One of the hallmarks of the Woods Hole Film Festival is showcasing independent filmmakers with local roots. This year's 24th edition, running July 25 to Aug. 1, is particularly rich in fiction features, documentaries, and short films with New England ties.
Writer-director Lindsey Copeland revisits the Boston of her student days for her feature debut "Girls Night" (July 27 at 7 p.m.). Copeland shot nearly all of her comedy, about five college friends who reunite for a concert in Boston, in the city and surrounding areas, including Somerville and Cambridge.
A Boston University graduate now living in New York, Copeland says she still has "an emotional attachment" to Boston, where she spent such formative years. The friends in her film, she says, "are two years out of school, in that weird area of transition from the college security net, wondering whether they'll remain friends. . . . There aren't enough movies that focus on Boston's heavy student population. Every indie feels like it's shot in New York City. This is the right story for the right place."
Copeland, who'll be at the festival to introduce her film, is in pre-production on her second feature, "Hedgehog," about a young female comic trying to avoid the shadow of her father, who was a Boston comedy legend.
The WHFF opens with Cambridge native Maya Forbes's semi-autobiographical "Infinitely Polar Bear" (July 25 at 5 p.m.). Forbes will be on hand to introduce her poignant memory piece based on her mother (played by Zoe Saldana) and father (Mark Ruffalo), who, despite his battle with mental illness, provided a loving home. Family and memory are also themes in Cambridge filmmaker Avery Rimer's short "His Last Game" (July 26 at 9 p.m.). Adapted from Brian Doyle's essay and shot in Cambridge, Sudbury, and Concord, it's the second collaboration between Rimer and BU professor-screenwriter Debbie Danielpour, who wrote Rimer's first short film, "Halfway Somewhere Else," which played the festival in 2013. "His Last Game" was selected for the Short Film Corner at this year's Cannes Film Festival.
Other highlights include Massachusetts filmmaker Diego Ongaro's "Bob and the Trees" (July 28 and Aug. 1 at 9 p.m.), a fiction film about a real-life logger struggling to make ends meet in the Berkshires during the brutal 2014 winter. "Happy 40th" (July 30 at 7 p.m.), directed by and starring Madoka Raine of Newton, follows Sophia, who uses a wheelchair after a car accident, and her caregiver husband as Sophia celebrates her birthday with her three best friends.
On the documentary front, Harvard University grad Richard Ray Perez presents "Cesar's Last Fast" (July 26 at 7 p.m.), about the historic grape boycott led by Cesar Chavez and organized by the United Farm Workers (Perez's father was among them). Perez also conducts a master class on social issue documentary filmmaking on July 27 at 1 p.m.
Singer-songwriter and Martha's Vineyard resident Sally Taylor (Carly Simon and James Taylor's daughter) will screen "Consenses" (July 28 at 5 p.m.), in which 150 artists from around the world interpret each other's work. Brandeis University professor Laurie Kahn-Leavitt shows "Love Between the Covers" (July 26 at 5 p.m., Aug. 1 at 7 p.m.), a look at the subculture of women, mostly, who read and write romance novels.
For more information go to www.woodsholefilmfestival.org.
Short, not always sweet
Fans of short films should consider taking in the Bluestocking Film Series at the Space Gallery in Portland, Maine, July 17-18. Celebrating its fifth year, Bluestocking showcases films with complex female protagonists. Fifteen award-winning short films from Pakistan, Ireland, Australia, Sweden, Turkey, Mexico, and the US will screen with many filmmakers and industry professionals in attendance. Ireland's Maureen O'Connell will introduce her film "Girls," about a teenager who seeks attention from her family and peers with dire consequences. Australia native and now New York resident Lucy Griffin will attend for the world premiere of her film "Sunroom," about a 20-something woman who must reconcile her sentimental attachment to her stuffed animals and dinosaur figurines with her notions of what it means to be an adult woman. In "The Boots," director Carin Bräck from Sweden examines how a pair of embroidered boots links three stories of awkward encounters and grief.
For more information go to bluestockingfilms.com/bluestocking5.
A night at the opera
If you've never experienced live opera at the Met, here's the next best thing. The Met Live in HD summer encore series offers a look at Lehár's enchanting operetta "The Merry Widow," starring the great Renée Fleming, with new staging by Broadway director and choreographer Susan Stroman, on July 22 at 7 p.m. On July 29, catch the Met's spectacular production of Verdi's Egyptian epic "Aida." Locally, the series screens at Fenway 13 and suburbs.
For more information go to www.fathomevents.com.
Loren King can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.