Martha’s Vineyard Recap

August 11th, 2011 - posted by Daniel Coffin

In case you missed it, our sneak peek on the Vineyard was quite an event.  I arrived on the island Tuesday morning, and we were set up at a fine spot called the Point Way Inn thanks to the folks from the Martha’s Vineyard Film Society and the Martha’s Vineyard International Film Festival.  Despite the wonderful scenery and accommodations, I found it hard to relax.  As is the case whenever you start putting your work out there, our nerves were tight, and I was stuck in a loop praying the sound in the theater would be good.  By the time of the screening at 8pm, I had managed to convince myself that everyone was going to love – or at least enjoy – the film.  I can assure you that the Union Chapel is a great place to catch a film, and the sound was not a problem.

Pre-screening tech check. Sound looks good!

There were, however, several other disturbances that were not predictable.  Have you ever been rained on while watching a movie before?  Well, our gracious attendees have.  About halfway into the film, a microburst (or perhaps just a small thunderstorm), descended on the Union Chapel in Oak Bluffs, and, due to a strong wind from a couple weeks prior, the two windows at the top of the steeple were stuck wide open.

Heavy winds and a soft mist, growing to a light rain, cooled our guests off for about five minutes as lightning and thunder cracked outside.  At one point everyone had evacuated their seats in the middle of the chapel and were standing around the edges intently watching the film.  I’m not sure, but I think the confusion during that section of the film may have helped fuel the second disruption which took place during the post-screening discussion.

If you’re familiar with the Cape Wind saga, you know that tensions, invective and strong opinions are abounding.  We’ve had no luck avoiding it ourselves, and because our goal with the film is to be objective and make the best case for both sides, we knew that we would ruffle some feathers, (and if done correctly, feathers on both sides).  The first speaker was Audra Parker, head of the opposition group, the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound.  She was not too pleased with our portrayal.  I’d also note that after the screening, the two employees of Cape Wind who attended voiced their own concerns over our editorial choices, so the score was more even than it may have appeared.  I won’t go into detail, but you can read several journalists’ perspectives at NPR, Vineyard Gazette and Vineyard Times.  While we did receive many warm compliments, especially after the panel was over, the general gist of the criticism was about perspective.  Virtually every issue about the Cape Wind controversy gets air time in our film, but our goal was never to resolve those issues.  They have been fought over in court, in the public dialogue, and in the bureaucracy of the local, state and federal governments.  Many of the issues in fact will never be resolved.

Our goal with the film is to document the process, to show how a battle like Cape Wind is fought, in the trenches, in the planning rooms of the organized combatants, through the often-muddied lens of the press.  The film raises more questions than it answers, it elicits visceral reactions, it incites debate, and, hopefully, it heightens dialogue.  Be sure to stay tuned as we continue to book sneak peeks and premiere next year.  And if you’re interested, we are accepting requests for this circus to come to your town next summer.

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