The documentary film Great Ponds, Episode 1: On Our Watch has had numerous sold-out screenings as part of the Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival’s summer season.

On Saturday, Sept. 24 audiences get another chance to see the film on-screen with a pay what you can showing at 7 p.m. the Grange Hall in West Tisbury. The organization will then make the film available for free online viewing as of Monday, Sept. 26.

The documentary is a the first in a three-part series, directed by Ollie Becker, who will attend Saturday’s screening for a discussion after the film.

Mr. Becker said the origins of the documentary began when he returned to the Island after 10 years away and noticed significant changes in the Island’s ponds. Mr. Becker recalls, “The project was a safe space to ask the basic questions about ecosystems that are the same questions the audience might be asking.”

The project crystallized in autumn 2020 when Vineyard Conservation Society joined as a co-producer and helped raise the funds needed.

The film includes drone photography capturing stunning overheard views, particularly of south shore great ponds and the properties that border them. It also includes interviews with environmental scientists and town officials. The late Kent Healy of West Tisbury, who monitored local ponds for many years, features prominently.

Both Mr. Becker and Brian Ditchfield, artistic and executive director of Circuit Arts (the umbrella organization of the film festival), feel that the Great Ponds documentary exemplifies the mission of Circuit Films to tell compelling Island stories and to spark conversation and change.

It’s also an example of what Mr. Ditchfield feels the Island does well: collaboration.

“I am so proud of the work we’ve done with Vineyard Conservation Society and Great Ponds Foundation,” Mr. Ditchfield said. “The work with Vineyard scientists and conservation groups has been so integral to the filmmaking and to helping people to understand the issues.”

Th two subsequent episodes are to be released over the next two years if sufficient funding is available.

“Our goal with the first film is to put the information out there and get the conversation started,” Mr. Ditchfield said. “As episodes move forward, the conversation will grow deeper. Knowledge and science are unfolding as we create this.”

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