×

Hamptons International Film Festival Celebrates a Quarter Century

The Hamptons Intl. Film Festival, which is turning 25 this year, has grown a reputation for being able to read the Academy voting tea leaves and routinely promotes Oscar race front-runners. But screenings of “Moonlight,” “Argo” and “Slumdog Millionaire” aside, the festival has also become the place to see emerging talent before they become marquee names.

“I remember doing the Q&A with Jessica Chastain seven years ago and she told me it was the first red carpet she had ever walked,” HIFF artistic director David Nugent recalls. “She was here for this movie called ‘The Debt,’ which we screened. She was so sweet and she’s so talented. I remember meeting her and doing this Q&A with her and thinking this actress has a bright future ahead of herself. I’m so glad that she really took off.”

This is, no doubt, partially due to HIFF’s partnership with Variety and the annual 10 Actors to Watch showcase, which takes place at 11 a.m. Oct. 7 at Rowdy Hall. This year’s recipients, profiled on the following pages, include “Hamilton’s” Daveed Diggs, who will soon appear in Stephen Chbosky’s “Wonder,” and Danielle Macdonald, the star of Sundance smash, “Patti Cake$.” But it also is reflective of the vibe of both the festival and the locals who frequent it.

“We’re doing seven or eight world premieres this year and there will be distributors and sales agents, but it’s not like these other bigger festivals where it really functions as a market,” HIIF’s Nugent says. “A lot of people are from the community. They’re here to see what we think are the best films of the year and they’re ones we won’t get to see for the rest of the year. … Everything is relatively intimate and we like it that way.”

This intimacy with such an intellectual and aware audience also allows for the festival to embrace unique opportunities. This year, it will host a special event with “Get Out” writer-director Jordan Peele and others involved with the already-released zeitgeisty horror pic. Star Daniel Kaluuya is also a 10 Actors to Watch honoree.

“Primarily, we show films that are coming out and produced during a certain part of the year,” Nugent says. “I saw that film in East Hampton in the first-run movie theater out here in February. [It] was packed with old people and young people and white people and Hispanics and black people. I thought, ‘wow, this is exciting’: One, to see it in an auditorium and two, to have it not be just one of those different groups. I loved it and I thought it’s a wonderful film and I thought it’s worth digging into the phenomenon that this film became.”

We’re doing seven or eight world premieres this year … but it’s not like these other bigger festivals where it really functions as a market.”
David Nugent

Like the rest of the industry and, frankly, the world, Nugent and his staff are aware of the socio-political consciousness in the air. This year’s screenings include the world premiere of presidential election documentary “11/8/16” and the New York state bow of Alan Cumming’s AIDS-tinged drama “After Louie.” HIFF co-chair Alec Baldwin will interview Julie Andrews, who is this year’s recipient of the fest’s lifetime achievement award. Equally outspoken stars Patrick Stewart and Annette Bening will participate in conversations.

Nugent isn’t worried that these talks will overshadow the festival, though. “It’s been a year or two years where politics have been at the forefront more than the previous decade, it feels like,” he says. “Politics is on so many people’s minds now and one of the ways that people deal with and express and talk about politics and culture is through the arts. We hope we can be a part of that conversations.”

He believes films that provide communication stimuli are the reasons why smaller festivals like his remain popular. “While a good film is a good film on its own, no matter how you watch it, it’s different to watch it with a group of like-minded — or sometimes not even like-minded — individuals and then get to hear from some of the creators who make that film,” Nugent says. “And then, [you can] pour out into the evening and sit down over a burger or a salad and debate that film about what it means. That’s something that, no matter how many digital advances we experience, it can never be replaced. Festivals are wise to embrace that phenomenon.”

Tipsheet
What: Hamptons Intl. Film Festival
When: Oct. 5-9
Where: Hamptons, N.Y.
web: hamptonsfilmfest.org

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • The Great Outdoor documentary series about

    Farm to Picture: Documentary Series 'The Great Outdoor' Chronicles a Life Gone to Pot

    Cannabis cultivation in the Emerald Triangle, the area in Northern California that has long been a go-to for growers, has a starring role in a new documentary series called “The Great Outdoor.” Funded by Flow Kana, one of the state’s leading cannabis flower brands, filmed by David Zlutnick, and executive-produced by Flow Kana co-founder Flavia [...]

  • 1982 El Gouna Festival

    Egypt's El Gouna Film Festival Puts Arab Helmers at Center Stage

    The upbeat state of Arab cinema will be on the screen and in the balmy air at Egypt’s El Gouna Film Festival (Sept. 19-27), which is steadily gaining traction in its stated ambition to become a key platform and solid driver for Middle-East producers. “This year was one the best for Arab cinema,” says Intishal [...]

  • Star Skipper Paramount Animation

    Meet Star Skipper, Paramount Animation's Magical New Trademark Logo Character

    Studio logos are powerful signals to audiences.  Multiple generations of moviegoers flipping through channels or scanning streaming titles have frozen at the sight of a desk lamp hopping across the screen, because it means a Pixar movie is about to play. Likewise, when a young boy lounging inside a crescent moon casts his fishing line into [...]

  • Sybil

    Cannes Competition Movie 'Sibyl' Finds North American Home With Music Box (EXCLUSIVE)

    Music Box Films has acquired the U.S. and Canadian rights to Justine Triet’s darkly comic drama “Sibyl,” which competed at Cannes and had its North American premiere at Toronto in the Special Presentation section. Represented in international markets by mk2, the film follows the ambiguous relationship between Sibyl, a jaded psychotherapist (Virginie Efira, “An Impossible [...]

  • Kent Jones Directs 'Diane'

    Kent Jones to Exit New York Film Festival (EXCLUSIVE)

    In a surprise move, New York Film Festival’s director and selection committee chair of seven years Kent Jones will step down following this year’s 57th edition, which runs Sept. 27-Oct. 13. The departure comes as Jones’ feature filmmaking career is taking off. Issues of potential conflicts of interest have arisen as his work has moved [...]

  • Ava-Mark-Split

    Ava DuVernay, Mark Ruffalo Selected for SAG-AFTRA Foundation Honors

    Ava DuVernay and Mark Ruffalo have been selected by the SAG-AFTRA Foundation for its fourth Annual Patron of the Artists Awards. The awards will be presented on Nov. 7 at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills. The show benefits the nonprofit SAG-AFTRA Foundation and is not televised. Previous SAG-AFTRA Foundation Patron of the [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content