The standout project in Saturday’s Think Globally, Shot Locally — a mixed bag of a forum at the Martha’s Vineyard International Film Festival — was Sara Nesson’s work-in-progress Iraq Paper Scissors, a documentary about Iraq War veterans participating in the Combat Paper Project.
In an effort to come to grips with their traumatic experiences, these men are turning their uniforms into paper, which they then screen-print and emboss, a process the Gazette followed when some of the soldiers had a workshop on the Vineyard this summer. Their softer version of swords into ploughshares has given veterans a physical and metaphorical context through which they can begin to talk about their recent past.
Says one of her subjects, “The uniform stands for destruction, chaos and death. To destroy it and make something positive of it is an act of reclamation and reconciliation.”
Ms. Nesson looked beyond her immediate experience for inspiration, approaching her subjects with patience, compassion and a keen eye for detail. She will continue to shoot, following her subjects as they go across the country, performing, spreading their message and trying to reach other veterans.
Of her film’s surprisingly large appeal, she said, “This is a time when people are talking about politics in a way they haven’t been lately. It speaks to students, people who come from a lower economic background. I haven’t come across a person who wasn’t interested.”
Another promising work in progress was Torri Campbell’s piece House of Bones which chronicles the last year of her family’s summer residence on West Chop. With the death of her maternal grandmother and the dilution of inherited wealth, her family is forced to sell the property. As one woman in the film laments, “It’s over. It’s the end of the WASPs here.”
The project’s success will lie in the degree to which she has been able to capture her family member’s personalities. In a discussion after showing her film, she said, “It’s an elegy, but it’s also tongue-in-cheek — ultimately it’s about letting go of houses and things.”
Last in the second half was the forum’s only narrative piece, Taylor Toole’s Mow Crew, a drama/musical/comedy following the last on-Island day of a landscaper and his girlfriend. Mr. Toole, who also wrote the script, drew inspiration from his summers working as a landscaper on the Vineyard. His leads felt a bit over-dramatic, but the landscaping antics promise some silly laughs.
“It’s a combination of Clerks and Once,” he said. “If you like comedy and music, my movie might appeal to you.”
In the first half, Erik Osterholm’s film Intrepid Voices, about skiing Tuckerman Ravine on Mt. Washington, involved some interesting original and archival footage. The five-minute full-length documentary was his senior project at Emerson College.
The event ended with a discussion with Erica Motley of Tribeca Enterprises about getting distribution for small independent films. She stressed the importance of new outlets like the digital acquisition departments of the Tribeca Film Festival and Cinetic Media.