The Hamptons International Film Festival (HIFF) has tallied up the votes and now reveals the winners of the 23rd annual festival’s audience awards.
Director Michael Moore’s Where to Invade Next was voted the Best Documentary Feature while director Lenny Abrahamson’s Room won the Best Narrative Feature honor. All-American Family by Andrew Jenks won for Best Short Film.
“We are so pleased with the dedication of our filmgoers to consistently vote for their favorite films each year,” said HIFF artistic director David Nugent. “Our Audience Award winners are indicators of the level of films we are able to bring to the festival each year.”
Moore attended the festival screening of Where to Invade Next Saturday at Guild Hall in East Hampton, and he noted that it was only the second time the film was shown to an audience—after the New York Film Festival premiere a week earlier. The title of the film belies the true nature of the film. The documentary follows Moore to a number of European countries as well as Tunisia to learn about social programs and policy, and to take those ideas back to America. In the course of his journey, Moore learns that many ideas that are deep-seated in other nations today were originally American ideas. He said they did not initially set out to make that case. “That was something we discovered while we were making it.”
Among the ideas and programs Moore learned about were several weeks of time off for laborers, free higher education, decriminalization of drugs, chefs for schools, and mandating at least 40% of members of corporate boards be women.
Moore explained that he intentionally went into interviews knowing very little, so his reactions to learning about laws and policies—such as three weeks paid time off for honeymoons—are sincere. “When you see me gobsmacked, I’m actually gobsmacked,” he said.
Moore acknowledged that the countries he visited and praised for their ideas also have their problems, which he hardly touches on in Where to Invade Next. But he reiterated what he said in the film: “I wanted to pick the flowers, not the weeds.”
“They have a lot of good ideas that were ours that we should bring back,” he said.
He noted that the United States also has problems, such as 45 school shootings so far in 2015, but said that does not mean no one should take American ideas and apply them to their countries.
Room, starring Brie Larson—a past HIFF Actor to Watch—and Jacob Tremblay is based on Emma Donoghue’s novel about a 5-year-old boy, Jack, and his mother, Ma, who have been captive for years. The film explores the mother-son bond and how Jack comes to terms with learning there is more to the world.