It’s show time! The 24th Annual Hamptons International Film Festival (HIFF) is back to an East End theater near you over Columbus Day weekend. Feature length and short films from countries all over the world will be screening at Guild Hall in East Hampton, East Hampton Middle School, Bay Street Theater in Sag Harbor, as well as the East Hampton and Southampton Regal Movie Theaters.
This year’s Career Achievement Award will honor actor, director, producer, activist and three-time Academy Award nominee Edward Norton at a special Awards Dinner on Sunday, October 9 at The Topping Rose House in Bridgehampton. Friends of Mr. Norton, including Alec Baldwin and other industry peers, will be in attendance to celebrate his career. “Edward Norton is an incredibly accomplished actor and filmmaker, whose performances have been both iconic and award winning,” said HIFF Executive Director Anne Chaisson. “We are thrilled to have the opportunity to honor him this year at the Hamptons International Film Festival.”
Before that, though, the festival will open Thursday, October 6 in East Hampton with the Jeff Nichols written and directed feature Loving, which tells the story of the landmark 1967 civil rights decision of the U.S. Supreme Court. Closing out the festival this year will be the film adaptation of Philip Roth’s 1997 novel, American Pastoral starring Ewan McGregor and Dakota Fanning, who will be in attendance at the festival.
“We are thrilled to have such powerful and thought-provoking films as Loving and American Pastoral as our Opening and Closing Nights at the festival this year,” said HIFF Artistic Director David Nugent. “Jeff Nichols and Ewan McGregor are two tremendously talented filmmakers with impressive careers and we look forward to screening their projects.”
This year’s competition slate, which honors emerging directors with global perspectives representing cinema’s next generation of innovative film artists, includes five films in each of four categories (Narrative and Documentary Feature and Narrative and Documentary Short) from 13 countries and five continents. Twelve of the films are making their U.S. premiere and one will be making its world premiere. The entries have been described as “revelatory,” “mesmerizing,” “heart-wrenching” and “raw.” But don’t just take our word for it. A full list of the films and synopses can be found by category at hamptonsfilmfest.org
The Jury Prize winners for both the Narrative and Documentary Competition will receive a package of essential goods and services at a combined value of $125,000 to be used toward the making of their next feature film, and a cash prize of $3,000 per film.
There’s good news for the five films included in the Documentary Short Film Competition, too. HIFF is now an Academy qualifying festival for the Documentary Short Subject Award and can grant the winner of its Documentary Short Film Competition eligibility to enter the Documentary Short Subject category of the Academy Awards without a standard theatrical run.
This year’s Signature Series will also be sure to captivate audiences. Anne Chaisson says “Each year these sections have attracted some of the brightest filmmakers from across the globe to the Hamptons, bringing stimulating, entertaining and intelligent material to audiences.”
The Films of Conflict and Resolution program, supported by the Brizzolara Family Foundation and now in its 17th year, is “dedicated to showcasing films that deal with the complex issues and societal effects of war and violence, and the attendant human dramas, in creative ways.” Of the three feature documentaries shown this year, one will be awarded a cash prize of $5,000 from the Brizzolara Family Foundation.
Now in its second year, the Compassion, Justice & Animal Rights Signature Program “provides a platform for filmmakers to share meaningful information, stories of inspiration, and tools for creating a safe and humane world for animals.” Two feature documentaries will be shown in the category, one of which will receive the Zelda Penzel “Giving Voice to the Voiceless” Award, a $1,000 cash prize presented to a film that raises public awareness about the moral and ethical treatment and the rights of animals, as well as environmental protection.
Brand new in 2016 is The Air, Land & Sea Program, which focuses on global issues of environmental conservation, clean water, and the integrity of our planet’s natural resources, with an ocean centric focus. The goal of this program is “to generate awareness around man-made environmental issues and allow filmmakers and experts to share information and discuss solutions to these global problems.”
And don’t be surprised to see one or more films at this year’s HIFF playing a prominent role during award season. 2014 marked the 6th time in a row that a film in the Festival has become the eventual Best Picture winner at the Oscars (for 12 Years a Slave), making HIFF the only Festival on the East Coast with such a distinction.