Grades 10-12, College, Adults
Directed by Thomas Bena
Produced by Thomas Bena, James Holland
DVD Purchase $350, Rent $95
US Release Date: 2017
Copyright Date: 2016
DVD ISBN: 1-941545-95-5
Oceans and Coasts
Real Estate Development
Urban and Regional Planning
Awards and Festivals
Audience Award, Hamptons Take 2 Documentary Film Festival
Docs for Sale, IDFA, Amsterdam
Newport Beach Film Festival
Environmental Film Festival in the Nation's Capital
Woods Hole Film Festival
DOCUTAH International Documentary Film Festival
Melbourne Documentary Film Festival
Milano Design Film Festival
Martha's Vineyard Film Festival
Princeton Environmental Film Festival
Ridgefield Independent Film Festival
Sierra Nevada Film Festival
Glimmerglas Film Days
White River Indie Film Festival
One Big Home|
Trophy homes threaten Martha's Vineyard. When he feels he is complicit in wrecking the place he calls home, one carpenter takes off his tool belt and picks up a camera.
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, Thomas Bena 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.
"One Big Home tells a fascinating story of conflicting visions of economic development on Martha's Vineyard, and by extension, the entire country...In doing so it focuses on the broader questions of how we ought to live our lives as human beings and consumers...The film shows that residents of any community can organize and educate one another, work with local planning boards and elected officials, and help to shift their neighborhoods and cities away from ill-planned growth and its environmental impacts and toward a far more sustainable future."
Michael E. Kraft, Professor Emeritus, Political Science and Public and Environmental Affairs, University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, co-author, Toward Sustainable Communities: Transition and Transformations in Environmental Policy
"This is a perceptive and moving account of the tension between individual property rights and community values, the importance of a sense of place and the hard work necessary to achieve political change. Never simplistic and always nuanced, the film raises important issues for all of the US as the conspicuous consumption of the superrich impacts all our lives. Vital viewing for those concerned with zoning, affordable housing and the changing character of residential America."
John Rennie Short, Professor of Public Policy, University of Maryland, Author, The Unequal City: Urban Resurgence, Displacement and the Making of Inequality in Global Cities
"A valuable classroom resource for both sustainability and urban planning classes. There are no easy answers in this film--as the filmmaker learns when he tries to decide how big his own house should be. The many viewpoints shown here and the town's long process toward resolution are sure to fuel classroom or community discussion on how sustainable development might best be achieved in other settings as well."
Stephen Wheeler, Professor of Environmental Design, Landscape Architecture Program, University of California - Davis, Author, Planning for Sustainability: Towards Livable, Equitable, and Ecological Communities
"Engaging and provocative...Provides a contemporary example of how the values of individual consumption are pitted against the values of preserving community well-being and, ultimately, social and environmental sustainability. This film raises important and challenging questions about the contested nature and boundaries of community, the exercise of political agency, and the complexity of the multiple dilemmas associated with growth, development and the 'tragedy of the commons.'"
Dr. Kai Schafft, Associate Professor, Education and Rural Sociology, Director, Center on Rural Education and Communities, Penn State University
"When it comes to houses, size matters...One Big Home reveals the deep divisions caused by the clash between current residents and new ones who have the money to build their dream homes. For students and others, it demonstrates how citizen participation on limiting residential development can help preserve community character, raising key questions on the balance of private property rights with land use regulation."
Terry Szold, Adjunct Professor of Land Use Planning, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Principal, Community Planning Solutions
"One Big Home...really stands out in the current climate and will give US cinemagoers something refreshingly different to engage with...Intelligent and thoughtful."
Jennie Kermode, Eye For Film
"Offer[s] viewers insights from multiple perspectives and an inside look at how one community decided together in determining its future."
Kimberley Mok, TreeHugger
"When will a small community fight to protect its character? One Big Home provides an engrossing case from Martha's Vineyard where the residents of Chilmark observe and debate the construction of giant homes. Students, activists, and community leaders will be inspired to consider their role in their own communities as well as both what Americans consume and what Americans value."
Brian Miller, Associate Professor of Sociology, Wheaton College
"An indictment of our culture of over-consumption, One Big Home tells a story of rural gentrification...With lessons for architects, urban planners, and community organizers, the documentary describes the struggle for the preservation of community character and a way of life that is grounded, simple, and both socially and environmentally sustainable."
Shannon Van Zandt, Professor of Landscape Architecture and Urban Planning, Professor of Residential Land Development, Texas AandM University
"A thought-provoking documentary that requires introspection upon seeing it."
Melissa Michaels, L'Etage Magazine
"The documentary's success is that it includes the viewpoints of multiple parties - avoiding a one-sided bias...Bena's film becomes not so much an indictment of mega-mansions, but a rallying cry to local communities to have a voice in the conversation."
Michael d'Estries, Mother Nature Network
"An absorbing account of a community's effort to deal successfully with the issue of protecting character and environment while supporting the local economy."
Town Topics Newspaper
"Aside from spotlighting the essentialness of local government, the film draws compelling connections between property ownership and oft-unexamined ideals of liberty...As the film's title suggests, the biggest home is one all humans share - and it can only satisfy unstoppable appetites for so long."
Alexander Castro, Newport Mercury