Brian Williams at NFF Late-Night Storytelling with Peter Farrelly & Anne Meara looking on

The 14th annual Nantucket Film Festival ended this past Sunday and I felt the usual ambivalence of sadness, joy and relief.  I have attended 14 of 14, and as I get older, it gets more and more challenging to see films all day, party all night and not run my business into the ground.  This year was the usual marathon:  currentVintage co-sponsored the Opening Night party at the Chanticleer following “Cold Souls” and people seemed to appreciate above-average party wine.

Late-Night Storytelling was wildly funny & bizarre as usual.  I loved Cheryl Hine’s story of hospitalization with no health insurance or pocket change on the eve of her transition to stardom via “Curb Your Enthusiasm”.  I may never get over our local GYN’s tale of a hit and run, and I delight in knowing that Ben Stiller took acid and lost his virginity on Nantucket (perhaps at the same time?).

The Tribute Event, honoring Harold Ramis, was larger than life, in that it featured the 40’ tall Ghostbusters Stay-puft marshmallow man outside the Sconset Casino.  Brian Williams was side-splittingly funny as usual, which served as our annual reminder of how his talent is wasted on the nightly news.

ee, df, stay-puft

The Stay-Puft Man

Ben Stiller gives tribute to Howard Ramis

Ben Stiller gives tribute to Harold Ramis at NFF

There’s really nothing better than being around passionate people and I think that’s why I love the NFF so much.  Each morning, I drag myself to work at the crack of dawn so I can make it to the  “Morning Coffee with a writer” panel at the Rose & Crown.  It is such an amazing opportunity to drop in on the lives of people who are living their (usually far from glamorous) dream.  There are filmmakers with hedgefund-blank-check-produced projects sitting next to some who financed their short on five credit cards and a loan from their parents.  Both solemn and irreverent things are said…Cherien Dabis told that the racism in “Amreeka” was based on her own life experiences growing up in Ohio.  John Shea, noting that only 6 out of 5400 film submissions to Sundance got distribution, suggested filmmakers be hearded into “the cove”.  Anne Meara said it was a great panel because no one brought up “vision” or “arc”.  The writers and filmmakers meet each other, stories are shared, connections are made and the audience learns as well.

For years, this vicarious dream-living appealed to me because I was less than enchanted by my own work.  Owning two casual, seasonal eateries with a zillion employees was grueling and ungratifying and I was completely fascinated by anyone in more creative pursuits, which generally included everyone at the Nantucket Film Festival.  These days, I have a fabulous new business and I’m so creative I could drop, but I still love meeting inspired and inspiring people at the NFF each year, and this weekend they were present in large numbers…

Louie, Fisher & Ric of "The Cove" and Katherine Bigelow of "The Hurt Locker" at NFF Morning Coffee panel

Louie, Fisher & Ric of "The Cove" and Katherine Bigelow of "The Hurt Locker" at NFF Morning Coffee panel

Any brush with Ric O’Barry, Fisher Stevens, Louis Psiphoyos, party boy Charles Hambleton and the gang from “The Cove” was memorable.  These guys are combination activists, evangelists and adrenaline junkies.  They spent years and millions to expose the ugly Japanese dolphin industry, risking life and limb.  Their mission evolved on the journey from saving ocean reefs to saving cetaceans (dolphins and whales) to a public health cry for mercury-awareness.  Ric’s passion and commitment to stop the dolphin slaughter in Taiji are palpable and contagious and will no doubt prevail with the help of the Cove team and the visceral reaction and inevitable action of every single person who sees the film.

“The Messenger” was another film that really moved me.  An army story centered around casualty-notification starring Ben Foster and Woody Harrelson in powerful performances, it was quite depressing, but a little bit hopeful. I watched it back to back with “The Cove” and could hardly get out of my seat when it was over.  The Stiller Family sat right behind me for the double feature and their enthusiasm and observations made for interesting Q&A discussions following both films.  That’s what I mean about passion—the fact that Anne Meara, Jerry Stiller, Amy and Ben were still sitting in the Sconset Casino all afternoon on day 4 of the festival, after all that had gone before, was very cool indeed.

Doug Foregger and me w/ the Marshmallow Man

Doug Foregger and me w/ the Marshmallow Man

Marshmallow photos: Mai Norton