Hamptons Fest Adds Initiatives and Announces Lineup for 11th Annual Fest
by Brian Brooks
One of the East Coast's high-profile film events, the Hamptons International Film Festival, announced its plans yesterday at the Sony building in New York City with a large slate of films including 22 world premieres, seven North American premieres, 11 U.S. premieres, 26 East Coast premieres and 14 New York premieres. Opening the festival October 22nd in the tony village of East Hampton, N.Y. will be the East Coast debut of Wayne Kramer's "The Cooler," starring William H. Macy as the 'unluckiest casino man in Las Vegas.' The film was in competition at the 2003 Sundance Film Festival.
The Hamptons hosts one of the richest competition events in U.S., with $180,000 in good and in-kind services awarded to the winner of the Golden Starfish Feature Competition. The slate of five films, which will vie for the prize include the East Coast premiere of Van Flesher's romantic comedy, "Burning Annie." Director/screenwriter Chris Iovenko's world premiere of "Easy Six" starring Julian Sands, Katherine Towne, John Savage and Jim Belushi will also compete for the prize, which is used for the winning director's next project. Other world premieres in the feature competition include Marylou Tibaldo-Bongiorno's family comedy feature debut "Little Kings," and Kirk Davis' east-Texas set, "Screen Door Jesus." Deborah Kampmeier's East Coast debut of "Virgin," her film about a woman rebelling against her religious family will also screen in the competition.
Five films will compete in the festival's Golden Starfish Documentary section, which awards $10,000 in cash and in-kind services. Among the films screening in the sidebar is Rick McKay's "Broadway: The Golden Age, By the Legends Who Were There" (New York premiere), which uses film footage, press clips as well as interviews with more than 100 people from the era including Carol Burnett, Carol Channing, Angela Lansbury, and Stephen Sondheim to tell the story of Broadway's glimmering past. Amy Morrison Williams' world premiere of "The Morrison Project" will also compete in the section. The festival describes the film as documenting "the life of a man and the history of a neighborhood, both prone to beauty, art and violence." In addition to the feature and documentary competitions, HIFF will present a $5,000 cash prize to one of seven films competing in its Golden Starfish Shorts category.
Jon Favreau's "Elf" is among the festival's spotlight films set to screen at the event. Films in this section are 'high-profile' films that are shown ahead of their theatrical release. Others include the East Coast premiere of Sue Brooks' "Japanese Story," which played in Telluride and Toronto, as well as fellow Toronto feature "Girl With a Pearl Earring" by Peter Webber. Festival fav "Off the Map," Campbell Scott's second offering will play the fest along with Siddiq Barmak's "Osama," the first feature to emerge from Afghanistan after the fall of the Taliban.
Also screening in the spotlight section is the U.S. premiere of Toronto 2003 feature "Madness and Genius," the debut film by 22 year-old director Ryan Eslinger. The writer/director has been selected as this year's recipient of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Film Prize in Science and Technology. The award is a year-round program supporting filmmakers whose narratives focus on science and technology.
For the fourth year, HIFF will present issues oriented work in its Films of Conflict and Resolution section with five titles screening in competition and sixteen films out of competition. Errol Morris' Toronto 2003 doc "The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons of Robert S. McNamara" will screen in the section out of competition. The film traces the U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War through interviews with former Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara, who played a central role in America's engagement in the Southeast Asian country.
The festival's world cinema features and world cinema documentaries sections will present films from around the globe. Fourteen films will screen in the two sidebars including the U.S. East Coast debut of Rotterdam 2003 feature "Noi Albinoi" by Icelandic director Dagur Kari. From the United States is Alison Bagnall's Los Angeles Film Festival film, "Piggie." Rodrigo Bellott's "Sexual Dependency" (Bolivia/U.S.) will have its East Coast debut in the section. The coming-of-age film won the FIPRESCI Award at the 2003 Locarno International Film Festival. Danish director Lone Scherfig's Toronto 2003 feature "Wilbur Wants to Kill Himself" (Denmark/UK) will also screen in the world cinema features section.
In world cinema documentaries section, U.S. director Jamie Johnson's Sundance 2003 film "Born Rich" will screen. The film examines the lives of children who inherited old money wealth in the U.S. as well as the children from the American nouveau riche and European aristocracy. Also screening is Toronto 2003 favorite, "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised" by Kim Bartley and Donnacha O'Briain. The film is a mesmerizing doc that follows the ultimately unsuccessful coup against Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez in April 2002.
For the second year, HIFF will showcase its Rising Stars: Screen Acting Discoveries, which introduces audiences to emerging actors whose performances have helped "contribute so critically to the films selected for viewing at the festival." Also, HIFF announced that it has partnered with the Berlin Film Festival and European Film Promotion's 'Shooting Stars' program to send the Rising Stars participants to the International Talent Campus in Berlin in February. This year's five participants are Mylika Davis and GQ from "Just Another Story," (directed by GQ), Savannah Haske and Dean Wareham from Alison Bagnall's "Piggie," and Elizabeth Moss from Deborah Kampmeier's "Virgin," screening in competition.
As previously reported in indieWIRE, HIFF will launch its inaugural Travel + Leisure International Forum on Main Street in East Hampton bringing together international filmmakers, companies and organizations to showcase world cinema to American filmmakers and audiences. The festival will close October 26th with the East Coast premiere of Robert Benton's "The Human Stain," starring Anthony Hopkins, Nicole Kidman, Gary Sinise, Anna Deveare Smith and Ed Harris.