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The Hamptons Film Festival comes to town

Originally Posted: November 02, 2004

Debbie Tuma

Directors, actors, producers, panel discussions, parties, and lots of high quality movies made this year's Hamptons International Film Festival a hit once more.
From October 20-24, there were lines outside theaters in Montauk, East Hampton, Sag Harbor, Southampton and Westhampton Beach, as ticketholders waited to see films in numerous categories, from shorts to documentaries to films of conflict and resolution, from countries around the world. , to World Cinema, to View From Long Island, to films about

This year, a new category of films was added, called, "Gray Matter," as a tribute to the late monologuist and author Spalding Gray of Sag Harbor. This ongoing category includes films that are innovative, inventive and inspired, in memory of Gray, who died earlier this year.

Filmfest winner and Denise Kassell, Filmfest director

Stuart Match Suna, Chairman of the Festival Board, and Denise Kassell, festival director, pointed out how important the Hamptons Film Festival has become over the past 12 years, as evidenced by the fact that films shown in last year's festival earned a total of 10 Oscar nominations in 2004, and one-"The Fog of War," by Errol Morris, won for best documentary. Another film screened last year, "Open Water," by Chris Kentis, was a huge success story, going on to be a big box office hit over this past summer, garnering about $30 million in North American box office sales alone.
This year, some interesting people showed up in the Hamptons to promote their films. One face not often seen here was that of Senator George McGovern, of South Dakota, who came all the way East to see the screening of, "One Bright Shining Moment: The Forgotten Summer of George McGovern, made about his 1972 Presidential run against Richard Nixon. happening ntial run against Richard Nixon, and about his opposition to the Vietnam War. This movie, produced and directed by Stephen Vittoria, included interviews with several noted supporters, including Warren Beatty, Gloria Steinam, Gary Hart, Gore Vidal and Dick Gregory.

Steven Gaines, Sen. George McGovern & Producer Steve Vittoria

In an on-stage interview with McGovern by local author Steven Gaines, following the packed Guild Hall screening, McGovern drew parallels between the Vietnam War and the war in Iraq, saying how he opposed both wars, because we had no reason to be there. Explaining about his former book, "Terry," written about the death of his alcoholic daughter, McGovern, 82, said he thought the government should focus more on problems like alcoholism at home, which kills 100,000 people a year. Earlier that day, the Senator signed copies of his 9th book, "The Essential American," at Bookhampton in East Hampton.

Beatty, Gloria Steinam and Dick Gregory, as well as his campaign manager, Gary Hart, and biographer, Thomas Knock.

Following the three-hour evening with McGovern at Guild Hall, the Senator and his entourage were spotted later that night having dinner at O'Malley's in East Hampton. a down-home

Brenda Siemers & son Christian Scheider, son of Roy Scheider

Also at the festival, like father like son, actor Roy Scheider and his wife Brenda Siemers came to watch the film premiere of their 14 year-old son, Christian, who produced a short educational film about the Hayground School, which he attends.

Christain Scheider said he did this as part of a school project. "I wanted to make a movie about my school to show people how cool it is, but I don't really think about this as a career," he said. Roy Scheider said he's proud of his son's work. "He was really excited to make it, and I'm looking forward to seeing it on the screen," he said.

, of Sagaponack, in Bridgehampton Another local resident, Dr. Blake Kerr, was on hand to show his new documentary film, "Angry Skies," an intense and moving film he made while doing human rights investigations in Cambodia. Kerr and his cameraman risked their lives to shoot a poignant film about the atrocities committed by the Khmer Rouge regime, which killed and tortured over 2 million Cambodian people. This film was made during Kerr's 15 trips to Cambodia and throughout Asia. "I love living in East Hampton with my family, but I feel I must go to these places and expose the wrongdoings against these people," said Kerr, who also wrote a book about". New Century the struggle of the Tibet people.

Paul, Candy & Chip Monte of Gurney's

Although the movies were suburb, and the parties were fun, the only thing missing in this year's festival was the star power of years past. Some stars appeared at events, including Sally Kellerman, who was a judge, and Jennifer Tilly. Both were greeting several hundred guests at the festival's opening night party held for the second year at Gurney's Inn Resort & Spa in Montauk. The theme of this party was beds and hospital attire, in keeping with the opening night movie, "Kinsey," based on the doctor who invented the "Kinsey Report" about sexual practices.

The "Conversation With," held at Guild Hall, and also one of the festival's highlights, was an interview with legendary actress Gena Rowland and actor Anthony LaPaglia. Rowland. who has appeared in hundreds of movies and TV shows, was also spotted in previous festivals here, including one year when she co-starred in a film with Brooke Shields.

Ron Marasco & Michael Goorjiam

Throughout the week, more "after theater" parties were held at the James Lane Cafe, Bamboo Restaurant, Jean Luc, the Star Room, and 21 Water Street, for the closing night party on Saturday night. Saracen held a party Sunday night for festival volunteers, following an awards party at Bamboo. A movie called, "Break-Up Artist" took best feature film award, and "Imaginary Witness" took best documentary award, and "Most High" won for narrative feature. One great romantic new movie, called "Illusion," starring Kirk Douglas, won a screenplay award. This movie's director and screenwriter, Michael Goorjian, who also stars in the movie, is a talented young man who will go far in the business.

The clsoing night movie, "The Assassination of Richard Nixon," starred Sean Penn, and was riveting and action-packed.

Kudos to the Huntting Inn for hosting all those actors and theater people for the week, who used this inn as a base of operations and meeting center for the festival.

Albert Maysles

Further up the road, a great bash took place at the Bridgehampton Community House just before the festival, as a benefit for the Latinio organization, "Ola." Justin Ward, famous Hamptons events planner, threw this great party with fabulous Hispanic food, great music and lots of dancing to Latino music. Spotted in the crowd, coming to support this cause was artist Daria Deshuk, artist Bill Negron, East Hampton attorney Stan Birnbaum, LTV's morning talk show host Heim Misrahi, of "Hello, Hello!", Southampton Human Resources Director Bill Jones, and Suffolk County Legislator Jay Schneiderman.

Another big event which took place recently at Guild Hall of East Hampton, was the 20th Anniversary celebration of LTV, East Hampton's public access channel, where they honored famous documentary filmmaker Albert Maysles, for his upcoming 50th Anniversary next year. Billy Jett, Director of LTV, and Don Shelly, Chairman of the Board, spoke of the importance of having public access, and independent films, as a way of free speech, non-manipulated by the more commercial venues. Maysles, of Manhattan, showed his famous movie, Grey Gardens," which was filmed in East Hampton in 1976, and starred Jackie Kennedy's eccentric aunt and cousin, both named Edie Beale. Maysles is now fund-raising for his next big project--a film on the famous artist Christo, who will be wrapping Central Park in 8,000 fences and gates in February. Maysles has already made five films on Christo's other major art projects all over the world.

"President's Public awareness project"
at liberty farmstand in Sagaponack

In keeping with the upcoming election, people driving by the Liberty Farmstand in Sagaponack last weekend would have seen quite a sight--with life-size cut-outs of the Presidential candidates, a sign that read, "You Pick'em Presidents," and surrounding this was cut-out heads of Bush and Kerry in the farmfields, like pumpkins. This was the comic creation of Montauk artist and videographer Ross Rowlinson, of Boss Productions. It got a few laughs from the hghway, of people driving back following the film festival! Everyone get out and VOTE!!!!!!!




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