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Martha s Vineyard International Film Festival


Combining the laidback beach style of the island of Martha’s Vineyard with the buzz and excitement of a festival celebrating films from across the globe - The Martha’s Vineyard International Film Festival is an amazing experience not to be missed.

Four days filled with the best feature and short films from top-notch festivals such as Sundance, Berlin and Cannes (with a few undiscovered gems thrown in!), great evening events, provocative forums and live world music - all within the ‘Walking Festival District’. And don’t forget – Martha’s Vineyard has some of the most beautiful beaches in America.

The recurring theme of the annual Martha's Vineyard International Film Festival is "Other Places"; the festival's purpose is to encourage attendees to think broadly (about how huge the world of film is) and deeply (about the universal concerns and desires that unite all people). About 90% of all film selections are non-US productions, helping to fulfill the festival mission of promoting cross-cultural understanding through film.

The International Film Festival is produced by the Martha's Vineyard Film Society, a 501 c3 non-profit corporation. Our festival is completely run by volunteers and greatly appreciates your support.
Combining the laidback beach style of the island of Martha’s Vineyard with the buzz and excitement of a festival celebrating films from across the globe - The Martha’s Vineyard International Film Festival is an amazing experience not to be missed.

Four days filled with the best feature and short films from top-notch festivals such as Sundance, Berlin and Cannes (with a few undiscovered gems thrown in!), great evening events, provocative forums and live world music - all within the ‘Walking Festival District’. And don’t forget – Martha’s Vineyard has some of the most beautiful beaches in America.

The recurring theme of the annual Martha's Vineyard International Film Festival is "Other Places"; the festival's purpose is to encourage attendees to think broadly (about how huge the world of film is) and deeply (about the universal concerns and desires that unite all people). About 90% of all film selections are non-US productions, helping to fulfill the festival mission of promoting cross-cultural understanding through film.

The International Film Festival is produced by the Martha's Vineyard Film Society, a 501 c3 non-profit corporation. Our festival is completely run by volunteers and greatly appreciates your support.
Combining the laidback beach style of the island of Martha’s Vineyard with the buzz and excitement of a festival celebrating films from across the globe - The Martha’s Vineyard International Film Festival is an amazing experience not to be missed.

Four days filled with the best feature and short films from top-notch festivals such as Sundance, Berlin and Cannes (with a few undiscovered gems thrown in!), great evening events, provocative forums and live world music - all within the ‘Walking Festival District’. And don’t forget – Martha’s Vineyard has some of the most beautiful beaches in America.

The recurring theme of the annual Martha's Vineyard International Film Festival is "Other Places"; the festival's purpose is to encourage attendees to think broadly (about how huge the world of film is) and deeply (about the universal concerns and desires that unite all people). About 90% of all film selections are non-US productions, helping to fulfill the festival mission of promoting cross-cultural understanding through film.

The International Film Festival is produced by the Martha's Vineyard Film Society, a 501 c3 non-profit corporation. Our festival is completely run by volunteers and greatly appreciates your support.

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Film In Focus: Jonestown--Life and Death of the Peoples Temple

Friday, September 15---One of the key human tragedies and human mysteries of the 1970s was the mass suicide of 900 followers of the Peoples Temple, a fundamentalist group that originated in San Francisco and eventually moved into refuge in Guyana. The group's charismatic leader, Jim Jones, was a true enigma....a spiritual leader of immense charisma who had an amazing hold over his followers. Why hundreds of them were willing to commit mass suicide on his orders is one of the mysteries explored in the film JONESTOWN: The Life and Death of the Peoples Temple, which has a special screening this evening at the Martha's Vineyard International Film Festival.

Director Stanley Nelson, who is at the Festival, leads a discussion on the film just prior to the screening. His film, which features never-before-seen audio and videotapes of the communal life and death of the cult group, brings a chilling immediacy to a story that is still as haunting and perplexing as when it was revealed nearly thirty years ago.

On November 18, 1978, over 900 members of Peoples Temple died in the largest mass suicide/murder in history. What drew so many people across racial and class lines to this utopian religious cult? How could a diverse group of 900 people be convinced to commit mass suicide? What was a California congregation doing in the jungles of Guyana? What was the behind the power of the group's leader Jim Jones, that he commanded such loyalty that parents would murder their own children?

Nelson's film uses archival footage that traces the rise of the Temple in San Francisco and eventually to the remote jungles of Guyana in South America. Unearthing television interviews and news footage of the enigmatic Jim Jones, the film explores how this born-again spiritual leader's mission to create a utopian society attracted a mix of white hippies, black congregants and other spiritual seekers.

Equally rivetting are present-day interviews with the few survivors who recall the hellish moments when parents forced fed cyanide-laced Kool Aid to their own children, before taking their own lives in an orgy of death and violence. With religious fundamentalism again on the rise and influencing everything from Presidential politics to public education, this cautious tale of religious extremism is particularly relevant.

The film, which is a strong contender for a Best Documentary Oscar this year, had its premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival in April and also screened at the Silverdocs Documentary Film Festival in Washington DC in June. It will have a limited theatrical release in October via documentary distributor 7th Art Releasing, before its television premiere in the American Experience series on PBS.

Stanley Nelson

Stanley Nelson, who will be present at tonight's screening, is an accomplished documentarian with a particular interest in unearthing mysteries from the recent past to bring about a new perspective that comments on the issues of today. His award-winning THE MURDER OF EMMETT TILL (2003), examines one of the famously unsolved murder mysteries of the civil rights era. His 2004 film A PLACE OF OUR OWN details the history of Martha's Vineyard's own Oak Bluffs, as one of the few sanctuaries and summer resorts for African Americans.

JONESTOWN: The Life and Death of Peoples Temple screens tonight at 7:00pm at the Vineyard Playhouse.


Sandy Mandelberger
Festivals Editor

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About Martha s Vineyard International Film Festival

Paradise Richard
(Martha's Vineyard International Film Festival)

Online Dailies of the Martha's Vineyard International Film Festival

Vineyard Haven

United States



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