Hamptons International Film Festival Comes Alive

Kevin Ulrich and Bob Balaban

by Debbie Tuma

After last year’s virtual and drive-in film festival due to the pandemic, it was good to have live activities once again at the 29th Hamptons International Film Festival. The festival had a smaller venue, showing movies at Sag Harbor Cinema and Guild Hall in East Hampton. But for the first time, the festival lasted a week instead of five days, since with Covid, the audiences were smaller and more spaced out at each screening. This way, they could include more people in the seven days, from October 7-13.

Maggie Gyllenhaal & Alec Baldwin

This year’s festival, presented by HamptonsFilm, screened 61 movies from 34 countries, with 5 world premieres. Also this year, 53% of films were directd by women, and 36% were directed by filmmakers of color. As an attendee of this prestigious festival for over 25 years, I have always been amazed at how many of these movies become Oscar winners. This recent festival marked the 11th time in a row that a film has become the Best Picture winner in the Academy Awards, making the Hamptons International Film Festival the only festival in the world with such a distinction.

Credit goes to HFF’s staff including Artistic Director David Nugent, who spends countless hours watching and selecting these films, as well as HFF Executive Director Anne Chaisson, and Chairman of the Board, Randy Mastro. Chair Emeriti Alec Baldwin, Stuart Suna, and Toni Ross were some of the original people behind this festival. This year. Artist Toni Ross created the HFF poster.

Selma Blair

This year’s award-winning films included “Murina,” for Best Narrative Feature,” “Ascension,” for Best Documentary Feature, “Bad Omen,” for Social Justice, “Good Grief,” for Suffolk County Next Exposure Grant, “Cow,” for Giving Voice to the Voiceless Award, “Queen of Glory” NY Women in Film and TV Award, and others. This year, the HFF was honored to partner with the NY Film Critics Circle for the 13th year.

The HFF gives awards and cash prizes to filmmakers each year…over $5 million in cash, goods and services over the past 29 years.

Each year, East Hampton, Sag Harbor, and Southampton have come alive with famous movie stars, who came here to promote their films. Many, including Richard Gere, Annette Bening, Isabella Rosselini, Angelica Houston, and Roy Scheider,  have come here for the annual “Conversation With,” where they would be interviewed on stage. Unfortunately this did not happen this year, but will hopefully next year, for the exciting 30th HFF Anniversary. Still, many movie stars, producers and directors attended this years HFF, including Alec Baldwin, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Bob Balaban. Liz Garbus and Beth Levison.

Get ready for next year’s 30th Hamptons International Film Festival when it rolls into town!

Hamptons Film Festival…A Quick Review

by Sue Giustino

During the week long 29 th Hamptons Film Festival, we were able to catch three films: each creative performance exploring completely different topics.

C’mon C’mon by Writer-director Mike Mills. The striking black-and-white cinematography and outstanding performances by Joaquin Phoenix, Gabby Hoffman, and newcomer Woody Norman, makes C’MON C’MON a deeply moving story. This film examines diverse connections between adults and children, while captivating the viewer with the emotional journey of each character.

THE POWER OF THE DOG directed by Jane Campion, revolves around the relationship between two polar-opposites rancher brothers [Benedict Cumberbatch, Jesse Plemons]. Taking place in rural Montana in the early 20th century, the story develops as the older brother marries a widow [Kristin Dunst], with an emotionally sensitive son [Kodi Smit-McPhee]. The union triggers an escalation of the emotional instability of the tormented younger brother, creating an explosive yet mysterious chain of events.

The French DispatchCLOSING NIGHT FILM. Written and directed by Wes Anderson (THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL) depicts an American newspaper in a fictional 20th-century French city that brings to life a collection of stories published in The French Dispatch; Each unique and absurdly unraveled story is taken from a section of the paper and narrated by the author. The star-studded cast includes: Frances McDormand, Willem Dafoe, Liev Schreiber, Henry Winkler, Timothée Chalamet, Tilda Swinton, Saoirse Ronan, Bob Balaban, Owen Wilson and Bill Murray.

Prior to the screening, HIFF Executive Director Anne Chaisson and Artistic Director David Nugent spoke to the audience thanking their many supporters and the closing night sponsor Silver Cup Studios, and Main Sponsor Audi. Followed by a film introduction by Bob Balagan., one of Wess Anderson’s recurring cast members -Wess is famous for working with many of the same cast members in all his pictures.

Founded in 1992, The Hamptons International Film Festival celebrates independent film—long, short, narrative and documentary—and introduces a unique and varied spectrum of international films and filmmakers to our audiences.

The non-profit organization offer year-round screenings of global narrative and documentary films, a renowned summer documentary program, a Screenwriters Lab, and extensive educational initiatives.
In addition to their annual Hampton Film Festival ‘Best’ category awards, this year
the $10,000 PETER MACGREGOR SCOTT MEMORIAL AWARD was awarded for the first time. Sponsored by Susan Macgregor Scott in memory of her husband Peter, this award is designed to recognize new filmmakers, specifically narrative short filmmakers, rewarding creative approaches to solving practical production challenges in the service of storytelling. Congratulations to this year’s recipient: BAD OMEN, directed by Salar Pashtoonyar.