nff Between 2 ferns

"Between Two Ferns" sketch with Brian Wiliiams (!) and Zach Galifianakis

NFF Comedy Roundtable w/ Ben Stiller, Sarah Silverman, Andy Stamberg, Zach G & Brian Williams

NFF Comedy Roundtable w/ Ben Stiller, Sarah Silverman, Andy Stamberg, Zach G & Brian Williams

The Nantucket Film Festival celebrated it’s 15th birthday this year.  Wow.  15.  I say wow, NOT just because I was a Co-Producer of a Festival film, but because A.  I was at Opening Night in 1996 (and have been ever since) and B.  Because it was the Best Ever!

From the Opening night film, The Extra Man, to the unbelievably fascinating docs on Bill Cunningham and Ron Galella to the Brian Williams monologue at the Screenwriter’s Tribute to Chris Matthews’ interview with Barry Levinson, it was amazing.  I am still running into like-minded Film enthusiasts on the street, exclaiming how extraordinary one film or another was this past week…Nevermind the thrill of seeing my name on the big screen in a producing credit for Mister Rogers & Me!  (When independent film makers need cash, those credits can go pretty cheap.)

My name, Elisabeth English, on the silver screen at Mr. Rogers

My name, Elisabeth English (10th from top), on the silver screen at Mister Rogers

Chris and Ben Wagner, Creators of "Mr. Rogers & Me", with Elisabeth English, "Producer"

Chris and Ben Wagner, Creators of "Mister Rogers & Me", with Elisabeth English, "Producer"

Truthfully, I regularly think the festival is ‘the best ever’.  Losing Chase was the 1996 inaugural film and also Kevin Bacon’s directorial debut.  I was so enthused by the experience that I returned to Provisions, my sandwich shop on Straight Wharf, and re-named our BLT as “Kevin Bacon, Lettuce & Tomato” on the blackboard, provoking confusion and the occasional smile for years to come.

There have been many inspiring opening films (14, to be exact), including “The Full Monty”, “American Splendor” and “Trans-Siberian”, but it is the rest of the festival slate that delights me most.  There are always quiet gems that may never see the green light of distribution and the only opportunity to see them (for me) rests with the fest.  And so, I venture forth with the zeal of an ingénue, in an effort to take in the best the fest has to offer…

Each day goes something like:  “Morning Coffee w/ a Writer” at the Crown, Film, work, Film, snack, Film, change of outfit, Evening Event (Party/Storytelling/Tribute), After-Party…while popping my Wellness Formula vitamins and ignoring my employees’ pleas for communication day after day.

NFF "Morning Coffee with a Writer" series

NFF "Morning Coffee with a Writer" series

Here are some of the quotable highlights…

“Literally, you just turn on your camera and beautiful stuff gets inside  it”—Lynn True on filming Summer Pasture in remote Eastern-Tibet

‘Deep & simple is better than shallow & complex any day’—Fred Rogers (as told to Benjamin Wagner, co-creator of Mister Rogers & Me)

“We worked out the licensing last night.”—Benjamin Wagner re the process of trust and determination in making Mister Rogers & Me.

Q:  “How will the Lady Gaga generation receive the message of Mr. Rogers?”—audience member at “Morning Coffee”
A.  “Twinkies have their short-term value, but in the end everyone needs a  slice of whole wheat.”—Benjamin Wagner, Mister Rogers & Me

“I was trying to capture the beauty/horror/absurdity of family.”—Festival honoree Michael Arndt on the writing of Little Miss Sunshine

“Families are inherently funny in that you have a group of people with nothing in common except the fact they are related.”– Michael Arndt on the writing of Little Miss Sunshine

“I wanted to start a riot of happiness.”– Michael Arndt on the ending of Little Miss Sunshine

Barry Levinson, Honoree

Barry Levinson, Honoree

Must-See Films of the 2010 NFF:

Bill Cunningham New York—A documentary on the charming, elegant 80-year-old New York Times fashion photographer Bill Cunningham. With the singular goal of capturing the beauty that crosses his path, Cunningham has created a poignant and ongoing chronicle of the intersection of fashion and society in New York for over 50 years—in effect, a portrait of New York City itself—while living in a tiny studio apartment above Carnegie Hall and riding a bike.

Smash His Camera—A fascinating look at the surprisingly endearing Ron Galella—the original despised Paparazzo for whom Jackie Onassis obtained a restraining order.  His archives are an exhausting journey through pop culture over the last 40+ years, from Pia Zadora & John Gotti to Jacki O & Liz Taylor.

Cairo Time—A beautiful, seductive story set in exotic Cairo, starring the always-magnificent Patricia Clarkson and sexy, sexy Alexander Siddig

Winter’s Bone—A riveting tale of a 17-yr old the lawless Ozarks, caring for her little brother and sister, while trying to find her crack-dealing Father who put up their home for his bail bond and disappeared. 

The Concert & Freedom Writers—Definitely two of the most-talked about films at the fest

Mister Rogers & Me—A lovely portrait of Nantucket summer resident and pioneering children’s television host Fred Rogers.  Created by the Wagner brothers through a long, meaningful journey of their own.

Nowhere Boy—A darling film about the teenage John Lennon and the heartbreak and angst that shaped his life and music (by Sam Taylor-Wood).

The Extra Man—A story of friendship between an older New York gentleman (Kevin Kline) and a young man (Paul Dano) with a a few sexual identity issues.  Written by (and based on) the brilliant Jonathan Ames.

The Wagner Bros with NFF Founder, Jonathan Burkhart

The Wagner Bros with NFF Founder, Jonathan Burkhart

NFF 2010 Opening Film "The Extra Man"

NFF 2010 Opening Film "The Extra Man" w/ Jonathan Ames, writer