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Prizes raise Hamptons profile

Indie and int'l fare vie for the Golden Starfish at NY fest

A bastion of entertainment biz vacationers in summertime, the Long Island hamlet of East Hampton is a natural fit for a film festival that will mark its eighth anniversary Oct. 11-15.

Dedicated to American indie and international fare, the fest has become more prominent lately, largely by making an abundance of prize money available to the films that enter competition.

The top prize, the Golden Starfish Award, comes with $165,000 in goods and services, and the 2000 fest will feature the Eugene Martin film “Diary of a Priest,” which was completed with funds from the 1998 prize.

Other prizes include $25,000 from the Alfred B. Sloane Foundation for the film that best portrays science and technology and another $25,000 will go to a pic depicting international conflict and resolution, sponsored by Dan and Ewa Abraham in conjunction with a consortium of Nobel Peace Prize winners. Both awards are new to this year’s fest.

The fest’s location has also helped bolster attendance by film industry vets. Steven Spielberg and Martin Scorsese have attended in previous years.

Last year’s confab featured such films as “Tumble Weeds,” “Music of the Heart” and “Croupier.” Already booked for 2000 is David Mamet’s “State and Maine,” starring Alec Baldwin and Sarah Jessica Parker, forthcoming from Fine Line.

While there’s been little acquisition activity in previous years, director Denise Kasell says the fest is meant to provide a chance for “emerging filmmakers and distributors to rub elbows and forge relationships.”

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