Martha’s Vineyard Film Center’s FILMUSIC Festival returns

Now in its fifth year, the Martha’s Vineyard Film Center’s FILMUSIC Festival brings the Island six tuneful movies this weekend. The series starts Thursday, June 22, with an opening reception featuring live music and prosecco. The popular Berklee College of Music’s Silent Film Orchestra follows with live accompaniment to “The Freshman” (1925). Harold Lloyd plays a college freshman who joins the football team with comical results. The film was selected for inclusion in the National Film Registry.

Three music films will screen on Friday, June 23. Island guitarist Eric Johnson opens the evening at 6:30 pm when he will play in the lobby. The first film is “Deconstructing the Beatles: Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” a film recording of musicologist and Beatles expert Scott Freiman’s talk on the famous album, now 50 years old. “Best Worst Thing That Ever Could Have Happened” tells the story of how the Stephen Sondheim–Hal Prince musical “Merrily We Roll Along” bombed after it opened on Broadway in 1981. Not only was it beloved by its original performers, but it became a success when it was revived in 2012 with the same actors, now much older, including “Seinfeld’s” Jason Alexander. A haunting tale of love and murder, “I Called Him Morgan,” is Friday’s third film, and brings the inspired trumpet playing of Lee Morgan to the screen. Based on interviews with Morgan’s wife Helen, the film traces their love story to its tragic end in 1972.

The films scheduled for Saturday, June 24, begin with “Buena Vista Social Club — Adios.” While many of the original musicians have died since they performed in their hugely successful 1997 tour, in Carnegie Hall and around the world, the surviving members reminisce about the group’s success and their lives in Cuba. One of the most compelling of the festival’s offerings is “Mr. Gaga: A True Story of Love and Dance,” a documentary about dancer/choreographer Ohad Naharin. An Israeli who created the Batsheva Dance Company, his brilliant choreography radically changed modern dance. The film combines footage of his work with its music background and his articulate commentary, as well as his collaboration with his late wife, dancer Mari Kajiwara. Dance comes to the fore again in “Alive and Kicking.” It tells the story of swing dancing, which began in 1920s Harlem as lindy hop, a popular American dance form that then spread across the world in conjunction with swing jazz. This film celebrates the moves and music of this high-energy dance art.

Sunday, June 25, the last day of the FILMUSIC Festival, begins with a 1 pm drumming session for children led by Island drummer Rick Bausman. Next comes “Score: A Film Music Documentary,” in which Hollywood’s top composers talk about their lives and the world of cinematic music. The short by Oscar-nominated director Sara Nesson, “Women Who Score,” will precede the main feature. The festival ends with celebrated director Terrence Malick’s fictional film, “Song to Song.” A host of well-known actors star, including Rooney Mara, Ryan Gosling, Michael Fassbender, Natalie Portman, Cate Blanchett, Holly Hunter, and singers Iggy Pop and Patti Smith.


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