The month of February brings a focus on Black history by the M.V. Film Festival. The Chilmark-based organization is running programs for children in a range of ages to celebrate the month. The programs got underway last week.
“We’re really excited about it, at a time when Black Lives Matter,” said programming director Brian Ditchfield. He added that the MVFF is happy to have virtual programming to offer. “There were so many films submitted in the past year that we couldn’t present,” Ditchfield said in a telephone interview last week. Some were previously played at the Film Festival’s Cinema Circus. A variety will be available to different age groups, including younger children, and others will be provided for family viewing.
The MVFF is partnering with the Vineyard Haven Public Library, which will employ books by Black authors and those with Black characters for children to read.
“We decided to start with activities for age 4 and move up through ages 14 and 15,” according to MVFF education coordinator Jenna Robichau. Each day will provide films and programs for different age groups in collaboration with the Vineyard Haven library. On Mondays the MVFF will offer children 4 and up short films to support the library’s themes, including the Oscar-winning animated film “Hair Love.” These films will include instructions for crafts and worksheet activities, as well as for gross motor skills like dancing or running around the children’s homes.
Tuesdays will include children ages 8 and up. Children this age can view short, animated films from StoryCorps, a nonprofit organization sharing African American animated stories. StoryCorps provides Black voices talking about how they have lived through racism and segregation. Included is “A More Perfect Union,” about Theresa Burroughs and her effort to register to vote.
On Wednesdays, children 5 years and older can read books such as “Firebird,” by Misty Copeland. The book is by the first African American woman to become principal dancer for the American Ballet Theatre. Islanders are on deck at the library on Wednesdays to read stories by Black authors and discuss their roles in the community. Among those participating are Sharon Brown of the Island Food Pantry and Sterling Bishop of the Dukes County Sheriff’s Office, as well as artist and activist Dana Nunes, leader of Chilmark’s Beetlebung Corner kneel-ins.
The film version is available on Thursdays for children 10 and up. Thursday’s films can be watched by younger children with an adult. Also offered is “The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind,” which is sponsored by the East Brunswick library in New Jersey. Directed and acted by Chiwetel Ejiofor, it is based on a true story about a Malawian 13-year-old who builds a windmill. Parents can watch these films with their children to discuss racial injustice.
Fridays bring feature films for the whole family that spotlight the African American experience through Black characters. In some cases, free tickets will be required.
For more information on the Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival’s Black History Month programming, go to tmvff.org.