Film: One Big Home

A community determines its own destiny

Off Massachusetts on the US Atlantic coast, the island of Martha’s Vineyard has long been a destination for summer holidaymakers drawn to its beautiful beaches and unspoilt woods as well as its slow pace of life, community spirit and successful resistance to the shopping mall development that is common elsewhere in the country. However, in recent years the island has seen a worrying trend away from the traditional shingled summer shack to often frankly enormous trophy homes, built by wealthy seasonal residents and sitting unoccupied – but still heated – for much of the year.

Twelve years in the making, this documentary by local carpenter-turned-filmmaker Thomas Bena exposes the scale of the issue (and, confrontingly, of the houses!). It follows the community as they grapple with a reluctance to interfere with what property owners choose to do on their private land – plus an acknowledgement that the construction jobs are important for the local economy – and a growing feeling that the character of the island they love is being destroyed.

The environmental impact of building and running such huge homes, some as big as 1400 square metres, is something of a secondary concern for the locals; still, the film makes fascinating watching for anyone interested in site-appropriate and socially sensitive home design and the importance of appropriate planning laws. It could serve as a timely warning to many concerned communities in Australia to take action sooner rather than later.

One Big Home: a film by Thomas Bena
BullFrog Films 2017

Individuals, community groups, and educational institutions can purchase the film or rights to show the film to groups through Bullfrog Films.

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Cover of Issue 41
You can read more about Film: One Big Home in Issue 41 of Sanctuary magazine.

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