The Hamptons International Film Festival announced details of its 13th edition Wednesday evening during an event at the Sony building in Midtown Manhattan. The fest, which will run October 19 – 23 on the east end of Long Island, New York, will include 27 world premieres, 23 U.S. premieres, four North American debuts, 18 east coast and seven New York premieres. The Hamptons fest will also once again hold its signature “Golden Starfish” narrative and documentary competitions, which features one of the richest prizes awarded in the U.S. The east coast debut of Scott McGehee and David Siegel’s “Bee Season” will kick off the event in East Hampton, the hub of the festival, which also hosts screenings in neighboring towns, including an expanded presence this year in the exclusive Southampton enclave.
Starring Richard Gere and Juliette Binoche, the “Bee Season” follows the story of a couple whose collapsing marriage is complicated by the father’s obsession with helping his 11 year-old daughter’s quest for a spelling bee triumph. The film is based on a nationally best-selling book by Myla Goldberg. The east coast premiere of director Gore Verbinski’s “The Weather Man” will close the Hamptons. The film, starring Nicolas Cage, Michael Caine and Hope Davis (who is slated to attend), also employs the troubled marriage theme about a Chicago weatherman who questions whether professional and personal success are “mutually exclusive.”
Six titles will compete for the Hamptons’ Golden Starfish Feature competition, carrying with it $170,000 in “goods and in-kind services” to be used for the filmmaker’s next project, one of the most lucrative fest prizes in America. This year, international titles as well as U.S. features will vie for the award. The competition line up includes director/screenwriter/producer Bernadine Santistevan’s world premiere thriller, “The Cry,” about a mother who abducts children and tears open the throats of unfaithful men. The world premiere of writer/director Ali Selim’s “Sweet Land” is an “intimate” story of immigrants struggling to establish homesteads in Minnesota following World War I.
Mongolian/German production “The Cave of the Yellow Dog” (U.S. premiere) will also screen in competition. Filmed on the Mongolian steppes by Oscar-nominated director Byambasuren Davaa (“The Story of the Weeping Camel”), the story uses non-actors incorporating the real-life day-to-day activity of a local family in telling a “warmhearted” story of the daughter’s discovery of a puppy sheltered in a cave. Writer/director Susan Traylor’s “Welcome to California” (world premiere) focuses on an actress who has little difficulty attracting men, can never get them to return her phone calls, but emerges triumphantly with a plan to transform her situation and those of the men she meets. In the world premiere of writer/director Stefan C. Schaefer’s “Confess” (U.S., world premiere), the dreadlocked son of a recently laid-off mother (“21 Grams”’s Melissa Leo) exacts revenge on her former boss by placing a hidden camera into his office and posting images of his sexual liaisons online. Finally, in Hannes Stohr’s “One Day in Europe” (German/Spain, North American premiere), four robberies that take place in four European countries are interwoven in a mélange of languages and a continent intoxicated by soccer mania in a story that pokes fun at the new “European melting pot.”
Five films will compete in the festival’s Golden Starfish Documentary section, which includes $10,000 in cash and in-kind services. The east coast debut of Canaan Brumely’s “Ears, Open. Eyeballs, Click,” a doc following the rigors of basic training in a marine boot camp is included in the lineup. Israeli director Shosh Shalam’s U.S. premiere “Be Fruitful and Multiply” takes a look at women’s oppression in an ultra-Orthodox patriarchal society. Jaci Judelson’s “Tina Barney: Social Studies” (France, world premiere) explores the life and work of the artist in the context of a European series she embarked on after losing inspiration in her home environs in the U.S. Amy Nicholson’s “Muskrat Lovely” (U.S., world premiere) captures the 50th anniversary pageant and skinning contest in Dorchester County, MD, an annual event that occurs in the close-knit community that ends with an outdoor beauty contest and the world championship Muskrat Skinning competition. In David Zeiger’s “Sir! No Sir!” (U.S., New York premiere) Vietnam-era servicemen and women recall their experience as the few line voices of dissent and remember their participation in the anti-war movement.
This year’s recipient of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Film Prize in Science and Technology, which honors a feature-length film that explores science and technology themes in “fresh and innovative ways” will go to the debut feature by Canadian Su Rynard’s “Kardia,” about a woman who’s experimental heart operation she underwent as a child has mysteriously linked her life with another. The film was produced by Paul Barkin.
In other HIFF plans, five films will compete for the fest’s Golden Starfish Shorts competition ($5,000 cash prize), while 16 films will screen in the event’s Spotlight Films series. The section spotlights films shown in advance of their theatrical release, including Eugene Jarecki’s Sundance award-winning “Why We Fight” (east coast premiere), Majdal Sham’s U.S. premiere of “Syrian Bride,” and Toronto 2005 debut “Liza with a Z,” a restored version of the landmark Emmy winning concert, which aired in 1972. Twenty features will screen in the festival’s World Cinema Fatures, including Sundance ’05 feature “Unknown White Male” and Seattle ’05 winner, “Swimmers.” Additionally, HIFF will again present its Films of Conflict and Resolution series, consisting of “films that are unique in their multi-faceted portrayals of conflict around the world.” Six features will screen in the fest’s Films of Conflict and Resolution competition, with others playing out of competition, including festival circuit favorites “The Fall of Fujimori” by Ellen Perry (east coast premiere) and “Favela Rising” by Jeff Zimbalist and Matt Mochary.
Actors Alec Baldwin and Miranda Richardson will serve as this year’s mentors for HIFF’s “Rising Stars” program, which invites six actors to participate in a program designed to nourish upcoming talent. This year’s participants include Eugene Byrd (“Confess,” Golden Starfish narrative competition), Kip Pardue (“Laura Smiles,” world cinema), Emily Blunt (“Gideon’s Daughter,” Spotlight Cinema), Florian Lukas (“One Day in Europe,” Golden Starfish narrative competition), Elizabeth Reaser (“Sweet Land,” Golden Starfish narrative competition), and Jake Muxworthy (“Piggy Banks,” Spotlight Films).
“This year with the encouragement of our board of directors and our newly formed Southampton Committee, we have been able to implement an expansion we have wanted to do for many years,” commented HIFF executive director Denise Kasell in a statement. “This will enable a greater constituency and offer even more tastemakers for our distributors and producers. With the growth of the festival there are even more filmmakers in attendance.”
[For more information and a full line up, visit the Hamptons website.]