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The 24th Annual Hamptons International Film Festival

slide8By Ruth Thomas

The 24th Annual Hamptons International Film Festival (HIFF) will take place October 6-10, 2016. The festival was originally founded to celebrate Independent Filmmakers in the genres of long, short, fiction, and documentary films. Approximately 25,000 visitors will attend HIFF with over 150 films and 20 events in 14 venues across the East End. Over 30 countries are represented in the slate of films with cash and in-kind prizes totaling $225,000. The festival’s diverse programs attract celebrities from around the world to the Hamptons as well as film buffs, culture devotees, and tourists drawn to the glamorous East End.

This is the first year that Alec Baldwin and Randy Mastro will co-chair HIFF. Alec Baldwin has been a HIFF board member for the past decade and a longtime supporter of the festival, hosting its SummerDocs series for the past eight years. Randy Mastro, on HIFF’s board for the past nine years, is a partner in the New York office of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, and Co-Chair of the Firm’s Litigation Practice Group.

The Opening Night film on Thursday, October 6, in East Hampton will feature writer/director Jeff Nichols’ Loving. Starring Joel Edgerton, Ruth Negga, Marton Csokas, Nick Kroll, and Michael Shannon, the film celebrates the real-life courage and commitment of an interracial couple, Richard and Mildred Loving who married and then spent the next nine years fighting for the right to live as a family in their hometown. Their civil rights case, Loving v. Virginia, went all the way to the Supreme Court, which in 1967 reaffirmed the very foundation of the right to marry. Jeff Nichols will be at the festival.

The Closing Night film on Monday, October 10, in East Hampton will feature director Ewan McGregor’s American Pastoral. Based on Philip Roth’s 1997 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, the film stars Ewan McGregor, Dakota Fanning, Jennifer Connelly, David Strathairn, Rupert Evans, and Valorie Curry. Set in the unrest of 1960s America, a man watches his seemingly perfect life fall apart as his daughter’s newfound political activism threatens to destroy their family. Actress Dakota Fanning will be at the festival.

HIFF will present its Signature Programs including Films of Conflict & Resolution, dedicated to showcasing films that deal creatively with the complex issues and societal effects of war and violence; Compassion, Justice & Animal Rights, now in its second year, presenting films that support social justice issues and animal rights; and a brand new program Air, Land & Sea, highlighting films that bring awareness to global man-made environmental issues.

HIFF Executive Director Anne Chaisson observes, “We are thrilled to have amazing cinema from all over the world and to bring this year’s upcoming awards contenders to the East End. We are also excited to announce our new Air, Land & Sea environmental section since conservation is so near and dear to East Enders hearts.”

Films of Conflict and Resolution will return this year with a mixture of features and shorts. Supported by the Brizzolara Family Foundation, the program will include the East Coast Premiere of Award-winning director Stephen Apkon and Academy Award®–nominated director Andrew Young’s Disturbing the Peace, Gianfranco Rosi’s Berlin Golden Bear-winner Fire at Sea, and Rokhsareh Ghaem Maghami’s Sundance Award-winner Sonita. The shorts portion will include Daniel Mulloy’s Home, Melissa Langer’s My Aleppo, and Academy Award®–nominated director Orlando von Einsiedel’s The White Helmets.

Disturbing the Peace is a powerful documentary that follows a group of Israeli soldiers and Palestinian fighters who bravely transition from former enemies to peace activists by deciding to form “Combatants for Peace,” a bi-partisan organization whose main goal is finding a peaceful resolution to the conflict.

Fire at Sea is a depiction of the European migrant crisis told from the perspective of a twelve-year-old boy. The Sicilian island of Lampedusa has transformed into the primary transit point for migrants dreaming of a better life in Europe. This poignant documentary portrays the mundane life of a local boy, Samuele, juxtaposed against the tragedies unfurling on the island.

Sonita is an uplifting documentary about a young Afghan refugee, Sonita Alizadeh, living in Iran who dreams of becoming a famous rapper. Her family, on the other hand, has different plans for Sonita, who is worth $9,000 as a bride. But Sonita defies local expectations and fights back with her music by crafting powerful lyrics that condemn a society filled with violence and oppression.

Compassion, Justice & Animal Rights will feature the New York Premiere of Academy Award®–nominated director Kief Davidson and Award-winning director Richard Ladkani’s The Ivory Game, and Academy Award®–nominated directors Chris Hegedus and D.A. Pennebaker’s Unlocking the Cage. This program bestows one film with the Zelda Penzel “Giving Voice to the Voiceless” Award at the HIFF Award Ceremony during the festival.

The Ivory Game focuses on the dire plight of the African elephants, systematically being slaughtered into extinction by poachers engaged in the illegal ivory trade. The film documents the efforts by conservationists, intelligence organizations, frontline rangers, and undercover activists who try to expose the institutionalized corruption supporting the illegal ivory trade.

Unlocking the Cage follows animal rights lawyer Steven Wise into the courtroom in his unprecedented attempt to break down the legal wall that separates animals from humans. Wise files the first lawsuits seeking to transform a chimpanzee from a “thing” with no rights to a “person” with legal protections. Former showbiz chimps, Tommy and Kiko, now living in neglected cages, are brought to the center of the debate in this compassionate film about animal rights.

Air, Land & Sea, a brand new program that focuses on global issues of environmental conservation, clean water, and the integrity of our planet’s natural resources, with an ocean-centric focus, will feature Emmy-nominated director Michelle Dougherty and Daniel Hinerfeld’s Sonic Sea. Support for this program provided by The Fond Group.

Sonic Sea explores the tragic impact of industrial and military ocean noise that interferes with the unique sonic symphony surrounding whales and other marine life necessary to guide them towards food, mates, and safety. Featuring interviews from dedicated experts and activists, the documentary is a call to action to reduce the impacts of the shipping, seismic, and sonar noise in the ocean and to protect aquatic wildlife from the destructive effects of oceanic noise pollution.

HIFF Artistic Director David Nugent, in a HIFF release commented, “Our hope with Air, Land & Sea is for the festival to embrace the global discussion on environmental issues, and build a platform for filmmakers and audiences to engage and interact.”

Each year, the HIFF Awards Competition honors emerging narrative and documentary directors from all over the world. HIFF also features Variety’s 10 Actors to Watch. This year’s honorees will be celebrated in Variety’s October 4th issue. This marks the fifth year Variety has collaborated with HIFF to present 10 Actors to Watch.

HIFF takes place on Columbus Day weekend, a gorgeous time to experience the Hamptons. Take in a film, have lunch at one of the many trendy restaurants or shop in one of the chic villages. Enjoy the warm days of Indian Summer as you immerse yourself in the world-class Hamptons International Film Festival.