Martha’s Vineyard Film Society hosts its annual Documentary Week August 1 to 5, showcasing five award-winning documentary features this year as well as discussions with the filmmakers.

Richard Paradise, director of the Martha’s Vineyard Film Center, curated the slate of films. He said he specifically looked for films that addressed current political and cultural events.

“We do this week each year in an attempt to focus on contemporary issues,” Mr. Paradise said. “Documentaries have become the conscience of the nation.”

Mr. Paradise specifically cited the feature documentary Trapped directed by Island filmmaker Dawn Porter. The movie investigates how increasingly strict abortion laws affect doctors and patients around the country.

“We felt that screening Trapped was especially important after the recent Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade,” Mr. Paradise said, stressing that the long-form nature of documentaries often allows for a better understanding of a subject than fast-paced news sources.

“I think documentarians really give a balanced approach to issues that you can’t always depend on to get from your TV set.”

Additionally, the issue of Lyme disease is investigated in the feature documentary The Quiet Epidemic, premiering on Thursday. The documentary takes a close look at chronic Lyme disease and its often underreported long-lasting effects. A talk with directors Lindsay Keys and Winslow Crane-Murdoch will immediately follow the film.

Longtime Vineyarder and award-winning filmmaker Stanley Nelson will be on hand to discuss his latest film Attica, about the 1971 prison riot. And co-directors Dan Geller and Dayna Goldfine will host a discussion after their film, Hallelujah, which follows the journey of Leonard Cohen and his renowned song. The film’s music director, Rachel Fox, will also take part in the talk.

After seven years of hosting documentary week, Mr. Paradise sees documentaries as one of the most important facets of any independent cinema.

“Documentaries are the lifeblood of the arthouse cinema programming here at the film center,” Mr. Paradise said. “These films are ways to engage with vivid imagery, strong narratives, and pressing issues, especially with the public dialogues after these screenings.”

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