The Woods Hole Film Festival turns 23 this year, making it the oldest film festival running on Cape Cod. During that time, the festival has nurtured and energized a community of independent filmmakers, many from New England.
Running July 26-Aug. 2, this year’s event boasts more than 30 narrative and documentary feature-length films and 10 shorts programs. Filmmakers-in-residence Jay Craven of Vermont and Brian Storkel of Los Angeles will conduct workshops, master classes, and panel discussions. Craven will screen his films “Where the Rivers Flow North” (1994) and “Disappearances” (2007) on July 27 at 8 p.m. Storkel’s latest documentary, “Fight Church,” about the confluence of Christianity and mixed martial arts, screens Aug. 1 at 10 p.m.
The opening night film, “The Winding Stream” (6 p.m.), is a real crowd-pleaser about American roots music royalty: the Carter family and Johnny Cash. Directed by Boston native Beth Harrington (a former member of the iconic Boston band Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers), it chronicles the famed Carter clan with superb historical footage and rare music clips. Musician and music writer Elijah Wald will lead a post-screening discussion and the roots band Wayworn Travelers will perform both traditional and modern renditions of Carter family songs.
Screening with “The Winding Stream” is the short film “Lomax,” billed as “a spirited reimagining of folklorist Alan Lomax’s 1941 journey through the Mississippi Delta,” directed by Vermont native and 2007 Emerson College graduate Jesse Kreitzer.
Strong local ties can also be found in “The Newburgh Sting” (July 27, 9 p.m.), a powerful expose of the FBI’s role in the 2009 case of four poor African-American men charged with plotting to bomb Jewish synagogues in the Bronx. The film, available for small-screen viewing July 21 on HBO, is directed by festival cofounder Kate Davis (“Southern Comfort”) and her producing partner and husband David Heilbronner. Both will be in attendance.
Director-producer-cinematographer Richard Kane’s documentary “Jon Imber’s Left Hand” (July 27, 9 p.m.) is about the painter and Harvard art professor’s efforts to keep working even as he battles amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Kane’s film focuses on the project that would be this artist’s legacy (Imber died in April at age 63): portraits of 100 friends in Boston and Maine, where he had a second home. “Jon Imber’s Left Hand” is paired with another look at the creative process, “Inside Motherwell’s Dumpster,” a short film by Wellfleet- and Jamaica Plain-based filmmaker Marnie Crawford Samuelson. It follows Provincetown sculptor Mike Wright, working in the tradition of scavengers on the tip of Cape Cod, as she finds unusual pieces of painted wood in a dumpster outside Sea Barn, the former home and studio of abstract expressionist painter Robert Motherwell.
“One Cut, One Life” (July 28, 7 p.m.) is the poignant collaboration between influential documentarian and former MIT film professor Ed Pincus and filmmaker Lucia Small (“My Father, The Genius”). After collaborating on the 2007 Hurricane Katrina documentary “The Axe in the Attic,” both filmmakers had faced tragedies, including the sudden deaths of loved ones and, for Pincus, a fatal diagnosis (he died in November 2013 at 75). “One Cut, One Life,” a personal exploration of how the filmmakers cope with death, has an uplifting subtext of how filmmaking itself is a way to deal with pain and loss.
Rhode Island-based filmmaker Christian de Rezendes’s inspirational documentary “Raising Matty Christian” (July 29, 7 p.m.) profiles Canton native Matthew G. Christian, who, despite being born in 1983 without a full set of arms and legs and with no tongue, managed with the support of his family to live a full, if too brief, life (he died in 2009). De Rezendes’s credits include co-directing the moving 2007 documentary “41,” about Nick O’Neill, the youngest victim of Rhode Island’s Station nightclub fire.
A dramatic comedy shot entirely on Cape Cod, “Lies I Told My Little Sister” (July 31,
9 p.m.) is a showcase for Woods Hole resident and rising star Lucy Walters, who appeared with Michael Fassbender in “Shame.” Walters stars as a photographer who, after the death of her older sister, joins the family for a vacation on Cape Cod, complete with the baggage of lingering childhood conflicts with the younger sister she used to torment. Walters will attend the festival along with writer-producer Judy White and cinematographer Alex Gallitano, a native of Brookline.
For more information, go to www.woodsholefilmfestival.org
Just a few days after showing his short film at Woods Hole, Jesse Kreitzer gets another turn in the spotlight courtesy of the Cambridge-based nonprofit organizations Follow the Honey and Central Productions. On July 31 at 7 p.m., Kreitzer will screen “Lomax” and discuss his MFA thesis film “Black Canaries,” an early 1900s coal mining folktale inspired by his maternal ancestors. He is currently an MFA candidate and instructor in the Department of Cinematic Arts at the University of Iowa. The screening, at 1132 Mass. Ave. in Cambridge, is free and open to the public; donations encouraged.
Moving beyond hate
“Matt Shepard Is a Friend of Mine,” a new documentary about the young gay man who lost his life in a notorious hate crime 15 years ago, screens at the Waters Edge Cinema in Provincetown on July 31 at 7 p.m. The screening will be followed by an audience discussion with the victim’s parents, Judy and Dennis Shepard, and director Michele Josue, who was a 19-year-old film student at Emerson College when her friend Matt Shepard, a University of Wyoming freshman, was murdered by two men in Laramie, Wyo. The discussion will be moderated by the Rev. Christie Hardwick, a local minister of the Centers for Spiritual Living. All seats are $12 and proceeds will benefit the Matthew Shepard Foundation.
For more information, go to www.watersedgecinema.org
Spotlight on Jay
Former Boston Globe and NECN film critic Jay Carr, who died May 15 at 77, will be remembered by his friends and colleagues at a memorial service, open to the public, on Aug. 2 from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. at the Coolidge Corner Theatre. The event was organized by his daughters, Diane and Julia Carr, and is meant to “celebrate Jay by remembering his contributions to the worlds of music, drama and film criticism, as well as his mentorship and kindness to everyone,” Diane Carr said in an e-mail to the Globe.
For more information, go to www.coolidge.org