Enjoy the Hamptons Film Festival Next Weekend

It’s that time of year when we anxiously await the announcement of the lineup of films in the Annual Hamptons International Film Festival, which begins on Thursday, October 13, and runs through Monday, October 17. In my circle of friends, we separately make our choices and then compare. It’s always a surprise to see the wide range of selections we come up with, inevitably triggering boisterous conversations about what film is a “must see” and why. HIFF never disappoints in its thoughtful, intelligent far-reaching selection of narrative features, documentaries and short films from up-and-coming and veteran filmmakers from around the world. [expand]

After going through the lineup of films, I’ve made a stab at choosing those I really want to see. Here are my top five choices, in no particular order.

Martha Marcy May Marlene got my attention with its alliterative name and this description: “a psychological drama concerning a troubled young woman who flees an upstate New York cult and seeks refuge in the quiet home of her sister and sister’s husband.” You can check out the trailer online—it will hook you from the start.

There are two strong reasons I want to see Melancholia, Lars von Trier’s twisted fairytale. One, von Trier’s work is always provocative, though not always successful, and two, the film features Charlotte Rampling (mesmerizing) and Kirsten Dunst, who won the Best Actress award at this year’s Cannes Film Festival for her role. (A documentary on Rampling called Look will also be screened this year.)

The Woman in the Fifth is on my list, featuring Springs part-time resident Ethan Hawke, who plays an American writer who moves to Paris to be closer to his young daughter. This film has been described as “evocative” and “unsettling” and also stars the wonderful Kristin Scott Thomas.

Speaking of “evocative and unsettling,” the actor Tilda Swinton has taken on a juicy role in the film We Need to Talk About Kevin about a mother whose son has perpetrated a horrific school massacre. This should definitely be a riveting performance.

New York Women in Film and Television returns for its eighth year to showcase short films by women, and one of the many that captured my attention is The Sea is All I Know, directed by Jordan Bayne and starring Oscar winner Melissa Leo, who grew up out here. In the film she plays the wife of a fisherman. Her father is Arnold Leo, a fisherman and longtime member of the East Hampton Baymen’s Association. Sounds like a tailor-made role for Leo.

HIFF has also scheduled a series of films by Long Island filmmakers, including East End Shorts. Be sure to check out East Hampton director Gabriel Nussbaum’s latest short, How it Ended, based on a James Salter short story and featuring Debra Winger in a powerful, unforgettable role.

The festival also includes panel discussions, master classes and special programs like its thought-provoking series of Films of Conflict & Resolution. And, one of the standout features in the festival, its “A Conversation With” series of moderated discussions, which this year includes David Bailey with Bruce Weber; Harry Belafonte, moderated by Dick Cavett (HIFF will screen a documentary on Belafonte called Sing Your Song); Matthew Broderick, moderated by Alec Baldwin (be sure to see the special screening of the black comedy Election with Broderick in top form); Susan Sarandon, moderated by Bob Balaban; and Rufus Wainwright, who will show clips from his work-in-progress and discuss his career.

Films will be shown in East Hampton with additional venues in Southampton, Sag Harbor, Westhampton and Montauk. Festival headquarters are located at c/o The Maidstone Hotel on Main Street in East Hampton. A full schedule can be found at www.hamptonsfilmfest.org.

Get your list ready and get those tickets.

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