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Dinner & a Movie 2015



The Woods Hole Film Festival Winter Film Series  2015 season of DINNER & A MOVIE has concluded for the season. Thank you for your support. Please enjoy our other offerings, including Film Falmouth and the 24th Woods Hole Film Festival, July 25 – August 1st. DINNER & A MOVIE returns in November 2015.



GETTING TO THE NUTCRACKER by Serene Meshel-Dillman

feature documentary, 98 min.

Nutcracker 2

For most people, getting to The Nutcracker simply means procuring tickets to one of the roughly 600 productions staged every holiday season in this country alone. Serene Meshel-Dillman‘s documentary examines one such venture put on by Los Angeles’ Marat Daukayev School of Ballet from the first auditions to the final results. Detailing the trials, tribulations and joy experienced by its dancers ranging in age from 3 to 18, Getting to the Nutcracker, in consideration for this year’s Oscars, makes a nice cinematic complement to this ballet perennial. Founded and led by a former star of the Kirov Ballet, the school puts on an annual production of the holiday chestnut featuring its students. Narrated by Daukayev’s wife Pamela, who jokingly refers to herself as the school’s “barely managing director,” the film offers a fly-on-the-wall perspective that should inspire budding young dancers to ask their parents to buy them tights and tutus.

We’re introduced to several of the young performers who reveal their anxieties and aspirations. 14-year-old Mikhael is the heartthrob of the group but struggles with the fact that his father doesn’t approve of his dancing. Luis, who joined the school only after escorting his younger sister, finds himself cast in the plum role of the prince, confessing to feeling “terror and excitement at the same time.” Adam is already thinking ahead, planning on eventually joining a contemporary dance company “as my body starts breaking down.”

The production enlists the dancers’ parents to participate in the production as well, and we see them going through their simple paces with parental pride. The father of one little girl points out, “My daughter is learning more from failure than success.”And failure is inevitably part of the process, as illustrated by one little girl crying hysterically after not getting the coveted part of Masha.

The filmmaker attempts to add suspense to the proceedings with a countdown of the days leading to the performance, but there’s little doubt that it will be a triumphant experience for its young participants. We’re treated to generous excerpts from the finished product that is all the more resonant for the moving profiles that have preceded it.

The end credits reveal that several of the spotlighted dancers have received scholarships to such prestigious companies as the AmericanBallet Theater, the Bolshoi and the Boston Ballet. So, don’t be surprised if you cross paths with them again.

January 3, 2015: THE WINDING STREAM feature documentary by Beth Harrington

The Winding StreamThe Winding Stream tells the story of the American roots music dynasty, the Carters and the Cashes.  Starting with the Original Carter Family, the film traces the ebb and flow of their influence, the transformation of that act into the Carter Sisters, June Carter’s marital alliance with legend Johnny Cash, and the efforts of present-day family to keep this long musical legacy alive. The Carters didn’t just play the music of the hill country. They helped invent it.  A.P. was both composer and song collector, arranging snippets of ancient, musty melodies into commercial American popular music.  Maybelle took the then-underutilized guitar and made it into the cornerstone of country instrumentation, in no small part by developing innovative ways of playing it that are now commonplace. And Sara became the first well-known woman’s voice in country music, stamping it with the eerie Gothic quality we find in so much of that genre’s canon now. The stream these three created has turned into a rushing river and has moved through several generations of musicians. Arguably, there would be no Folk Revival of the ‘60s without them, no country-rock bands of the 70s, and no alt-country hipsters of our present era. Will the Circle Be Unbroken?  Keep on the Sunny Side. Worried Man Blues.  Are You Lonesome Tonight?  These are just some of the hundreds of songs the Original Carter Family presented to the world. It’s hard to overstate their influence on American music.

January 17, 2015: LITTLE WHITE LIE feature documentary by Lacey Schwartz

LittleWhiteLies2Little White Lie tells Lacey Schwartz’s story of growing up in a typical upper-middle-class Jewish household in Woodstock, NY, with loving parents and a strong sense of her Jewish identity „ despite the questions from those around her about how a white girl could have such dark skin. She believes her family’s explanation that her looks were inherited from her dark-skinned Sicilian grandfather. But when her parents abruptly split, her gut starts to tell her something different. At eighteen, she finally confronts her mother and learns the truth: her biological father was not the man who raised her, but a black man named Rodney with whom her mother had an affair. Afraid of losing her relationship with her parents, Lacey doesn’t openly acknowledge her newly discovered black identity with her white family until her biological father dies shortly before Lacey’s thirtieth birthday. Following the funeral, Lacey begins a quest to reconcile the hidden pieces of her life and heal her relationship with her father. What defines our identity, our family of origin or the family that raises us? How do we come to terms with the sins and mistakes of our parents? Lacey discovers that answering those questions means understanding her parents’ stories as well as her own. She pieces together her family history and the story of her dual identity using home videos, archival footage, interviews, and episodes from her own life. Little White Lie is a personal documentary about the legacy of family secrets, denial, and redemption.

February 14, 2015 DRUID PEAK narrative feature by Marni Zelnick

SpencerAndrewMed“On the ragged edge of the world I’ll roam, and the home of the wolf shall be my home.” –Robert Service, The Nostomaniac. Druid Peak is a coming of age story about a troubled teenage boy who finds a home tracking wolves in the wild lands of the Wyoming. Sixteen year-old Owen is a bully with a mean streak. Growing up in coal country West Virginia, he struggles against the claustrophobia of small town life, lashing out against school and family. But when his actions lead to the death of a friend, he is sent to live with his estranged father, Everett, a biologist on Yellowstone’s wolf reintroduction program. At first, Owen wants no part of this new life. Then he comes face to face with a wolf. The creature’s deep, penetrating gaze startles him, stirring something long dead inside his own self. Sensing signs of change, Everett encourages Owen to collect some basic data about the wolf he saw and its family pack. Owen’s small assignment grows into a passion and his own life becomes tied to the Druid Peak pack and their struggle for survival. Shot on location in West Virginia, Wyoming, Montana and Utah, the film stars Andrew Wilson (Rushmore, The Royal Tennenbaums), Spencer Treat Clark (Mystic River, Gladiator) and Rachel Korine (Spring Breakers, Septien). A coming of age story with a conservation twist, Druid Peak is a film about the human soul’s need for wild things, and the challenges of holding onto them.

February 28, 2015 THE LONGEST GAME feature documentary by Camille Thoman

The-Longest-GameMeet Hal, 87; Charlie, 87 and Maurie, 87. Three of a group of friends who gather every day at one p.m. in the village of Dorset, Vermont to play a game called ‘paddle tennis’. They have been playing together for years. Poignant and funny, THE LONGEST GAME takes on the ‘game’ of life, the stories we tell and the underlying forces that connect us all.


March 14, 2015 THE GOD QUESTION by narrative feature by Doug Gordon

A startling breakthrough at MIT produces the first super-intelligent computer capable of thinking independently. However, when it shuts down hundreds of websites it finds offensive, federal regulators quickly padlock the MIT lab in order to study it. Stephen Kendrick, who runs a supercomputer at University of Massachusetts in Amherst, taught at MIT previously and was one of the key code writers for the project. Hearing this, a Yale philosopher, Jane Hurst, suggests this: Feed the computer every book, news article, research paper – essentially all human knowledge – then ask it the ultimate question. Is there evidence for God, for a spiritual framework to life? Kendrick tells her the question was one of the first the MIT team planned to ask – until the federal ban was imposed. However, Kendrick has a copy of the MIT software and a computer capable of running it. He decides to secretly defy the federal ban and ask the question, aided by a colleague, Alan Moss. They make plans to try on the weekends, when they can work undetected. There is an obstacle, though: The computer itself. Each time they load the MIT software and ask the question, the computer eventually shuts itself down, destroying its memory and leaving no trace of what it was thinking, no matter what they do to get around it. When the FBI begins to question Kendrick, Moss loses his courage and drops out. However, Jane Hurst joins Kendrick for one final attempt to get the answer.

March 28, 2015: WICKER KITTENS feature documentary by Amy Elliot

Wicker-KittensOpen the box. Dump out all the pieces. And scramble for your lives. Because this is competitive jigsaw puzzling. And it turns even the mildest of mannered Midwesterners into stone-cold competitors. Every January, the top teams in the game gather at the St. Paul Winter Carnival in frigid Minnesota to determine the fastest puzzlers in the country. Wicker Kittens invites you to choose your favorite contestants„the returning champs, the upstart challengers, the sunny family or the dark horse team with nothing to lose„and watch them try to put the pieces back together.

April 11, 2015: LIFE INSIDE OUT narrative feature by Jill D’Angelica

Life-Inside-OutLife Inside Out tells the story of Laura, the mother of three teenage boys, and her youngest son Shane, the family misfit and a disappointment to his father. When we first meet Laura, she is half-heartedly hosting a scrap booking party for her sister Lydia’s new multi-level marketing business. When she stumbles upon her long forgotten guitar, a gift from her mother and the former passion of her youthful life, she is taken under its spell and soon rediscovers her love for songwriting. Shane, sullen, ear buds perpetually in his ears, has cut himself off from the activities that his father and brothers enjoy. When Laura impulsively decides to sing at her first open-mic night, she takes Shane along for the ride; an act of both pity and motherly instinct. Her first performance is a borderline disaster but with Shane’s encouragement, she eventually tries again. Despite her rocky entry into the late night mélange of musicians and unusual characters that populate the open mic nights, Laura starts to blossom and Shane seems oddly at home. Soon, following his mother’s lead and with the help of YouTube and a couple of new-found mentors at the club, Shane picks up Laura’s guitar and begins to discover musical gifts of his own. As family pressures rise Laura finds herself pulled between the worlds of responsibility and creative joy. Ultimately, her first brave steps prove to be the catalyst for changing not only her life, but also Shane’s, in complex and unpredictable ways.

April 25, 2015 BRAVE NEW WILD feature documentary by Oakley Anderson-Moore

Brave-New-WildStumbling upon her father’s hi8 tapes, a daughter discovers a world of delinquent oddballs and wino nomad-poets who dedicated their life to an absurdist art form: rock climbing. Through a kaleidoscopic mishmash of campfire stories with the most eccentric climbing pioneers, colorful archival footage, hand-animated cartoons, and the director’s family home videos, Brave New Wild explores an answer to the question of why climb when there’s nothing to gain — and everything to lose.


May 9, 2015 BY AND BY: NEW ORLEANS GOSPEL AT A CROSSROADS by Matthew T. Bowden and Joe Compton

By_and_By‘By and By’ tells the story of a fading tradition, a torn community, and a family bound to keep them both alive. At the center of the film is a powerful New Orleans gospel quartet, the Electrifying Crown Seekers; a group USA Today calls ‘the essence of Jazz Fest … more explosive than any rock headliner.’

Set against a backdrop of post-Katrina New Orleans, ‘By and By’ is a classic family story of change vs. tradition, young vs. old, focused on a son’s unavoidable conflict: to continue the 46 year musical legacy of his father, or to strike out on his own. Powered by raw gospel music and a cast of unforgettable characters, the story of ‘By and By’ is truly timeless.