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Hamptons Doc Fest Is Now 15

Mon, 11/28/2022 - 17:37
A scene from "The Territory," set in the Brazilian Amazon, which will be shown in Hamptons Doc Fest's tribute to National Geographic Documentary Films.

Hamptons Doc Fest will celebrate its 15th anniversary with a six-day program of 25 documentaries, starting Thursday at the Bay Street Theater in Sag Harbor and the Sag Harbor Cinema.

A highlight will be the presentation of the Pennebaker Career Achievement Award to Sam Pollard on Saturday evening, by the filmmaker Lana Jokel, the award's sponsor, and Chris Hegedus, D.A. Pennebaker's partner and co-director.

During his 50-year career as a director, producer, and editor, Mr. Pollard has won multiple Peabody and Emmy Awards, as well as an Academy Award nomination for the 1997 documentary "4 Little Girls," directed by Spike Lee, edited and co-produced by Mr. Pollard. He has shown four previous films at Doc Fest, including the festival award winners "Sammy Davis, Jr.: I've Gotta Be Me" (2015) and "Citizen Ashe" (2021).

This year's Pennebaker award program will begin at 7 with a reception at Bay Street Theater. The presentation will begin at 8, followed by a screening of Mr. Pollard's newest film, "Lowndes County and the Road to Black Power." Co-directed by Geeta Gandbhir, the film celebrates the people of that Alabama county who risked their lives in 1960 to win suffrage for its residents, 80 percent of whom were Black and unregistered to vote.

Sam Pollard, a director, producer, and editor, is the recipient of this year's Hamptons Doc Fest Pennebaker Career Achievement Award. CB Grubb

The festival's opening-night film, to be shown Thursday evening at 7:30 at the Sag Harbor Cinema, is Camille Hardman and Gary Lane's "Still Working 9 to 5," which takes a fresh look at the 1980 comedy classic that starred Jane Fonda, Dolly Parton, Lily Tomlin, and Dabney Coleman. The film explores the evolution of gender inequality and discrimination in the workplace since 1980. 

After the screening, Susan Lacy, the creator of the American Masters series on PBS, will interview the directors, Larry Lane, the executive producer, and Ellen Cassedy, co-founder of 9to5, The National Association of Working Women.

Also showing Thursday, at 5 p.m. at Bay Street, is "Fashion Reimagined," this year's winner of the festival's Environmental Award. Directed by Becky Hutner, the film follows Amy Powney, designer of the London brand Mother of Pearl, who set out in 2018 to produce an "ethical and sustainable" fashion collection.

"Last Flight Home," which garnered the Filmmaker Impact Award for Ondi Timoner, tells the story of the director's father, Eli Timoner, who founded Air Florida, a low-cost carrier that experienced great success and devastating setbacks.

Soren Sorensen's "Omar Sosa's 88 Well-Tuned Drums" was named the winner of the Art and Inspiration Award from the Tee and Charles Addams Foundation. The film is a portrait of the Cuban-born jazz pianist and composer, who performs as many as 100 concerts across six continents every year. 

"Four Winters," Julia Mintz's film about partisan Jewish resistance during World War II, won the Human Rights Award. The last surviving fighters tell their stories through interviews, family photographs, and archival footage. 

The closing night film, set for Tuesday at 8 p.m. at Bay Street, is "All That Breathes." Directed by Shaunak Sen, it is the story of two brothers in New Delhi who keep a bird hospital in their tiny basement, caring for thousands of injured birds against the background of the city's collapsing ecology and rising social tensions.

Tomorrow at 7 p.m. at the cinema, a special program will honor National Geographic Films for the notable documentaries it has produced over the years. Chris Albert, executive vice president of global communications, will accept the award for the company.

The presentation will be followed by a screening of "The Territory," Alex Pritz's award-winning film about the fight against deforestation and illegal settlers by the Indigenous Uru-eu-wau-wau people of the Brazilian Amazon. 

Other films include "Subject," by Jennifer Tiexiera and Camilla Hall, which examines the impacts on people who are subjects of documentaries, and the ethical concerns faced by documentarians.

Allison Otto's "The Thief Collector" chronicles the 1985 theft of a Willem de Kooning painting from the University of Arizona Museum of Art. The $160 million artwork was rediscovered 32 years later in the bedroom of a New Mexico home.

For 20 years, Patrick Dykstra dedicated his life to swimming with whales, attempting to communicate with them. Mark Fletcher's "Patrick and the Whale" uses dramatic underwater cinematography to follow Mr. Dykstra on his quest.

"Say Amen, Somebody," George T. Nierenberg's 1982 tribute to Thomas A. Dorsey, considered the father of gospel music, and his associate, Willie Mae Ford Smith, will have a 40th anniversary screening. A conversation with Mr. Nierenberg and Don Lenzer, the film's cinematographer, will follow.

Chronic Lyme disease is the subject of "The Quiet Epidemic," Lindsay Keys and Winslow Crane-Murdoch's film about a young, wheelchair-bound girl from Brooklyn who suffered years of symptoms, and a doctor who needed a heart transplant after misdiagnosed Lyme. Ms. Hegedus, who produced the film, will discuss it with the filmmakers.

Fresh from its East Coast premiere at the Hamptons International Film Festival is "Desperate Souls, Dark City and the Legend of Midnight Cowboy," Nancy Buirski's film that examines both the context and the legacy of the 1969 Oscar winner through film clips, interviews, and archival material.

Gabriela Cowperthwaite's "The Grab" chronicles a probe by Nathan Halverson of the Center for Investigative Reporting into the covert actions of China and other nations as they have exploited lands and resources in other countries.

"The Smell of Money" by Shawn Bannon follows Elsie Herring in her years-long battle against the powerful pork industry, which moved in, uninvited, to the rural North Carolina property that her grandfather, born into slavery, had purchased after becoming a free man.

"Turn Every Page" illuminates the 50-year relationship between Robert Caro, the author of "The Power Broker" and "The Years of Lyndon Johnson," and Robert Gottlieb, Mr. Caro's longtime editor. Lizzie Gottlieb, the editor's daughter, directs, and will discuss the film with Mr. Caro.

Paolo Di Paolo photographed such famous Italians as Bernardo Bertolucci, Anna Magnani, and Marcello Mastroianni, but his images were hidden away for 50 years before being unearthed by his daughter. The discovery inspired the filmmaker and photographer Bruce Weber to make "The Treasure of His Youth: The Photographs of Paolo Di Paolo." Mr. Weber will discuss the film with the photographer's daughter. 

The fur-farming industry in Canada and the animal activists who are dedicated to exposing its consequences are the subjects of "Real Fur," a film by Taimoor Choudhry, whose discovery of animal cruelty in his native Pakistan, and later in Canada, led him to promote animal rights through film.

Key events during the first 10 weeks after the discovery of Covid-19, which were crucial to the pandemic's spread, are the subject of Michael Welch's "COVID Century: The Pandemic Preparedness Dilemma." The film reveals that Chinese authorities withheld crucial information from the international community.

Rosemary Reed's "Playing in the FM Band: The Steve Post Story" follows the life and career of a New York City radio icon who emerged from a difficult childhood to become a cult on-the-air personality with a Saturday-night, free-form broadcast at WBAI-FM for 15 years.

In addition to its many feature films, the festival will include a program of four short documentaries, as well as its annual Young Voices Program for local middle and high school students. 

Tickets are $15, $25 for opening night and tribute films, and $50 for the Pennebaker Award program. A festival pass is $250. The Hamptons Doc Fest website is the source for tickets and the most up-to-date information about all the directors who will be present for post-screening discussions.

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