The Hamptons Film Festival Roars Into March

Submissions open, a new prize, and more programs
“In the Heat of the Night” stars Rod Steiger as a racist sheriff and Sidney Poitier as a Philadelphia police lieutenant forced to work together to solve a murder in a small Mississippi town.

While its five-day slate of films and programs draws crowds, celebrities, and media attention every October, the Hamptons International Film Festival has become a perpetual motion machine with a variety of programs running all year. In addition to a screening of “In the Heat of the Night” Friday evening at Bay Street Theater in Sag Harbor with a dinner to follow, it has announced the establishment of a $10,000 screenwriting award and that it is now accepting submissions for the 2019 festival.

The new award, which is funded by the Zicherman Family Foundation, will be presented to an early-career screenwriter who has demonstrated singular vision and dedication to his or her craft. The festival also offers awards in cash and in-kind services for best narrative feature, best documentary feature, best narrative short, and best documentary short.

Submissions for this year’s festival, which will take place from Oct. 10 through Oct. 14, can be made through the online platform, where detailed information about deadlines, awards eligibility, and technical specifications can be found.

When it was released in 1967, “In the Heat of the Night” won five Oscars, including for best picture and best actor (Rod Steiger), three Golden Globes, and a slew of other honors. The classic mystery-drama will be shown Friday evening at 6 as part of the festival’s Now Showing series.

Directed by Norman Jewison from a script by Stirling Silliphant, the film also stars Sidney Poitier as Virgil Tibbs, a Philadelphia police detective who is arrested on suspicion of murder by Bill Gillespie (Steiger), the racist police chief of a small Mississippi town. Mr. Tibbs proves his innocence and eventually joins forces with Mr. Gillespie to track down the real killer.

The screening of the film, to which the New York Times film critic Bosley Crowther attributed “the look and sound of actuality and the pounding pulse of truth,” will be followed by a conversation between Alec Baldwin and David Nugent, the festival’s artistic director. 

A benefit dinner for HIFF, hosted by The East Hampton Star, will take place after the screening at Lulu Kitchen and Bar in Sag Harbor. Tickets for the film and talk are $25, $20 for HIFF members. The dinner is $95 and includes the movie ticket. Dinner tickets are available at