The much-anticipated annual Hamptons International Film Festival is set to return for its 28th edition from October 8–14 in an exciting new format. HamptonsFilm recently unveiled their first wave of films to be screened via drive-ins and virtual screenings, and the selected films are more relevant than ever.
“Our lineup this year was curated, as it always is, from a combination of the thousands of blindly submitted films that we spent six months evaluating, combined with industry and local outreach from the programming team,” HamptonsFilm Artistic Director David Nugent explains. “This year, unlike others, we had to do the latter within the overall flux the industry and world has been in, and without being able to attend major film festivals such as SXSW, Tribeca, Cannes, Toronto, etc. The first group of announced films represents much of what we see as our strength—new independent films from around the world that our audiences are among the first in the world to see, as well as timely films grappling with social justice and local issues, and films that we hope awards voters will consider when the season wraps up.”
The festival opens with the world premiere of Glenn Kaino and Afshin Shahidi’s With Drawn Arms, which follows the legacy of track and field athlete Tommie Smith’s Black Power salute atop the podium at the 1968 Summer Olympics. The film features interviews with various subjects including soccer gold medalist and activist Megan Rapinoe, the late U.S. Representative John Lewis, and actor Jesse Williams, who also serves as an executive producer along with musician John Legend.
“We are particularly proud to be opening this year’s 28th edition with a film that explores a seminal moment from the civil rights movement that continues to resonate with today’s climate of conflict and change in With Drawn Arms,” Nugent says. HamptonsFilm will present the documentary with the Film of Conflict & Resolution Award, which they award to a film that deals with complex societal issues in creative ways, and also with a $5,000 cash prize from the Brizzolara Family Foundation.
Another film slated to make its world premiere is Rick Korn’s Harry Chapin: When in Doubt, Do Something, which will screen in the Views from Long Island section of the festival. The documentary illuminates award-winning local songwriter Harry Chapin, known for classics including “Cats in the Cradle” and “Taxi,” and celebrates the legacy of the artist and activist who tirelessly dedicated himself to others.
Florian Zeller’s The Father will screen in the Spotlight Section. The film follows a father and daughter’s relationship in the face of his ailing memory and stars Academy Award winners Sir Anthony Hopkins and Olivia Colman.
Two films making their East Coast premieres are Edson Oda’s Nine Days, a gripping tale of a man living in a metaphysical realm who is tasked with choosing one worthy soul to be born, and Elizabeth Lo’s documentary Stray, shot through the eyes of three stray dogs wandering the streets of Istanbul whose gaze acts as a window into the overlooked corners of society.
“While this year’s festival may look different, we look forward to supporting filmmakers by following our mission to showcase new voices and the best of cinema from around the world, plus we are delighted to continue giving over $28,000 in cash awards, as well as another $130,000 in goods and services to our competition winners,” says HamptonsFilm Executive Director Anne Chaisson. “Now more than ever, audiences need a place to escape, whether through a virtual or a drive-in screening, and can immerse themselves in entertaining, gripping and enlightening movies this fall.”
Read more about the announced 2020 Hamptons International Film Festival lineup below.
With Drawn Arms
dir. Glenn Kaino, Afshin Shahidi (USA), 2020
While the national anthem played during the 1968 Olympics, gold medal-winning champion Tommie Smith proudly raised his fist in the air; this act of silent protest has become one of the most recognizable images in the history of sports. Almost fifty years later, Smith has partnered with artist Glenn Kaino to help explore and expand his legacy. In the process, the duo travel around the country, meeting with key figures who were inspired by Smith’s sacrifice and working on new art projects designed to connect Smith’s intention to a new generation. The untold story of his sacrifice becomes a cautionary tale of how we must work together to keep each other’s stories alive and a reminder of how much, but also how little, has changed for athletes who are using their voices to make a difference.
Harry Chapin: When in Doubt, Do Something
dir. Rick Korn (USA), 2020
Harry Chapin, the award-winning songwriter behind beloved hits such as “Cats in the Cradle” and “Taxi,” defined his life through his storytelling and his humanitarian work. In this deeply moving portrait, documentarian Rick Korn chronicles the Long Island icon’s extraordinary journey—from his rise to fame to his tragic, untimely death. Through intimate archival footage and interviews with his famous friends and fans—including Billy Joel, Pete Seeger, Pat Benatar, Bruce Springsteen and many more—the film celebrates the legacy of an artist and activist who tirelessly dedicated himself to others, and offers an inspiring call to follow in his footsteps.
dir. Florian Zeller (UK/France), 2020
Roguish, feisty and staunchly in denial about his ailing memory, 80-year-old Anthony (Anthony Hopkins) defiantly lives alone in his London flat and rejects each and every caretaker his dutiful daughter, Anne (Olivia Colman) attempts to hire. But she cannot continue to care for him alone, and Anthony’s grasp on reality and his sense of self soon begin to unravel, casting him as the unreliable narrator of his own story. Seamlessly adapted from his award-winning play of the same name and anchored by two spectacular performances, Florian Zeller’s astonishing directorial debut is a deeply moving, uncompromisingly empathetic contemplation of how illness can strip away everything from those afflicted and those who are closest to them.
dir. Edson Oda (USA), 2020
Living in a lonely outpost in an unknown, metaphysical realm, Will (Winston Duke) is tasked with observing those going about their days on Earth. When an unexpected tragic event leaves a vacancy for a new life, Will must carefully whittle five prospective candidates down to one worthy soul—the winner has the opportunity to be born, while the others lose that chance forevermore. But Will soon faces his own existential challenge in the form of Emma (Zazie Beetz), a free-spirited candidate unlike the others, and he is forced to reckon with his own tumultuous past. An extraordinary feature debut, Edson Oda’s brilliant and haunting piece grapples with the enormous complexity of the human condition.
dir. Elizabeth Lo (USA), 2020
Through the eyes of three stray dogs—Zeytin, Nazar and Kartal—wandering the streets of Istanbul, this film explores what it means to live as a being without status or security. As they search for food and shelter, the dogs embark on inconspicuous journeys through Turkish society that allow viewers an unvarnished portrait of human life. Disparate lives intersect when they each form intimate bonds with a group of young Syrians who share the streets with them. Whether they lead the audience into bustling streets or decrepit ruins, the gaze of these strays act as windows into the overlooked corners of society—women in loveless marriages, protesters without arms, refugees without sanctuary. The film is a critical observation of human civilization through the unfamiliar gaze of dogs and a sensory voyage into new ways of seeing.
For more information, visit hamptonsfilmfest.org.