Notables recall event memories

Michael Lynne

New Line co-chairman and CEO, HIFF board member, wine sponsor

“Last year, when ‘Prairie Home Companion’ was at the festival, Robert Altman came out. And as it turned out, it’s sadly bittersweet, because he soon after passed away. It was a very memorable moment to have him reminiscing about his life in the TV and film business. Over a long period of time, New Line had been involved with Robert — we distributed ‘The Player,’ ‘Short Cuts’ and ‘Kansas City’ — and it was thrilling to go back to it with ‘Prairie Home Companion,’ and to have him personally come there in a very intimate environment.”

Ali Selim

director of “Sweet Land,” HIFF 2005

“All I remember from that weekend is traffic jams, rain, a Q&A, rain, traffic jams, making sure the actors were fed. I sat down at the end of it with a glass of wine that, as they say, went straight to my head, and then they said that ‘Sweet Land’ had won the Audience Award. All I could muster was something like ‘tanks’ or ‘anks.’ And that was it. I would love to return again someday and see what the festival is really like.”

Chris Kentis and Laura Lau

directors of “Open Water,” HIFF 2003

“Because the film wasn’t finished, we wanted to screen the film under the radar. But word did get out and representatives from four major distributors were at our screening, though none made an offer. We did try to encourage some industry people we met at the festival to screen our film — lawyers, agents — but we were chagrined to discover they were more interested in getting a sneak preview of studio fare like ‘The Human Stain.’”

Gary Winick

director of “Sweet Nothing” (HIFF 1995); “Sam the Man” (HIFF 2000)

“I worked as a waiter there in my college years, in the summers. … Then I went there as a filmmaker the first year. I’m very close to the people who created the festival, and one of the great things about attending the festival is the relationships you form. I remember John Schlesinger coming up to me and saying, ‘What a wonderful job you’ve done.’ And I’m like ‘Oh my God, Mr. “Midnight Cowboy.” ‘ But the most important thing for me is I got to do the Jeff Salaway (husband of Toni Ross) tribute film, after he passed away in September 2002. It’s probably the best thing I’ve ever done.”

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