The Nantucket Film Festival always manages a uniquely stellar mix of Hollywood and New England, and the 17th annual edition, running through Sunday, is shaping up to be no different. Actor Frank Langella and writer-director Nancy Meyers (“Baby Boom,” “It’s Complicated”) are on hand, with the former receiving the Compass Rose Acting Award and the latter the recipient of Saturday night’s Screenwriter’s Tribute, hosted by NBC newsman Brian Williams and actress Diane Keaton. But Meyers was there solely as a proud parent at Friday’s “Morning Coffee” panel: Her daughter, Hallie Meyers-Shyer, was on the podium of the newly refurbished Dreamland theater talking about her screenplay for the upcoming production, “The Chelsea.”
Joining Meyers-Shyer onstage were a motley crew of filmmakers, including director Todd Louiso and wife/screenwriter Sarah Koskoff (“Hello, I Must Be Going”); documentarian Jeff Orlowski, whose “Chasing Ice” is a stunning time-lapse look at the shrinking polar ice caps; Brian Larsen (story supervisor for Pixar’s “Brave”); and comedian-turned-director Mike Birbiglia, whose droll tale of romantic and stand-up woe, “Sleepwalk With Me,” opened the Independent Film Festival Boston last month and hits theaters in August.
The sharp, sleepy-eyed Birbiglia has scored big with his storytelling on “The Moth,” Comedy Central specials, and the off-Broadway version of his new film, but at heart he’s still a kid from Shrewsbury.
He and his wife are in the middle of making the move from Manhattan to Brooklyn, but before the morning panel, he waxed New England nostalgic, finding new appreciation in the “prolonged adolescence” his small-town upbringing gave him.
Onstage was another matter. Birbiglia ratted out an audience member for filming the proceedings with her iPad and hopped off the stage for more coffee at one point, complaining that “the event is called ‘Morning Coffee,’ so coffee needs to be a bigger part of it.”
We also learned from Larsen that “Brave” was code-named “Bravehair” in honor of Mel Gibson’s “Braveheart,” and that Meyers-Shyer isn’t daunted by having a Hollywood filmmaking legend for a mother. Well, except for a bit of sibling rivalry: Of the hit comedies Meyers has made, her daughter said “each film was like having a new member of the family.”
Also touching down in Nantucket: filmmaker Beth Murphy of Boston-based Principle Pictures with her scalding documentary “The List,” about activist Kirk Johnson’s years-long efforts to save Iraqi citizens who helped American troops during the war. The film is an essay on the endless frustrations of bureaucracy and a story of human resilience — an eye-opener that Murphy says she hopes will get a theatrical release before it pops up on PBS.