For one week each summer, the tiny seaside village of Woods Hole in Falmouth draws filmmakers and filmgoers from around the region for what’s now the oldest and one of the most popular film festivals on Cape Cod and the islands. The Woods Hole Film Festival celebrates its 26th year July 29 through Aug. 5 with an ambitious slate of indie features, documentaries (see Peter Keough’s rundown of the highlights), and shorts screened at various locations around town, as well as panels, workshops, and parties.
Two highlights are features with local ties. Boston-born, Vermont-raised actress Catherine Eaton’s feature directing debut “The Sounding” (July 30), filmed on Monhegan Island, off the coast of Maine, centers on Liv (played by Eaton) who, after years of silence, begins to create a new language of her own by weaving together Shakespeare’s words. A neurologist, brought to the island to protect Liv, commits her to a psychiatric hospital where she rebels and fights for her freedom with escalating violence. “The Sounding,” which Eaton adapted from her own short film, recently won the audience choice award at the Brooklyn Film Festival.
Director Robert Cole shot his horror thriller “Off Season” (July 30) on Martha’s Vineyard. Lena (Jessica Cadden Osborne) plans to return home after working a summer job on the Vineyard but when her plans fall through, local farmer Kellen (Chance Kelly) hires her as a landscaper. As Lena’s relationship with Kellen’s 10-year-old daughter Sadie (Braedyn Clark) deepens, Lena senses that there’s something dark and disturbing in the child’s world.
On the comic side, “Veep” star Tony Hale and Anna Camp of the “Pitch Perfect” films star in Jody Lambert’s “Brave New Jersey” (July 31), set in a tiny New Jersey town on the night of Orson Welles’s legendary “War of the Worlds” radio broadcast in 1938. Like much of the country, these folks don’t realize the “alien invasion” is a hoax and frantically prepare for what they think is their last night on Earth.
Martians also figure in the British film “Seat 25” (Aug. 3) from director/co-writer Nicholas Agnew. An entrepreneur prepares the first manned mission to the Red Planet, with a seat reserved for an ordinary person willing to take the risk. Faye Banks (co-writer Madeleine Cooke) secretly enters the Seat 25 competition but when the dangerous, one-way trip becomes a reality, her life on Earth is turned upside down.
The East Coast premiere of writer-director Daniel Peddle’s atmospheric “Moss” (July 31) is a coming-of-age tale set in an isolated, coastal corner of North Carolina. Moss (Mitchell Slaggert), on his 18th birthday, is eager to break away from his resentful father. A mysterious woman (Christine Marzano) camping on a remote beach helps him come to terms with his past.
Jake Goldberger’s “Holding Patterns” (Aug. 1) also features young people at dead ends. Freddie Highmore is twenty-something Charlie, still living at home with his mother and stepfather, who gets a surprising boost of confidence when he meets Amber (Odeya Rush), who works at the local coffee shop.
There are nine programs of shorts, with notable offerings that include “The 6th Amendment,” Boston-based Elika Portnoy’s narrative about the jury in the Boston Marathon bomber trial; John Stimpson’s “Soul Candy,” about young lovers who bond over author David Foster Wallace and which was shot at the Shire Bookshop in Franklin; and “The Collection,” Boston-based filmmaker Adam Roffman’s documentary about an astonishing collection of movie memorabilia. In “A Doll’s Eyes,” which takes its title from Quint’s chilling monologue in “Jaws,” Jonathan Wysocki recounts a childhood haunted by Steven Spielberg’s “don’t go in the water” blockbuster.
For more information go to www.woodsholefilmfestival.org.Loren King can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.