office Manager  

A New Hampshire native, Anna discovered Martha's Vineyard while in college, and it's been a turbulent love affair ever since. During a brief hiatus spent in New Hampshire a few years ago, she met and married her husband, bought a sailboat, and promptly sailed back to the island where she belongs. She, her husband, and their large golden pup Lucy have been on the Vineyard ever since. Raised by hippy musician parents, Anna experienced the joy of life on the road with them, from the time she was a mere few weeks old. The spirit of "the show must go on" and the joy of a well-run production are deep in her blood. She loves her role at MVFF as chief whip-cracker, keeper of birthdays, intern-wrangler, and noise-maker. Nothing makes her heart sing more than watching a team of talented, soulful people come together as a well-oiled machine to create meaningful community events. She kind of can't believe she gets paid to do this. contact

Jen DeLorenzo - Production / Operations Manager

Jen got her first taste of coordinating teams with fellow classmates in the practice of mentoring - inspired by their professor at Rutgers University. Testing the boundaries that spark conversations and shape ideas marked her work producing events, media exhibits, and mobile environments in NYC. A fellow yoga teacher, she is particularly thankful and enriched having been able to bring meditation to middle schoolers at the Link Community School in Newark, NJ. It’s a joy for her becoming part of the MVFF fold.  Jen recently moved on island with her family, and they are enjoying this beautiful place. contact


Lindsey Scott  -  Director of Children's Programs

Lindsey is a former art educator. She received a B.A. in Art History from Colorado College and an M.A. in Art Education from Tufts University and the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. In 2000, Lindsey established a visual arts program at the Martha’s Vineyard Public Charter School and taught elementary-aged children a variety of ways to approach art and the creative process. Lindsey is thrilled to be collaborating with such a wonderful team of people to produce community events, educational programs and films for children. Lindsey lives in Chilmark with her husband Josh, their children Tristan and Charlotte and a menagerie of cows, sheep, pigs, chickens, ducks, guinea hens and peacocks. contact



Molly Coogan  -  Managing Director, Children's Programs

Molly majored in Art History at Vassar College and, after working in book publishing in Boston and New York, was pleased to find herself out of the city and back in the art world, first as an editor at the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, MA, and then as an assistant to conceptual artist Jenny Holzer. She is thrilled to have washed ashore and settled on her favorite island with her three fine fellows: husband Brendan and sons Henry and Gus. When she’s not combing the ends of the earth to find incredible films for Cinema Circus, you can find her combing beaches and record collections for sandy and bandy treasures. contact





Molly Purves  -  Ad Sales & 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 MV Times and performs with the Vineyard Playhouse when she has the opportunity to. She lived in New York City for fourteen years 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



Cynthia Hill  -  Volunteer Coordinator / Administrative Assistant

Cynthia washed ashore from Holyoke, MA, where she was born and raised in 1959.  She came to Martha’s Vineyard filled with love and light in August 2008.  Cynthia brought her smile and talents (as a customer service representative, office administrative assistant, teacher, independent diversity consultant, and professional West African dancer) to MVFF as a volunteer in the popcorn concession stand at the 2010 March film festival.  Her interests include walking along the beaches and trails of Martha's Vineyard, fishing, gardening, cooking, knitting, and making wrapped seaglass jewelry and handcrafted paper decorations. 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 McGuiggan, 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 an editor since junior high, but didn't begin her professional editing career until after college. She has been editing for MVFF since 2007, and also helps program the March festival. She still lives on the Vineyard, where she was born and raised. When not editing, reading, or watching films, she is often on long-distance hikes across mountains, canyons, and deserts. 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. contact

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 for 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

Jeremy Gates  -  Graphic Design