Enter the Hamptons International Film Festival

Typically, when one thinks of film festivals, three spring to mind: TriBeCa, Toronto and Sundance. For any fan of cinema, attending a festival is a must at some point in their life. Personally, I’ve been lucky enough to go to a few. There is one that has me excited every year: The Hamptons International Film Festival (HIFF). Scheduled for October of this year, the HIFF is always on the cutting edge of awards season, crowning multiple films that go on to win Best Picture Oscars or Independent Spirit Awards months later.

The HIFF began its annual festivities over 20 years ago, with the goal of bringing independent voices in the field of features, shorts and documentaries to the tastemaking Hamptons crowd. Met with success, the fest continued, drawing high-profile actors and filmmakers like Alec Baldwin, Martin Scorsese, Darren Aronofsky and Charlize Theron along with countless others by continuing their initial goal of allowing filmmakers from all over the globe to express their particular artistic vision. The HIFF also provides many opportunities for festival visitors to participate in discussions with prominent artists, directors and actors.

“A Conversation With…” is a series of chats with individuals held at Guild Hall and moderated by a different host at each event. Past conversationalists include Steven Spielberg, Matthew Broderick, Susan Sarandon, Ellen Burstyn and James Franco, among many others. Billed as the signature event of the Hamptons International Film Festival, “A Conversation With …” affords attendees and cineastes the opportunity to get an inside peak into the artist behind their favorite film or piece of music. Guild Hall also provides a beautiful venue, along with an intimate atmosphere, as there are only 360 seats in the theater.  Having been to Guild Hall many times, I can honestly say that it’s one of my favorite spots to catch a film, as well as to take in a lecture by someone as legendary as Spielberg.
For those who wish to take part in the Screenwriter’s Lab, the HIFF takes their concept of “fresh voices” and matches them with established screenwriters (past mentors include James Vanderbilt, Mark Heyman and Whit Stillman) in order to further shape and mold the future of filmmaking. The festival seeks a wide variety of screenplays for their Screenwriter’s Lab, and boasts that many writers who have taken part in the Lab have gone on to be produced. This particular part of the festival is held in the spring.

According to the HIFF website, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and the HIFF began a partnership to present a cash prize to a film that features a “realistic and compelling portrayal” of science and technology. This is obviously not the place to see something like Transformers or Aliens, but perhaps a place to see something along the lines of The Fountain or maybe Primer. A particularly interesting aspect of the film festival, the Hamptons/Sloane Feature Film prize is something indie filmmakers can submit their off-beat, sci-fi inspired films (as long as the science is sound and the technology is realistic) to.

For over 10 years, the HIFF has sought to further the careers of talented young actors and actresses as part of its Breakthrough Performers Program. Past winners include Emily Browning (Sucker Punch) and Alexander Skarsgard (True Blood), as well as Frieda Pinto (Slumdog Millionaire) and (The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo). With so many young, talented performers lighting up screens in 2012, it’ll be interesting to see who’s next!

Submissions are open for the 2012 Hamptons International Film Festival, but the window is closing fast (July 13), so check out their web site and submit! You may end up being the next big thing in film!



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