The 20th Annual Hamptons International Film Festival (HIFF), which took place in the villages of East Hampton, Sag Harbor, and Southampton from October 4th – 8th was bigger and better than ever. Founded in 1993 to celebrate independent film makers this year’s festival produced a uniquely varied roster of long and short films both fiction and documentary from fresh talent around the world along with conversations with filmmakers and stars.
Droves of people stood in line and many were ultimately turned away on Saturday evening when Richard Gere, a film star for five decades and still counting, was honored with the Golden Star Fish Award for lifetime achievement in film at this year’s event. The movie star, who has never won an Oscar was presented with the award by HIFF founder Toni Ross at Guild Hall after a conversation with him hosted by Alec Baldwin. Nearing the end of their chat when Baldwin asked him what contributed to his longevity in film as a star? Gere was speechless for a few moments before responding “I really don’t know.” However what Baldwin expressed in his introduction of the actor and the reel of film clips from Gere’s career made perfectly clear is that there is a certain unexplainable magical quality all great stars bring to the screen, a chemistry that cannot be put into words, but is nonetheless apparent on film – the camera loves them.
A departed movie icon whose allure to film fans has never dimmed was the subject of the festival’s opening night film “Love Marilyn,” an exceptional look at the legend who remains famous 50 years after her memorable but brief career and sudden death age 36. Marking its US premiere at the festival Liz Garbus’ documentary is an intimate and revealing portrait of Monroe based on never before seen personal correspondence, diary entries and archival footage. Amy Greene, the wife of the famous photographer Milton Green, who played an integral part in Marilyn’s too short life appears in the film and was on hand with some candid comments at the discussion that followed the sold out screening at Guild Hall. HBO financed the documentary which will be shown on the channel at a later date.
Music took center stage at the closing night film, David Chase’s feature film debut “Not Fade Away,” a coming of age story about a group of Jersey boys in the 1960s who pin their hopes on making it big by forming a rock band just after the death of John F. Kennedy and the emergence of The Beatles. The film features James Gandolfini from HBO’s “The Sopranos” created by Chase. He plays Pat the hard working blue collar father of Douglas (John Magaro) a drummer in the band, who eventually becomes its lead singer. The story focuses on his journey and conflicts with the band. Magaro is a fine actor and singer, but Grace the girl he has a crush on played by Bella Heathcote, one of Variety’s 10 actors to watch, may be the real star of the film. “Not Fade Away” will be released to the public on December 21.
The festival’s awards ceremony hosted by actor Alan Cumming honored “Silver Linings Playbook” by David O. Russell and “No Place On Earth,” a late addition to the festival by Janet Tobias, with the Baume & Mercier Audience Awards on Saturday evening at Guild Hall for best narrative and documentary, respectively.
Other highlights of the festival were a tribute to the legendary costume designer Ann Roth presented by HIFF and The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences at Guild Hall with Nathan Lane, Mike Nichols and special surprise guest Meryl Streep. At the same time a conversation with Alan Cummings took place at Bay Street Theater in Sag Harbor hosted by TimeOut’s senior film writer Joshua Rothdopf. Lane and Streep were said to very amusing together, while Mr. Cumming proved to be an exceptionally authentic presence. His film “Any Day Now” by Travis Fine may be the sleeper of the festival.
One of the festival’s most popular events besides Richard Gere was An Afternoon Talk with Stevie Nicks, a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and one of the most distinctive female voices in rock history. As a member of Fleetwood Mac and an individual career she boasts over 40 top 50 hits, 13 Grammy Award nominations, and over 140 million albums sold.
By Patrick Christiano
Photography By Barry Gordin
Follow Us On Facebook