The Beach Times

The Silver Screen on Cape Cod: A Guide to Local Film Festivals (Including the Islands)
Posted by Kinlin Grover | Monday, May 21, 2018


Cannes, Sundance, Tribeca, Toronto, and... Cape Cod? You probably wouldn't think of Cape Cod as having a thriving film scene, but you'd be wrong, as the Cape is home to numerous high-end film festivals every year. When you include the islands of Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket, there is an abundance of festivals in the area between the spring and fall, attracting filmmakers and film lovers from all over the world.

Consider booking your Cape Cod vacation rental during one of these festivals, and you can get involved and attend numerous events. Many festivals have all-access or multi-event passes available, so you can check out a few different features, head to some workshops, or even rub elbows with the directors, producers, and actors who head to the Cape while their films are playing.

As if you needed another reason to visit Cape Cod, the following film festivals give you something to do at night after a day spent hiking, biking, or lounging at the beach.


Cape Cod International Film Festival

The Chatham Orpheum Theater hosts the annual Cape Cod International Film Festival, which will take place from October 25-28 in 2018. While the dates of this festival might preclude you from the aforementioned beach time, stick around for a few more days, and you’ll be in the area for Halloween, which is also jam-packed with exceptional events.

As for the festival, it is still in its expansion phase, as it only started in 2015. At the same time, it attracts some great independent films to compete for the Glass Oyster, which is awarded for the best feature film. Past events have included multiple world premieres and attracted filmmakers from France, Germany, Brazil, Canada, China, Italy, Denmark, and Australia, along with local and national artists.


Provincetown International Film Festival

The Provincetown International Film Festival is entering its 21st year and is one of the more comprehensive events on Cape Cod every summer. The 2018 exhibition will take place between June 13 and 17, and tickets packages are available, allowing you to see multiple films or attend a few other events at a discounted prices.

The event draws filmmakers from all over the United States, as well as international artists, and has over 150 attractions during its five days.

While screening venues have not been announced for 2018 as of this writing, past locations include Waters Edge Cinema at Whalers Wharf, Town Hall, and the Art House, all of which are a short walk from each other on Commercial Street. Other screenings have taken place just down Route 6 at the Wellfleet Preservation Hall.

Since most venues are a short walk from each other and right in the heart of Provincetown, you should be able to plan ahead and get a vacation rental in the area if you’re planning to make a week of this festival.


Woods Hole Film Festival

The Woods Hole Film Festival is entering its 27th year and was named as one of the Top 50 Film Festivals Worth the Entry Fee in 2017 by MovieMaker Magazine. This recognition means you're sure to get your money's worth at the event, whether you buy a single event ticket or go for a festival pass.

The 2018 dates are from July 28 to August 4, with venues including the Old Woods Hole Fire Station, Woods Hole Community Hall, Redfield Auditorium, Lillie Auditorium, and Falmouth Academy. The event also screens a series of independent films between October and May at the Redfield Auditorium, and attendees will have the chance to enjoy a discounted dinner at a local restaurant with their tickets.

The goal of the Woods Hole Film Festival is to highlight filmmakers from New England, with a particular focus on those from Cape Cod or films about the Cape. As a result, you can expect to find a lot of local content when attending a screening or workshop here.

Parking can be limited at these venues, but the Steamship Shuttle Bus runs from a parking lot in Falmouth right to Woods Hole. Many attendees choose to bike along the Shining Sea Bike Path or take the Whoosh Trolley to the venues, as well.


Orleans Surf Film Festival

The Orleans Surf Film Festival is an annual event that will change your perception of what a film festival is supposed to be. To attend this event, you don't have to get dressed up and head to a theater because it takes place at smaller, more casual venues each and every year.

In 2017, the festival was held at Hog Island Brewery in late October, allowing attendees to head to the brewery, enjoy a drink and a movie, and experience some surf culture right on Cape Cod. Every film shown relates to surfing, and there’s even a local pop-up surf museum at the venue, so you can learn a little bit about surfing on the Cape before or after the feature.


Martha's Vineyard International Film Festival

Just because there isn’t a film festival on Cape Cod during a particular weekend doesn’t mean you can’t attend one during your vacation. The Martha’s Vineyard International Film Festival is a prestigious event that will be held September 4-9, 2018 and is easily accessible from the Cape.

The on-going theme of this independent film festival is "Other Places", which encourages attendees to think about the world as a whole, rather than focusing on their local bubble. As a result, close to 90% of the films shown are made outside of the United States, in an attempt to promote cultural understanding through cinema. Some of the top films from other festivals like Berlin, Cannes, and Sundance make an appearance on Martha's Vineyard every year, as well.

You can get to Martha's Vineyard by hopping on a ferry from Hyannis, which takes about an hour, or Woods Hole, which takes roughly 45 minutes. Keep in mind the final boat leaves Martha's Vineyard for Woods Hole at 9:30 PM and if you miss it, you'll be stranded until 6 AM the following morning. The final ferry to Hyannis departs at 6:45 PM during the festival, as well.


Nantucket Film Festival

Another off-Cape event is the Nantucket Film Festival, which takes place between June 20 and June 25 in 2018. The focus of this festival is screenwriting, as there are workshops promoting and teaching the art of writing a script, in addition to awards for high-end screenplays. Cultural diversity is also a prevalent theme at the festival, so you can expect plenty of international films.

Getting to Nantucket is half the fun of attending the film festival, as there is a high-speed ferry service leaving from Hyannis. The ferry takes about an hour from port to port and is a great way to see the Cape from the ocean before taking in some high-end cinema on one of the islands.


Film on Cape Cod

As you can see, there is always a film festival approaching on Cape Cod, so if you’re a fan of the cinematic arts, make sure you’re here during one of these events. As was mentioned before, you can buy full event passes for many of these festivals, ensuring you don’t miss out on a film that you really want to see.

Once you attend a film festival on Cape Cod, you’ll see that although these festivals might not be as prestigious as Cannes or as highly attended as Toronto, they provide outstanding value while vacationing a little closer to home. So, get your vacation rentals in order and purchase your tickets to one of these exceptional events before they sell out.



Film Festivals Marthas Vineyard Nantucket

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