A cultural institution that just seems to get more prestigious every year, the Hamptons International Film Festival (HIFF) just concluded it 26th incarnation. Executive Director Anne Chaisson has been instrumental in transforming a local film fest into what’s been called the “secret Oscar season.” Chaisson dishes on what she loves about the Hamptons and what she’s most proud of accomplishing at HIFF.
Behind the Hedges: How long have you been coming to the Hamptons?
Anne Chaisson: I moved to New York City in 1992 and started spending every second of the summer in the Hamptons immediately. The Hamptons has so much—from the beaches to vineyards to places to hike. The more you come out, the more you find to explore. I’m now in my third year of living here full time and I just adore it. I still find new pockets to discover.
BTH: Describe your perfect day on the East End in detail.
AC: I’d wake up, ride my bike for 15 miles. Get coffee at Jack’s in Amagansett, then go to yoga. Then my husband and I would go to brunch. We’d go to the beach, then walk the dog, then have dinner at one of our favorite places: Nick & Toni’s, Highway, Harbor Bistro. We also love lunch at John Papa’s in East Hampton.
BTH: What is the greatest part about your job?
AC: I am able to expose audiences to the best of films. My love of film and experience in filmmaking helps me bring artists to cinephile audiences to enjoy.
BTH: If you could snap your fingers and instantly have another career, what would be your dream job?
AC: More of what I’m doing now! I’d love to be able to be able to bring year round screenings here, with more films shown in more places.
BTH: How has the Festival evolved over the years?
AC: We’ve expanded into a 12-months-a-year nonprofit cultural institution. Our Screenwriters Lab develops screenwriting talent and has involved some very famous writers. Our Summerdocs series has just had its 10th anniversary.
BTH: What are you most proud of during your time at HIFF?
AC: This is my sixth year. I’m so proud that we’ve evolved into a year round institution in a prestigious community. Our membership has doubled, too. I am very proud that we present something for everyone.
BTH: If you could have anyone at your Hamptons dinner party—dead or alive—who would you invite?
AC: Alice Guy Blache, a prolific female director from the silent film era. She made more than 200 films and is mostly forgotten now. Judy Garland would be a fun addition. Jackson Pollock—I’d call him an Uber for the ride home. And why not Oscar Wilde?