Sometimes, late is much better than never. Such is often the case with the last-minute additions to the Hamptons International Film Festival, which can end up being some of the most talked-about films of the year.
David Nugent, the director of programs for the festival, said last Thursday that movies in the past such as “Up in the Air,” “My Week with Marilyn,” and “Slumdog Millionaire” were among the most exciting films they had screened and all were put in well after deadline.
The 20th anniversary of the festival this year did put more pressure on him, he said, to “dig deeper and scour more to try to find films that would reflect the aims of the festival and delight audiences, but we are always constrained by the films that are out there.” He called the recent additions a microcosm of this effort. “It’s a wide range for all sorts of people.”
“Cloud Atlas” is an example of a big film, he said, that is also “auteur filmmaking by the makers of ‘The Matrix’ and ‘Run Lola Run,’ ” — Tom Tykwer, Lana Wachowski, and Andy Wachowski. It is a $100 million film, but “is not a silly sci-fi movie made to sell action figures. It’s from a dense, well-loved book that tells the tale of six different times and generations.” Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Jim Broadbent, and Susan Sarandon star.
The festival will also include Dustin Hoffman’s directorial debut, “Quartet,” about a retirement home for classical musicians. Maggie Smith stars in this adaptation of a comedic play with Tom Courtenay, Billy Connolly, Pauline Collins, and Michael Gambon. “It’s very good and much funnier than I thought it would be,” Mr. Nugent said.
Some of the late additions come from the Toronto Film Festival, which predates the Hamptons festival by a couple of weeks and can be a proving ground for films. “A film might have its world premiere in Toronto and we are curious as to how it will be received, so we wait until Toronto to see,” he said. A number of films also find distributors at that festival. “When ‘The Wrestler’ sold at Toronto, we decided to include it” in 2008.
Other times it is a matter of a film not being finished in time for the regular deadline, but it might still be of great interest to the audience here. For example, a documentary about the former New York City Mayor Ed Koch, completed only a few weeks ago, was just added. Mr. Koch, who is 84, plans to attend the screening, health permitting, according to Mr. Nugent.
“Kon-Tiki,” another late arrival, will be Norway’s submission for the Oscar for Best Foreign Film this year. It is a feature film based on a documentary made half a century ago that won the Academy Award the year it was made. It is about an explorer, Thor Heyerdahl, who floats off on a raft to prove his theory that the settlers of the Polynesian Islands were from the Americas, not Asia, allowing prevailing regional currents to settle the matter. For Mr. Nugent, it is a personal favorite. “It has big storms and sharks and relates to our experience living on an island here. I love films like that.”
“No Place on Earth,” which had its world premiere in Toronto, is a documentary about a family that takes to the caves in their Ukrainian town to hide from the Nazis for some 18 months, beginning in October of 1942. “A cave explorer found evidence of people in the caves from more recent times than the usual prehistoric dwellers and set about to figure it out,” Mr. Nugent said. “The film is constructed of recreations and reminiscences of those who were children at the time but who had these vivid recollections.”
Other films not in the original program include “Out of the Clear Blue Sky,” by Danielle Gardner, a full-length documentary that follows those connected to Cantor Fitzgerald, the financial firm with offices in the World Trade Center that suffered the largest loss by a single entity during the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. “The Zen of Bennett,” a film about Tony Bennett and his unique approach to life, was shown this summer at Guild Hall and has recently been added to the festival schedule.
“Everything or Nothing: The Untold Story of 007” looks at the history of the James Bond movie franchise that will be 50 years old tomorrow, Oct. 5, the anniversary of the release of “Dr. No” in 1962. A short film, “Dreaming American,” tackles immigration in a narrative format, with a cast led by Giancarlo Esposito.
Film times and venues can be found on the film festival Web site, hamptonsfilmfest.org.