Over 110 films from 19 Countries Chosen to Screen at the 32nd Woods Hole Film Festival
Hybrid festival includes workshops, a master class with the Filmmaker-in-Residence, panel discussions & parties
July 29-August 5, 2023
The Woods Hole Film Festival, the oldest film festival on the Cape and Islands, marks its 32nd year from Saturday, July 29, through Saturday, August 5, with 45 feature length and 66 short films culled from more than 1000 submissions (with 5 world, 3 North American, and 1 US premieres). Films are by both first-time and veteran filmmakers and almost evenly divided between women and men directors. Like previous years, many films fall into the festival’s hallmark categories: New England ties, music, and science (in conjunction with the Festival’s “Bringing Science to the Screen” program). And, before the Festival help us kick-off the Festival on Thursday, July 27th at a special screening of the award-winning documentary film GOING TO MARS: THE NIKKI GIOVANNI PROJECT at 7:30 pm at Redfield Auditorium.
This year films also assemble around topics such as women, immigrants, science and music.
Besides the daily film screenings followed by Q&A’s with filmmakers, this year also includes the festival’s legendary workshops, a master class with Filmmaker-in-Residence Allison Otto (The Thief Collector), panel discussions, parties featuring live music, and an awards ceremony. Films screen in person at Redfield Auditorium and Cornelia Clapp Auditorium (formerly Lillie), in Woods Hole, and the Simon Center for the Arts and Morse Hall at Falmouth Academy, and most films will also be available to stream on the Festival’s virtual platform from August 6-13. Panels and workshops will be held in the Woods Hole Community Hall
Opening Day Films
In addition to a program of short films, opening day includes a selection from practically all of the festival’s thematic streams. Everybody Wants to Be Loved, German director Katharina Woll’s feature debut about a psychotherapist who puts the needs of those around her ahead of her own, has been called a cross between You Hurt My Feelings and Sometimes I Feel Like Dying. Patrick and the Whale by first-time filmmaker Mark Fletcher, is about Patrick Dykstra, who sacrifices everything in his single-minded quest to connect with and understand one of the biggest creatures in the ocean (part of the “Bringing Science to the Screen” program). Christine Yoo’s debut feature, 26.2 to Life, explores the transformative power of San Quentin State Prison’s 1000 Mile Club, in which elite marathoners coach incarcerated men for an annual marathon that takes place behind prison walls. In the British-set A Kind of Kidnapping, D.G. Clark’s narrative feature debut, a young, broke couple kidnap a corrupt politician who decides he can spin the story to his own advantage. The day ends with Somewhere Quiet, Olivia West Lloyd’s feature debut set in Cape Cod about a woman adjusting to life after a brutal kidnapping, and Karen Carpenter: Starving for Perfection, director Randy Martin’s profile of the singer’s tragically short life forty years after her death, featuring commentary from Belinda Carlisle, Kristen Chenoweth, Carol Burnett, Olivia Newton-John and others.
New England Ties
Besides Somewhere Quiet on opening day, several films showcase New England cast and crew members, were shot in New England, or both! Three-time Tony-winning playwright and director James Lapine (Into the Woods, Falsettos, Passion) spent six years periodically interviewing poet, journalist, human rights activist—and William Styron’s widow—Rose Styron, over lunch resulting in In the Company of Rose. Festival co-founder and Belmont, MA native Kate Davis returns with her latest documentary, Locked Out, co-directed by Luchina Fisher, about the widening racial gap in home ownership, especially for women of color. In her feature film debut, Woman in the Mirror, Boston University film professor Tatyana Bronstein profiles Alexandra Koltun, a former principal with the Kirov Ballet who defected to the US due to anti-Semitism and lack of personal freedom, and became a principal ballerina with the Boston Ballet and founder of her own dance school in Watertown. Cape Cod-bred Joshua Koopman, who has starred in and directed numerous films at the festival, primarily set in New England, stars in the Milwaukee-set comedy Earlybird, Martin Kaszubowski’s feature debut about a desperate theater owner who resuscitates his struggling business with off-the-wall production. Connecticut resident Erik Bloomquist’s horror flick, Intermedium, and Boston-based Mark Kiefer’s feature debut (whose previous three short films have all screened at the festival) Pacific Coast, round out the New England contingent.
Music at the Festival
This year there is a bumper crop of films about music from the 60’s, 70s, and 80s. Besides the Karen Carpenter documentary, fans of 70’s music will enjoy Bolan’s Shoes, directed by Ian Puleston-Davies and featuring Timothy Spall, based on a true story about a tumultuous journey from the height of T. Rex mania in 1970s Liverpool to the present-day poignancy of what would have been the band’s guitarist, Marc Bolan’s, 75th birthday. Jay Schlossberg’s feature documentary debut, Feast Your Ears: The Story of WHFS 102.3, also takes a trip back to the era surrounding the ’70s when “free form” progressive FM radio was in its heyday in America with a film about the legendary Washington, DC-area station that was the voice of a generation. Other films about music include: Ron Carter: Finding the Right Notes by Peter Schnall, about the jazz luminary who’s the most recorded bassist in history; Dusty & Stone, the feature debut by Jesse Rudoy about two cousins trying to sustain a country music career in the tiny African kingdom of Eswatini, who are unexpectedly nominated to compete in a Texas battle of the bands; and Maestra, Maggie Contreras’s feature debut about five women from around the world, who are boldly breaking the glass ceiling in the male-dominated world of orchestral conducting. And, three of the Festival’s evening parties will include live music by the Cape-based band ARLO, solo jazz artist Julian Loida and blues music by the Willie J. Laws Band.
Bringing Science to the Screen
Two films in the festival’s “Bringing Science to the Screen” program present variations on the space exploration documentary. The Artist & the Astronaut, Bill Muench’s feature debut, tells the unlikely love story between artist and civil rights activist Pat Musick and Apollo astronaut Jerry Carr, who together render some of America’s most enduring art. It includes never-before-seen footage of the early space pioneers and interviews with key figures from that era. In The Space Race by Academy Award-nominated director Lisa Cortés and Diego Hurtado de Mendoza, the first Black astronaut candidate chosen by JFK to walk on the moon may never have left Earth, yet his story uncovered the little-known ones of the first Black pilots, engineers and scientists to become astronauts and the obstacles that impacted their trajectory. Patrol by Brad Allgood and Camilo de Castro follows indigenous rangers who join forces with an American conservationist and undercover journalists to expose the dark world of conflict beef conducted by illegal cattle ranchers who are decimating large swaths of rainforest in Nicaragua.
Each year there are always a couple of films about immigrants and immigration. This year there are six (which includes the previously mentioned Woman in the Mirror), reflecting the growing concern about attitudes toward immigrants and solutions to the problems and opportunities they present. Three films are about immigrants and their relationships to their homelands or hometowns. Know Your Place, Zia Mohajerjasbi’s moving narrative feature debut about a 15 year-old Eritrean-American boy and his best friend living in Seattle, who embark on a journey to drop off a suitcase full of medicine and cash with a friend traveling back to Eritrea because of a family member’s sudden illness (the film won both Best Film and the Grand Jury Prize at the most recent Seattle International Film Festival). Similarly, in Cayley So’s The Harvest, an estranged son living in San Francisco, who finds cultural traditions a burden of the past, returns to Southern California to help his ailing and traditional Hmong father after a car accident. Syrian-born, Canadian documentary filmmaker Noura Kevourkian won a Peabody Award for Batata, which was made to commemorate the 10th anniversary year of the civil war in Syria. It follows a woman and her family of Syrian migrant workers who find themselves unable to return to their hometown. Unique among the numerous refugee stories to date, it captures an entire decade while documenting not just the age-old conflict between two nations, but the unbending spirit of a woman who puts family ahead of all else. In Set Fernandez’s feature documentary debut Unseen, an aspiring social worker must confront political restrictions as a blind, undocumented immigrant to get his college degree and support his family. Interestingly, the film has an “audio play” and immersive VR component to make it as accessible as possible to audiences with disabilities. Finally, Canadian filmmaker Katharine Jerkovic’s Coyote, portrays how an immigrant’s plans for a new beginning are put on hold with the arrival of a grandchild he never knew he had.
The festival also offers opportunities for learning and discussion. Filmmaker-in-Residence Allison Otto, whose documentary feature The Thief Collector screened last year and whose The Love Bugs won the festival’s Audience Award for best documentary short in 2013, will lead a master class on July 31 at noon., Staff from the film-centric crowdfunding and SVOD platform Seed&Spark will lead three workshops: film budgeting on July 31 at 2 PM, crowdfunding on August 1 at noon, and short form distribution on August 1 at 1:30 PM. The final workshop is Steve Young’s popular “Comedy on the Page – And Even on the Stage” on August 3, 4 and 5th. There are two panel discussions: “How to Market Your Film” presented by Women in Film & Video/New England on August 3 at 2 PM, and a panel The Role of Film Critics in the Age of Artificial Intelligence and Streaming on August 4 at 2 PM.
The festival is supported by grants from the Mass Cultural Council, Cape Cod 5, Martha’s Vineyard Savings Bank Charitable Foundation, Woods Hole Foundation, Arts Foundation of Cape Cod, the Falmouth Fund of the Cape Cod Foundation, the Falmouth Cultural Council and YouthInk. Festival sponsors include Innerglow Yoga, mvyradio, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Marine Biological Laboratory, Falmouth Road Race, Boston Casting, Cape Clasp, Tree House Lodge, Sands of Time, Liam Maguires, The Independent Film School and more.
Individual tickets, which will be available for purchase July 1, are $16 and $12 for members. Ticket packages are available now and include: 10-pack for $150 ($110 members) and 6-pack for $90 ($70 members). In-person passes include: VIP All Access for $500 ($450 members); All Access for $350 ($270 members); and Festival Screenings Only for $300 ($220 members). Virtual passes are $130 for all films ($110 members) and $80 for short film programs ($70 members).Package holders can reserve individual tickets 10 days before they go on sale to the public at www.woodsholefilmfestival.org. Individual film, workshop, and panel discussion tickets range from $16-20 and will be available July 1. For more info, contact 508-495-3456 or firstname.lastname@example.org.