North Fork TV Festival: Showcasing the Best of Tomorrow’s TV

Kelsey Grammer (©PATRICKMCMULLAN), Aasif Mandvi (©Gregg Delman), Constance Wu (©Ruven Afanador)
Kelsey Grammer (©PATRICKMCMULLAN), Aasif Mandvi (©Gregg Delman), Constance Wu (©Ruven Afanador)

With the Hamptons International Film Festival and the Hamptons Doc Fest showcasing brilliant films on the East End every year, the annual North Fork TV Festival stands alone in shining the spotlight on the small screen. The grand two-day festival returns to Greenport Theatre on October 4–5 offering a schedule brimming with pilot screenings, celebrity award ceremonies, Q&As with successful showrunners (the people in charge of a TV show’s creative vision and management) and more.

The festival’s first pilot screening is the world premiere of cerebral thriller Perception, written and directed by PJ Posner. It tells the story of a neuroscientist who has spent her entire career trying to prove that humans’ sense of sight can’t be trusted. That hypothesis is put to the ultimate test when she becomes an eyewitness to a grisly murder. Supermodel, entrepreneur, executive producer and TV host Frederique van der Wal will present the pilot with the Adelphi Aperture Award, which recognizes the artistry of independent storytellers.

The next pilot on view is the U.S. premiere of Ups and Downs, which follows a young man with Down syndrome (portrayed by James Martin) who tricks his sister (Rosie Barry) into a road trip to a wild concert. Their epic adventure finds them with no phones, no money, no plan and a frantic mother (Susan Lynch) on their tail. The pilot, written and directed by Eoin Cleland, screens on Friday, October 4 at 3 p.m. with a post-screening Q&A moderated by David Greenwalt, writer and director of Grimm.

The Friday night headliner and winner of the festival’s inaugural Alfred P. Sloan Science + Technology Script Competition is Distemper, directed by Elias Plagianos and written by Maxwell Pitango, at 7 p.m. The world premiere pilot, starring Chiké Okonkwo, Lee Sellars and Tara Westwood, tells the true story of LGBT icon and pathologist Louise Pearce (Abigail Hawk) as she searches for a cure for the African Trypanosomiasis disease affecting millions across the Belgian Congo. A Q&A moderated by News 12’s Elisa DiStefano follows the screening. After the Q&A, Chris Noth will present Kelsey Grammer with the Canopy Award for his persistence and integrity in the New York TV community, which stokes the creative ambitions of diverse people with stories to tell. The evening concludes with an opening night party at Claudio’s.

Greenport Theatre
Greenport Theatre, Photo: Courtesy North Fork TV Festival

The North Fork TV Festival schedule also includes a special family program, The Power of Kindness, on Saturday at 11 a.m. that honors children’s programming pioneer Alice Cahn with the Award for Achievement in Children’s Television. Cahn will discuss how storytelling helps transform inspiration into action in a Q&A moderated by children’s media consultant and content creator Sara Berliner.

An ex-’90s child star from Manhattan Public Access TV will stop at nothing to relive her glory days in Rainbow Ruthie, directed and written by, and starring Ruth Marantz. Co-starring actors Ayumi Patterson, Abraham Makany and Alexis Bronkovic, the screening takes place on Saturday, October 5 at 1:30 p.m. and is followed by a Q&A moderated by Smash creator Theresa Rebeck.

In Saturday’s 4 p.m. screening, Otis, a man attempts to convince a fellow psych ward patient to help start an uprising that will allow him to escape and win back the love of his ex-fiancée and daughter. The pilot is directed by, written by and stars Alexander Etseyatse and co-stars Dwinsley Homere, Keithen Hergott, Murray Adams, Brian Hibbler and Jenelle Simone. The post-screening Q&A is moderated by Raising the Bar co-creator David Feige. After that, journalist Donna Freydkin will present Aasif Mandvi with the Inspiration Award for his ability to inspire creators to work toward a brighter, more diverse future in television.

RELATED: Aasif Mandvi Talks Television, Inspiration and Story Creation

The final screening, M, takes place on Saturday, October 5 at 7 p.m. The pilot, directed by Javier Devitt and written by Mateo Ingouville and Ezequiel Schmoller, stars Alena Chinault, Jon McCormick, Marcelo Melingo, Heinz K. Krattiger and Juan Alari in a mystery that sees a young couple tricked by a con man into continuing a disbanded search for a long-lost father. Rockne S. O’Bannon, creator of Defiance, will moderate the post-screening Q&A. Greenport Mayor George Hubbard Jr. will then present Constance Wu with the Ambassador for the Arts letter of commendation for her commitment to and promotion of the arts and for her work to encourage young people to excel in the arts within the North Fork community. The festival concludes with a thrilling party at Green Hill Kitchen.

For tickets and more information on the North Fork TV Festival, running October 4–5 in Greenport, visit

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