I know — it’s summer at the movies, but fear not — there is a way to block those brainless blockbusters with more satisfying alternatives: The 24th annual Woods Hole Film Festival, the oldest on Cape Cod, is set to roll for eight days (July 25 to Aug. 1)!
We’re talking more than 100 films showcasing the work of new and independent filmmakers from around the world including east coast and world premieres, with a special emphasis on movies with connections to New England. Opening night features include “Infinitely Polar Bear” starring Mark Ruffalo and Zoe Saldana, which was a hit at Sundance and marks the directorial debut of Cambridge-bred writer/director Maya Forbes. (CLICK HERE for my review!)
Forbes is one of five New England filmmakers in residence at the festival who’ll be available at screenings, in master classes, and Q&A sessions. These resident filmmakers include Martha’s Vineyard-bred singer-songwriter Sally Taylor (Carly Simon and James Taylor’s daughter) who screens her documentary “Consenses,” in which she asked 150 artists from around the world to interpret each other’s work, which results in a fascinating interchange about the nature of truth and the human experience. Harvard grad Rick Perez will screen “Cesar’s Last Fast” which documents Cesar Chavez’s historic grape boycott to outlaw the spraying of pesticides on farm workers — among whom was Perez’s own father.
Other films with New England connections include:
- “Bereave” — by Rhode Island brothers Evangelos and George Giovanis starring Malcolm McDowell, Jane Seymour and Keith Carradine
- “Love Between the Covers“ – by Brandeis University professor Laurie Kahn-Leavitt (“Tupperware”) who returns to the festival with her documentary about the rarefied and remarkably powerful community of women who consume and create romance novels
- “Archie’s Betty” — a documentary by Suffolk University professor Gerry Peary (“For the Love of Movies: The Story of American Film Criticism”) about his 25-year search to uncover the real life people who inspired the iconic Archie comic book characters (Clue: They live in Haverhill, Mass.)
- “Angkor’s Children” — a documentary by Emerson College professor Lauren Shaw about three young female artists in Cambodia working to heal a country brutalized by the Khmer Rouge regime that murdered most of that nation’s intellectuals and artists
There are also rarely shown or premiere screenings I can’t wait to see including:
- “Second Mother” — Anna Muylaert’s Sundance multi-award winner about a live-in housekeeper in Brazil, screening for only its second time in the U.S.
- “Jack of the Red Hearts” — starring Famke Janssen in a tale about a teenage con artist who tricks the mother of an autistic daughter into hiring her as a live-in companion
- “Open Tables” — an exploration of love lost and found, and the significance of a good main course. The film was shot in some of Chicago and Paris’s hottest restaurants, and features Bill Murray’s brother Joel (“Mad Men,” “Monsters University”) plus Massachusetts natives T.J. Jagodowski and Kate Duffy
- “Thank You for Playing” — an acclaimed documentary by Malika Zouhali-Worall and Connecticut native David Osit about a video game designer who creates an unusual and touching, soon-to-be-released video game about his terminally ill one-year-old son
In addition to 34 narrative and documentary feature-length films in competition, and eight shorts programs, the festival will feature panel discussions and workshops including “The Finest Hours” author Casey Sherman (and my former WBZ-TV colleague) who’ll tell you how he got from “From Page to Screen” and turned his book into a major studio film shot in Massachusetts. Of course there will be the usual parties, live music, and cinematic hi-jinks all in this beautiful little town by the sea.
For all info and tickets visit the Woods Hole Film Festival website.