So Many Movies & Only 10 Days: A Mid HIFF 2022 Update
A HIFF mid-festival update from film critic Bill McCuddy, who sees almost everything…
The sponsors are here! “Movies are better on Dragon Hemp!” Chelsea Clinton and Donna Karan are brought to you by Audi and Macallan whisky — just please don’t combine those two. And Chris Columbus on Columbus Day! What are the odds?!
Welcome to the 30th Hamptons International Film Festival (HIFF). It’s 10 days this year, so consider this a mid-fest update.
Opening night film Living was at the East Hampton Middle School, this years’ stunt double for Guild Hall, which is in the middle of a major renovation.
Notes & Quotes from HIFF 2022
“It’s a wild ride, we’ve been to a few festivals and we’re excited to be here,” says Oliver Hermanus. He’s the film’s director. Fun fact: star Bill Nighy is a national treasure in England and you can’t walk 10 feet with him in London “without being mobbed.”
A few minutes later HIFF Artistic Director David Nugent tells me he thinks the film will do well at things like the Oscars. He also likes The Son (where Hugh Jackman surprised audiences with a Q & A on Sunday), The Whale, The Banshee of Inisheri and Empire of Light.
On Saturday, the iconic Dick Cavett is walking the red carpet for his doc Groucho & Cavett. He stops for me wearing a hearing aid that looks like a 1970s Sony Walkman. (The technology has gotten better, Dick. They go in the ear now.)
He tells me we need someone like Groucho today. Then he goes in for the film. I do, too, along with GoldDerby critic Thelma Adams. She’s an old pal.
“It makes a big difference to see films in movie theaters. And this year there’s a joy in coming back. In New York, in Toronto, it felt good being together,” she tells me. And she has a special place in her heart for this festival. “For me, as an industry insider, this fills out my card. By the time I’ve seen the movies here, it gives me the complete context.”
Groucho & Cavett is well received.
But let’s address the 800-pound gorilla in the room. Alec Baldwin is back at the Hamptons Film Festival. He’s moderating. He and Dick are old friends. It goes well. (The film is on PBS at the end of December as part of the “American Masters” series.)
The only other time I see Alec is Sunday. He brought his family to the Chairman’s Reception. But he is understandably not talking to reporters. In fact, the last time I talked to him was at last year’s festival. He’s here. That’s the news. Let’s move on.
Rory Kennedy has brought — surprise — a documentary. It’s about Volcanos and it’s on Netflix because, well, what isn’t? She’s charming but she’s a Kennedy, it’s in the DNA.
“As a filmmaker, I just love this festival,” she tells me. “They support filmmakers, the audiences are engaged and it’s super fun. A lot of the film community comes here. It’s a really strategic stop for an Oscar campaign.”
He’s still talking when I head back to The Banshees of Inisherin for a red carpet interview with director Martin McDonagh. Bonus: It’s an Irish film you can watch without subtitles. But wait, they’ve changed the red carpet to after the movie.
I dash back to Stuart Suna‘s house. Actually, I think it’s his ex-wife’s house now in what has to be the friendliest divorce agreement on the planet.
500 people, a tent, quality eats. This is always the one “must” party. It doesn’t disappoint.
Back to Middle School. McDonagh was here with the Oscar darling Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri in 2016. He tells me he was with Brendan Gleason all week helping him prepare for Saturday Night Live. Now he’s talking to me.
I’m sure it’s a letdown, but he looks happy. He should be, “Banshee” was already considered a Best Picture shoo-in before this week.
“I love going to film festivals and I love having the film seen by as many cool groups as possible,” McDonagh claims. Hey, we’re cool!
“I came here with a short about 20 years ago and it’s nice to be back. I used to feel uncomfortable about the whole press and TV kind of thing,” he admits. “Then COVID happened and I was kind of itching to get out, Venice, Sag Harbor and East Hampton, just to see the world again.”
Well, it’s nice to be in that sentence. And about local composer Carter Burwell he’s particularly happy. “For music, I’m Amagansett forever,” McDonagh says with a smile.
OK, good to know.
The next day I’m back at Middle School for Chelsea Clinton interviewed by Donna Karan. They’re friends, who knew? They show us an episode of Gutsy from Apple TV+ that has Chelsea and mom Hillary Clinton talking to strong mothers and daughters.
Donna keeps referring to women as “WoooMEN” and saying every woman has a man inside her. Chelsea just smiles. The three women next to me giggle. Chelsea is funny and gets a lot of applause breaks for observations on women’s rights. None of it sounds canned. She’s smart.
Whew, I’m off to roundtables at 1770 House.
Wait, I forget to tell you a lot of stuff. Chris Columbus was intimidated by the cast of Harry Potter. And by Robin Williams. His daughter brought a cool doc here. The director of another doc about a nudist colony tells me she and her crew also were nude.
And another doc went to Ukraine during the war. And don’t get me started on all the shorts. (Cheater’s Hack: If you go to shorts, you can tell people you saw more movies.)
OK, so far so good. Only a few more days of popcorn and Sprite left. Oh wait, maybe Dragon Hemp.
Visit hamptonsfilm.org for tickets to and info about this year’s Hamptons International Film Festival.
Bill McCuddy is a frequent Dan’s contributor. He also cohosts a movie review show on PBS/AllArts and has three podcasts including “Sitting Around Talking Movies” and “The Accutron Show.” He is also a voter in the Critic’s Choice Awards. He lives in Bridgehampton with his wife, a dog and cat and an 87-inch Sony LCD TV in a bedroom he says he “rarely leaves.”