The Hamptons Film Festival enters its 20th anni with some enticing potential plans, including stretching its Columbus Day weekend berth into a longer run, with more filmmaker labs and making a wider footprint on Long Island’s East End.
“The immediate goal is to expand its length to make it bookend two weekends,” says this year’s honorary chairman Alec Baldwin, an HIFF board vice chair member who has co-produced the fest’s SummerDocs series with programming director David Nugent since 2009. “I know everybody who is deeply involved in the festival has that goal in mind.”
“They want to expand our presence with screenings and activities in Southampton as well, not just East Hampton,” he adds, along with upping “the number of films, screenwriting labs and the disparate kinds of programs they have. We think they can cover more than just five days.”
Initially a skeptic about the fest bringing “more of the city out on the Island” where he lives year round, Baldwin was won over after attending HIFF as a passholder several years ago. (“It just reinvigorates my love of movies,” he says.)
HIFF exec director Karen Arikian says the move “hasn’t been decided yet, but there’s definitely an inclination to do it.” She notes that this year’s fest — bursting with 95 features and 56 shorts, plus Golden Starfish Awards for Lifetime Achievement for Richard Gere and costume designer Ann Roth, an Industry Toast to Focus Features topper James Schamus, Variety’s One to Acclaim Award for Sienna Miller (star of HBO’s Tippi Hedren-Alfred Hitchcock biopic “The Girl”) and Variety’s 10 Actors to Watch: Breakthrough Performers of 2012 — includes “enough programming to cover seven or eight days.”
The plans are getting a test run of sorts with additional screenings Friday in Southampton and Monday in Sag Harbor.
“If it was my decision, the timetable (for expansion) would be two years, but it could be as early as next year,” Arikian says. “Even though we’re working with the Hamptons brand, we’re a nonprofit. It will involve raising extra monies and increasing staff, so all of these things have to be evaluated before we can implement them.”
Ultimately, any moves will be decided by the 32-member board, led by chairman Stuart Match Suna, building on the year-round programming expansion Arikian has already brought to the fest. Aside from the Baldwin-hosted SummerDocs and continuing workshops for screenwriters and student filmmakers, she’s overseen new collaborations with orgs such as the Museum of Modern Art, which has increased the fest’s Gotham presence.
But Arikian’s ambitions for HIFF stretch further beyond Long Island’s shore. Before returning to her native Long Island and joining the fest in 2008, she spent 18 years in Berlin at the European Film Market, capping her run there as its co-director.
“I wanted to make sure there was a strong international component to the festival,” she says.
HIFF has partnered with AMPAS, the British Academy of Film and Television Arts, and Variety in an attempt to strengthen its programming, she says, while other moves (like including members of the New York Film Critics Circle in various roles) have helped position it as a bigger player in the awards race.
“Right after the financial crisis hit, we lost some of our sponsorships and said we need to get on a weekend with huge foot traffic here,” Arikian explains. “I think moving to Columbus Day weekend in 2009 helped start to define a different profile for us.” The holiday also helped lure more stars, as have sponsor American Airlines’ free tickets and longtime lodging and office support from the Maidstone in East Hampton.
She credits Nugent with helping “our positioning as a platform for high-quality films that are going on to awards season.” HIFF has screened three of the last four films that went on to win best picture Oscars (“Slumdog Millionaire,” “The King’s Speech” and “The Artist”). This year’s lineup looks equally promising, from the Friday night Southampton opener (“Silver Linings Playbook,” which snagged Toronto’s People’s Choice Award) to the Centerpiece (Ben Affleck’s thriller “Argo”) to the closer (David Chase’s feature debut “Not Fade Away”). Thursday’s family-friendly daytime opener is Tim Burton’s “Frankenweenie,” and the opening night Film is Liz Garbus’ Marilyn Monroe doc “Love, Marilyn,” a U.S. premiere bowing on HBO next year.
“I always think that the local community — be it the big audiences of Berlin or the smaller but smart, influential audiences of the Hamptons — is where our focus should be,” Arikian says, summing up the fest’s mission. “I don’t care that much about premieres. I just want to show really good movies that promote discussion.”
Oscar-winning costume designer Ann Roth will be feted Saturday at Guild Hall, with presentations by Academy president Hawk Kock, Nathan Lane and Mike Nichols.
THESPS ON PARADE
Variety’s 10 Actors to Watch: Breakthrough Performers 2012,
which include Scoot McNairy (“Killing Them Softly”) and Alicia Vikander (“Anna Karenina”) to be
“Love, Marilyn” unspools Thursday at Guild Hall and “Silver Linings Playbook” Friday at Regal Bay Cinema.
FILMS”Not Fade Away” to screen Sunday at Guild Hall and “Argo”Monday at Guild Hall.
“Arbitrage” star Richard Gere to receive the Lifetime Achievement in Acting on Saturday in Guild Hall. Discussion moderated by Alec Baldwin.
HBO’s “The Girl” will receive its world premiere Saturday. Pic stars Sienna Miller, who is receiving the One to Acclaim Award.
Pride in pics, programs | Schamus guides Focus fare | Miller’s the One as Hedren holds court | Matching clothes with roles is Roth’s passion