LGBTQ Spectrum Film Festival is a community effort

There’s a lot more to the upcoming Spectrum Film Festival, hosted by the M.V. Film Society, than just movies. This year the festival has expanded to include events and activities at a number of partner venues.

Spectrum, in its third year, is a four-day film festival that presents a world perspective on LGBTQ stories, people, and issues. The festival will incorporate 18 separate events in four different places. Among the partnering organizations are the Martha’s Vineyard Playhouse, Featherstone Center for the Arts, Alex’s Place teen center, the Animal Shelter of Martha’s Vineyard, and the Martha’s Vineyard Library Association. Each of these organizations will participate in the festival in one way or another.

“We’re trying to bring the Island together by expanding our community,” says M.V. Film Center managing director Bob Dutton. “We can work together effectively in a positive environment. The whole sense of community has now become a significant part of what the festival is and should be in future years.”

As the title of the festival implies, the curators have attempted to include films that represent many facets of the LGBTQ community. Dutton hopes to entertain as well as educate, and expose the festival’s audiences to people and subjects they may not be quite so familiar with. Still, he stresses that all of the films selected have entertainment value beyond carrying a message. There are both documentaries and narrative films, shorts and feature-length offerings.

The nonfilm events are all related to the festival’s themes and, in many cases, complement a specific screening. On Friday evening, Alex’s Place at the YMCA will welcome visitors for its first Open House under the direction of Ryan Schwab-Doyon. All are invited to get a look at the space and learn more about its programming. The evening event will include the presentation of the winners of the Teen Writing and Art Contest, and a free screening of a teen movie by the high school’s Gay-Straight Alliance.

On Saturday morning the Film Center will show the film “Life in the Doghouse,” about two North Carolina men who have turned their home into a dog rescue outpost. Post-screening, director of the Animal Shelter of M.V. Lisa Dawley will be on hand to discuss its mission, answer questions, and introduce some shelter pets. This is a free event.

On Saturday afternoon, the M.V. Playhouse will host a screening of a documentary about playwright Terrence McNally called “Every Act of Life.” Following the film, actors will present a live reading of one of McNally’s plays — “Mothers and Sons.” The drama tells the story of a mother who pays an unexpected visit to the apartment of her late son’s partner.

Featherstone will follow up a Friday night screening of the documentary “Packed in a Trunk” with a Sunday afternoon workshop on “White Line Printing,” a method that was developed by the subject of that film. The price of the workshop, led by Fae Kontje-Gibbs, is $45, including all materials.

The Martha’s Vineyard public libraries have joined in the celebration by selecting the young adult novel “Dear Rachel Maddow” as their current All-Island Teen Read choice. On Saturday afternoon, participants will have the chance to discuss the book with author Adrienne Kisner at the Film Center. This is a free event.

The Spectrum festival will also feature video messages from a variety of guests, including Elizabeth Warren, Pete Buttigieg, members of the NYC Gay Men’s Chorus, the cast of the Broadway musical “The Prom,” and several of the producers and directors of the 2019 festival films.

Dutton describes his inspiration for the festival, saying, “Friends, family, and other people around me were hinting that they wanted something like this to happen on the Island. Having been a drama teacher, I’ve seen what types of difficulties people were having with conversations around these issues. This is the sort of journey that the Island needed.” Dutton notes that a local chapter of PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) disbanded a number of years ago. “There is currently no group on the Island that can help lead the way,” he says. “So I’m happy to carry the torch for a while.”

Spectrum Film Festival Thursday, April 25 to 28. Various locations. For information and tickets, visit

This article by Gwyn McAllister originally appeared on