Do you really need a lot of “reasons” to justify taking a vacation? If you do, are great friends, delicious food, and fun shopping adventures not enough motivation? Well just in case I needed even more motivation, my week on Martha’s Vineyard coincided with the Run&Shoot Filmworks Martha’s Vineyard African American Film Festival (MVAAFF), also known as” The Summer’s Finest Film Festival” celebrating its 19th year in Oak Bluff.

Helena Getting On American Airlines Plane

The MVAAFF is a nine-day event that showcases the works of independent and established African-American filmmakers and an OSCAR Qualifying Festival in the Short Film Category. There were so many great movies available to see this year it was really hard to choose what to see and balance my need for vitamin D! I caught a few but the two headliners were both documentaries presented by Showtime and while the movies were wonderful, the best part of the evening was the conversation with the directors after the presentations.Dick Gregory MVAAFF

First up was The One and Only Dick Gregory, a look at the life of comedian, activist, and icon Dick Gregory. I knew a lot about Dick Gregory before seeing the documentary because, for some reason, I saw him at various community events in Dallas in the early 2000s. I don’t think he lived here, but there must have been some sort of connection. And of course, everyone’s cousin and aunties were “on that Dick Gregory” in the 80s, so there’s that history as well.

Bitchin' Rick James

Of course, there was a DJ and yes we danced in the aisles!

The second headliner was Bitchin’: The Sound and Fury of Rick James which was a deep dive into the life of the legendary Rick James, directed by Sacha Jenkins. I was lucky enough to see Rick James and Tina Marie at Gexa at Fair Park or whatever they were calling it then and even my youthful self knew “there’s some history here.” I didn’t know the details but this man had lived a life! The documentary went all the way to the very beginning when Rick was dodging the draft and came all the way to the present-day with his son who is an aspiring rapper. Who knew!?

One of the best comments from Sacha Jenkins was that even though he had screened the film with several audiences, we were the first black audience. It was incredible, he commented that as an audience we laughed in places other audiences didn’t, we audibly sang and sighed. We just responded differently. He thanked us! He said the vibe was different and he appreciated it.

Helena In A Purple Hammock

And there it is folks….the entire trip to Martha’s Vineyard summed up in one sentence.
The vibe there is just different and I appreciate it.
I’m so grateful to have had the opportunity to experience it and I’m planning to get back there as soon as possible.
In the meantime, I’ll cherish the memories!