The Hamptons International Film Festival was back in town for its 27th year from October 10 through the 14. The festival opened with “Just Mercy,” directed by Destin Daniel Cretton, a heart-wrenching film starring Jamie Foxx and Michael B. Jordan. The biographical film, based on the memoir by Bryan Stevenson, follows a young lawyer, played by Jordan, in his history-making battle for justice. In attendance at the screening were actors Tim Blake Nelson and Rob Morgan.
I was also able to view two eye-opening documentaries at this year’s festival.
The first was the world premiere of Anthony Baxter’s “Flint,” which took a hard look at the Michigan water crisis caused by a change win the source of the city’s drinking water from treated Lake Huron to the polluted Flint River, which resulted in serious health issues that ranged from coliform bacteria to chlorine byproducts and the leaching of lead.
The film, told from the views of residents and scientists, is narrated by HIFF co-chairman Alec Baldwin. A panel moderated by Nicole Delma followed the screening. The film was part of HIFF’s “Air, Land, and Sea” program.
Magnolia Pictures’ “Scandalous: The True Story of the National Enquirer,” directed by Mark Landsman, told the story of what former editor-in-chief Steve Coz called “the most perfectly placed piece of propaganda in America.” The film reveals how the paper capitalized on the celebrity fascinations of the American people and its ruthless and sometimes immoral methods of reporting. The film spotlights several major moments where the Enquirer had the story before anyone else, including scoops about Bill Cosby, Bob Hope, OJ Simpson, and Arnold Schwarzenegger.
It also highlights how the publication ultimately changed the course of history, including during the 2016 election, and created the current norm of sensationalism and tabloidization within “mainstream” news sources.
Other highlights from the weekend included an opening night party at Wölffer, a Filmmakers Reception at The Spur East, and the Chairman’s Reception at Paola’s. There was also the “A Conversation With . . .” series that included Alfre Woodard and Brian De Palma.
Legendary director De Palma was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award, presented by Baldwin at the festival. HIFF co-founder and founding chairman of the board Toni Ross was honored with the Dick Cavett Artistic Champion Award on opening night by Baldwin and HIFF co-chairman Randy Mastro.
“A White, White Day,” directed by Hlynur Pálmason, won the award for Best Narrative Feature. “Overseas,” directed by Sung-a Yoon, received the award for Best Documentary Feature. “Just Me And You,” directed by Sandrine Brodeur-Desrosiers, received the award for Best Narrative Short Film, and “Ghosts of Sugar Land,” directed by Bassam Tariq, won for Best Documentary Short Film.
“The Artist’s Wife,” directed by Tom Dolby, was awarded the Suffolk County Next Exposure Grant. “Conscience Point” was presented with the Victor Rabinowitz & Joanne Grant Award for Social Justice.
2019 Breakthrough Artists included Aldis Hodge of “Clemency,” Camila Morrone of “Mickey and the Bear,” and Lulu Wang of “The Farewell.” To learn more about the Hamptons International Film Festival, visit www.hamptonsfilmfest.org.