A Place of Our Own

Director: Stanley Nelson
Screenwriters: Stanley Nelson, Marcia Smith

Institute History

  • 2004 Sundance Film Festival


Summer resorts are more than just settings for rest and recreation. They are pristine places where the culture of a community can thrive with the nourishment of leisure and celebration. For filmmaker Stanley Nelson, the resort community of Oak Bluffs on Martha's Vineyard is even more. Caught between a largely impoverished African American population and a racist white society, his family was part of the first generation of black doctors, lawyers, and journalists who often found themselves alone on a hostile frontier. This New England haven was the only place where they could find a sense of safety, identity, and community as affluent, well-educated African Americans.

An intimate and groundbreaking film with a tender heart, A Place of Our Own is a powerfully told personal documentary about Nelson's experiences while spending the last 40 summers on the shores of Oak Bluffs. Wonderful archival footage blends with personal images of the filmmaker and his family to reveal a black upper-middle-class world that is rarely seen. However, the scope of this profound film extends well beyond the color line. A Place of Our Own speaks to the essence of community, the importance of safety in nourishing culture, and the price of change in a constantly evolving society.

— Shari Frilot

Screening Details

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