Little Sundance in Vineyard Haven
For a few days this month, Islanders were encouraged to collectively dream in the dark. Many hundreds took up the invitation of the Martha’s Vineyard International Film Festival, which clearly has big dreams of its own.
In this its second year, the festival offered films from every continent, including a drizzly Saturday afternoon show about a girl in an Australian opal-mining town who loses her invisible friends. Children entered the Capawock Theatre (one of three Tisbury venues openedfor the dreaming),eagerly clutching their complimentary bottles of San Pelligrino water, oneof many sponsors that backed the emerging festival.
Inside, young and old listened as Australian-born Vineyard Haven author Geraldine Brooks introduced this as a film about something dear to her heart — the power of imagination. The story, Opal Dream, showed how innocence and imagination can bring disparate people together in something transcendent, despite tension along the way.
And so it was with the festival. The organizers — a legion of enthusiastic volunteers led by codirectors who have yet to draw a salary from their ambitious undertaking — must have had some tense moments. As the line grew for one Friday night film (the tickets were lost on someone somewhere between the Mansion House and the Capawock), one patron laughed, “It was chaotic the first year, and things can only change so fast.” But he waited to enjoy a thoroughly entertaining Danish comedy that reminded us that workplace dramas are the same anywhere, anytime.
Perhaps he also hit the party that night, with its cool September vibe under a red canopy at Che’s Lounge, made even more exotic when nearby men’s store Devil’s Dictionary offered patrons turns on hookah pipes.
Maybe he saw another film which inspired him,or depressed him or bored him. Film festivals are like that, a lottery only with better odds.
The movie Field of Dreams made famous the line, “If you build it, they will come.” And Vineyarders have been spoiled by the constructions of film-lovers such as Thomas Bena, who has built brilliant intimate independent film festivals at the Chilmark Community Center, by Ben Hall Sr., whose loveof thearts has seen broadcasts from the Metropolitan Opera come to the Capawock, and by Richard Paradise,who has jumped from bringing foreignfilms to theIsland on cold winter nights to building this autumn festi val, which already has fulfilled dreams beyondits means.
Don’t feel you have to build too fast. We will come.
(And when they’d drunk it down with popcorn, the organizers had thought to arrange recycling bins.)