Hamptons, NY.  October 13-17
Words: Rob DeStefano

East Hampton's historic Guild Hall

As a resident of the area, it was unusual for me to see Main Street dotted with flashing lights this time of year. The 19th Annual Hamptons International Film Festival (HIFF) has officially consumed theaters, inns, and restaurants stretching from Montauk to Westhampton. After speaking with some impassioned employees, the planning of this evolving and prestigious festival is a year round production. Alec Baldwin managed to top his normal board member contribution by donating a quarter of a million dollars, further escalating the anticipation of the 2011 opening night.

Following past screenings of The King’s Speech, Slumdog Millionaire, and The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, this year’s program features an equally anticipated and eclectic variety. The centerpiece film, Like Crazy, stars Anton Yelchin (Fright Night), who is recognized as one of HIFF’s Breakthrough Performers – the film already took home a Best Picture award at Sundance. The controversial and eerie director Lars von Trier displays his apocalyptic vision about a wedding fiasco and a rogue planet heading toward earth in Melancholia – star Alexander Skarsgård (True Blood) to be in attendance. Other showcases include the hyped Martha Marcy May Marlene (lead by the surfacing Elizabeth Olsen and Oscar nominee John Hawkes), The Descendants, Alexander Payne’s first feature length in seven years, Ralph Fiennes’s directorial debut Coriolanus, and young director Tim Fehlbaum’s indie thriller Hell.

In the documentary category, The Bully Project is emitting the most buzz thus far – the film follows five families who have been grossly affected by adolescent malice. Other standouts include The Apple Pushers, the inspirational account of New York City immigrant push-cart vendors who make a living while striving to introduce healthy foods to underprivileged areas. Return to the Aeolian Islands (“Fughe e Approdi”) is an historical and picturesque submission from Italian cinema, here to support the budding relationship between HIFF and the Perugia International Film Festival. The short film competitions – both student and professional – will also run throughout the weekend.

A brief synopsis doesn’t do justice to the talent and creativity present.  Refer to the HIFF website for the complete lineup, schedule, and ticket information, and check back for continuing festival coverage throughout the week.

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