LONG ISLAND, NY – Members of the press, Movie Stars, Filmmakers and Hamptonites gathered to attend the 23rd Hamptons International Film Festival on October 8th through October 12th. The Hamptons International Film Festival is traditionally held each year over the Columbus Day weekend.
The Hamptons International Film Festival (HIFF) is a year-round 501(c)3 non-profit organization with events, screenings, film workshops, comprehensive summer programs and an annual film festival. The Festival is the premiere film event on New York State’s east end and is an intimate showcase of some of the year’s best offerings in contemporary cinema from around the world. With cash and in-kind prizes handed out totaling more than $165,000, HIFF continues to attract some of the best films of the year. Selections from all of our programs continue to play an important role during awards season. 2014 marked the 6th time in the last 7 years that a film at the Festival has become the eventual Best Picture winner at the Oscars, making HIFF the only Festival on the East Coast with such a distinction.
This year I was happy to attend some red carpet events and screenings that were significant during the festival. The 23rd Annual Hamptons International Film Festival kicked off on opening night with the film “TRUTH,” Director James Vanderbilt’s searing look into the CBS News controversy that ended Dan Rather’s career as the network’s anchorman.
Cognac Interviews Producer Brad Fischer, Dennis Quaid and American Journalist Dan Rather at the 23rd Hamptons International Film Festival
Academy Award winners Cate Blanchett and Robert Redford star in James Vanderbilt’s sharp and insightful take on the controversial CBS 60 Minutes investigation of George W. Bush’s military record that ended Dan Rather’s career as the network’s anchorman. Adapted from producer Mary Mapes’ (Blanchett) account in her book “Truth and Duty: The Press, the President, and the Privilege of Power,” and featuring exceptional performances by a stellar cast, including Elisabeth Moss, Dennis Quaid, and Topher Grace, TRUTH is a polished and absorbing dramatization of the ever-changing relationship between journalism and politics in today’s media.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Producer and Screenwriter Brad Fischer, about the Film.
Tell my audience about this film and why you decided to undertake this project
Brad Fischer: This is the story of the 60 minute piece when Dan Rather was forced to resign after the story was aired about George Busch’s questionable service to the Texas International Guard. It’s a fascinating story about journalism and the intersection of politics and big business. It’s a really interesting story and my partner James Vanderbilt directed the film. I think is a great story that people will enjoy.
I also attended CONVERSATIONS WITH DAN RATHER.
With a famed and storied career that has spanned more than six decades, Dan Rather has been one of the world’s best-known journalists for much of the last half century. He has interviewed every president since Eisenhower and personally covered almost every important dateline of the last 60 years.
Rather joined CBS News in 1962. He quickly rose through the ranks and in 1981 he assumed the position of anchor and managing editor of the CBS Evening News—a post he held for 24 years. His reporting across the network helped to turn 60 Minutes into an institution, launched 48 Hours as an innovative news magazine program, and shaped countless specials and documentaries. Upon leaving CBS, Rather returned to the in-depth reporting he always loved, creating the Emmy Award-winning Dan Rather Reports on HDNet. Mr. Rather continues to bring us controversial news and is now president and CEO of News and Guts, an independent production company he founded that specializes in high-quality nonfiction content across a range of traditional and digital distribution channels as he revealed during our interview.
Tell my audience what we can expect with Conversations with you and Alec Baldwin? What do you think is going to take place?
Dan Rather: Well I hope we will have a meaningful conversation about the importance of truly independent investigation which runs through the thread of the film TRUTH and I am hopeful that we will have an intelligent conversation about that
Tell us about your new production company, “News and Guts” What is that all about?
Dan Rather: Well when I left CBS News I wanted to stay active. I wanted to work full time…I love reporting and so the bridge to get to that after I left CBS News was to form my own production company and my daughter Robin who is my eldest came up with “New and Guts.”
SPOTLIGHT was the Saturday Centerpiece Film that premiered at Guild Hall in East Hampton.
Cognac Wellerlane interviews Actor John Slattery at the 23rd Hamptons International Film Festival
Starring Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams, Liev Schreiber, Brian d’Arcy James, John Slattery and Stanley Tucci, Academy Award nominee Tom McCarthy’s SPOTLIGHT tells the riveting true story of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Boston Globe investigation that would rock the city and cause a crisis in one of the world’s oldest and most trusted institutions. When the newspaper’s tenacious “Spotlight” team of reporters delve into allegations of abuse in the Catholic Church, their year-long investigation uncovers a decades-long cover-up at the highest levels of Boston’s religious, legal, and government establishment, touching off a wave of revelations around the world. The Saturday Centerpiece screening will be sponsored by Blundstone Boots. Open Road Films will release the title in select theaters on November 6, 2015. SPOTLIGHT will be in theaters nationwide by Thanksgiving.
“It is an honor to be screening these films for our Centerpieces this year,” said HIFF Artistic Director David Nugent. “McCarthy and Haynes are two of America’s most talented filmmakers and they are working at the top of their game.”
“SPOTLIGHT and CAROL have garnered high praises and are highly anticipated for the awards circuit this year,” said HIFF Executive Director Anne Chaisson. “Both films truly demonstrate the high caliber of films that we continue to pursue and program at our festival.”
I had the chance to chat with Directors Charlie Kaufman, Duke Johnson about their film ANOMALISA.
The synopsis of the film tells us about Michael Stone who is a man crippled by the mundanely of his life. On a business trip to Cincinnati, he checks into the Fregoli Hotel, where he is amazed to discover a possible escape from his desperation in the form of an unassuming Akron baked goods sales rep who may or may not be the love of his life. A beautifully tender and absurdly humorous dreamscape from the brilliant minds of Charlie Kaufman (SYNECDOCHE, NEW YORK) and Duke Johnson (“Community”), this is a darkly comedic and surreal journey. ANOMALISA confirms Charlie Kaufman’s place amongst the most important of American filmmakers, and announces Duke Johnson as a major creative force.
Cognac Wellerlane interviews Actor, Narrator and Executive Producer Morgan Freeman at the 23rd International Film Festival
In the documentary Category, THE C WORD (USA) premiered at the Hamptons International Film Festival. The film was directed by Meghan O’Hara. Executive Producer and Narrator Morgan Freeman spoke to me about how important this film is in preventing and dealing with the disease.
Filmmaker and cancer survivor Meghan O’Hara (producer of FAHRENHEIT 9/11, BOWLING FOR COLUMBINE) wants to change the way we think about cancer. In this daring and intimate film, she investigates the connection between the current cancer epidemic and our western lifestyle, including medical professionals’ tendency to treat only the symptoms and not the underlying causes. Backed by personal experiences and the scientific validation of Dr. David Servan-Schreiber, O’Hara asks us to reconsider the way we currently treat cancer, and advocate instead for society-wide lifestyle changes. Narrated by Academy Award winner Morgan Freeman, THE C WORD challenges us to step up and take control of our health.
At the Chairman’s Reception I had the opportunity to talk to Actress Olivia Wilde and Director Reed Morando about their film MEADOWLAND
In her dreamy directorial debut, celebrated cinematographer Reed Morano (KILL YOUR DARLINGS) examines the visceral and isolating experience of grief, and the distortion of reality that occurs following the loss of a child. MEADOWLAND follows distraught parents Sarah (Olivia Wilde) and Phil (Luke Wilson) a year after their 8-year-old son mysteriously disappeared from a gas station bathroom. In the wake of this unimaginable tragedy, they each struggle in their own way to heal. Phil attempts to ease his suffering with the help of a support group, while Sarah seeks a more destructive path. Wilde and Wilson, who give raw, emotional performances as the unraveling couple, are backed by an impressive cast of supporting actors, including Elisabeth Moss, John Leguizamo, Giovanni Ribisi, and Kevin Corrigan.
What made you decide to do this film?
Reed Morando: I shot a lot of films for a lot of directors and I saw what they had to go through in their first film and I just felt like If I am going to make something and put myself out there….really vulnerable…I am going to go all the way and I am not just going to make anything. I am going to take the biggest risk possible. I just want to make people feel something event if it hurts.
Olivia tell my audience what your character is really all about.
Olivia: My character is an incredibly strong woman who is dealing with unimaginable grief and pain and she has a very specific way she goes about it. I don’t want to give anything away but I was honored to play someone so strong and so unexpected. I haven’t seen a character like this in a film before so I was really lucky to get the role and I am excited for people to see it.
I also attended CONVERSATIONS WITH EMILY BLUNT.
Golden Globe-winning actress Emily Blunt’s transformational ability and versatile performances make her one of the most in-demand actresses of today. Blunt rose to international prominence with her outstanding performances in films such as MY SUMMER OF LOVE and THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA.
Most recently, Blunt earned a Golden Globe nomination and critical praise as “The Baker’s Wife” in Rob Marshall’s film adaptation of the musical INTO THE WOODS. Blunt starred alongside Tom Cruise in Doug Liman’s EDGE OF TOMORROW, which was included by many critics on their list of the best films of 2014 and for which Blunt won a Critics’ Choice Movie Award, and recently appeared as the female lead in the time-travel thriller LOOPER. Blunt previously appeared alongside Ewan McGregor in Lasse Hallstrom’s SALMON FISHING IN THE YEMEN as well as in THE YOUNG VICTORIA, both of which earned her Golden Globe nominations.
Other notable films include MY SISTER’S SISTER, THE ADJUSTMENT BUREAU, CHARLIE WILSON’S WAR, SUNSHINE CLEANING and THE WOLFMAN.
The festival closed with BRIDGE OF SPIES. Starring Tom Hanks, Alan Alda, Mark Rylance and Amy Ryan, Steven Spielberg’s BRIDGE OF SPIES is a dramatic thriller set against the backdrop of a series of historic events. Spielberg captures the essence of a man who risked everything and vividly brings his personal journey to life.
On October 12, 2015 The Hamptons International Film Festival had an Awards Dinner and announced their award winners at a ceremony in East Hampton.
HAMPTONS INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL CONGRATULATES THE 2015 WINNERS:
HIFF Award Winner for Best Narrative Feature sponsored by The Wall Street Journal
- Rams, directed by Grimur Hákonarson
Honorable Mention for Narrative Feature
- Embrace of the Serpent, directed by Ciro Guerra
HIFF Award Winner for Best Documentary Feature sponsored by ID Films
- Missing People, directed by David Shapiro
Honorable Mention for Documentary Feature
- Chuck Norris Vs. Communism, directed by Ilinca Calugareanu
HIFF Award Winner for Best Narrative Short Film sponsored by The Wall Street Journal
- Over, directed by Jörn Threlfall
Honorable Mention for Narrative Short Film
- Patriot, directed by Eva Riley
HIFF Award Winner for Best Documentary Short Film sponsored by ID Films
- Last Day of Freedom, directed by Dee Hibbert-Jones, Nomi Talisman
Victor Rabinowitz and Joanne Grant Award for Social Justice
- The Uncondemned, directed by Michele Mitchell, Nick Louvel
Tangerine Entertainment Juice Fund Award
- Suffragette, directed by Sarah Gavron
Suffolk County Film Commission Next Exposure Grant
- When I Live My Life Over Again, directed by Robert Edwards
And as previously announced:
The 2015 Brizzolara Family Foundation Award for a Film of Conflict and Resolution
- The Uncondemned, directed by Michele Mitchell, Nick Louvel
The Zelda Penzel “Giving Voice to the Voiceless” Award: Dedicated to Those Who Suffer in Silence
- The Champions, directed by Darcy Dennett
HIFF Documentary Feature Jury
- Marshall Fine, Chair of the New York Critics Circle
- Bobby Flay, Chef
- Sarah Lash, Consultant, Conde Nast Entertainment
HIF Narrative Feature Jury
- Josh Charles, Actor
- Dan Guando, US head of Acquisitions, Production, and Development at The Weinstein Company
- Michael H. Heber, Screenwriter and Producer
2015 VARIETY 10 ACTORS T0 WATCH
- Christopher Abbott, James White
- Emory Cohen, Brooklyn
- Thomas Mann, The Preppie Connection
- Bel Powley, A Royal Night Out
- Rebecca Ferguson, Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation
- Jason Mitchell, Straight Outta Compton
- Maika Monroe, It Follows
- Keith Stanfield, Straight Outta Compton
- Tessa Thompson, Selma
- Jessie T. Usher, Independence Day: Resurgence
Celebrities in attendance included: Christopher Abbott, Alan Alda, Emily Blunt, Bobby Flay, Morgan Freeman, Todd Haynes, Brian D’arcy James, Charlie Kaufman and Duke Johnson, Thomas Mann, Tom McCarthy, Michael Moore, Reed Morano, Bel Powley, Dennis Quaid, Dan Rather, Josh Singer, John Slattery, Keith Stanfield, Jacob Tremblay, Jessie T. Usher, James Vanderbilt, Olivia Wilde
For more information please visit http://hamptonsfilmfest.org