When one thinks of the perfect summer movie, naturally, a blockbuster comes to mind. But you don’t want just any dreck like Independence Day or White House Down. You want something with history, something where the story of the production was almost as interesting as the film itself. To put it simply, you want Jaws. Luckily for you, the Southampton Center and The Hamptons International Film Fest have partnered to bring the immortal classic Jaws and other amazing films to you all summer long as part of their FILM @Southampton Center series.
Kicking off with National Geographic photographer James Balog’s documentary on glacier change, Chasing Ice, the series aims to bring a bit of family-friendly entertainment and thoughtful perspective to audiences for free, all summer long. “Our relationship with the Hamptons International Film Festival is very important to us,” said J. Whitney Stevens, Southampton Center Board Chair. “They partnered with us to help us develop a really wonderful film series that covers everything from indies to family friendly films.”
“The Hamptons Film Fest has been around for around twenty years and we’ve been exhibiting films in Southampton during that time at the Regal Cinemas during the festival itself,” said David Nugent, artistic director at the Hamptons International Film Fest. “We like to partner with other organizations, that’s something we think is very important and once things started coming together with Southampton Center, we’ve been working on putting together the programming for the series. We think it’s a mutually beneficial situation for us.”
While the films range from kid-friendly fluff like Wreck-It Ralph to SXSW festival darling Short Term 12, which won both the Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award for 2013, there are plenty of great films on display. The Southampton Center provides a film experience unlike others by holding a beer tasting before a film like Drinking Buddies or live musical accompaniment for the silent, black and white classic Safety Last.
“We wanted to make sure that the films being screened at the Southampton Center were different than what we show as part of our SummerDocs series at Guild Hall,” Nugent said. “There aren’t a ton of venues to exhibit these great films at in the Hamptons. We’re really happy that the Southampton Center is interested in showcasing so many types of films.”
The Southampton Center occupies one of the more historic and beloved pieces of Hamptons real estate, so the film series should be the perfect accompaniment for the classic building. “It’s an economic driver for our businesses, so it’s important that that facility remain open and have solid artistic programming behind it,” Mayor Mark Epley said. “It’s become a destination point for people in the village. It’s got tradition centered in an important business district.”
All involved with the Southampton Center and the upcoming summer film series are hoping that the facility becomes a strong cultural center for the community. “Through the hard work of the founders’ committee, the decision was made to leverage this beautiful building for arts and culture in alignment with its heritage,” Stevens said. “The original vision, on the part of Samuel Parrish, was to use the building for arts and exhibition, so, we’re very respectful of that.”
Mayor Epley plans on attending a majority of the screenings, having worked with the HIFF for a while. “It’s important to the village, but also to the festival in that it allows them to expand their base,” Mayor Epley said. “I hope that the building becomes a cultural and artistic center for the community. We have wonderful programming coming here, very different, plenty of great events and we’re hoping that the community responds positively.”
For those who haven’t seen a movie like Jaws on the big screen, this is a perfect opportunity to do so. There’s something magical about sitting with a crowd of moviegoers, relaxing, enjoying what is arguably one of the finest films of all-time. The jump-scares. The first sighting of the shark. Quint’s riveting account of the USS Indianapolis. All of these moments account for one of the best moviegoing experiences you’ll ever have and the Southampton Center is delivering experiences like that all summer long, for free.