Back to IndieWire

23rd Hamptons International Film Festival Picks ‘Truth’ for Opening Night and Reveals Competition Program

23rd Hamptons International Film Festival Picks 'Truth' for Opening Night and Reveals Competition Program

READ MORE: Hamptons International Film Festival Announces 14th Annual Screenwriters’ Lab

The Hamptons International Film Festival (HIFF) has announced that James Vanderbilt’s “Truth” will be the Opening Night film on Thursday, October 8 in East Hampton, New York. The film stars Robert Redford, Cate Blanchett, Topher Grace and Elisabeth Moss and follows news anchor Dan Rather (Redford) during his final days at CBS News. The Sony Pictures Classics film will open in theaters on October 16.

“We had the pleasure of having James Vanderbilt serve as a mentor in our Screenwriters Lab back in 2009, and we’re thrilled to have him back as the director of our Opening Night film,” said HIFF Artistic Director David Nugent. “He’s made a sharp and insightful film with wonderful performances that makes audiences consider the ever-changing relationship between journalism and politics in today’s media.”

HFF has also revealed the titles competing in its its narrative and documentary film sections. Highlights in the Narrative Competition include Matt Sobel’s “Take Me To The River,” Avishai Sivan’s “Tikkun” and Grímur Hákonarson’s Cannes-winning “Rams,” while David Shapiro’s “Missing People” and Michael Madsen’s “The Visit” will screen in the Documentary Competition.  

The Feature Jury Prize winner in each category receives a package of essential goods and services valued at over $85,000 to be used toward the making of his or her next feature film and a cash prize of $3,000. This year’s jury includes Michael H. Weber (writer of “(500) Days of Summer”), Dan Guando (head of U.S. Production and Acquisitions at The Weinstein Co.), Josh Charles (star of “The Good Wife”), Marshall Fine (renowned author, journalist and film critic) and Sarah Lash (acquisitions consultant at Conde Nast Entertainment.).

The full lineup for each competition can be found below. HIFF runs October 8-12. Synopses provided by the festival.

Narrative Competition Films

East Coast Premiere
Director: Ciro Guerra
Inspired by the real experiences of explorers in the Amazon, EMBRACE OF THE SERPENT centers on the relationship between Karamakate, a shaman of an extinct tribe carrying secrets and traditions, and two scientists in search of a sacred plant, capable of immense healing. Opting for powerful black and white cinematography, director Ciro Guerra tracks their parallel stories over 40 years with trips deep into the jungle. Winner of the top prize at the Cannes Directors Fortnight, the film intimately captures the thirst for knowledge and the ravages of colonialism that have destroyed the harmony and balance at the heart of the indigenous way of life.
RAMS (Iceland)
East Coast Premiere
Director: Grímur Hákonarson
Brothers Gummi (Sigurdur Sigurjonsson) and Kiddi (Theodor Juliusson) live side-by-side but have not spoken in forty years. Stubborn and competitive, they only communicate via handwritten notes delivered by their loyal sheepdog Somi. When a deadly virus threatens their prize-winning sheep and livelihood, they are forced to come together to save their unique family breed, and themselves, from extinction. Winner of the Un Certain Regard Award in Cannes, RAMS details the hardships of daily farm work in remote Iceland with humanism and humor.  Stunningly combining otherworldly landscapes and powerful performances, director Grímur Hákonarson expertly builds this gentle comedy to reveal a deeper and emotionally moving tale.
East Coast Premiere
Director: Matt Sobel
Accompanying his parents to a Nebraskan family reunion couldn’t be more uncomfortable for Ryder (Logan Miller), a gay Californian teenager. For his mother’s sake he agrees to act “normal,” but nonetheless attracts some unwanted attention from his conservative relatives. The only one who seems to like him is 9-year-old Molly (Ursula Parker), but a strange encounter between the two of them raises many questions and places Ryder at the center of a long-buried family secret. A superbly acted drama from first-time filmmaker Matt Sobel, TAKE ME TO THE RIVER reveals itself through Ryder’s perplexed point of view, unfolding in an atmosphere of mystery and trepidation.
TIKKUN (Israel)
East Coast Premiere
Director: Avishai Sivan
Haim-Aron (Aharon Traitel) is considered an illui (a prodigy) at his Yeshiva. He is absorbed in his studies to such a degree that he completely isolates himself from the outside world, going days without eating or sleeping. When a near death experience changes his perspective on life, he starts to slowly explore life outside of his secluded ultra-orthodox community and begins to doubt his faith. Seeing Haim-Aron’s transformation torments his father (Khalifa Natour) with nightmares in which he is instructed to perform Tikkun (rectification). With its riveting performances and the arrestingly beautiful black and white cinematography, Avishai Sivan’s haunting film is sure to linger long in your imagination.
US Premiere
Director: Diastème
Marco (Alban Lenoir) is a young Neo-Nazi and skinhead who, along with his friends, terrorizes the lower-class suburbs of Paris hoping to clear out the “scum” that is polluting the pure, white landscape of their beloved country. Spanning almost 3 decades in Marco’s life as he struggles to understand his own anger and brutal actions, this evocative and moving portrait–the sophomore effort from writer-director Diastème–offers a rare and unsettling look into the rise of xenophobia in France. With a brilliant performance by Lenoir, this poignant drama distinguishes itself as a unique and powerful work by an emerging talent.

Documentary Competition Feature Films

CHUCK NORRIS VS COMMUNISM (United Kingdom, Romania, Germany)
New York Premiere
Director: Ilinca Calugareanu
In the 1980s, the last decade before the revolution overthrew communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, Romania was marred by intense austerity, isolationism and a pervasive cultural blackout. For the oppressed population, a new form of escapism emerged: illicit video nights in which smuggled Western films were shown. The majority of the films were dubbed by the same person, Irina Nistor, one of the most recognizable voices in pre-revolution Romania. First-time director Ilinca Calugareanu’s endearing and entertaining documentary shows how the magic of film created an awakening that helped to instill the seeds of the revolution.
East Coast Premiere
Director: Jean-Gabriel Périot
Covering a decade of worldwide political unrest (1965-1975), A GERMAN YOUTH is a fascinating portrait of the Baader-Meinhof Group (a.k.a The Red Army Faction), a radical movement which drew into its orbit not only disillusioned students, but also established journalists and intellectuals as well as important filmmakers such as Michelangelo Antonioni, Jean Luc Godard and RW Fassbinder. Culled together from a fascinating pastiche of agitprop, news broadcasts, interviews, student films, and other archival footage, A GERMAN YOUTH provides the context for an ideology that shaped an entire generation.
East Coast Premiere
Director: David Shapiro
MISSING PEOPLE follows Martina Batan, the director of a prominent New York art gallery, as she investigates her young brother’s long unsolved murder while obsessively collecting and researching the violent work and life of Roy Ferdinand, an outsider artist from New Orleans. Driven by both a hunger for closure and an inexplicable fascination with Ferdinand as an artist, Martha’s journey is truthfully captured by Shapiro’s brave approach to this unusual and personal story. As Martina struggles to process the information she has dug up, the inevitable collision of these parallel narratives leads to a chain of dramatic events.
THE VISIT (Finland, Denmark)
New York Premiere
Director: Michael Madsen
Michael Madsen’s engrossing new documentary imagines an event that has yet to happen — an alien invasion on Earth. Leading us on a captivating journey through surreal, slow-motion, dream-like tableaus intercut with interviews with scientists from NASA, SETI (Search For Extraterrestrial Life Institute) and experts from the UN, THE VISIT takes an imagined encounter and stimulates the implications and the potential response from humankind. With questions such as “What makes you happy?,” “Do you know what is good and what is evil?,” “How do you think?” and of course, “Why are you here?,” Madsen constructs an unsettling scenario that forces us to reconfigure our insular mentality and reflect on humanity.
World Premiere
Director: Jon Fox
Orphan. Entrepreneur. Recluse. Genius. Megalomaniac. Inventor Joseph Newman is all of the above. A controversial figure in the scientific community, Newman rose to notoriety with “The Newman Device,” an electromagnetic machine that he claimed produced more energy than it took to power it. What should have been a revolutionary discovery was stopped by a lengthy and disheartening legal battle with the United States Patent Office. In his enthralling debut, filmmaker Jon Fox deftly seeks to understand the enigmatic inventor — through intimate discussions with Newman’s colleagues and, surprisingly, with the man himself.

READ MORE: Hamptons International Film Festival Announces New Signature Programs

Sign Up: Stay on top of the latest breaking film and TV news! Sign up for our Email Newsletters here.

This Article is related to: News and tagged ,

Get The Latest IndieWire Alerts And Newsletters Delivered Directly To Your Inbox