A quick chat with Nantucket Film Festival executive director, Mystelle Brabbée.
N MAGAZINE: What was your favorite movie growing up?
BRABBÉE: 9 to 5, a brilliant proto-#MeToo comedy starring Dolly Parton, Jane Fonda, and Lily Tomlin. In one of the major plot points, the three women take over the company from their misogynist boss and institute enlightened workplace.
BRABBÉE: Most people on Nantucket don’t know that I grew up a hippie kid.
N MAGAZINE: What’s one thing about the Nantucket Film Festival that you think would surprise people?
BRABBÉE: The film festival itself requires a full year to plan and execute.
N MAGAZINE: If you were in charge of putting together a time capsule so that people would understand the Nantucket Film Festival two hundred years for now, what three items would you put in it?
BRABBÉE: Photos of people sitting in a theater laughing and having a shared experience, with no one staring into or even holding a smartphone. A video of 2009’s Late Night Storytelling, featuring Tina Fey, Jim Carey, and Laird Hamilton telling stories, and hosted by Peter Farrelly and Anne Meara. And a montage of all the amazing writers who’ve passed across the stage of the Sconset Casino to receive our screenwriting awards. Together, they make for an interesting snapshot of Hollywood at the end of 1990s and first two decades of the 2000s.
N MAGAZINE: What was your most star-struck moment at the Nantucket Film Festival?
BRABBÉE: Usually it’s when the subject of a compelling documentary attends the festival—people who have either lived extraordinary lives or are extraordinary themselves. Darryl Hunt who was wrongly imprisoned for more than twenty-five years or the beloved Sam Berns who had progeria (the fatal genetic condition causing rapid aging).
BRABBÉE: The ladies of Saturday Night Live! We have never given a group award before, but this summer we’re bringing together SNL’s funniest female writers and performers past and present. Some of them have never met each other before.
N MAGAZINE: What was one of your favorite movies to play at the Film Festival over the years?
BRABBÉE: The wacky Run Lola Run…and my daughter the animal advocate would want me to mention The Cove, which uncovered the capture and slaughter of dolphins in Japan.
N MAGAZINE: Who is your favorite screenwriter?
BRABBÉE: Oh wow, there are so many. Mike Leigh is one—I love that his scripts are built entirely in collaboration with his actors via extensive improvisation. Charlie Kaufman is another—I love when someone adheres to their idiosyncratic vision, leading audiences rather than trying to anticipate what they’ll want. And there are so many brilliant writers working in the eposodic format today—Ben Sinclair and Katja Blichfeld of High Maintenance come to mind—each episode is like two perfect little short stories.
N MAGAZINE: What’s one instance in which the movie adaptation of a book was better than the book itself?
BRABBÉE: There are so many cases where we remember the film more than the book it was adapted from: The Graduate, The Princess Bride, The Godfather, Stand By Me, and Mrs. Doubtfire. Leslie Dixon, who wrote the screenplay for Mrs. Doubtfire— and will be our Screenwriting Tributee this summer—says the best books to adapt are not the great ones because you will inevitably fail. She prefers to adapt books that have memorable characters, but where there’s still room for some storytelling innovation.
N MAGAZINE: Who is your favorite actor?
BRABBÉE: Impossible question!
N MAGAZINE: If you could live one day as the main character in a film. What film would it be?
BRABBÉE: None. Good characters in films generally have something horrible happen to them.