APCC Film Event And Discussion Series Features 'One Big Home'

By: Jennifer Sexton-Riley

The impact of enormous houses on the unique character of Martha's Vineyard is explored in “One Big House,” screening with a filmmaker Q&A at the Chatham Orpheum Oct. 27.

The Association to Preserve Cape Cod (APCC) will present the film “One Big Home” at 8 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 27 at the Chatham Orpheum Theater. Following the screening, filmmaker Thomas Bena will join the audience via Skype from Martha's Vineyard for a short question and answer period.
Here on the Cape we are familiar with the strange logic of people falling in love with our beautiful seaside home with its modest, weathered-shingle homes only to retire here in a huge, newly built house that looks anything but at home on old Cape Cod. The same is true on Martha's Vineyard, where gigantic trophy homes threaten the unique visual charm of the island community.
Ten thousand, 15,000, even 20,000-square-foot mansions not only stand in stark contrast to traditional cottages, but most sit empty – and heated – for 10 months of the year.
Bena, a carpenter turned filmmaker who founded the Martha's Vineyard Film Festival back in 2001, decided to take off his tool belt and pick up a camera to document this changing paradigm in his community. Over 12 years, his journey as a filmmaker has taken place alongside his effort to work with his community to create a new bylaw that would limit the size of houses being built.
“I deeply believe in the power of documentary film to inspire discussion, debate and action,” Bena says. “I never thought about becoming an activist or a documentary filmmaker at the beginning. I came about this filmmaker's obsession honestly, by traveling the world with a backpack after college and seeing how other people lived with so much less than they do in the United States. I didn't attend film school – I was entirely self taught, borrowing equipment from my local media center. This was and is a true grassroots project, and I have come to believe that if a guy like me can figure out how to make a film and also work to galvanize his community, so can anyone.”
Seating for this event is limited. Advance tickets may be purchased online at ChathamOrpheum.org or at the box office. Tickets are $12 and proceeds support the work of APCC.