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Martha's Vineyard International Film Festival preview

The annual Martha's Vineyard International Film Festival, produced by the MV Film Society, is a showcase for the best feature and short films from around the globe. As its exquisite setting would suggest, this is not your typical film festival-"Which is a good thing," says actor Hayden Christensen (who attended in 2007). "It has a laidback vibe to it, fitting for film and the industry."

Laidback or not, the days and nights of September 11 through 14 is still packed with excellent films, great parties, and many other special events. The schedule of all events as well as details on transportation and accommodations is available at the Film Festival's website,

Festival co-directors Richard Paradise and Nevette Previd have selected over thirty feature, short, and documentary films for this year's festival. Overall excellence was the main criteria, but also how well a film reflects the ongoing festival theme of "Other Places." On one level, as Previd puts it, "the concept of our festival is simple. Great global films, world music, and spectacular events, all on a beautiful island." But there's even more, adds Paradise. "Our mission is to shine a light on different cultures and places. Having an appreciation of others' hopes, dreams, lives makes us better global citizens."

Films chosen for the festival are almost all major award winners, and come from Europe, Central Europe, Asia, Africa, as well as North America. In addition to the movies, attendees will have daily opportunities for discussions with the creators of the showcased films as well as time to simply enjoy being on the Island. "They don't begin screening films until the afternoon, so you have the mornings to enjoy the Island-to get lost in its beauty," says producer Jared Goldman. The festival is centered on the main Island town of Vineyard Haven, with all major events within an easy stroll of the ferry and Main Street.
Among the films to be shown is REPISE, the winner of 12 international awards including the Discovery Award at Toronto International Film Festival; The Sundance favorite FLOW: FOR LOVE OF WATER and KASSIM THE DREAM, which premiered at Tribeca and won a Silverdocs award, are two other film bound to draw crowds, as is PERSEPOLIS, the acclaimed Iranian animated film. Other chosen films are My Winnipeg, Guy Maddin's award-winner, and the Israeli MEDUZOT (JELLYFISH), winner of the Camera D'Or at Cannes.

Japan is well represented this year. The winner of a dozen awards in the past year, BUSHI NO ICHIBUN (LOVE AND HONOR) is the concluding film in director Yoji Yamada's acclaimed Samurai trilogy. There are two French entries: LES CHANSONS D'AMOUR (LOVES SONGS), the story of three lovers in Paris, has received four awards and raves for its musical score.  HORS DE PRIX (PRICELESS) stars the enchanting Audrey Tautou (of AMELIE and DA VINCI CODE fame) as a modern day Holly Golightly. Two Italian entries are MIO FRATELLO É FIGLIO UNICO (MY BROTHER IS AN ONLY CHILD) and L'ORCHESTRA DI PIAZZA VITTORIO, the true story of a music lover who draws on Rome's immigrant community and creates a fabulous world music band.

The category of documentary films is particularly rich this year. The films to be screened include BEYOND THE CALL, the story of some modern-day knights in shining armor who travel the world to deliver aid; it's racked up over 30 festival awards already. BLINDSIGHT follows a group of blind monks as they scale Mt. Everest. THE LISTENING PROJECT, a captivating cinematic journey around the world in search of the meaning of America . National Geographic returns this year with four shorts from its ALL ROADS FILM PROJECT, which supports the work of filmmakers from indigenous or under-represented minority cultures. The tumultuous making of a Bollywood film is captured in SHOT IN BOMBAY, directed by Liz Mermin, who also did the festival hit BEAUTY ACADEMY OF KABUL.

Famed animator BILL PLYMPTON, a fan of the festival from year one, declared last year, "I'm telling all my animator friends in New York City-this is really a rock-in festival!" True to his word, Plympton returns this fall with some animator buddies and a program of animation shorts he curated, drawn from the works of animators from around the globe. (He also designed this year's festival poster, which is sure to become a collector's item.)

"Films are just the beginning," notes Previd. In addition to the popular nightly parties and the gallery walk, two new events are "Destination MV" and "REEL FOOD MV." The local Trustees of Reservations is this year's festival partner and "Destination MV" sponsor. Trustees specialists will be on hand to help festival-goers explore the Vineyard's exquisite and remote Cape Pogue Wildlife Refuge (and among other things offer expert suggestions on where the best fishing might be).
The second new feature of the festival is "REEL FOODS MV," a very special reserved-seating dinner created SALTWATER, the new hip Vineyard Haven restaurant with spectacular salt pond views. The menu will feature locally grown produce, meats, seafood, and produce. Dinner includes private screenings of some of the international shorts presented at the festival and a ticket to the after-party at Che Lounge.

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