Wondering What to See at This Year's HIFF? Here's Some Suggestions - 27 East

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Wondering What to See at This Year's HIFF? Here's Some Suggestions

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A scene from

A scene from "All that Breathes," a documentary directed by Shaunak Sen. COURTESY HIFF

Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson in the film

Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson in the film "The Banshees of Inisherin" directed by Martin McDonagh. COURTESY SEARCHLIGHT PICTURES. © 2022 20TH CENTURY STUDIOS. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Jesse Brown (Jonathan Majors) and Tom Hudner (Glen Powell) in Columbia Pictures'

Jesse Brown (Jonathan Majors) and Tom Hudner (Glen Powell) in Columbia Pictures' "Devotion" directed by J.D. Dillard. COURTESY HIFF

A scene from

A scene from "Eo," directed By Jerzy Skolimowski. COURTESY HIFF

A scene from the documentary

A scene from the documentary "The Fire That Took Her" directed by Patricia E. Gillespie. COURTESY HIFF

A scene from the documentary

A scene from the documentary "Good Night Oppy" directed by Ryan White. COURTESY HIFF

"January 6th" is a documentary by brothers Jules Naudet and Gédéon Naudet who also documented the events in New York on 9/11. COURTESY HIFF

Spencer Stevenson as Paris, Kaitlyn Dever as Rosaline, Kyle Allen as Romeo and Henry Hunter Hall as Mercutio in 20th Century Studios'

Spencer Stevenson as Paris, Kaitlyn Dever as Rosaline, Kyle Allen as Romeo and Henry Hunter Hall as Mercutio in 20th Century Studios' "Rosaline," on Hulu. MORIS PUCCIO. © 2022 20TH CENTURY STUDIOS. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Zen McGrath, Laura Dern and Hugh Jackman in a scene from

Zen McGrath, Laura Dern and Hugh Jackman in a scene from "The Son" Directed By Florian Zeller. COURTESY HIFF

A scene from Rory Kennedy's documentary

A scene from Rory Kennedy's documentary "The Volcano: Rescue From Whakaari." COURTESY HIFF

authorAnnette Hinkle on Oct 4, 2022

The 30th edition of the Hamptons International Film Festival (HIFF) kicks off this weekend, and in 2022, has expanded to a 10-day event running over two weekends, instead of five days, as has been the case in past years.

In a recent interview, the festival’s artistic director, David Nugent, noted that the expanded schedule, which runs October 7-16, provides cinephiles with opportunity to catch some of the films more than one time.

“The five-day schedule is great, but sometimes there’s a feeling that people don’t get to do all that they want to do and see because everything is so crowded into that time frame,” he explained. “Ten days gives us room for people to not have to make all those super tough choices of, ‘If I go to that, I can’t go to this.’

“Ten days gives more options in that respect and now it’s over two weekends, which is nice.”

After two years of producing a film festival in the midst of a pandemic — in 2020, HIFF relied on virtual streaming with some drive-in offerings, and in 2021, though in person, the festival was presented without the inclusion of the multi-screen United Artists (UA) theater in East Hampton — Nugent reports that this year, things are largely back to normal.

“There will be a bit more of showing films more than one time,” he said. “We typically do show films more than once, but last year without the UA theater, most films only played once and that was frustrating.

“One of the best things is buzz, someone telling people, ‘I saw this movie, and you have to go on the day when it’s screened again,’” adds Nugent, who by way of example points to the film “The Worst Person in the World” which screened at last year’s festival. “We played it on day one during a quiet time frame. People who saw it were excited, but you couldn’t see it again. Now we’re back to showing most films twice. It’s going to look a lot like it did in 2019.”

In terms of venues, in addition to the return to the UA complex this year, HIFF will also be using two screens at Sag Harbor Cinema over the first weekend (“a wonderful venue,” noted Nugent), and the theater at Southampton Arts Center. One longtime venue that will not be available for the festival this time around, however, is East Hampton’s Guild Hall, which is currently undergoing renovations. Instead, HIFF will offer screenings during the first weekend at East Hampton Middle School on Newtown Lane.

“Guild Hall is wonderful, it was 350 seats, while East Hampton Middle School is 480 seats, so that’s another indication it will be easier to get into a lot of the big films,” Nugent said. “We’ve got a lot of seats now and those who want to do the rush line will stand a much better chance of getting in.”

In terms of films that people might want to get into during the 10-day festival, Nugent says that while every movie-goer has his or her own interests, he is happy to point the way by offering some suggestions.

“One of our Centerpiece films, ‘The Son’ is really great,” Nugent said. “For anyone who saw ‘The Father’ two years ago, which won an Academy Award for best actor for Anthony Hopkins, it’s part of that trilogy. Though Hopkins is in this one, too, the leads are Hugh Jackman and Laura Dern. I love this movie, and we hope to have a special guest or two show up.”

Another HIFF film that Nugent loves is “Devotion,” directed by J.D. Dillard, which tells the story of two fighter pilots — one African American, the other white — who develop a friendship while serving in the Korean War.

“We’re having the U.S. premiere of it,” he said. “It’s a true story. Korea is a forgotten war in some ways and I think this will appeal to a lot of people. We’ll have the director, actors and a producer coming.”

One particularly family-friendly film that Nugent recommends is “Good Night Oppy.” The documentary directed by Ryan White tells the story of NASA’s 2004 Mars rover Opportunity. Though designed to survive only 90 days, the robot — lovingly dubbed “Oppy” — set out to search for traces of life on the planet and ended up lasting 15 years. The story of Oppy is told through archival footage as well as visual effects by Industrial Light & Magic, the company founded by George Lucas for the production of “Star Wars.”

“It’s heartwarming, sweet and moving,” said Nugent. “Sometimes our films can be heavy and tough — and ‘The Son’ is one of them — but ‘Good Night Oppy’ is so sweet and fun and family friendly.”

Nugent says another HIFF highlight, which he calls “laugh out loud” funny, is “The Banshees of Inisherin,” a narrative feature by Academy and Tony Award-winning playwright and director Martin McDonagh. Set in a small town off the coast of western Ireland in the 1920s, the film tells the story of Colm (Brendan Gleeson), who abruptly ends his lifelong friendship with Padraic (Colin Farrell) without explanation. Unable to accept it, Padraic goes to great lengths to get their relationship back on track. When his attempts are met with hostility, the situation escalates, with shocking consequences for everyone involved.

Though he’s from Ireland, McDonagh’s name may be a familiar one to East End theatergoers, as his plays have been presented on local stages in recent years. Both McDonagh and composer Carter Burwell, who lives on the East End, are expected to be in attendance.

In the Compassion Justice & Animal Rights section of the festival comes “Eo,” a film that follows the journey of a donkey through Europe. Directed by Poland’s Jerzy Skolimowski and inspired by Robert Bresson’s 1966 film “Au Hasard Balthazar,” Eo the donkey is the protagonist and he take viewers on a mesmerizing and thought-provoking odyssey encapsulating the life of a humble creature. A modern fable, “Eo” contends with humanity at its kindest and most tender, as well as its proclivity for cruelty and suffering. “Eo” (which is how the donkey’s bray is spelled in other countries) was the winner of the Jury Prize at this year’s Cannes Film Festival and is Poland’s official selection for Best International Feature at the Academy Awards.

“It’s not a traditional animal rights film. It’s the story of a donkey as it accidentally escapes from the circus it’s in,” said Nugent, adding that, despite having a cute animal star, “Eo” is not family-friendly given some of the difficult and unkind situations the donkey finds himself in during his journey.

Another film in the animal rights section that Nugent recommends is “All That Breathes,” which follows two brothers in Delhi, India, as they strive to protect the black kite, a bird of prey that is one of the many victims of the city’s violence and unhealthy air. The film was named best documentary at both the Sundance and Cannes festivals.

“Putting aside the animal rights theme, in terms of the actual filmmaking on display, ‘Eo’ and ‘All That Breathes’ are two of the best films in the festival,” he said.

Another documentary that Nugent recommends is director Rory Kennedy’s “The Volcano: Rescue From Whakaari,” a film that tells the story of the tragic volcanic eruption off the coast of New Zealand in 2019 that left 47 tourists and guides trapped in a boiling pyroclastic surge of toxic dust and ash (Kennedy will attend the film’s screening). Also showing will be “January 6th” by directors Jules Naudet and Gédéon Naudet, who will also be in attendance at the festival. The film, which is having its world premiere at HIFF, examines the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol from the perspective of the heroes, first responders and survivors of the violent attack. The French filmmaking brothers were in New York City on September 11, 2001, to document members of the New York City Fire Department and they captured footage of the first plane striking the North Tower of the World Trade Center that day.

For lighter fare, Nugent notes that fans of Shakespeare’s work might want to check out “Rosaline,” a comedic twist on “Romeo and Juliet” starring Kaitlyn Dever. In the film, Dever plays Rosaline, Juliet’s cousin who also happens to be Romeo’s recent love interest. Heartbroken when Romeo (Kyle Allen) meets Juliet (Isabela Merced) and begins to pursue her, Rosaline schemes to foil the famous romance and win back her guy. Dever, who starred in “Booksmart” and “Dope Sick,” will appear in the soon to be released “Ticket to Paradise” starring George Clooney and Julia Roberts and was one of HIFF’s 10 Actors to Watch in 2014. She will attend the HIFF screening along with the film’s screenwriter, Michael H. Weber who also wrote “The Fault in Our Stars” and served as a mentor at HIFF’s 2017 screenwriters lab, and director Karen Maine.

Other HIFF highlights include “Lift,” director David Petersen’s documentary about an afterschool ballet program for housing-insecure youth in New York City. American Ballet Theatre dancer Misty Copeland, who was a principal advisor on the film, is scheduled to attend HIFF screenings with Petersen and others involved in the project.

Nugent notes that this year represents not only the 30th anniversary of HIFF, but also of The Retreat, the East End organization that serves victims of domestic abuse. The Retreat and its history are the subject of the hour-long documentary “The Power of Community: How One Town Stood Against Domestic Violence” directed by Markie Hancock. The film explores how a grassroots group of locals tapped into the goodwill of the local Rotary Club and East Hampton Town to establish the shelter, which opened in 1992 to support victims of domestic violence.

“We’re also showing the very moving documentary ‘The Fire That Took Her,’” said Nugent. The film, directed by Patricia E. Gillespie, tells the story of Judy Malinowski, a 31-year-old mother of two who, in 2015, was doused in gasoline and set on fire by her ex-boyfriend.

“This is a film about the woman who was a victim of domestic abuse and the aftermath of the assault she endured,” Nugent said. “She ends up testifying against her partner on her deathbed, we’ve got the victim’s mother and the filmmaker coming.”

So with all this and more scheduled for the coming days, after two-years of pandemic programming, it’s safe to say HIFF is back and looking forward to welcoming both filmmakers and in-person audiences for its 30th edition.

“We have filmmakers and guests from around the world coming to the festival, but we’re really a community organization. As a result we like to be in a room together,” said Nugent. “We want to hear from them and see them.”

The Hamptons International Film Festival (HIFF) runs Friday, October 7, through Sunday, October 16 at theaters in East Hampton, Sag Harbor and Southampton. For the full schedule and ticketing information, visit hamptonsfilmfest.org.

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