Now in its 26th year, the Hamptons International Film Festival (HIFF) is an annual East End staple. Under the direction of Artistic Director David Nugent, the festival has thrived and become an important film industry event. HIFF returns from October 4–8 to cinema venues throughout the Hamptons.
“It’s our 26th year,” Nugent marvels, admitting that last year’s 25th anniversary was “a massive endeavor.” Nugent is excited for this year’s films. “We’ve got a really strong lineup,” he says, adding that he searched far and wide to develop the program. “It’s not that we’re looking for any particular film; we’re at the mercy of the films that are produced each year. So I have a group of people who work really hard, and we go to Sundance, Berlin, Cannes, Toronto….our executive director [Anne Chaisson] went to Telluride.”
The festival opens with the East Coast premiere of Sara Colangelo’s The Kindergarten Teacher, and closes with Joel Edgerton’s Boy Erased. This year’s Spotlight Films, which are some of this fall’s more anticipated pictures, include Peter Hedges’ Ben is Back, Shawn Snyder’s To Dust, Ashgar Farhadi’s Everybody Knows, Peter Farrelly’s Green Book, George Tillman Jr.’s The Hate U Give, Matthew Heineman’s A Private War, Emilio Estevez’s The Public, Paul Dano’s Wildlife, Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma, and Rupert Everett’s The Happy Prince.
It’s a rich slate of films, to be sure. There are also special events, such as the “A Conversation With…” series. This year, director Damien Chazelle will be on-hand to discuss his latest work, First Man. Chazelle, 32, won the Oscar for La La Land. Look for A Conversation With… to also include Maggie Gyllenhaal (starring in The Kindergarten Teacher), and Estevez, who will discuss The Public. “He’s blossomed into a talented filmmaker,” Nugent notes.
Also unique to HIFF is the Views from Long Island series, which includes Khalik Allah’s Black Mother, Emily Anderson’s short Only the Wind Is Listening and Michael Dweck’s documentary The Last Race. “Michael Dweck is a photographer out here. The Last Race is a beautifully shot documentary, and it’s done with someone with an eye for great visuals,” says Nugent.
This year’s festival will also highlight films that tackle the #MeToo movement, including Tom Donahue’s documentary This Changes Everything. “It’s about female representation in Hollywood,” explains Nugent. “This Changes Everything [shows how] depictions of women, even in cartoon characters, set people up for a lifelong vision of what women’s roles should be.” The film features Geena Davis, Meryl Streep, Natalie Portman and other female Hollywood stars.
Nugent is thrilled with how far the Hamptons International Film Festival has come. “I think we continue to work on what our strengths are,” he says. “The last eight years, a film in the festival has gone on to win best picture at the Oscars, so a lot of people get excited. [Films in the festival garnered] 47 Oscar nominations last year. We screen a lot of foreign language titles which go on to be nominated.” Nugent also wants audiences to know that Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck’s Never Look Away, which Germany selected as its Oscar entry, was just added to the lineup and will play the festival.
The Hamptons International Film Festival will take place from October 4–8 in cinemas throughout the East End. For tickets, passes, packages and information on all the films, visit hamptonsfilmfest.org.