The 30 th Woods Hole Film Festival, July 31-August 7, 2021

Good news! This year you will be able to watch the Woods Hole Film Festival in person or online. Good friend Judy Laster, the festivals Executive Director, tells me the festival really has great films this year. So, don’t miss it!


Screenings & Discussions Roundup

The Woods Hole Film Festival (WHFF) celebrates its 30 th year from July 31-August 7, with 52 feature length and 104 short films from 22 countries. The Woods Hole Film Festival is one of the longest running Festivals in New England. Many of the films will screen in person at three in person venues: Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution’s Redfield Auditorium, 45 Water Street, Woods Hole, Falmouth Academy’s Simon Center for the Arts, 7 Highfield Drive, and Cotuit Center for the Arts, 4404 Falmouth Road, Cotuit.

All films and events will also be available to stream online on the Festival’s virtual platform for the length of the Festival. This year’s edition also includes the festival’s trademark events, including in-person, daily virtual filmmaker chats streamed live on Facebook starting July 24th, workshops, panels and a master class with Filmmaker-in-Residence Alexis Gambis, and a virtual awards ceremony on August 13th. Tickets and passes are on sale now at For more information, call (508) 495-3456 or email

“We are excited to celebrate our 30 th year in person with the Cape Cod community and online with our virtual one,” says Founder and Executive Director Judy Laster. “In a challenging year for film production and presentation, we feel fortunate to be able to offer a full slate of some of the best emerging independent films from around the world.”

The festival includes a mix of first-time and veteran filmmakers (many having participated in the festival several times previously) with a focus on films and filmmakers with ties to New England, science, music, and politics. There are 22 world, 7 North American, 3 US, and 65 New England premieres.

A number of the feature films have New England connections. Of note is Lily Topples The World, winner of the Grand Jury Prize for Documentary Feature at SXSW in 2021. It follows 20-year-old Lily Hevesh, a native of Sandown, NH (much of the film was shot in MA and NH), who is the world’s greatest domino toppler and the only woman in her field. It’s an unlikely American tale of a quiet Chinese adoptee who transforms herself into a global artistic force with over 1 billion YouTube views.

Best Summer Ever, a hybrid narrative and documentary feature shot in Lincoln, VT at Zeno Mountain Farm, a retreat and camp for people with and without disabilities and other marginalized communities, takes on the teen musical genre by featuring eight original songs plus a fully integrated cast and crew of people with and without disabilities. It represents the feature directing debuts of Michael Parks Randa and Lauren Smitelli, with a cast that includes Maggie Gyllenhaal, Benjamin Bratt, and Peter Sarasgaard.

Festival alum and Vermont resident Jay Craven’s Jack London’s Martin Eden, based on London’s 1909 novel about a poor and unschooled sailor who meets a magnetic young woman of means and education, was filmed entirely on Nantucket.

Memoirs of a Black Girl, a coming-of-age story directed by Thato Rantao Mwosa, was filmed in the Boston neighborhood of Roxbury and features an entire cast of Boston actors.

The Catch, about a young woman who returns to her hometown and her estranged family on the rural coast of Maine, was filmed in Gloucester and Rockport, MA. Director and MA native Matthew Balzer developed the plot based on true crime stories and anecdotes about real New England fishermen.


Notable short films with New England connections include:

John Gray’s Extra Innings starring Peter Riegert, about an aggressive sports reporter who interviews the manager of the Boston Red Sox in an attempt to uncover secrets from his past;

Discover Wonder: The Octopus Garden by John Dutton, about a research expedition that uses Alvin, the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution’s Human Occupied Submersible, to journey two miles deep into the abyss of NOAA’s Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, where they discover one of the rarest and deepest octopus breeding colonies on the planet.

Fermín Rojas’s King Philip’s Belt: A Story of Wampum, which illustrates how the Mashpee and Aquinnah Native Wampanoag people on Cape Cod are weaving a new ceremonial wampum belt for the first time in almost 300 years in the hopes the belt will call out to the legendary belt once worn by Sachem King Philip (Metacom).

Films about music is a festival hallmark. Festival alumnus David Henry Gerson’s The Story Won’t Die is a documentary about a Syrian rapper, tortured by Bashar Al-Assad for his lyrics, who uses his music to survive one of this century’s deadliest wars. Together with other creative personalities of the Syrian uprising, he tells the story of revolution and exile while reflecting on a global battle for peace, justice, and freedom of expression.

For the Left Hand by Gordon Quinn and Lesley Simmer tells the story of aspiring pianist Norman Malone who becomes paralyzed on his right side at age 10 after being attacked by his father. Over the next several decades he masters the left-hand repertoire in secret before a chance discovery of his talent leads him to making his concert debut.

Kevin Smokler and Christopher Boone’s documentary Vinyl Nation digs into the resurgence of vinyl records, the diversification of vinyl fans, and the connective power of music in these divided times.

In addition to the daily screenings, the Festival will also offer panel discussions, master classes and workshops both in-person and virtually.

Sunday, August 1, 3 pm, Panel Discussion (Virtual Only) From Woods Hole to the Red Carpet: The Path to the Oscars

Join us for a fun and useful conversation with WHFF alums Heidi Ewing (“Jesus Camp”), Laura Nix (“Walk Run Cha Cha”), Doug Roland (“Feeling Through”), and Marshall Curry (“The Neighbors’ Window”) as they share their stories and strategies on taking their films from Woods Hole to the red carpet. Hosted by WHFF Co-Founder and fellow Academy Award nominee, Kate Davis. (“Traffic Stop”).

Monday, August 2, 2 pm, Master Class (Virtual only) Riding the Science New Wave: A Conversation with biologist-director Alexis Gambis

Tuesday, August 3rd, 3 pm, Panel Discussion (In-Person, Falmouth Academy)

Obsessed with Netflix? So Are We!

A conversation with Ken Florance, Vice President of Content Delivery, Netflix, about the streaming giant – from its trailblazing earliest days to the challenges of worldwide pandemic binge-watching and beyond. Join conversation starter and filmmaker Beth Murphy for a peek into the most interesting digital world… in the world.

Wednesday, August 4th, 1 pm, Panel Discussion (Virtual Only)

Creating a Marketing Strategy for Independent Film

You’ve done the hard work making your film, but that is just the beginning. Next is the hard part. Yes, we are talking about MARKETING. Alecia Orsini Lebeda, President, Women in Film and Video New England, will be joined by Christine Merser and others for a timely panel on marketing your film and making sure it’s seen!

Thursday, August 5, 4 pm (Virtual Only)

Telling Stories at the Intersection of Film and Science

Join Moderator Megan Sanchez-Warner, Executive Producer/Showrunner, for a discussion with Alexis Gambis (2021 Filmmaker in Residence, “Son of Monarchs:), Nipam Patel (Director, Marine Biological Laboratory), Beth Murphy (Principle Pictures, “Our Future, Our Fight: Episode, Wildfires”), and Josh Seftel (Smartypants Brooklyn, “Bruce and Alvin”) about how filmmakers and scientists collaborate to make films about complex scientific concepts accessible to all audiences.

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