Film fest finds a home

By Mark Shanahan & Meredith Goldstein
Globe Staff / August 17, 2011

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The Martha’s Vineyard International Film Festival has become an island attraction with year-round screenings, but for as long as it’s been running, it’s never had a home. “We’re kind of gypsies,’’ explained Richard Paradise, who founded the Martha’s Vineyard Film Society in 2003 and the September festival in 2006. But that will change next year when Paradise and island developer Sam Dunn turn the last retail space in Vineyard Haven’s Tisbury Marketplace into a cinema and gathering space. Paradise expects the project to be completed by next fall. “He’s going to build it and I’m going to pay rent,’’ Paradise said happily, joking that the festival will finally have a real home as opposed to just being “Richard Paradise with the equipment in the back of his truck.’’ Paradise, who lives in Falmouth, will have to raise $300,000 to cover the cost of projection equipment and improvements to the retail space. He said he’s collecting donations, and that naming rights are on the table for the theater, the concession stand, “even the bathrooms.’’ In the meantime, he’ll continue to show movies at local meeting spots. Last night, he welcomed director Margaret Whitton, who was scheduled to show her movie, “A Bird of the Air,’’ at the Union Chapel in Oak Bluffs. (Whitton, who played Michael J. Fox’s sexy aunt in “The Secret of My Success,’’ summers in Chilmark.) Paradise said that like the Katharine Cornell Theatre, where the festival screens films in the winter, the Union Chapel has been a fine venue for events, but that life will be easier when he isn’t competing with other organizations for rental space. “I have a passion for showing films and I want to show more of them.’’