SummerDocs’ Infinite Variety

The SummerDocs series returns for three monthly screenings starting on June 29
“Bathtubs Over Broadway” focuses on a once common but forgotten art form, the industrial musical.

A portrait of an iconic comedian, the quirky history of the corporate musical, and the meteoric rise of a very young chef are the focus of this year’s SummerDocs series at Guild Hall, recently announced by the Hamptons International Film Festival.

The festival will also present a free outdoor series at the Southampton Arts Center featuring the movies of Steven Spielberg, a part-time East Hampton resident. The screenings will be weekly on Fridays at 8:30 p.m. starting in July and running through August. Titles include classics such as “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” and “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial,” together with the director’s most recent work, “The Post” and “Ready Player One.”

The SummerDocs series returns for three monthly screenings starting on June 29 with “Robin Williams: Come Inside My Mind.” July’s is “Bathtubs Over Broadway” on the 21st, and the final film, “Chef Flynn,” will be screened on Aug. 25. They will be introduced and discussed after the screenings by Alec Baldwin, the co-chairman of the festival, and David Nugent, its artistic director. The two also make the selections each year. Joining them will be the directors and some of subjects of the films. The screenings begin at 7 p.m.

“Robin Williams: Come Inside my Mind,” directed by Marina Zenovich, offers an intimate portrait of the late comedian using fresh footage that reveals his process and the background that made him who he was. The documentary is fleshed out by the comments of fellow comedians and colleagues such as Billy Crystal, Pam Dawber, Whoopi Goldberg, and Steve Martin. It will premiere on HBO on July 16.

One of the buzziest entries at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival, “Bathtubs Over Broadway” won the new documentary director award for Dava Whisenant. It focuses on a little-known genre, the industrial musical, which was discovered by a comedy writer for the “Late Show With David Letterman,” Steve Young. He was researching a segment when he came across a cache of recordings of musical shows devoted to the products of some America’s most prominent mid-20th-century brands, among them DuPont, Ford, and General Electric. Made from the 1950s to the 1970s, they starred tractors and bathtubs, and they generated albums, footage, and work for composers and performers. The documentary includes footage of Mr. Letterman, Chita Rivera, Martin Short, and others.

Flynn McGarry, the subject of “Chef Flynn,” discovered the joy of cooking in his early years in California, and happened to have an artist mother only too happy to document it all. The footage of a young teen organizing his own supper club, making the cover of The New York Times Magazine, and staging restaurants from Los Angeles to New York and beyond, all before the age of 16, is fleshed out by Cameron Yates, who has taken the archive and brought it up to date with new footage. 

Many films screened as part of the SummerDocs program have gone on to receive Oscar nominations and awards, among them “Icarus,” “Last Days in Vietnam,” and “Searching for Sugarman.” Tickets for the screenings, which often sell out, and details about the films are available at the Hamptons International Film Festival website.