By Brian Brooks | Indiewire September 26, 2008 at 10:00AM
The Hamptons International Film Festival unveiled its slate Friday afternoon, for its 16th annual event taking place October 15 - 19 on Long Island, New York's east end. Highlighting this year's roster of 122 films are 14 world, 23 North American and 18 U.S. premieres in addition to 15 East Coast and 15 New York debuts. Matt Tyrnauer's Toronto Film Festival doc "Valentino: The Last Emperor," about the Italian designer of the same name, will open the event, while the U.S. premiere of Charlie Kaufman's Cannes '08 feature, "Synecdoche, New York" will close the festival.
Six narrative features and five documentaries will screen in HIFF's Golden Starfish competitions, while 13 titles will screen as "Spotlight Films. Additionally, nearly two dozen films will screen in the festival's World Cinema Features section in addition to films in HIFF's "Conflict and Resolution" sidebar, which spotlight features dealing with war and injustice around the world.
Other HIFF highlights include a chat with Frances McDormand as part of its "A Conversation With..." series, moderated by Elvis Mitchell in addition to Jacqueline Bisset, moderated by Alec Baldwin. Wouter Barendrecht, founder and co-chairman of Fortissimo Films will be honored as this year's "Industry Toast," co-hosted with indieWIRE. "Short Bus" director John Cameron Mitchell will serve as M.C. for the evening.
"Our aim this year was to begin to develop long-term partnerships - both here and abroad - in order to solidify the foundation of our festival and to broaden its reach and appeal," commented Karen Arikian, HIFF executive director in a statement. "I think, with this diverse program, and the many international guests we are expecting, we have achieved this goal."
The full list of Golden Starfish narrative competition films (descriptions provided by the festival):
"'77," (USA, World Premiere) Dir. Patrick Read Johnson - with John Francis Daley, Colleen Camp, Austin Pendleton. Part autobiography, part fever-dream, '77 is the inspired true story of a young man's cinematic awakening, and a cinephile's delight.
"Boogie," (Romania, North American Premiere) Dir. Radu Muntean - with Dragos Bucur, Anamaria Marinca, Mimi Branescu, Adrian Vancica. This Romanian film follows a young husband and father of a three year-old on a weekend holiday. When he runs into a couple of high school buddies, Boogie longs to relive his past days of freedom, yet needs to come to terms with his new responsibilities.
"Dancers," (Denmark, North American Premiere) Dir. Pernille Fischer Christensen - with Trine Dyrholm, Anders W. Berthelsen, Birthe Neumann. When dance instructor Annika falls in love with shy electrician Lasse, she begins receiving a series of malicious, anonymous phone calls that slowly reveal her boyfriend's dark past. Ignoring her mother's wishes, Annika's continues with a relationship that potentially threatens her staid, comfortable life.
"My Mother, My Bride, and I," (Germany, US Premiere) Dir. Hans Steinbichler - with Matthias Brandt, Monica Bleibtrau, Maria Popistasu. In the German film My Mother, My Bride and I the loaf-like Erwin, a 41 year old man who has never left his mother's embrace, takes a young, fawn-like bride in Romania, much to mother's dismay, and then must decide what he is willing to risk to keep her.
"Troubled Water," (Norway/Sweden, North American Premiere) Dir. Erik Poppe - with Pal Sverre Valheim Hagen, Trine Dyrholm, Ellen Dorrit Petersen, Trond Espen Seim. Jan Thomas has served his eight year term for the murder of a young boy, and is released back into society a rehabilitated man. He begins to believe that he has truly left his past behind him - but now a boy is missing, and someone has been watching Jan.
"Vasermil," (Israel, East Coast Premiere) Dir. Mushon Salmona - with David Taplitsky, Adiel Zamro, Nadir Eldad. This Israeli drama depicts the lives of disaffected and struggling teenage boys confronting the volatile elements of clashing cultures and generations. When a football coach takes the boys in hand, they learn new meanings for the term 'streetwise,' and are confronted with choices that chart the course of their futures.
The full list of Golden Starfish documentary competition films (descriptions provided by the festival):
"Herb and Dorothy," (USA, NY Premiere) Dir. Megumi Sasaki. What happens when a librarian and postal worker fall in love with art? They amass one of the most important private collections in the country. Sol LeWitt, Robert and Sylvia Mangold, Chuck Close, and Christo and Jeanne-Claude all celebrate the true story of Herb & Dorothy Vogel.
"Loot," (USA) Dir. Darius Marder. Lance Larson, modern day treasure hunter, sets off on a globetrotting journey to find riches buried over sixty years ago by two WWII veterans. "Loot" finds philosophy in these men's stories, and in a journey that becomes far more about life than loot.
"Must Read After My Death," (USA, East Coast Premiere) Dir. Morgan Dews. An unconventional couple made over two hundred home movies, transcribed their telephone conversations and tape recorded many hours of self and family analysis. Morgan Dews has taken all these primary sources and crafted a suspenseful film about the fate of a deeply conflicted, nonconformist American family.
"Nursery University," (USA, US Premiere) Dir. Marc H. Simon, Matthew Makar. "Nursery University" evokes the world of the elite New York City 'feeder preschools,' supposed conduits to the very highest of higher education, as anxious parents, administrators and elementary school admissions consultants sweat out the complex, high-pressure process of the annual gleaning of the preschoolers.
"The Red Race," (China/Germany, NY Premiere) Dir. Chao Gan. With a keen emphasis on composition and rhythm, Director Chao Gan astutely presents the harsh life of kindergarten-aged gymnasts at China's Lu Wan District Youth Athletic School, where grueling training and ferocious competition break down children in order to build up the next Olympic champions.