A Closer Look at HIFF 2016 Signature Programs Films (with Trailers)

A scene from HIFF Signature Programs film "Sonic Sea"
A scene from HIFF Signature Programs film "Sonic Sea"

The Hamptons International Film Festival (HIFF) has unveiled a selection of films from the Signature Programs section of its 24th edition, on October 6–10. The films will screen as part of the returning Conflict & Resolution and Compassion, and Justice & Animal Rights programs, as well as the new Air, Land & Sea section of the festival, focusing on global issues of environmental conservation with an ocean-centric focus. More films will be announced in the coming weeks.

In the meantime, read about the selected films in each section and watch their trailers (if available) below.

The 2016 Hamptons International Film Festival is scheduled for Columbus Day Weekend, October 6–10. Founders Passes are currently on sale, and other ticket packages will be available for purchase beginning Tuesday, September 6. Individual tickets will go on sale at the end of September. Visit hamptonsfilmfest.org to purchase passes and for additional information.


East Coast Premiere
Directors: Stephen Apkon, Andrew Young

The stirring documentary Disturbing the Peace, from Award-winning director Stephen Apkon and Academy Award® nominated director Andrew Young, follows a group of Israeli soldiers and Palestinian fighters who bravely transition from former enemies to peace activists. Moving away from the protracted conflict that has caused nothing but disruption and tragedy in their own lives, they decide to form “Combatants for Peace” a bi-partisan organization whose main goal is finding a peaceful resolution to the conflict. Their transformational journey is a testament to the courage necessary to challenge the status quo despite the resistance encountered along the way.

FIRE AT SEA (Italy / France)
Director: Gianfranco Rosi

Berlin Golden Bear-winning documentary Fire at Sea is a beautifully crafted and poignant depiction of the European migrant crisis told from the perspective of a twelve-year-old boy. Due to its proximity to the African continent, the sleepy Sicilian island of Lampedusa has transformed in recent years into the primary transit point for migrants dreaming of freedom and a better life in Europe. Gianfranco Rosi’s masterfully shapes the story around a lively local boy, Samuele. Though his community has been thrown into transitory chaos, he seemingly lives a normal life: going to school, exploring the island, and spending time with his friends and family and Rosi skillfully juxtaposes his mundane activities over the tragedies unfurling in the background, daily, on the island.

HOME (Republic of Kosovo, United Kingdom)
Part of the Shorts Program
Director: Daniel Mulloy

A young English family sets out on a very different kind of holiday.

Part of the Shorts Program
Director: Melissa Langer

Forced to flee to South Africa, a Syrian family anxiously awaits news from home.

SONITA (Germany / Iran / Switzerland)
Directors: Rokhsareh Ghaem Maghami

Sonita Alizadeh is a young Afghan refugee living in Iran and dreaming of becoming a famous rapper. Her family, on the other hand, has different plans for Sonita, who is worth $9,000 as a bride. But Sonita’s dreams are big and unyielding to the pressure surrounding her. She defies local expectations and fights back with her music by crafting powerful lyrics that condemn a society filled with violence and oppression. Together with Iranian filmmaker Rokhsareh Ghaem Maghami, who shifts from observer to active participant in Sonita’s life, they form a powerful coalition determined to bring joy and hope to everyone who witnesses their award-winning story.

THE WHITE HELMETS (United Kingdom)
Part of the Shorts Program
Director: Orlando von Einsiedel

Having chosen to remain in the war-torn city of Aleppo, the volunteer rescue group, the White Helmets, heroically risk their lives to aid their neighbors.


New York Premiere
Directors: Kief Davidson, Richard Ladkani

Bringing to light the dramatic and dire fate of the African elephant The Ivory Game documents the efforts to stop the systematic slaughter that is driving the African elephant to extinction. Poachers sow destruction in pursuit of the “white gold” of ivory, considered by many cultures a luxury item and status symbol. For more than a year, Award-winning director Richard Ladkani and Academy Award® nominated director Kief Davidson filmed in Africa and Asia with the help of conservationists, intelligence organizations, frontline rangers, and undercover activists trying to expose the institutionalized corruption that supports the illegal ivory trade.

Directors: Chris Hegedus, D.A. Pennebaker

In Unlocking the Cage, acclaimed filmmakers D.A. Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus follow animal rights lawyer Steven Wise in his unprecedented attempt to break down the legal wall that separates animals from humans by filing the first lawsuits seeking to transform a chimpanzee from a “thing” with no rights to a “person” with legal protections. With Tommy and Kiko, former showbiz chimps now living in neglected cages, at the center of the debate, Wise makes a compelling argument that thrusts the case into the media spotlight. UNLOCKING THE CAGE is a riveting courtroom drama filled with heart and compassion in the face of overwhelming opposition.


Directors: Michelle Dougherty, Daniel Hinerfeld

Whales and other marine life are surrounded by a unique and powerful sonic symphony. These underwater sounds help define their existence and guide them towards food, mates, and safety. Narrated by Rachel McAdams, Sonic Sea dives into their fragile world and explores the tragic impact of industrial and military ocean noise. Featuring interviews from dedicated experts and activists, filmmakers Michelle Dougherty and Daniel Hinerfeld’s must-see documentary points to the man-made sources of oceanic noise pollution and explores ways in which we can act to protect these beloved creatures.

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