It's true that the first two words that come to many people's mind when they hear "Woods Hole" are "Vineyard ferry," not "film festival." But for 16 years, the folks behind the Woods Hole Film Festival, which starts Saturday, have been providing a boatload of reasons for film lovers to truck out to this western most tip of Cape Cod beyond catching the ferry to Martha's Vineyard.
This year there are eight days of reasons, including attendance by more than 60 filmmakers, a master class on directing with Sam Weisman ("George of the Jungle"), another on documentary making with Les Blank, panel discussions on survival strategies for independent producers and the challenges of delivering video over the Internet, a Green Building Expo for tips on making your house more eco-friendly, and, of course, the movies.
Things get off the ground Saturday by getting into the water, with a screening of the 1971 documentary "Blue Water, White Death." I can remember being equal parts fascinated and terrified when the movie first came out by the sight of the deep-sea divers, lowered into the ocean depths in cages to capture underwater footage of the great white shark -- the divers nearly getting turned into human chum in the process. The film's co-director Jim Lipscomb and sound director, Stuart Cody, and marine biologist Eugenie Clark will talk about the movie afterward , and the aluminum cages the photographers used, still showing their battering by the sharks, will be on display.
Some of the 33 other feature-length films include "Road," Leslie McCleave's trippy tale of a freelance photographer (Catherine Kellner ) traveling with her ex-boyfriend (Ebon Moss-Bachrach , who jointly won the LA Film Festival's Outstanding Performance award with Kellner) to photograph toxic waste sites, and the surreal folks they come in contact with (including James Urbaniak as a spooky park ranger) on Aug. 2 at 6 p.m. , and "The Dhamma Brothers," a documentary about maximum-security prisoners who take up Vipassana meditation, by Boston-area filmmakers Jenny Phillips, Andrew Kukura, and Anne-Marie Stein, on Aug. 3 at 7 p.m.
On Aug. 4, Boston-born, Arlington-based writer/director Dave McLaughlin will close the festival at 8 p.m. with his made-in-Boston "On Broadway," which stars Joey McIntyre as a playwright who stages a reading at a pub. Eliza Dushku, Amy Poehler, and Will Arnett are also featured, and Bill Janovitz of the band Buffalo Tom composed the music. The movie sold out its screening at the Independent Film Festival of Boston last April.
In all, there are 124 films: 34 feature-length narrative films and documentaries and nine collections of short films. Shows take place at the Redfield and Lillie Auditoriums , Old Woods Hole Fire Station, Coffee Obsession cafe , Pie in the Sky restaurant, and Marine Biological Laboratory's Waterfront Park. Remember that parking in Woods Hole is horrendous, so consult the festival's website for your best options if you drive down. For schedule and other information, go to woodsholefilmfestival.org or call 508-495-3456.
FRENCH FEST CONTINUING: If you liked the premise but not the execution of the recent Hugh Grant/Drew Barrymore snooze-fest "Music and Lyrics," you might want to check out "Voisins Voisines" at the Museum of Fine Arts today. Malik Chabane's 2005 movie is about a rap musician who has only a couple of days to come up with new lyrics. Could his new neighbors in a housing complex just outside Paris provide the inspiration that he needs? The Magic 8 ball says signs point to oui. The film is part of the ongoing Boston French Film Festival and co-presented by the Boston Jewish Film Festival. It plays at 5:30 p.m. today (617-267-9300 and mfa.org/film).
PUNK ROCK DOC WAVE CONTINUES: Susan Dynner grew up on punk rock in Washington, D.C. She attended shows as a teenager and brought her camera, photographing Minor Threat, Black Flag, GBH, and The UK Subs. All that must have been good training for the movie business, because she went on to work for production companies and ended up, she says, working with Charlie Sheen and Nick Cassavettes.
Her first film as director and producer is called "Punk's Not Dead" and opens Friday at the Brattle Theatre and runs through the following Monday. As with similar movies, including "The Decline of Western Civilization," "The Filth and the Fury," and "American Hardcore," it uses interviews and performance footage to ask whether punk's nonconformist essence has been killed after so many years of being commoditized. Dynner's answer is in the film's title. As one commentator says: "You can't kill something that doesn't have a single definition" (617-876-6837 and brattlefilm.org).
SCREENINGS OF NOTE: "The Great Race" plays on an outdoor screen on the great lawn of the Larz Anderson Auto Museum in Brookline tomorrow at 8 p.m. as part of the Coolidge Corner's "Stars and Cars at Larz" series (coolidge.org/starscars) . . . the Brattle is hosting a celebration of animation from around the world on Thursdays for the rest of the summer, starting this week with 1973 's "Fantastic Planet" . . . today at 11 a.m. and next Saturday at 10:30 a.m., the MFA presents a free screening of Carroll Moore's 2007 documentary "Edward Hopper," a half-hour profile of the artist, narrated by Steve Martin.
Leslie Brokaw can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.