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INTERVIEW: Hamptons Doc Fest Founder Jacqui Lofaro On Going Virtual For The Festival's 13th Iteration

T.J. Clemente

The 2020 Hamptons Doc Fest will solely screen online. (Photo: Courtesy of Hamptons Doc Fest with artwork by Nofa Aji Zatmiko)

The 13th annual Hamptons Doc Fest, which will solely screen online, has been expanded from five to ten days - with a full slate of 35 documentaries running from Friday, December 4 through Sunday, December 13.

Jacqui Lofaro, the Festival's Founder and Executive Director, told Hamptons.com, "We had hoped this year to welcome doc fans in person in December to an expanded Hamptons Doc Fest. It is always great to see everyone enjoying themselves, taking advantage of beautiful downtown Sag Harbor. Plus, we were excited to be hosting some docs in the newly renovated Sag Harbor Cinema. However, due to COVID, as with everything else in 2020, we are innovating."

She continued, "Therefore, we are pleased to have everyone join us for our first-ever online festival, with 35 films to be watched at home, with family and friends, at your convenience, over an expanded ten-day festival. Our lineup is vibrant and diverse, and we hope folks will find it as entertaining and enlightening as we do, as it covers a wide range of topics - including history, politics, biography, social justice, life challenges, the environment, and art, music and dance."

Lofaro shared the genesis of the Festival. As she recalled, "I was on Bonnie Grice's radio show on 88.3 years back talking about a documentary I had produced. She asked will it be in the International Hamptons Film Festival and I said 'No, I didn't make the cut.' Bonnie said I should start my own, just for documentaries."

With an amazing amount of enthusiasm, Lofaro talked documentaries as only she can. "Instead of canceling, we decided to bite the bullet and do a virtual festival. Then we, probably around June, we kept screening submissions, we kept getting films in. The switch to an online festival is actually tricky, because it is a whole nother mechanism than an in-place venue. My team got up to speed and here we are ready to go." What is she most excited about? "We are excited about the opening night film, MLK/FBI, it's Sam Pollard's newest documentary and it's very powerful. It kind of plays like an espionage spy-craft film, with footage that Sam has that's never been seen before. That's very exciting for us and that's playing opening night."

She went on to explain, "We are only having one film on opening night [December 4] because we want to spotlight MLK/FBI, but it will run throughout the Festival. We have expanded the Festival to ten days, typically our physical Festival is five days. We expanded it to ten to give people the opportunity to watch 35 films over ten days. We also see the expanded format as a new opportunity to reach a very broad audience. We are no longer limited to the New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut area. Now we will be across the country. We are excited about that, too."

A Festival pass is $125 and individual film tickets are $12.

For tickets, or more information about featured films, visit www.hamptonsdocfest.com.

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