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INTERVIEW: Jacqui Lofaro Talks Hamptons Doc Fest's Docs Equinox

T.J. Clemente

Watson is among featured films. (Courtesy Photo)

Hamptons Doc Fest Founder Jacqui Lofaro is very excited about this year's annual spring festival titled, Docs Equinox, all starting on Earth Day (Thursday, April 22). The festival is going on through Sunday, April 25. Ms. Lofaro said the Docs Equinox on Earth Day shines the bright light on the importance of successfully protecting Mother Earth and can best be summed up by an old Native American proverb, "We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children."

In an interview with Hamptons.com, Ms. Lofaro explained, "It's our annual spring film series, which we label Docs Equinox. Our first one was about five years ago. It was our way of celebrating Earth Day with some environmental films. It is something that is near and dear to us. With lots of great environmental films out there, we go through a selection process to try and get a variety. We have three films this year all virtual, also one of them will be screening live in the Sag Harbor Cinema."

That film will be the National Geographic Documentary Films' Playing With Sharks (2021, 95 min.), which debuted to acclaim at the Sundance Film Festival in January. The special live screening at the Cinema will be held on Saturday, April 24, at 7:00 p.m.

Ms. Lofaro went on to say, "We are thrilled about being live. It's limited seating, because of the COVID restrictions and distancing, but nevertheless it is in the theater and a lot of people haven't seen the new theater."

About the live screening, Ms. Lofaro said, "They will be seated, they will have ushers who will be seating people. We are selling 75 tickets only, for a theater that holds 231. If you buy a ticket online, you are guaranteed a seat."

Ms. Lofaro, who has already attended some films at the newly renovated Sag Harbor Cinema, then spoke about the changes there. "There are three theaters, you come in and it's pretty remarkable the transformation from what it was, and certainly how it was totally destroyed by the fire, and what has been rebuilt from the ashes. They have lots of wonderful memorabilia on the walls. Theater one is the largest with 231 seats. It is wider than it is deep. It has a very special big screen and one of the best sound systems that I have ever heard. They have a couple of concessions booths selling popcorn, etc. and the second cinema holds about 100 people, and then there is a small screening room for 35 to 40 people. The atmosphere is great, the people who came when I was there were just thrilled. For our festival, the ticket prices are $20 for the theater and all the virtual screenings are $15."

This being the first "combo" Docs Equinox, Ms. Lofaro explained, "Our festival last year was all virtual, and it was a high mountain to climb, to do it, to pull it off with 35 films. It was a challenge with the technology. What we discovered was our films were seen by people in 17 states! That's an expansion of an audience that we never anticipated. So, we will keep a virtual component, making all the future festivals hybrid, and that's a good thing. The one new and exciting program that we have this year, that we have never had before is The East End Green Team 'Conversation Centerpiece.' These are five young, local people. They are the keepers of the planet. This is the generation that's going to inherit our mess. They all have a lot to say, whether it's water conservation to oyster fishing, it's well worth it and we are offering it free. You just have to reserve a ticket, but it's a free ticket."

The Docs Equinox line-up features Playing With Sharks live on Saturday, April 24 and online on Saturday, April 24 and Sunday, April 25, Watson online from Thursday, April 22 through Sunday, April 25, And We Go Green online from Thursday, April 22 through Sunday, April 25, and The East End Green Team "Conversation Centerpiece" online from Thursday, April 22 through Sunday, April 25.

The "East End Green Team" panel discussion will be moderated by WLIW 88.3 FM radio host Gianna Volpe and consist of Scott Bluedorn, local artist, who sits on the East Hampton Energy and Sustainability Committee. Also included is Daniela Kronemeyer, national indigenous rights consultant. Joining them is John Robertson, landscape manager, Wainscott Farms. Then there is Alexandra Talty, award-winning international journalist on agriculture and social justice. Last, but not least, will be Shane Weeks, Shinnecock Nation artist and educator. Ms. Lofaro said they will all share their thoughts and action plans for the planet and our local neighborhoods.

For more information, or tickets, visit www.hamptonsdocfest.com.

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