Hamptons International Film Festival 2019: A Celebration of Cinema

HIFF Friday Centerpiece film "The Irishman"
HIFF Friday Centerpiece film "The Irishman," Photo: Courtesy HIFF

This year’s Hamptons International Film Festival (HIFF), running from October 10–14, marks an important milestone for the annual celebration of cinema from all over the world. Ahead of this year’s festivities, HIFF has announced its new parent company, HamptonsFilm, to recognize its year-round programming.

“I’ve been thrilled to watch the Hamptons International Film Festival evolve over nearly three decades from a five-day film festival to an organization providing year-round film programming and education to nearly a million film enthusiasts throughout the region,” says Randy Mastro, Board Co-Chair. “The arts—and, in particular, film—bring us all together as a community, and that’s what HamptonsFilm has been and will be doing all year long.”

Matt Damon and Christian Bale in Twentieth Century Fox’s “Ford v Ferrari,” Photo: Courtesy HIFF

“What we wanted to do is have this reflect who we are as an organization,” says HIFF Artistic Director David Nugent. “We put on this five-day festival every year, which is our biggest event for sure, but we have been and continue to be a year-round organization that serves the community. We do a lot of screenings and labs and programs to teach kids about filmmaking all year, so we really wanted to have the organization’s name reflect what we do…People would see the name Hamptons International Film Festival and think all we do is a five-day festival, when in reality we do a lot of stuff all year-round.”

Nugent is looking forward to this year’s festival. “We spend the entire year working to get a whole new lineup of films and filmmakers coming. I’m most excited for people to come see the films. You prepare in a bubble in a certain sense,” he says. One of the festival’s series, Views from Long Island, spotlights movies that feature Long Island, whether they were filmed here, have local talent or are about the area. “This year is a particularly rich year for that series. We are lucky and had a lot of strong work from which to pull.”

The festival’s year-round preparation process unofficially begins at the Sundance Film Festival. “I go to the Sundance Film Festival with colleagues in January, and we start there,” Nugent says. “I then go to a number of other festivals—South by Southwest, Cannes, Toronto—and in February, people send us films. We have a few thousand films that are sent to us. The programming team amps up, we hire more programmers and get together with 20 or so different people that help us watch these films. We end up with thousands of films we’re considering and narrow it down to roughly 70 feature films we show and about 50 short films. So it’s quite a long process, and I have a really great programming team, and I really enjoy doing it every year.”

One of the four words in the festival is “International,” and Nugent is proud that many selections are from abroad. “For the rest of the year, the area doesn’t see enough international cinema. I really take it seriously,” he says. “We have films from Senegal, China—all over the world.”

The quality selections at HIFF each year have not gone unnoticed by the greater film industry. “We’re the only festival in the world that has screened the eventual Best Picture winner nine years in a row,” Nugent notes. “That’s really created a lot of excitement in the industry. A lot of people come out here to catch up on films from throughout the year and to see new films. The industry is very excited about the success we’ve been lucky enough to have in awards season, as well.”

HIFF selection "Aleppo"
HIFF selection “Aleppo,” Photo: Courtesy HIFF

This year’s films include several highlights:

Just Mercy (Opening Night Film)

The Irishman (Friday Centerpiece)

Ford v Ferrari (Saturday Centerpiece)

The Two Popes (Sunday Centerpiece)

Waves (Closing Night film)

The Aeronauts, The Artist’s Wife, Clemency, Frankie, A Hidden Life, Human Capital, Jojo Rabbit, Marriage Story, The Report, Scandalous, The Song of Names, Western Stars (Spotlight Films)

For Sama, Collective, The Capote Tapes, Pahokee, Oliver Sacks, His: Own Life, Varda By Agnés (Documentary Films)

In addition to the many film screenings, there are a number of talks and panels throughout the festival:

A Conversation with Alfre Woodard (Saturday, October 12, 6:15 p.m., Bay Street Theater): Emmy winner, Golden Globe winner and Oscar nominee Alfre Woodard will discuss her iconic career in film and television.

A Conversation with Brian De Palma (Saturday, October 12, 2:30 p.m., Guild Hall): Amagansett’s Alec Baldwin will talk with storied filmmaker Brian De Palma, who is known for such films as Carrie, Phantom of the Paradise, The Untouchables, Blow Out and many more.

Saturday Winick Talk: Breakthrough Artists (Saturday, October 12, 10 a.m., Rowdy Hall): Each year, the festival honors breakthrough talent, and this year’s honorees—Aldis Hodge, Camila Morrone and Lulu Wang—will participate in a discussion about their careers.

For tickets and more information, visit hamptonsfilmfest.org. Rush tickets are often available for sold-out screenings, so come early.

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