Board of Directors
Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
Natasha Bacigalupo Ziff
Monina von Opel
Thomas Bena - Founder, Executive/Creative Director
With a degree in marketing, Thomas graduated from UMASS Amherst in 1989. Working in the business world wasn’t for him, so 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, Thomas 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's Vineyard Film Festival. For the past eleven years he has been working on One Big Home, his first documentary feature. He 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. 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 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 - Operations Manager
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 and is looking forward to fantastic future events. Contact
Molly Purves - Ad Sales and 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
Kara O'Sullivan - Festival and Volunteer Coordinator
Kara fell into film in the 90’s when interning at a start-up magazine in Manhattan put her in touch with several luminaries of the documentary film world. Her first project, working as a researcher and associate producer for Aviva Films, was a doc on Will Rogers for PBS’s American Masters series in 1994. When a stopover in Colorado turned into a 16-year love affair with altitude, Kara segued to producing natural history and expedition films for American Adventure Productions before transitioning to festival work with the Aspen Film Festival and, later, producing for local television Channel 16. A proponent of living your dreams, Kara left the mountains for a life in New Zealand before the siren call of the grandmother lured her and her husband and wee girl back to the Island and MVFF.
Robyn Athearn - Director, Children's Programming
Robyn was born in Dallas, Pennsylvania, and grew up on a strict regimen of water skiing, Springsteen, and Grotto pizza. Coming from coal-mining country, she was drawn to the beauty of Vermont for college and herbalism school, the progressiveness of California for agricultural school, and the freedom of New Hampshire for graduate school. In graduate school, Antioch taught Robyn a progressive approach towards education, encouraging her to create, develop, and write her own place-based and interest-based curriculum. Her professors modeled this teaching style, and Robyn often got teary in classes, thinking to herself, “I never knew school could feel this way…safe, supportive, exhilarating, fun.” It was actually at Antioch where Robyn took a class called “Circus Dreams” and created her first circus for kids and the community to enjoy. Robyn has taught in traditional and non-traditional settings of all sorts but it wasn’t until she stumbled upon her first Cinema Circus in Chilmark that she said to herself, “Now this is what I’m talking about!” Later that evening, when asked to describe to her family what Cinema Circus was like she said, “It was some sort of festival of joy!” Now, years later, Robyn is proud to carry the torch and help keep such a beautiful thing going.
Alexandra London-Thompson - Children's Films Programmer
Alexandra (a.k.a. Sasha) was born and raised in Montreal, Canada, and spent her summers in Chilmark, working everywhere from the CCC to almost every business in Menemsha. Alexandra studied English: Drama & Theatre and North American Studies at McGill University, before earning her master’s degree in Shakespearean Studies at the Globe Theatre and King’s College, London. Alexandra has been an acting, directing, or filmmaking teacher for fifteen years. After enjoying being a patron at the Martha's Vineyard Film Festival since its inception, Alexandra is thrilled to be working with this talented group of people, and is looking forward to another exciting summer of Cinema Circus!
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. 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 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
Jeremy Gates- Graphic Design