Hamptons Film Fest: More Than Just 126 Films

Features and shorts, narrative and documentary
Holly Hunter stars in Katherine Dieckmann’s “Strange Weather,” which is the opening-night film in Southampton for the Hamptons International Film Festival.

Columbus Day weekend on the South Fork has come to mean much more than changing leaves and pumpkin picking. It is also a long weekend of film, lots and lots of film. The Hamptons International Film Festival will begin next Thursday, and by the time it ends on Oct. 10 it will have screened 126 films — features and shorts, narrative and documentary.

Last week the festival announced the bulk of its lineup. It includes some of the most anticipated releases of the Academy Awards season, as well as smaller independent films and a selection from 32 countries, among which are eight world premieres, nine North American premieres, and 20 United States premieres. The East Hampton Star guide was published last week and is available throughout the South Fork. The full guide is also on the festival’s website.

Also on the docket is a series of “Conversations With” three actors. They are Aaron Eckhart, Holly Hunter, and Edward Norton.

  Mr. Eckhart is known for his performances in Neil LaBute’s films, among many others. He plays a boxing trainer in “Bleed for This,” directed by Kevin Rooney, which will be screened at the festival. His talk will take place on Friday, Oct. 7, at Guild Hall in East Hampton.

On Oct. 8, Ms. Hunter will be interviewed at the East Hampton Middle School. Her intense roles have included award-winning turns in “The Piano,” and her latest film, Katherine Dieckmann’s “Strange Weather,” will be one of those screened. Mr. Norton, who is being honored by the festival this year, will speak on Oct. 9 at the middle school.

HIFF has also announced its jury members for this year. They include David Edelstein, Mariska Hargitay, John Krokidas, Alexis Alexanian, Jason Janego, and Julie Goldstein. The festival’s relationship with the New York Film Critics Circle continues, with members serving as mentors, panelists, and jurors at various events.

The festival has already announced that it will open with “Loving,” Jeff Nichols’s film about a couple whose Supreme Court case did away with laws against interracial marriage in 1967. It will close with Ewan McGregor’s interpretation of “American Pastoral,” Philip Roth’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel about a charmed family whose world falls apart after a violent crime.

In between, it will feature films such as the much praised “Manchester by the Sea,” from Kenneth Lonergan, about a working-class family in a Massachusetts fishing village; the aforementioned “Strange Weather,” starring Holly Hunter as a grieving woman in the Deep South trying to find answers so she can move on with her life, and Mike Mills’s “20th Century Women,” a drama set in Southern California in the late 1970s. Tickets to these five, which have already generated awards buzz from previous festival screenings, will cost the most, at $35 each. 

This year’s Spotlight Films include “Bleed for This,” “Burn Your Maps,” “Christine,” “Julieta,” “La La Land,” “Lion,” “Moonlight,” “The Ticket,” “Una,” and “Wakefield.” Tickets for these, which have or are likely to have distribution, are $28. The regular ticket price is $15, with discounts for senior citizens and children.

The festival’s World Cinema selections represent smaller entries from both domestic and foreign sources. The documentary titles are “Davi’s Way,” “Score: A Musical Documentary,” “Supergirl,” “Marathon: The Patriots Day Bombing,” “Franca: Chaos and Creation,” “Santoalla,” “Bunker77,” “Sour Grapes,” “Into the Inferno,” “God Knows Where I Am,” “Jeremiah Tower: The Last Magnificent,” and “Southwest in Salem: The Story of the San Antonio Four.”

The narrative films include “All the Beauty,” “The Teacher,” “Blue Jay,” “Goldstone,” “Original Bliss,” “The Red Turtle,” “Don’t Call Me Son,” “Frantz,” “Halal Love (and Sex),” “The Handmaiden,” “Lost in Paris,” “The Salesman,” “Lovesong,” “Donald Cried,” “I, Daniel Blake,” “Paterson,” “Toni Erdmann,” and “Under the Shadow.”

The festival’s View From Long Island section will feature “Legs: A Big Issue in a Small Town,” which is also a World Cinema selection. It follows the battle between Sag Harbor Village and two homeowners, Ruth Vered and Janet Lehr, after they installed a massive Larry Rivers sculpture on the exterior of their house. “The Killing Season,” a documentary that will run on the A&E channel, follows the investigation of the deaths of 10 sex workers whose bodies were found UpIsland on Gilgo Beach. 

Two short films will be included in this section: “Black Swell” by Jacob Honig stars Richard Kind, and “Prophet of Plas-teek” by Joshua Cohen takes place in Montauk. “God Knows Where I Am” is a documentary produced and directed by two brothers, Todd and Jedd Wider, with Long Island connections.

There will be eight programs of short films in addition to those running before features. They are the Narrative and Documentary Short Film Competitions, New York Women in Film and Television: Women Calling the Shots, Away We Go! Shorts for All Ages, Student Short Films Showcase, Get Off My Cloud, Runs in the Family, and Tilt & Shift. 

This year’s Films of Conflict and Resolution section will feature titles such as “Disturbing the Peace,” about former soldiers from Israel and Palestine becoming peace activists. Others include “Fire at Sea,” about the European migrant crisis, “I Am Not Your Negro,” based on a James Baldwin manuscript, and “Sonita,” about an Afghan refugee who dreams of becoming a rapper.

The Compassion, Justice, and Animal Rights section will offer “The Ivory Game,” about attempts to save African elephants from extinction, and “Unlocking the Cage,” a film by Chris Hegedus and D.A. Pennebaker of Sag Harbor. It looks at the efforts of an animal rights lawyer trying to establish case law to ensure that animals have legal protection.

The free talks at Rowdy Hall in East Hampton will return this year on Friday, Oct. 7, Oct. 8, and Oct. 9 at 10 a.m. Friday’s talk has not been announced yet, but Saturday’s will feature a chat with the documentarians competing for this year’s festival award. Sunday’s talk offers a look at the current status of women in film.

New this year is a Focus on Norwegian Film showcase for a selection of titles tied to that country, “All the Beauty,” “Late Summer,” “Magnus,” and “It’s Alright” among them.

“Betting on Zero,” the audience favorite from the festival’s SummerDocs series, will have an encore screening. Another special screening will take place on Oct. 9, when the Southampton Arts Center will show “The Addams Family,” the 1991 movie based on the cartoons of Charles Addams, who lived in Sagaponack.

The festival box offices, at Obligato on Main Street in East Hampton and the Southampton Arts Center on Job’s Lane, are selling individual tickets, which are also available online. The festival is offering passes and packages, too.