Woods Hole Film Festival: Four Short Films

July 28, 2011

A scene from Morning Copy

The Woods Hole Film Festival 2011 opens Saturday, July 30, and runs through Saturday, August 6: eight days of feature length and short films, workshops, classes, parties, and live entertainment. For details, go to Woods Hole Film Festival.

For the past couple of weeks, I have had the pleasure of previewing films that will be shown at the festival. There are films for every interest, by emerging and independent filmmakers, some quite mainstream in style and others more experimental. There are documentaries, narratives, and personal stories. You can’t go too far wrong.

In this and the next several posts, I will share my review of the movies I have seen. If you have seen any of the films, I would love to hear what you think.

Let’s start with short films:

One of the unique things about film festivals is that they provide opportunities to see quirky, innovative, experimental, and otherwise non-mainstream short films. Here on the Cape, short films are simply not seen outside of film festivals.

Those who enjoy short films will have plenty to choose from at the Woods Hole Film Festival, which opens Saturday, July 30, and runs through Saturday, August 6. Fifty-eight short films will be shown in 10 short-film sessions. Kids Day, beginning at 2 PM on Saturday, August 6, offers an additional 13 shorts, 10 of them animations.

Several films are about Cape Cod and the Islands: “02543,” “Morning Copy,” “Patrimony,” and “Waves.”

For a complete schedule, visit http://www.woodsholefilmfestival.org. One may browse by date, type of film, or search for films by name. Additional information is available for each film, including stills, trailers, and, in one case (“Morning Copy”), the entire short film.

“02543,” to be shown on Tuesday, August 2, at 5 PM, in the Old Woods Hole Fire Station on Water Street, is a 12-minute documentary about Roger Gamache and the Woods Hole Post Office. It was produced and directed by Woods Hole documentary filmmaker Kristin Alexander, who was also the cinematographer and, with Ken Alexander, edited the film.

It is simple and direct, capturing the essence of Roger Gamache’s 20-year career with the Woods Hole Post Office (29 years in the postal service). Mr. Gamache sings a song he wrote about post office regulations, tells anecdotes about his mentor John (“Johnny Rotten) Klink, plays the bagpipes (he learned to play while he was working at the post office and went on to form the Brian Boru Pipe Band), and talks about the Stage Door Canteen, which he directs and plays saxophone in, every Thursday night at Liam Maguire’s Irish Pub & Restaurant in Falmouth.

Mr. Gamache graduated from Berklee College of Music in 1977, and took a post office job when his father suggested he needed something to fall back on. He ran the post office for many years single-handedly. Not too much intrigue here, but it is a nice, homey look at the Woods Hole community, and the Stage Door Canteen provides the swinging soundtrack.

“Morning Copy” will be screened on Friday, August 5, at 9 PM in the Woods Hole Community Hall. The 10-minute film shows two old men who live in the gingerbread cottage community in Oak Bluffs. Their story is told without words. The men speak, instead, through some expressive light, jazzy music, a clarinet representing one of the men, a trombone, the other. In this little vignette, the Vineyard Gazette is printed every day, and the two men vie to get the first copy of the paper as it comes hot off the presses.

Two local actors, Don Lyons and Leslie J. Stark, star, conveying volumes with their facial expressions. The photography is well-done, the music is wonderful, the scenery is lovely and familiar, and the storyline is heartwarming. The film was produced and directed by 20-something brothers Dan and Greg Martino of Martha’s Vineyard Productions.

“Patrimony” and “Waves” are both beautifully produced, with gorgeous scenes of their settings in Pocasset and Wellfleet, respectively. Both are debut films for their directors.

“Patrimony” will be screened Wednesday, August 3, at 7 PM, at the Old Woods Hole Fire Station. The 17-minute film stars Robert Vaughn and Melissa Errico, major Hollywood stars, but it was written and directed by first-time filmmaker Donald E. Marcus, a resident of Cataumet.

Mr. Marcus has long written and produced for theater and television, but this is his first venture into film. He decided to start small, with a short, to learn the ropes of film-making, before venturing, in the future, into feature films.

Mr. Vaughn plays an elderly man whose son has died, and Ms. Errico plays his son’s wife, who visits him at his spacious coastal estate. The two have never gotten along, and the death of the son/husband has introduced a new problem.

There is not enough back story here to convince one that the ending is logical and justified, but it is still a compelling film that raises interesting questions about family dynamics. And the scenery is exquisite.

“Waves,” 20 minutes long, will be shown Wednesday, August 3, at 5 PM, at the Old Woods Hole Fire Station. The film follows Norah Winslow, a young woman who has just graduated from New York University with a degree in journalism.

She fails to get a job at The New York Times, and she is rejected by graduate schools, despite her impressive credentials. So, she returns to Wellfleet, moves into her old house, gets her old part-time job at the Wellfleet Market, and takes up with her old boyfriend, who has never left his job at the market.

Director Emily Harrold, a film student at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, writes that she wanted to bring attention to the problems that college graduates are having finding jobs. While this film is an excellent effort for a team of young college students (they were freshmen when they made the film), it may not be as successful in conveying that message. Norah seems to have given up the job hunt rather soon after graduation, and it does not look like she even scouted out the local papers before settling into the grocery store job.

The film, however, like “Patrimony,” is professionally crafted and well worth a look. And do not forget the 67 other shorts. Chances are you will find some you might not understand or agree with, some that make you smile, some that teach you something, and a lot that will impress you with the talent and vision of the writers, directors, cast members, and technical teams involved.

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