Let's Talk Arts: Anne Chaisson, Executive Director Of The Hamptons Film Festival - 27 East

Arts & Living

Arts & Living / 1542691

Let’s Talk Arts: Anne Chaisson, Executive Director Of The Hamptons Film Festival

icon 3 Photos
HIFF artistic director David Nugent with HIFF executive director Anne Chaisson.

HIFF artistic director David Nugent with HIFF executive director Anne Chaisson.

Actress Nadine Labaki, center, with HIFF artistic director David Nugent, left, and HIFF executive director Anne Chaisson, right, at the 2018 festival.

Actress Nadine Labaki, center, with HIFF artistic director David Nugent, left, and HIFF executive director Anne Chaisson, right, at the 2018 festival. TOM KOCHIE

HIFF executive director Anne Chaisson, left, with Julie Andrews and Alec Baldwin, HIFF's board co-chair.

HIFF executive director Anne Chaisson, left, with Julie Andrews and Alec Baldwin, HIFF's board co-chair. FILE PHOTO

authorStaff Writer on Oct 6, 2019

Since 2012, Anne Chaisson has served as the executive director of the Hamptons International Film Festival (HIFF). This year’s festival runs October 10 to 14 in Southampton, East Hampton and Sag Harbor, and recently Chaisson talked about this year’s festival, how the event has evolved since its inaugural year in 1992, and the recent creation of HamptonsFILM, a new parent company for the organization.

Q: Let’s start with HamptonsFILM. What precipitated its creation?

We’ve been doing year-round programming for at least 20 years. But it’s amazing how many people say “Aren’t you here just in October?” The name [Hamptons International Film Festival] belies the one thing we do in October. We felt that adapting this to a different name sets up the organization locally for people to understand we’re here year-round. Those who know us well understand we do other things.

Q: So it really is a reflection of how the festival and organization has grown and expanded over the years.

It’s a trend all around the country for organizations that started with a festival and then found other places to do screenings or labs. We’ve also done educational initiatives since 1992 that bring us into schools and get students excited. We do all of those things and felt it was time to make that step.

For people who went to high school here and volunteered and then went into film or have memories of the festival, it’s also cultural. We’re a part of that legacy and felt it was time to maintain it in a way that people get it.

We moved into a storefront finally and we have that presence on Newtown Lane in East Hampton. This is who we are, this is where we’ve been — we’re here to stay and not going anywhere.

Q: Since the festival’s founding, content streaming has taken over and the way films are distributed and viewed has changed greatly. How has this technology changed the mission of HIFF?

The mission is not so different in terms of bringing in new voices from around the globe so we can introduce audiences to these films and themes. While all things may be available eventually on the internet or a device, not every film has the opportunity to be seen in a theater with an audience where the director is present to speak about the work they do.

You won’t get the experience of seeing the director, the crew or the actors anywhere else. It’s exciting when the people who make the film are there and you learn in person what it took to get the film made.

This is also a platform for distributors and filmmakers. But it’s not just for the filmmakers and the artists, it’s also for us to showcase this area as an arts mecca and bring economic development to our community. We want to continue to do that all year.

Q: In terms of curating the festival itself, do you strive to create an overarching theme in your selections from year to year?

There’s not a theme we identify prior. [Artistic director] David [Nugent] and his programming team select what they feel are the best movies of the year. We created our signature programs because we know there are themes that are important to our audience — conflict and resolution, animal rights, the environment — that’s how we identify those kind of themes.

But sometimes, crazily, a theme does emerge. This year, you’re either going to cry from extreme empathy or find yourself white knuckling it because it’s thrilling.

Q: OK, now you have to tell us — what movie do you think is most thrilling in this year’s line up?

“The Aeronauts.” It’s scary, harrowing and beautiful.

Q: Yes! I watched the trailer — it’s about two scientists in the 19th century who set out on an adventure in a hot air balloon.

It’s supposed to be based on a true story — but I’m not sure how accurate it is.

Q: In terms of the submissions each year, how closely do you find real world events or political issues mirroring what you see in the films?

Struggle is often a main dynamic in the arc of any movie. What are these people getting through, getting over, or dealing with? It’s not so different this year. People are struggling to make something happen.

One highlight is “Les Misérables” which everyone might think is a retelling of the Victor Hugo story. But it’s not. It’s a modern day retelling with African immigration and is the French submission for the Academy Award. Those issues are there. There’s also “The Report” which is about CIA interrogation techniques and “Scandalous” about the National Enquirer. The impetus is in what we’re dealing with but also the issues we’re facing, whether it’s guns, exoneration from unlawful incarceration, same sex issues or the transgender community.

Q: As you look back on previous festivals, what sort of programming had a much larger response or positive reaction than you anticipated?

The free virtual reality offerings we had last year were very popular. We’re doing it again this year at East Hampton Library and will have a new piece by Laurie Anderson called “To the Moon” and another by Roger Ross Williams called “Traveling While Black,” all free to the public.

Q: Can you describe “Traveling While Black?”

It’s based on the movie “The Green Book,” and is about a time when African-Americans couldn’t travel freely in the country. It’s set in a diner called Ben’s Chili Bowl and you get to talk with some of the people who were around during that time.

Q: What else would you like people to know about the festival that they may not realize?

We want to make sure people understand we do provide free experiences. Also, for 97 percent of our films you can get a ticket if you wait in the rush line.

See you at the movies!

The Hamptons International Film Festival runs October 10 to 14. For a complete lineup of films, talks and other events, visit hamptonsfilmfest.org. Tickets may be purchased online or in person at the East Hampton box office, 47 Main Street.

You May Also Like:

Amy Zerner Channels Feminine Energy In These Troubled Times

Given what’s going on in the world, it seems somehow poetic that just two weeks ... 22 Sep 2020 by Annette Hinkle

Special Screening Of “RBG” Added To Doc Fest Website On September 25

For the many Ruth Bader Ginsburg fans, in memory of her September 18 passing from ... by Staff Writer

Hans Van de Bovenkamp Embraces Artist’s Journey Through Driving Tour

At age 82, Hans Van de Bovenkamp has a twinkle in his eye. Shades of ... by Michelle Trauring

‘Eclectic 6’ Create Artistic Family

At first, they were a half-dozen strangers with one common connection. Now, they’re “The Eclectic ... 21 Sep 2020 by Michelle Trauring

Long Island Indigenous Paddle Tour

On Saturdays, September 26 and October 3, at 8 a.m., Southampton History Museum will host ... by Staff Writer

New Manager For WHBPAC Arts Academy

Teaching Artist Justin D. Harris has joined WHBPAC as its newest Arts Academy manager. Harris has been a teaching artist for the past several years, working on numerous productions and will be directing the Little Players, Elementary and Middle School After-School Musical Theater programs at WHBPAC this fall. A venerable East End actor, director, and writer, he is also a masterful teaching artist, working with actors from Manhattan to Montauk in theater and Shakespeare. Harris is a graduate of Brown University in neuroscience and has an extensive resume in the performing arts, including a capella, mariachi, and step dance. In ... by Staff Writer

HIFF Announces Full 2020 Slate For Fall Festival

HamptonsFilm has announced the full slate of programming for the 2020 edition of the Hamptons ... by Staff Writer

Jacques Brel By Alfredo Merat

Bay Street Theater is making “Jacques Brel by Alfredo Merat,” a concert performance, available to ... by Staff Writer

WHBPAC Unveils Fall Arts Academy Classes

Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center’s Arts Academy is gearing up for a full slate of classes beginning in October. Offerings include adult classes as well as WHBPAC’s After School Music Theatre program, the lynch pin of the academy. “We had a devastating spring 2020, so we’re excited to turn things around this fall,” says Arts Academy Director Kristen Poulakis. “Our students can’t wait to get back on stage where they belong.” The lineup includes: ADULT CLASSES AGES 18+ Songwriting Circle Tuesdays beginning October 6 7 to 9 p.m. Enhance your songwriting craft with weekly classes facilitated by esteemed East End ... by Staff Writer

Take A Route One Road Trip With Robert Kramer

Now available for viewing on Sag Harbor Cinema’s website is “Route One USA,” Robert Kramer’s ... by Staff Writer

Welcome to our new website!

To see what’s new, click “Start the Tour” to take a tour.

We welcome your feedback. Please click the
“contact/advertise” link in the menu bar to email us.

Start the Tour
Landscape view not supported