The sixth annual Spectrum Film Festival takes place this weekend, May 6-8, at Martha’s Vineyard Film Center in Vineyard Haven. There are seven films on this year’s program, ranging from hard-hitting documentaries to lighthearted romantic comedies.
“One of the common themes running through all of these films is the search for love and the search for acceptance,” said Richard Paradise, executive director of the film center.
The Spectrum Film Festival was started by the late Bob Dutton, former CEO of Martha’s Vineyard Film Society, who died of cancer in 2020. He saw it as a way to add a celebration of the LGBTQ+ community to the society’s diverse menu cinematic, says Mr. Paradise.
Family screens in transition on May 7 at 5 p.m.
“His memory lives on in this Spectrum Film Festival,” Mr. Paradise said. “It just comes from Bob’s vision of doing good things and being understanding to a wide range of people.”
One of the festival’s goals is to normalize LGBTQ+ stories, Mr. Paradise said. Many movies feature plot structures that are familiar to audiences — coming-of-age stories and comedy-dramas, for example — but tell those stories from seldom-represented viewpoints.
“The approach was to find a quality cinematic representation of stories that we all know from going to the movies, but just told from an LGBTQ perspective,” Mr. Paradise said. “By showing these stories, I think people become better informed and have a better understanding.”
Aside from Nelly and Nadine, a documentary about two women who fall in love in a Nazi concentration camp, the films are lighthearted, Mr Paradise said. Summer of 85 is a coming of age story about two boys who fall in love on a French beach. Ma Belle, Ma Beauté, is a romantic drama about a polyamorous relationship.
Nelly and Nadine screens Sunday at 4 p.m.
Many movies are set near the ocean, which Mr. Paradise hopes will appeal to the island community.
“The movies are beautiful to watch…the cinematography is beautiful,” Mr. Paradise said.
Mr. Paradise said he hopes the films will pique the interest of a variety of Islanders.
“These films are not intended solely for viewing by the LGBTQ community,” he said. It’s up to everyone to watch. Regardless of how you categorize or identify yourself, I hope the cinematic aspects of the films will stand on their own and people will want to come see these stories and be a part of them.
All films will be screened in person and some will be available for online screening. For showtimes and tickets, visit mvfilmsociety.com.