The Woods Hole Film Festival, which runs from July 27 to August 3 at seven venues in Woods Hole and Falmouth, will offer a diverse mixture of narratives, documentaries and animation submitted from around the globe, from Cape Cod to Poland. More than half the films are by first-time filmmakers and more than 120 filmmakers will attend their screenings, with an unprecedented 15 festival alumni returning with their latest films.
As one of the oldest film festivals in New England, the festival was an early leader in promoting the films and careers of emerging, independent filmmakers. The festival’s three hallmarks—science, music and short film programs—are well-represented this year. The Bringing Science to the Screen program alone includes 20 films about everything from scientific breakthroughs to science fiction. Given the current political climate, there are also several films about refugees and immigrants, as well as LGBTQI/A issues. This year also introduces a new category not generally found at film festivals: animal “makeovers.”
The festival received nearly 1,000 submissions from around the world, eventually narrowing the field down to 54 feature length and 110 short films. The programming will include the world premieres of two feature films and 10 short films.
The festival quite literally “takes off” at 2 PM in Lillie Auditorium with "Float," a documentary directed by Phil Kibbe that follows the tumultuous journey of two American competitors as they prepare for and compete at the F1 World Championships, the world’s most elite model airplane contest. Other feature length film highlights each day include:
Saturday, July 27: “Safe Spaces,” directed by Daniel Schechter, stars Justin Long and Fran Drescher in a comedy about a New York professor who spends a week reconnecting with his family while defending his reputation over controversial behavior at his college. Jeff Daniels wrote and stars in “Guest Artist,” directed by Timothy Busfield and produced by Melissa Gilbert. Mr. Daniels plays a legendary but troubled playwright who comes to a small Michigan town to mount his latest play. New Haven, Connecticut-based filmmaker and festival alum Gorman Bechard’s labor of love, “Pizza, A Love Story,” portrays New Haven’s three colorful and legendary pizza restaurants.
Sunday, July 28: Harry Mavromichalis delivers a portrait of Oscar-winning, nonagenarian actress (and Massachusetts native) Olympia Dukakis in “Olympia.” Festival alum Michael Barnett returns with his latest documentary, “Changing the Game,” which follows three transgender high school competitive athletes trying to live life as their most authentic selves. “Kids Day” features the premieres of four short documentary films, three of which are part of the Bringing Science to the Screen program.
Monday, July 29: Duxbury native Graham Dubose directs “The Last Beyond,” a coming of age story set in Depression-era Montana. Bill Lichtenstein’s “WBCN and the American Revolution” uncovers the previously untold story of the early days of WBCN-FM—founded as a radical, underground radio station.
Tuesday, July 30: Woody Harrelson narrates “Jim Allison: Breakthrough,” a documentary by Bill Haney that profiles the eponymous Nobel scientist’s groundbreaking discovery of the immune system’s role in defeating cancer. “It Started as a Joke,” Julie Smith Clem’s record of the Eugene Mirman Comedy Festival’s decade-long run, celebrates the Lexington-bred comic's role in the alternative comedy movement. “Greener Grass,” directed by and starring Jocelyn DeBoer and Dawn Luebbe, features a multitude of current and former "Saturday Night Live" cast members in an absurdist satire about middle-class envy.
Wednesday, July 31: "Human Nature," directed by Adam Bolt and executive produced by Dan Rather, asks how far we should go with CRISPR, the revolutionary gene editing tool that gives us the power to change what it means to be human. Director Sam Friedlander teams up once again with Mark Feuerstein in “Babysplitters,” a comedy about two couples who hatch a plan to have and share one baby.
Thursday, August 1: Robert Jury’s “Working Man” stars Talia Shire, Peter Gerety and Billy Brown. When a factory closure threatens a small Rust Belt town, an older factory worker continues to go to his former job every day—with an unexpected result. Boston filmmaker Andrew Gibson’s feature debut, “Gutterbug,” trails a young, down-and-out crust punk named Bug, trying to find his way home through the mean streets of Allston.
Friday, August 2: Filmmaker and friend Nick Mead profiles the more spiritual side of Bruce Springsteen’s saxophonist in “Clarence Clemons: Who Do I Think I Am?” Erin Derham’s “Stuffed” explores the diverse subculture of taxidermy, where sculptors must also be scientists, seeing life where others only see death (6:45 PM).
Saturday, August 3: “Autonomy,” a documentary by Alex Horwitz about the human side of the emerging technology that will power self-driving vehicles, is on tap. “Bluebird” is director Brian Loschiavo’s love letter to the Bluebird Café, Nashville's accidental landmark that has altered the course of music history and launched many careers.
Tickets to the festival can be purchased as an all-inclusive VIP All Access Pass ($500), a full festival pass ($250), ticket packages, and individual ticket sales.
Parking at meters in Woods Hole is free after 6 PM. Ticketholders are allowed to park at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution’s lot on School Street after 5 PM on weekdays and on weekends, and at the NOAA Fisheries lot on Saturday and Sunday.