Not only does March mean that Spring is coming but it’s also time for the Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival. For 16 years, the MVFF has been bringing a carefully curated film experience to the Island.
Each year the festival continues to evolve, from programs to food, to different campuses for films, the MVFF does not disappoint. When the line-up of films and programs is released, I like to start outlining my film adventure.
Always zealous in my planning, I think I can see 5 but sadly usually have to cut that to two. And now that my little ones are older, one of those film choices belongs to them.
Though there were many films that caught my eye, like Heroin: Cape Cod USA, which I felt would open my eyes to severity of the heroin epidemic, and The Wolfpack, because who doesn’t want to see how 6 brothers manage to grow up with the help of movies while being locked away from outside world in NYC, my friend, Catherine, and I ended up choosing Presenting Princess Shaw.
The film is about Samantha Montgomery who is a caregiver for the elderly but is also and amazing singer. She uses Youtube to share her voice with the world, and also stories of her life. Unbeknownst to her, Israeli musician Kutiman who creates music by melding together different music, interments, songs and compiles them into original works created one with a song of hers. Princess Shaw becomes a viral sensation.
Arriving at the Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival, you know that you are in for something different. We had our tickets, printed from on-line. Our film was being shown at the Chilmark Community Center, the hub if the festival, and we wanted to check out the festival tent, tickets or no tickets.
The space is just so effortlessly Up-Island chic, that’s the best way I can describe it. We had to check out the Hay Cafe. There’s hay bales for sitting on while waiting for your movie where you can enjoy your fresh popped popcorn or delicious treat from Pie Chicks.
You can rent a mason jar and treat yourself to an locally crafted and bottled Offshore Ale beer for before or perhaps for the move. It’s a great space just to enjoy and savor the moment and catch up with a friend or two who also happened to be there.
I do “Indie” films twice a year – once in the Spring at the Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival and in the Fall at another Island film festival. So, I am not the most wordily of film connoisseurs. However, I always leave wondering why I don’t watch more.
We got two pretty good seats, and had a couple minutes to take in the whole scene. The place was packed. festival founder, Thomas Bena introduced the film, and reminded us that Princess Shaw would be there after the movie for a little Q & A time. Catherine & I were excited to see what this film would bring.
First of all, this woman can sing. Her voice is Billie Holiday and Amy Winehouse wrapped up nicely in one gorgeous voice. Second of all, this woman has had a hard life. Things have happened to her that would devastate many people, but somehow this woman found her voice. This voice helped her release her pain. Her hurt, gave her the ability to write amazing songs. This woman saved herself from darkness.
You catch this all in this documentary. There are tears, there are smiles, and there is hope. All throughout this intimate storytelling, there are clips of Kutiman, who recognized Princess Shaw’s talent and soul, working on creating the music to go along with her Youtube songs which were all A cappella style.
Somehow Kutiman who lives a world away can take clips from Youtube from musicians also from all over the place, and put together a score that worked so perfectly with her words. The fit was perfect. It was as if Kutiman had access to her soul. Two worlds collided and made something beautiful – one not even knowing it was happening.
Then it did happen – the song “Give it Up” was released on Youtube and the whole world found out about Princess Shaw. From the New York Times to the Huffington Post, millions of viewers were captivated. Here’s the video from Youtube – it’s powerful.
Princess Shaw travelled to Israel and got to meet Kutiman – they were like kindred spirits. They worked together in his studio to record together, and they even performed together. Watching all this good unfold in front of you for this strong, good woman was so moving. Her battles, her struggles, her success – you couldn’t help but want to get to know her, hug her, thank her for her strength.
As the credits were rolling, music was playing. and all of the sudden you heard Princess Shaw. It was her, singing live, walking towards to stage. We were all mesmerized.
She was the same Princess Shaw were just met on film. Humble, funny, honest, a good person. She was there to answer questions, and many questions were asked from audience members.
There was so much we wanted to know. Questions about her music, about her, about her ability to survive. Some of the questions were tough for her, but she was honest, even tearing up.
This documentary made you laugh, cry, and believe, be inspired — a true modern Cinderella story. A film like this captures a bit of your soul and stays with you. This is the magic of the movies, and this is the magic of the Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival.
Princess Shaw truly has become an internet sensation, and her CD will be coming out this Spring.
You can learn more about the Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival and Princess Shaw (love her Martha’s Vineyard posts), on Facebook. And speaking of social media, don’t forget to “Like” us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter, Linked In, Google+, Pinterest and Youtube.
Voting ends April 1st! We’d be honored if you take a minute to vote for Point B Realty again for Best of the Vineyard, Best Real Estate Agency 2016! It’s easy and fun too, just click here to vote for your Island favorites.
We are also nominated for Best Charity Event, for our annual Martha’s Vineyard Teddy Bear Suite fundraiser, which in five years has now raised more than $50,000 for the MV Boys & Girls Club. Click here for Best Charity Event.