Hamptons Film Festival Announces Signature Programs for 2016

This year’s festival will take place Oct. 6 through Oct. 10
In "Sonita," the title character wants to be a rapper in Afghanistan, but her parents want her to be a bride.

As the Hamptons International Film Festival has grown, so has its commitment, through its signature programs, to films that engage a range of social and political issues. This year’s festival, which will take place Oct. 6 through Oct. 10, will include the 17th iteration of Films of Conflict and Resolution, the second Compassion, Justice, and Animal Rights program, and a new signature program, Air, Land, and Sea.

Films of Conflict and Resolution, dedicated to work dealing with the effects of war and violence, will include the East Coast premiere of “Disturbing the Peace,” an American documentary that follows a group of Israeli soldiers and Palestinian fighters who join to form “Combatants for Peace” in search of a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Another film in that program, “Sonita,” is the story of a young Afghan refugee living in Iran and dreaming of becoming a famous rapper. To her family, however, she is worth $9,000 as a bride. The German-Iranian-Swiss production chronicles Sonita’s defiance of local expectations and the condemnation of a violent and oppressive society.

Two films concerned with animal rights issues are “The Ivory Game” and “Unlocking the Cage.” The former illuminates the dire fate of the African elephant and the efforts to stop the systematic slaughter driving it to extinction. The film was shot in Africa and Asia with the help of conservationists, intelligence organizations, frontline rangers, and undercover activists working to expose the corruption of the illegal ivory trade.

“Unlocking the Cage,” the most recent film from the Sag Harbor team of Chris Hegedus and D.A. Pennebaker, follows Steven Wise, an animal rights lawyer, as he attempts to break down the legal wall that separates animals from humans by seeking to transform a chimpanzee from a “thing” with no rights to a “person” with legal protections.

The Air, Land, and Sea program will debut with “Sonic Sea,” a documentary about whales and other marine life that are guided toward food, mates, and safety by underwater sounds, and the impact on their frail sonic environment of industrial and military ocean noise. Additional films in the signature programs will be announced in the coming weeks.

The festival will collaborate with Variety for the fifth year to present the 10 Actors to Watch program. This year’s selections will be celebrated in the Oct. 4 issue of the venerable entertainment trade magazine in conjunction with coverage of the festival. 

They are Riz Ahmed, Mahershala Ali, Rachel Brosnahan, Ana de Armas, Alden Erhenreich, Lucas Hedges, Aja Naomi King, Tavi Gevinson, Kara Hayward, and John Legend. Previous nominees include Oscar winners and nominees such as Viola Davis, Taraji P. Henson, Brie Larson, Lupita Nyong’o, Michael Shannon, and Melissa Leo.