HT2FF – Hamptons Take 2 Documentary Film Festival
is about to take place for its 7th edition, December 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th just after Thanksgiving
and before Christmas. For four days the Bay Street Theater in Sag Harbor on Long Island’s East End, is booked back-to-back with documentaries of the finest
caliber but which are not necessarily premieres.These are films that both deserve and need exposure, hence the festival title, “Take 2”. The audience is
enthusiastic and loyal.
Jacqui Lofaro was herself a documentary filmmaker until she started this festival which now consumes her days and nights. Not that she doesn’t have an idea
for her next documentary, but, at this moment the festival, is exploding, a case of spontaneous combustion. The festival has taken over her life with
screenings throughout the year, such as this spring’s screening of Frieda Lee Mock’s 2013 critically acclaimed film, “Anita”. With a panel of experts the screening was an event playing to a packed house. It
didn’t matter that the film had already had its theatrical release. According to Jacqui “that’s what Take 2 is all about. Our mission is simply to show
great documentary films to our local East End audience”. This festival reaches out to the community by showing films throughout the year in local libraries
This year, the festival will screen a total of 32 documentaries at the Bay Street Theater. Using only one theater venue makes this festival intimate and
very, very easy.
There is a balance in the festival between social issue documentaries and other docs, and between bringing in filmmakers and focusing on community
filmmakers. Indeed the first day of the festival is devoted to regional filmmakers with a “Focus on Locals”.
In addition, the festival will feature several sections which are targeted at local youth: Young Voices (short docs made by local middle and high school
students), Future Voices (films by Student Filmmakers from the NYC Media Arts Centers) and Emerging Voices (two strong films by recent graduates of the
School of Visual Arts MFA Social Documentary Program, introduced by documentary filmmaker and SVA professor, Deborah Dickson).
The Evening Galas are not red-carpet-celebrity events. Rather they honor documentary filmmakers such as Richard Leacock the inventor of the sound-sync
camera or Susan Lacy of American Masters or Chris Hegedus & D A Pennebaker. This year the honors go to Barbara Kopple who has been making
ground-breaking docs for 40+ years. Her first film on a devastating coal miners’ strike in Kentucky, “Harlan County USA”, was an Oscar winner, and will
screen to this growing audience of doc fans.
This rock-solid festival is not premiere driven. However, this year the festival was offered the New York premiere of Michael Apted’s “Bending the Light”
about lens making for photographers and filmmakers, and will also feature the east coast premiere of “The Big Beat”, made by local filmmaker and archivist,
Joe Lauro. Also screening is Martin Scorsese’s “Fifty Year Argument”, an HBO documentary about the anniversary of The New York Review of Books.
The closing night film is reserved for the annual Filmmaker’s Choice Award which this year goes to Wendy Keys both filmmaker and former administrator at
the Film Society of Lincoln Center. Her documentary “Milton Glaser: To Inform & Delight, “ a warm and insightful view of the iconic American graphic
designer of the “I Love New York” campaign and the founder of New York Magazine, will be the feature film.
The enthusiasm and efficiency behind this festival abide with Jacqui to such an extent that I wondered how she did it and wondered about her own docs, made
by her company Justice Productions.org. She said they do not have traditional distribution, however, they
continuously sell on Amazon’s Create Space, and she is invited to speak and show the film at universities, libraries and other venues where audiences care
about social issues. Recently the Reel Recovery Film Festival showed “The Last Fix: An Addicts Passage from Hell to Hope” at the Quad. “The Empty Chair:
Death Penalty Yes or No,” the recipient of the 2006 prestigious Thurgood Marshall Broadcast Journalism Award aired on national television on the Hallmark
Channel’s World of Faith and Values and is still actively requested as well.
The festival has welcomed Karen Arikian (former Exec. Dir of the Hamptons International Film Festival and currently the US rep for the Berlin International
Film Festival) on board as Creative Advisor, and Jacqui has put together an Industry Advisory Board of top film and television professionals. Jacqui
describes board meetings at the Paley Center for Media (Board Member, Ron Simon, is Paley’s Curator for TV and Radio) taking place in the Chairman’s office
around Paley’s own round leather desk. As Jacqui puts it: “Now that’s a place of inspiration”.
Industry Advisory Board:
– Executive Producer, Documentaries and Development at PBS/WNET; former
producer at ESPN; documentary filmmaker at HBO Sports; executive at HBO Original Documentary Programming.
Karen Arikian –
Founded her independent consulting company with offices in Germany and New York for clients including BAFTA, Toronto International Film Festival, Hamburg
Media School; US Delegate to (Berlinale) Berlin International Film Festival.
– Founded “Pentimento Productions” in 2014, with a film to premiere on HBO, the first in an exclusive multi-picture deal with HBO Documentary Films; former
creator, director & executive producer of 200 documentaries for the PBS “American Masters” series.
– Documentary director and cinematographer whose credits can be found on five Academy Award winning feature documentaries and numerous public television
programs; co-directed and shot the Emmy Award winning Great Performances documentary “Itzhak Perlman; In The Fiddler’s House.”
Susan Margolin –
President of Docurama and Special Acquisitions at Cinedigm. She oversees the recently launched Docurama Channel as well as the Docurama brand of award
winning documentary films across all platforms including theatrical, home entertainment, and digital distribution.
– Producer, director and Academy Award winner for the documentary short, “Close Harmony;” producer and director of films and video for theaters,
television, not-for-profits, major businesses with works earning nominations and accolades from the Director’s Guild of America, Cannes Film Festival,
Telluride Film Festival.
– Director, producer and cinematographer of documentaries that have won an Emmy Award, a Peabody Award and two Academy award nominations. He is a
co-founder of Florentine Films with Ken Burns.
– Curator of television and radio for The Paley Center for Media; an adjunct associate professor at Columbia University, New York University and Hunter
College; judge on the George Foster Peabody committee; member editorial board of Television Quarterly.