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MV International Film Festival wrappped

Up & Away! Attendance Climbs at 6th Annual MV International Film Festival; New Film Center Is Next Project
September 20, 2011 (Vineyard Haven, MA)-It's a wrap! The sixth annual Martha's Vineyard International Film Festival, organized and executed by the all-volunteer Martha's Vineyard Film Society, packed over 30 films from 6 continents into 4 vibrant days. "The festival grows each year," says Society founder and Festival director Richard Paradise. "We're still counting but we sold an estimated 3,500 tickets for the movies and parties. Overall we saw a 12 percent increase in overall box office-and that's with no increase in individual ticket prices for the past three years. Pretty exciting!"

This year eight directors attended the festival, including Aaron Schrock (CIRCO), Sally Rowe (A MATTER OF TASTE), Bill Plympton (ANIMATION SPECTACULAR), and Alrick Brown (KINYARWANDA). They held Q&As after their screenings and sat in on other films, and mingled with newfound fans on the street and at the parties.
Also attending was director Ahmed Ahmed, a professional comedian touring with the Axis of Evil Comedy Tour. His JUST LIKE US, which opened the festival, follows a comedy show through Dubai, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt. Mr. Ahmed also attended an "encore" screening on the last day of the festival. "We always re-screen the opening night film on the last day of the festival," said Mr. Paradise, "but this is the first time the encore screening nearly sold out. We had a handful of tickets left." Attendees who visited the box office after the show raved about the film and about the personable Mr. Ahmed, who was stopped repeatedly on the street and thanked for his effort to eliminate the barrier of suspicion that divides Westerners and Middle Easterners. One fan said Mr. Ahmed should be a diplomat. Another, who came to the box office in search of a memento-a ticket stub, a poster-praised it as a mind-changing film. "So many people lump them [Arabs] all together with terrorists. But they're, like the title says, just like us!"
New this year was the participation of THE FLEDGLING FUND, a philanthropic organization based in New York and headed by Diana Barrett whose mission is to improve the lives of the vulnerable through innovative media projects. Three Fledgling Fund-sponsored films were screened at the festival: CONNECTED, BAG IT, and MADE IN INDIA.
For the second year, the festival sponsored a SHORT FILM COMPETITION with a $500 cash first prize. Over 200 filmmakers entered. The 10 finalists, from eight different countries, was chosen by an expert panel of judges that included last year's winner Luke Matheny (GOD OF LOVE), who last year went from the MVIFF to win an Oscar. This year's winner was Iranian filmmaker Saba Riazi. Her THE WIND IS BLOWING ON MY STREET was shot in Teheran; Ms. Riazi, currently a graduate student at NYU, will serve as a judge at the 2012 Short Film Competition.

Award-winning food expert and best-selling author Steven Raichlen was on hand to introduce the closing night film, THE TRIP. It stars Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon as a pair of professional comedians who take an assignment from a British magazine to tour the UK's finest restaurant. The "mockumentary" is a combination road picture, foodie film, and stand-up act, with Coogan and Brydon discussing life, love, and what makes a perfect Michael Caine impression. It was an upbeat note on which to end a festival whose films covered all genres and evoked every imaginable mood.

In addition to the packed screenings, moviegoers flooded to the parties: opening night the Afro Beat Project (featuring Entrain drummer Tom Major) brought the lighted tent on the grounds of Saltwater Restaurant alive. Attendees enjoyed passed hors d'oeuvre and waters, wine, beer, and vodka donated by the festival's sponsors. Saltwater also served up a delicious four-course meal at the Friday night Reel Food filmmaker dinner. Friday and Saturday's late-night parties were at the beautifully exotic Festival Lounge on Main Street where the drinks and food flowed and a DJ played world music. On closing night, film fans packed the Vineyard Marina, where they chatted about their favorite films and enjoyed the bluegrass acoustic sounds of Ballyhoo.
With another successful fest behind them, Mr. Paradise, the MVFS board, and an ever-energetic corps of volunteers are taking a very short break before tackling their biggest project ever: raising capitol to fit out the new Martha's Vineyard Film Center. Last week, festival attendees were able to examine architectural plans. "Now it's time to make those beautiful drawings a reality," says Mr. Paradise.

Mr. Paradise credited the 50+ volunteers and the vital support of all the festival's sponsors-Amtrak, Aqua Panna, Boisset America, Boston Herald, Cape Air, Center for Therapeutic Massage, Delegation du Quebec-Boston, Eurochannel, Festival Genius, The Fledgling Fund, Imagine Magazine, IndieFlix, KinderUSA, Mansion House Inn, Martha's Vineyard Chamber, Martha's Vineyard Productions, Martha's Vineyard Savings Bank, MV Cultural Council, Massachusetts Cultural Council, Mass Vacations, MVY Radio,, MV Patch, MV Permanent Endowment, The Point Way Inn, the Martha's Vineyard Times, MVTV, Net Result, Saltwater Restaurant, San Pellegrino, Stella Artois, SeaStreak, Stina Sayre Design,, Tisberry, Tisbury Business Association, Triple Eight Vodka, Vineyard Gazette, Water View Homes, NPR's WCAI-for making the event possible.


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