27thAnnual Woods Hole Film Festival: The spirit of independents

 The Woods Hole Film Festival begins its 27thyear on Saturday, July 28, running for eight jam-packed days through Saturday, August 4, at multiple venues in Woods Hole and Falmouth. The festival’s intimate environment and inspiring setting enables filmmakers and audiences from around the world to watch films together experience and to engage in thought-provoking and meaningful conversations.

As the oldest film festival on Cape Cod and the Islands and one of the oldest in New England, the Woods Hole Film Festival was an early leader in promoting the films and careers of emerging, independent filmmakers, especially those with ties to New England and Cape Cod and the Islands. The 52 feature length films (five world premieres and one US premiere) and 114 short films (19 world premieres) offer a diverse and exciting mixture of narratives, documentaries, and animation, submitted everywhere from Falmouth and Fitchburg to Afghanistan and Australia. Many are by first-time filmmakers, and in keeping with the festival’s focus, there are a number of films with New England connections. Several festival alumni are also returning with their newest films.

“We received nearly 1000 submissions from around the world and shaped an eight day program that will appeal to a broad audience.” says Founder and Director Judy Laster. “We are committed to supporting emerging independent filmmakers, and whenever possible, films about science, given our location in the scientific community of Woods Hole.”

Starting in 1991 with an hour of five short films curated by Judy Laster and award-winning filmmaker Kate Davis (whose latest HBO documentary, Say Her Name: The Life and Death of Sandra Bland screens this year), the festival now runs for eight days and includes master classes by a Filmmaker-in-Residence, as well as panel discussions led by special guests. There are also parties nearly every night following the screenings, featuring a broad mix of music by top notch musicians.

“The best way to go to a film festival is with an open mind,” advises Laster. “The joy of discovery is what makes a festival an exciting and unique experience.”

Screenings takes place at five different venues, the majority of which are within walking distance of one another. The venues include the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution’s Redfield Auditorium (45 Water Street), the Marine Biological Laboratory’s Lillie Auditorium (7 MBL Street), the Old Woods Hole Fire Station (72 Water Street), and the Woods Hole Community Hall (68 Water Street) in Woods Hole, and Falmouth Academy (7 Highfield Drive) in Falmouth. The post-screening parties take place at The Captain Kidd Restaurant and Bar, The 41-70, and The Landfall Restaurant in Woods Hole, and Grumpy’s Pub in Falmouth.

This year’s program is one of the Festival’s most diverse. There are comedies, dramas, horror/thrillers, documentaries, and animation about everything from science innovation and science fiction to wild horses and wild adventures. Panel discussions focus on the role of the film critic in a changing media landscape, science and storytelling for social impact, thriving in the independent film industry through short form storytelling and mobile filmmaking, and first-person documentary films. A master class about making music documentaries will be led by this year’s Filmmaker-in-Residence, John Edginton (see “The Music Man”). A  workshop will also be held on visual effects by Adam Howard (Titanic, Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith, Rush Hour 3, Star Trek: The Next Generation) one of the industry’s most prolific practitioners. The live music interwoven throughout the Festival ranges from punk to blues, and everything in between. There are also two special programs for children. There is something for everyone!

As an added bonus this yearthe Film Festival Alliance, a nonprofit organization that develops and fosters collaboration among mission-driven film festivals around the world, will convene one of their regional roundtables during the first three days of the festival. Some of the country’s top film festival programmers will participate in a discussion where they will share their insights and explain how they can help filmmakers find an audience for their films.

The Woods Hole Film Festival makes it all possible for you to see these stimulating and distinctive films by filmmakers who spend years to bring you their films. You may never have the chance to experience them on a big screen with an audience anywhere else in the area again.

“The festival features practically every movie genre imaginable, making it fulfilling and meaningful for everyone,” concludes Laster.“No matter how you look at it, you’re sure to have a memorable experience.”

To see the entire film lineup and to buy tickets visit woodsholefilmfestival.org or call (508) 495-3456 or email info@woodsholefimfestival.org.