Local films, festivals, and faces

Film finds a permanent home on Vineyard

“Better Than Something,” a documentary about garage rock icon Jay Reatard, screens at the MFA Aug. 30-Sept. 2.
“Better Than Something,” a documentary about garage rock icon Jay Reatard, screens at the MFA Aug. 30-Sept. 2.

With the shrinking of the Boston area’s big-screen landscape — the Harvard Square Cinema was the latest in a long list of casualties — it’s heartening to see new theaters and screens being added in areas north and south of the city. The Martha’s Vineyard International Film Festival will have a permanent home as it opens its seventh year just after Labor Day. The brand new Martha’s Vineyard Film Center, located in the Tisbury Marketplace, will serve as one of several theaters for the festival and will be the year-round home for the MV Film Society. At press time, the finishing touches were being put on the new facility, which boasts a 27-foot screen and 185 stadium seats, and Boston Light and Sound was installing a DCI digital projection system.

“The Film Center has finally come to fruition,” said Richard Paradise, founder and director of the MV Film Society, which produces the festival. “That’s the big news this year.” About 90 percent of all festival films are non-US productions, he notes, helping to fulfill the festival mission of promoting cross-cultural understanding through film. “Our focus is unchanged: to present the best films from Asia, Africa, Europe, the Middle East, and the Americas. The only change is now we have one more fantastic place in which to screen them.”


The festival launches its four days of events on Sept. 6 with an evening waterfront party at Saltwater restaurant next to the Film Center, where the opening night film screens at 8 p.m. Malik Bendjelloul’s acclaimed documentary “Searching for Sugar Man” illuminates the mysterious Rodriguez, a Detroit singer-songwriter who unknowingly became a huge star in South Africa.

“Give Up Tomorrow,” screens at the DocYard and the Martha’s Vineyard film festival.
“Give Up Tomorrow,” screens at the DocYard and the Martha’s Vineyard film festival.

Other highlights of the festival include 10 films in the International Short Film Competition (Sept. 7 at 7 p.m.) with the winner announced at the end of the festival. Saba Riazi, who won last year with “The Wind Is Blowing on My Street,” will be a judge, along with Diana Barrett, president of the Fledgling Fund, a festival sponsor; Andrew Mer of Snagfilms; and Tim Miller, Cape Cod Times film critic. Festival documentaries include “Give Up Tomorrow” (Sept. 8 at 4:30 p.m.), a look at judicial bureaucracy in the Philippines; and “Last Call at the Oasis” (Sept. 7 at 4:30 p.m.), about global climate change. Narrative features hail from Norway (“Oslo, August 31st”); Finland (“Headhunters”); Paraguay (“Las Acacias”); and France (“And If We All Lived Together”).


A Gallic “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel,” “And If We All Lived Together” stars Geraldine Chaplin and Jane Fonda — in her first French-speaking role since Jean-Luc Godard’s 1972 film “Tout va bien” — as seniors who devise a nursing-home alternative. It screens Sept. 8 at 9 p.m. The closing film is the American comedy “Robot & Frank” starring Frank Langella and Susan Sarandon (Sept. 9 at 4:30 p.m. at the MV Film Center).

More to see at CACC

Meanwhile, the single-screen Cape Ann Community Cinema, at 21 Main St. in Gloucester, has added a second screen at 11 Pleasant St. in Gloucester. The new space, called Film Haven, seats up to 40 people and will host films on Fridays and Saturdays at 7:45 p.m. It will also double as a classroom, according to Cape Ann Community Cinema creative director Robert Newton, who recently launched North Shore Media Workshops and plans to offer film-related classes starting in September. (Go to www.NorthShoreMediaWork
shops.com for more information). “We have so many great films from which to choose that we just had to add a second screen,” said Newton. Films showing at the new space through September are “In the Family” (Aug. 31 and Sept. 1); “Cosmopolis” (Sept. 14 and 15); “Damsels in Distress” (Sept. 21 and 22); and “The Manhattan Short Film Festival” (Sept. 28 and 29). All CACC passes will be honored at the second location.


For more information go to www.CapeAnnCinema.com.

Portrait of a punk icon

Filmmakers Alex Hammond and Ian Markiewicz will be at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts on Aug. 30 and Aug. 31 at 8 p.m. for the Boston premiere of “Better Than Something,” their feature documentary about the controversial and prolific garage rock icon Jay Reatard. The film premiered at the Nashville Film Festival and has since screened at festivals around the world, earning it a cult following. “Better Than Something” capturwes Reatard at the height of his self-made career and interweaves cinéma vérité, interviews, and archival concert performances with scenes from a week that the filmmakers spent with Reatard in his hometown of Memphis in April 2009, just months before his untimely death. The MFA also hosts screenings of the film (without the filmmakers) at 1 p.m. on Sept. 1 and 2.

For more information go to www.mfa.org.

From Russia with love

The next Balagan screening at the Brattle on Sept. 4 at 8 p.m. celebrates the 80th anniversary of the Saint Petersburg Documentary Film Studio. Films from three of the most acclaimed members of the respected collective will screen: Pavel Medvedev’s “Third Planet From the Sun,” Sergei Loznitsa’s “Factory,” and Alina Rudnitskaya’s “[expletive] Academy.” All films will be presented on 35mm with English subtitles. Tickets are $10; $8 for students and seniors.


For more information, go to www.balaganfilms.com.

Inside and out

Two popular and worthwhile film programs are ending with the summer, so if you
haven’t made it to either the DocYard at the Brattle or the NewportFILM Outdoor screening series, now is the time. The Doc­Yard concludes its summer season Aug. 27 at 8 p.m. with “Give Up Tomorrow” (also in the Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival), followed by an in-person Q&A with director Michael Collins and producer Marty Syjuco. NewportFILM’s 2012 Outdoor Sunset Series concludes Sept. 7 with “Chasing Ice.” National Geographic photographer James Balog’s video compresses years into seconds and captures ancient mountains of ice in motion as they disappear at a breathtaking rate. The screening takes place on Rose Island (rain venue is the Casino Theater, 9 Freebody St., Newport). Aquidneck Ferry will provide free ferry service to and from the island with pickup/drop-off locations and times posted on www.newport
FILM.com. The screening begins at sunset (approximately 7:15 p.m.); a donation of $5 per person is requested.

Loren King can be reached at