Hamptons Take 2 Documentary Film Festival Opens with a ‘Big Beat’

Fats Domino
Fats Domino. Photo credit: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images; Courtesy HT2FF/Historic Films

The seventh annual Hamptons Take 2 Documentary Film Festival (HT2FF) is kicking off on Thursday, December 4, with a roster of films about love, art, dance, tragedy and the power of rock ‘n’ roll. Festival founder, Executive Director and a documentarian in her own right, Jacqui Lofaro will be presenting 32 films from directors ranging from Martin Scorsese to emerging talents, including a “Focus on Locals.” With all films being screened at Bay Street Theater in Sag Harbor, film fans will find it easy to take in as many screenings as they like, with breaks for shopping and snacking in Sag Harbor before diving back in.

“The whole point of making a documentary is to tell a story to an audience.” says Lofaro. “There is a big audience here in the East End for documentaries, and a huge need for filmmakers to have a second chance to screen their films.” Lofaro explained that many documentarians, after a screening at a festival, may not get the distribution to allow them to reach an audience again. “You will not get to see them in theaters, and to be able to see them in a theater on a big screen is a big thrill.” HT2FF seems tailor-made for East End film lovers, particularly as there is a Q&A after each film, providing opportunities to get an insider’s perspective. Bonnie Grice, WPPB radio personality, and writer/director Andrew Botsford will be on hand to emcee.

Although HT2FF is not premiere driven, this year’s festival will feature two premieres, both on different aspects of the arts. Bending the Light, from director Michael Apted of Coal Miner’s Daughter fame, is a look at the artisans who create camera lenses and the photographers and cinematographers who use them in their work. The Big Beat, from local music historian and documentarian Joe Lauro, focuses on the relationship between rock and roll legend Fats Domino and music producer Dave Bartholomew, who was inducted into the Rock ’n’ Roll Hall of Fame as a non-performer.

Lofaro is excited about a number of HT2FF highlights. The Friday screening of the HT2FF Spotlight Film, Martin Scorsese’s The Fifty Year Argument, a look at the 50-year history of the New York Review of Books will feature a Q&A with Jason Epstein, the co-founder of the New York Review of Books. The Saturday evening gala will celebrate the career of Academy Award-winning documentarian Barbara Kopple, who received two Oscars for Harlan County USA, which will be screened at the gala as well. There will be wine and food donated by fine area restaurants, opening remarks from Susan Lacey, creator/producer of the PBS Masters series, who has currently brought her talents to HBO, and a conversation with Kopple led by HT2FF board member Julie Anderson, herself the executive producer of documentaries and development at PBS/WNET. The gala is always a sold-out event.

Over the past seven years, Lofaro has been gratified to see the festival grow from an intimate affair to a four-day event. “For the first time this year, we are looking at the next wave of storytellers, Emerging Voices. We have made a relationship with the School of Visual Arts MFA program. We also have Future Voices, films from Downtown Community Television and the Educational Video Center who offer filmmaking programs for inner city kids. They need to tell their story.”

Lofaro herself came to documentary filmmaking from a background in journalism. “I wanted to be able to tell a real story. A great story makes a great documentary, that’s what drew me.” Audiences at HT2FF this year can expect to view some compelling tales. As for the filmmakers out there who are thinking about next year’s HT2FF, “We open up the field for submissions in early summer.” and yes, Lofaro is already hard at work on next year’s festival.

Tickets are $15 for each film segment, $13 for seniors. The Saturday night gala is $40, and a full festival pass for all four days, gala included, is $125. For more information, visit ht2ff.com, baystreet.org or call 631-725-9500.

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