Hampton Daze: North Fork TV Festival

With the Hamptons International Film Festival coming up and the North Fork TV Festival held this past weekend, screenings of high-quality programming are in abundance on the twin forks in early October.

The North Fork TV Festival returned to Greenport last weekend to much fanfare, and included sold-out screenings and discussions. The festival celebrates the evolution of television, both mainstream and independent. The two-day event brought together actors, executives, writers, and directors to the Village of Greenport.

On Friday, October 4, I attended the world premiere screening of “Distemper,” which was directed by Elias Plagianos, written by Maxwell Pitagno, and stars Abigail Hawk, Chike Okonkwo, Lee Sellers, and Tara Westwood. The pilot tells the story of pathologist and LGBT icon Louise Pearce as she works to find a cure for African Trypanosomiasis as it affects millions across the Belgian Congo in the early 1900s. A lively talk with the cast and directors, moderated by News 12’s Elisa DiStefano, followed the screening.

The festival’s Canopy Award went to the Emmy, Golden Globe, and Tony Award-winning Kelsey Grammer. Previous Canopy recipient Chris Noth presented the award. The two TV staples (“Frasier” and Mr. Big from “Sex and the City”) discussed Grammer’s early life in acting and continued through his experiences on two of his monster-hit TV shows, “Frasier” and “Cheers.”

Noth asked Grammer which show aired more episodes.

“We did three less. 267 ‘Cheers’ episodes, 264 ‘Frasier,’” recalled Grammer. “It just pissed me off,” he said, joking. “So I’m still gunning for that record.” A party for the festival’s opening night was held at Claudio’s.

The festival includes a competition for independent pilots. Out of the winners there were screenings of “M,” created and directed by Javier Devitt, “Otis,” created by Alexander Etseyatse, “Rainbow Ruthie,” created by Ruth Marantz, and “Ups and Downs,” created by Erin Cleland.

“Our vision is a global marketplace for independent scripted video,” said founder Noah Doyle. “We’re starting that as explicitly as we can — by pairing extraordinary creators with show runners who will be their mentors and champions.”

On Saturday, October 5, I attended the screening of “M,” the story of a young American couple, Diane and Tim, who give up their search for Tim’s father in Patagonia only to encounter a local conman. The screening was followed by a Q&A moderated by festival jury member Rockne O’Bannon.


Actress Constance Wu was awarded the Ambassador for the Arts award, presented by Greenport Mayor George Hubbard. Wu most recently starred in hit films like “Hustlers” as well as “Crazy Rich Asians,” and the comedy series “Fresh Off The Boat.”

“It was our pleasure to welcome Constance Wu to Greenport,” said Hubbard. “The Village of Greenport has long been known to be a harmonious and ethnically diverse community, and we applaud Constance Wu for her work in furthering awareness of Asian-American representation in television and film arts.”

“I’m an artist and what I care about is humanizing characters and I happen to be Asian. So any character I play is going to be Asian-American. I care about humanizing these voices that other people have marginalized or stereotyped,” said Wu during her conversation with Cynthia Littleton of Variety.

The closing night party was held just down the street at Green Hill, concluding the festival. To learn more about the North Fork TV Festival visit www.northfork.tv.

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