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INTERVIEW: Hamptons International Film Festival's Anne Chaisson And David Nugent On Their Top Picks, This Year's Talent, And More

Nicole Barylski

David Nugent, I, Tonya stars Sebastian Stan, Margot Robbie, and Paul Walter Hauser, Anne Chaisson, and Stuart Match Suna at last year's Closing Night screening. (Photo: Getty)

In anticipation of the 26th annual Hamptons International Film Festival, taking place Thursday, October 4 through Monday, October 8, we caught up with Executive Director Anne Chaisson and Artistic Director David Nugent about this year's lineup, talent, panels, and more.

As per usual, this year's Festival boasts an impressive array of films. What are some of the ones that you're most looking forward to having audiences see and why?

AC: Watergate is a four hour documentary that we're showing on Friday at 11:30 at Guild Hall that Charles Ferguson strings together the entire Watergate history in this massive four hour documentary that we're showing. It is truly fascinating to behold all that happened. It feels so eerily similar to what's happening today. There is an intermission, too.

Another movie that I personally enjoyed very much was a movie I saw at Cannes. It's called the Woman at War. It's Iceland's entry for the foreign language Oscar race this year. It's about this woman, a choir director, who has an insanely interesting hobby that she does every day. I don't really want to go into what it is, but she's a warrior, sort of a common lady warrior who is day by day making sure her government and business stay honest.

DN: I would say Capernaum is a film I like a lot - by Nadine Labaki - which won the Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival this year. We have the first screening in the US of it and Nadine Labaki is coming to the festival, which we're very excited about. We also screened her film Caramel years ago. It's an incredibly moving film, Capernaum, so I'm very happy we are screening that.

We also just added a film called Never Look Away, which missed our catalogue deadline, but it's by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck who made The Lives of Others which won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. It's a film about art and artists, particularly in Germany in the '40s and Gerhard Richter.

We also just added a film called The Biggest Little Farm, which is an incredibly moving film about a young couple that leaves their regular city life and professional life behind and decide to open a farm in California. It's about all the challenges they face and all that goes into it. It's wonderful.

There's a huge focus on women filmmakers this year with 45 percent of the films directed by women. Could you speak a bit about that?

AC: We are extremely, extremely proud of that. We've been partnering with New York Women in Film & Television to showcase short films by women for over 18 years now. So, making sure that we have equalness in directors specifically is a huge deal for us. Our competition is 50/50 male/female.

The Festival will be presenting a #MeToo focused panel in recognition of the one-year anniversary of the global movement for change. Who will be speaking on that panel?

AC: We have a nice group speaking on that panel, mostly someone from the films that we're showing that talks about subject matter that the movement covers. For example, we have a movie called Roll Red Roll, it's a documentary about Steubenville, Ohio, the high school where unfortunately a young woman was raped and a crime blogger - just as a sidebar interest - started to piece together all the social media that had been happening that evening and broke the case by actually identifying who the people were and getting them in their own words as proof. It was sort of a seminal thing that happened in that kind of a case. So, the documentary is utterly fascinating and the director will be on the panel for that.

DN: And we have two other filmmakers from the festival.

AC: We're still talking to several people about moderating.

There's also several notable names attending in support of their latest project. What talent can audiences expect to see this year?

AC: There's a ton of people coming. Maggie Gyllenhaal is in our Opening Night Film, The Kindergarten Teacher. She will be here. We have Rosamund Pike and Jamie Dornan coming with their film, A Private War. We have a whole host of directors that will be in attendance. Michael Dweck, who has a film The Last Race, is also a famous photographer who has depicted the area quite a lot. As well as Damien Chazelle, who is the director of First Man and won the Academy Award for directing La La Land. Emilio Estevez, who has a film he directed and stars in called The Public. We have Matthew Broderick in a film called To Dust. Of course Alec Baldwin will be doing a couple of conversations - one with Maggie Gyllenhaal, the other with Emilio Estevez. And, we have three "Breakthrough Artists" that we've chosen this year that are all actors: Cory Michael Smith in the film 1985, Amandla Stenberg in the film The Hate U Give and Kayli Carter in Private Life. That's just off the top of my head and there will be more.

Is there anything new this year?

AC: We are actually doing an incredible immersive experience with virtual reality which is the new buzzword in the film world. You can come to Mulford Farm in East Hampton, which is right down the street from Guild Hall and put a headset on and experience an eight minute film where you are in a situation where ICE agents come to ask some questions. There's a whole eight minute film about what happens when you're in that questioning. It's eye-opening, it's heart wrenching, it's told from all sides - so it's not a bias representation, but it is truly, truly interesting to experience. That's happening Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday from 12 to 4 p.m. It's free.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

AC: If you have a pass or ticket, you can get on or off any Jitney going east or west from Southampton to Montauk for free.

For more information, visit hamptonsfilmfest.org.

Nicole is the Editor-in-Chief of Hamptons.com where she focuses on lifestyle, nightlife, and mixology. She grew up in the Hamptons and currently resides in Water Mill. www.hamptons.com NicoleBarylski NicoleBarylski

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