Film Fest's Topical Program Extends Beyond Documentaries

“Spotlight”

On Saturday, the box office for the Hamptons International Film Festival will open, and those who don’t want to miss out on films such as “Carol,” “Spotlight,” “Truth,” “Youth,” “Room,” and “Where to Invade Next” will want to get their tickets early, either online or at box offices in East Hampton, Southampton, and New York City.

Full synopses and further information are printed in the festival guide included as a supplement in this week’s paper, but here are some highlights.

The festival, which will be held over Columbus Day weekend, will open with James Vanderbilt’s “Truth.” The film stars Robert Redford as Dan Rather during the last year of his tenure as anchor of the “CBS Evening News” and his reporting that then-President George W. Bush used family connections to avoid combat in the Vietnam War. Cate Blanchett, Topher Grace, and Elisabeth Moss round out the cast. Mr. Vanderbilt served as a mentor for the festival’s Screenwriters Lab in 2009. The Hollywood Reporter wrote that “the film should first and foremost be appreciated as a first-rate account of the pressurized world of high-end TV news reporting.”

Southampton’s opening film on Oct. 9 will be “Youth,” starring Michael Caine and Harvey Keitel. Pablo Sorrentino directed the film, which is about aging, friendship, and life choices. The supporting cast includes Jane Fonda, Paul Dano, and Rachel Weisz. Variety called “Youth” “an emotionally rich contemplation of life’s wisdom gained, lost, and remembered.”

“Bridge of Spies,” a dramatic thriller set in the Cold War starring Tom Hanks, is the closing night film. Steven Spielberg directed the script by Ethan and Joel Coen. Alan Alda, another South Fork denizen along with Mr. Spielberg, is also in the film.

The festival will also have two  Centerpiece films, “Spotlight” and “Carol.”

“Spotlight” examines the Boston Globe investigation of the Catholic Church, whose systematic coverup of child sexual abuse allegations involved not just the diocese, but the city’s government and legal institutions. The newspaper won a Pulitzer Prize for the series. Tom McCarthy directed Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams, Liev Schreiber, Brian d’Arcy James, and Stanley Tucci in the film. Mr. Schreiber has been a summer resident of the South Fork for several years. The Guardian said in its review that what the team uncovers is “a mass psychological dysfunction hidden in plain sight, which has stretched back decades or even centuries and will, unchecked, do precisely the same in the future.”

“Carol” is a bit of a homegrown film in that its producers include Christine Vachon and Pamela Koffler, who also head the Stony Brook Southampton M.F.A. in film program. Todd Haynes, who has collaborated with Ms. Vachon on several films, directed “Carol,” which focuses on the relationship of two women in 1950s New York. Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara star in this adaption of Patricia Highsmith’s 1952 novel “The Price of Salt.” After a screening at Cannes, The Guardian praised the film as a “creamily sensuous, richly observed piece of work.”

Also sure to generate interest and controversy is Michael Moore’s latest documentary, “Where to Invade Next,” which is a Spotlight film this year. The filmmaker is not referring to American bellicosity in his title. Instead, he is the invader of several European countries, checking out the way they run their corporations and governments in a progressive manner. In an uncharacteristically optimistic tone, he shines a light on employee benefits in Italy, prisons in Norway, and female bank leadership in Iceland. While some reviewers have taken issue with his selective presentation, there may be some lessons to be learned here.


A scene from "Where to Invade Next"

Mr. Moore will be in attendance for the festival's A Conversation With series. Also joining the festival for conversations this year will be Dan Rather and Emily Blunt, who is receiving the Variety Creative Impact in Acting Award at a new awards dinner the festival will hold this year on Oct. 11. 

Other Spotlight films this year will be "A Royal Night Out," "I Saw the Light," "The Lady in the Van," "Louder than Bombs," "Anomalisa," "Macbeth," "Born to be Blue," "Suffragette," "When I Live my Life over Again," "Brooklyn," "Experimenter," and "Meadowland."   

The festival’s narrative competition feature films include Matt Sobel’s “Take Me to the River,” Ciro Guerra’s “Embrace of the Serpernt,” Avishai Sivan’s “Tikkun,” Grimur Hakonarson’s “Rams,” and Diasteme’s “French Blood.”

The feature documentaries in competition will be Jon Fox’s “Newman,” David Shapiro’s “Missing People,” Jean-Gabriel Periot’s “A German Youth,” Michael Madsen’s “The Visit,” and Ilinca Calugareanu’s “Chuck Norris vs. Communism.”

Other films of note include “April and the Extraordinary World,” an animated feature from the producers of “Persepolis” and Jacques Tardi, a well-known graphic novelist. Christian Desires and Franck Ekinci directed the film, which takes place in an alternate reality with talking cats and no electricity. The title character is a young scientist in search of her abducted parents.

In “Room,” based on the book by Emma Donoghue and written by Ms. Donoghue, Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay play a mother and her young son confined to one locked room. Lenny Abrahamson directed the film, which also stars Joan Allen and William H. Macy.


"Champions"

“Champions,” the festival’s Compassion, Justice, and Animal Rights selection, follows the pit bulls rescued from the N.F.L. quarterback Michael Vick’s dog-fighting ring. Instead of euthanizing the dogs, thought to be too damaged to be rescued, a group of dedicated volunteers, followed by the director Darcy Dennett, set out to rehabilitate and socialize them.

Cosima Spender’s “Palio” looks at the Sienese horse race and its famed jockeys. “The Preppie Connection” is Joseph Castello’s narrative film about a poor student who wins his way into his exclusive school’s social hierarchy by dealing drugs.

The festival’s Views From Long Island films highlight work filmed on Long Island, created by those from Long Island, or featuring Long Island subjects. Those films that have a majority of their principal photography shot in Suffolk County will be eligible for a $3,000 Suffolk County Next Exposure grant.

This year’s films are Marc Levin’s “The Class Divide,” Ron Davis’s “Harry & Snowman,” Alexandra Shiva’s “How to Dance in Ohio,” Robert Edwards’s “When I Live My Life Over Again,” and Pippa Bianco’s short film “Picturing Barbara Kruger.” Ms. Kruger is an internationally known artist who has a summer house in Springs. “Harry & Snowman” takes as it subject Harry de Leyer, a horse trainer who worked in East Hampton before retiring to Virginia. Snowman was an Amish plow horse that he bought for $80 and trained to be a record-breaking show jumping competitor in the 1950s.

The Conflict and Resolution program is a selection of films addressing the human drama of war and violence. This year’s feature-length films are Nick Louvel and Michele Mitchell’s “The Uncondemned,” Dalibor Matanic’s “The High Sun,” Davis Guggenheim’s “He Named Me Malala,” Camilla Nielsson’s “Democrats,” and Abigail Disney’s “The Armor of Light.” Short films in that program will be Dee Hibbert-Jones and Nomi Talisman’s “Last Day of Freedom,” Yasir Kareem’s “Kingdom of Garbage,” Dress Code’s “Plamen,” and Enric Ribes and Oriol Martinez’s “Take Me to the Moon.”

The East Hampton box office is at Obligato on 47 Main Street. In Southampton, the box office will be at the Southampton Arts Center on the two Saturdays and Sundays before the festival only. In New York City, the box office is at 416 West 42nd Street and will be open daily.

“April and the Extraordinary World”
“Palio”
"Truth"
"Room"