The Woods Hole Film Festival, which heads into its third decade this year, making it the oldest film festival on the Cape and Islands, has long established itself as committed to emerging independent filmmakers, especially those with New England roots. Laura Colella, a Providence native who studied film at Harvard and for 16 years has taught film production and directing at the Rhode Island School of Design, returns to the WHFF (running July 28-Aug. 4) with her third feature, “Breakfast With Curtis.” The festival showcased Colella’s two previous features, “Tax Day” (1998) and “Stay Until Tomorrow” (2004).
Colella and members of the cast will be on hand to discuss “Breakfast With Curtis” after the screening on July 28. It’s just the second showing of the quirky comedy; Colella finished the film right before its world premiere, in June, at the Los Angeles Film Festival. “Breakfast With Curtis” is truly a “home-grown production,” Colella says. It was shot in and around a pair of Providence triple-deckers where Colella and her nine neighbors live. The DIY, super-low-budget film came about because Colella grew frustrated trying to get a big budget feature off the ground for several years. “I just wanted to make a movie,” she says. “This was just the way I learned to make films: no fund-raising, no bureaucracy. It was liberating.”
This year’s WHFF filmmaker-in-residence is Lauren Greenfield, whose new documentary, “The Queen of Versailles,” screens July 29. It’s followed by a conversation with Greenfield, a Harvard graduate, moderated by festival alum and Harvard film professor Robb Moss. Greenfield’s debut film, “Thin,” about four women with eating disorders and their struggles for recovery, screens July 30, followed by a question-and-answer session with the director. Last year’s filmmaker-in-residence, Heidi Ewing, is represented by “Detropia,” her new documentary, co-directed with Rachel Grady, about Detroit and its struggle to transform itself into a new and innovative place. It screens July 31.
Boston filmmaker Bestor Cram’s “Weapons of Mass Disruption” also screens that evening. Co-directed with Mike Majoros, it crisscrosses the world to trace the advent of the Stuxnet cyber weapon and examines its threat to global security. Cram for 25 years has owned Northern Light Productions. His “Folsom Prison Blues,” about Johnny Cash and his role in prison reform, played the 2012 Boston Independent Film Festival, and his 2001 documentary, “Unfinished Symphony,” was a hit at the Sundance Film Festival.
Todd Kwait and Rob Stegman’s documentary “For the Love of Music: The Club 47 Folk Revival” chronicles the heyday of the historic Cambridge club, from 1959 to 1968, and includes interviews with Joan Baez, Taj Mahal, Judy Collins, Tom Rush, Maria Muldaur, Geoff Muldaur, Jim Kweskin, Jackie Washington, Jim Rooney, Peter Rowan, and many more.
Besides 30 features, the WHFF is notable for presenting many short films. This year there are nearly 60. They include Derek Frank’s affectionate look at Cambridge’s Hollywood Express, one of the few video stores remaining in the area, and “Performance Anxiety,” from Cambridge resident Charles Merzbacher, who humorously examines his ambivalence over allowing his 12-year-old son, Reid, to fulfill his dream of busking in Harvard Square on his violin. Merzbacher teaches film at Boston University.
Among the special screenings is Christopher Janney’s 37-minute documentary, “What Is a Heart?,” about Janney’s performance piece, “HeartBeat.” The piece uses a modified wireless telemetry heart monitor, which amplifies electrical impulses from the brain to the heart and surrounding muscles. Janney then scores different musicians to play over this unusual percussion track, all in real time. Over the last 25 years, performers have included dancers Sara Rudner and Mikhail Baryshnikov and the celebrated a cappella singing group the Persuasions. The group will perform a live set with the film on Aug. 1.
Go to www.woodsholefilmfestival.org.
Nocturnal New Orleans
Filmmaker Bill Ross will be at the Brattle Theatre Monday for the New England premiere of his New Orleans documentary, “Tchoupitoulas.” It’s the first film from brothers Bill and Turner Ross since their award-winning 2009 documentary, “45365,” a cinema-verite examination of a small Ohio town, and part of the ongoing DocYard series. “Tchoupitoulas,” according to the DocYard, “is a story of the New Orleans night. With no interviews and no voice-over, it is a visually exhilarating and aurally immersive record of one night in the many lives of a thriving nocturnal populace.” It earned the HBO Documentary Films Emerging Artist Award at 2012 HotDocs and Best Documentary at the 2012 Dallas International Film Festival. DocYard screens a documentary short film before each feature-length work, selected from Alex Jablonski’s Sparrow Songs series. All screenings begin at 8 p.m., followed by a Q&A, moderated by journalist, writer, and producer Erin Trahan, and an after-party at Casablanca restaurant.
Go to www.thedocyard.com.
Seeing an ‘unholy alliance’
Writer Jessica Valenti will introduce her film, “The Purity Myth,” adapted from her book, on Saturday at 5:30 p.m. at Suffolk University’s C. Walsh Theater. A panel of authors, advocates, commentators, and educators will then join Valenti for a discussion, “Female Sexuality, Media Politics and the War on Women,” moderated by media activist Jean Kilbourne, who created the “Killing Us Softly” documentary series. Valenti’s film tackles “the virginity movement,” which she calls “an unholy alliance of evangelical Christians, right-wing politicians, and conservative policy intellectuals who have been exploiting irrational fears about women’s sexuality to roll back women’s rights.”
Go to www.suffolk.edu.
Because of a reporting error, an article in the Sunday Movies section about the Woods Hole Film Festival incorrectly stated how many decades the festival has been in existence and the date the festival ends this year. It’s now in its third decade and this year’s festival ends Aug. 4.