Celebrating its 27th year, the Woods Hole Film Festival is one of the oldest in New England. It owes its longevity to a commitment to presenting the work of emerging indie filmmakers but also to its intimate, community-focused approach which has earned the festival a loyal local audience.
Running this year from July 28-Aug. 4, it offers 21 features, over two dozen documentaries, and more than 100 shorts, screening at five different venues in the village of Woods Hole and town of Falmouth.
Among the highlights are Brooklyn-based filmmaker Ann Lupo’s feature debut, “In Reality” (July 28). Lupo blends fiction and documentary, comedy and drama as she examines her own experiences of unrequited love, turning the quest into a wild journey of imagination.
Also notable is the US premiere of “You Go to My Head” (July 31), a romantic mystery from French director Dimitri de Clercq. Shot in Morocco, the action begins on a desolate stretch of the Sahara where a woman (Delfine Bafort) has a car accident that leaves her unconscious and alone. She’s discovered by Jake (Svetozar Cvetkovic), a reclusive architect, who drives her to the hospital, names her Kitty, and claims to be her husband. Jake later takes Kitty to his remote desert home to recuperate as he invents an elaborate past for the two of them.
Laura Somers’s “Rich Kids” (July 31) has earned early praise at other festivals. Shot in Houston with a young cast of mostly Latino actors that includes many nonprofessionals, the film examines race, wealth, and class from the point of view of a group of marginalized teens who break into an empty local mansion enclosed by a fence and spend the day pretending to be rich.
Writer-director Maurice Haeems’s feature debut, “Chimera” (Aug. 2), is a sci-fi thriller that was shot entirely in Fitchburg. Henry Ian Cusick, best known for TV’s “Lost,” and Kathleen Quinlan star in the creepy tale about a brilliant but disturbed scientist who freezes his children alive while he races to cure their deadly genetic disease.
Writer-director Megan Griffiths’s “Sadie” (Aug. 2) breathes fresh life into the teen-angst genre. Sophia Mitri Schloss plays the 13-year-old title character as she navigates the worlds of adolescence and adulthood while living in a trailer with her mother, Rae (Melanie Lynskey). Sadie’s dad is on a prolonged military hitch; but when Rae begins to date a local guy, Sadie takes extreme measures to end their relationship.
Writer-director Alex O Eaton’s “Mountain Rest” (Aug. 2) stars Frances Conroy (“Six Feet Under)” as Ethel, an aging actress who invites her estranged daughter, Frankie (Kate Lyn Sheil), and granddaughter, Clara (Natalia Dyer), home for an extravagant weekend party. Tensions escalate as Clara is drawn into her grandmother’s fantasies and disillusionments and the real reason for the party is revealed.
Director Noor Gharzeddine’s debut feature, “Are You Glad I’m Here” (Aug. 3), has garnered attention at small festivals for its assured mix of hyper-realism, comedy, and drama. Written by Samuel Cyrenius Anderson, the film explores gender roles and domestic violence through a cultural lens in a story about a millennial American girl (Tess Harrison) who befriends a Lebanese homemaker (Marwa Khalil), then proceeds to disrupt her ordered life until one night when the two become accidental partners in crime.
This year’s panel discussions include: The Role of the Film Critic in a Changing Media Landscape (July 29), featuring the Globe’s Ty Burr and Tim Miller of The Cape Cod Times; Science and Storytelling (Aug. 2); Thriving in Independent Film (Aug. 3); and Visual Effects in Science Focused Films (Aug. 3). Meet the Programmers (July 29) will give audiences the chance to hear from film festival schedulers who are attending the Film Festival Alliance’s regional roundtable, which takes place during the festival’s first three days.