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Gentrification comes in many forms. On the tiny island of Martha’s Vineyard, where presidents and celebrities vacation, trophy homes threaten to destroy the island’s unique character. Twelve years in the making, One Big Home follows one carpenter’s journey to understand the trend toward giant houses. When he feels complicit in wrecking the place he calls home, he takes off his tool belt and picks up a camera. Bumping up against angry homeowners and builders who look the other way, he works with his community and attempts to pass a new bylaw to limit house size.
Thomas Bena earned a degree in marketing from UMass Amherst in 1989, but working in the business world wasn’t for him, so after nine short months he grabbed a backpack and a surfboard and headed to Australia to “find himself.” Almost a decade later, he discovered Martha’s Vineyard. In 2001, he founded the Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival (now in its seventeenth season). His film directing, editing, and producing credits include Casa del Soul, a short surfing film, Jumpstart My Vega, a travelogue/surf film, and Capawock, a short film starring Wampanoag medicine man Luther Madison. One Big Home, which took twelve years to make, is his first feature-length documentary film.