Thursday, September 24, 2009

Hamptons International Film Festival:

(09/23/2009) The 17th annual Hamptons International Film Festival is just around the corner, with a host of changes and a stellar lineup discussions and of films, panel discussions and, of course, parties. For the first time, the festival’s organizers have chosen to have the event coincide with the Columbus Day weekend, and cinephiles who attend the opening night film on Oct. 7 will plunge headfirst into an emotional melodrama that sets the tone for the whirlwind weekend.

“The opening night film is really strong,” said David Nugent, the programming director, about “The Greatest,” which examines a family’s relationships after the unexpected death of a son, and offers a stark contrast to last year’s lighthearted opening film, a quirky documentary about the fashion designer Valentino.

Both Mr. Nugent and Karen Arikian, the festival director, have been working in overdrive in the past few weeks, tying up loose ends and recruiting talent to make appearances over the big weekend. For the opening film, both the young director-screenwriter, Shana Feste, and the producer and star of the film, Pierce Brosnan, will be in attendance.

“This is the very first time during the festival we’re going to do a benefit for another foundation,” she said. “We’re screening a film called ‘8,’ ” which includes “eight short films made by very notable directors,” based on the eight millennium development goals set by the United Nations to be accomplished by 2015. Proceeds from the screening are to benefit the Maysha Foundation, set up by one of the filmmakers, Mira Nair, to benefit young people in Uganda who want to get into film.

Despite the fact that the year’s economic crisis caused Ms. Arikian to cut back on staff and devise other creative ways to save money, she said that the board of directors came through and she expects the festival to be one of the best to date. This year is the 75th anniversary of the New York Film Critics Circle, and four members of the group are to participate in a panel discussion about new media on Oct. 10.

“Those things for me are very exciting and important, partnerships, collaboration, and working together in this very difficult year,” she said. “It has been a very tough year for everybody in so many different ways,” but the show will go on.

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