Hamptons Doc Fest Has a New Name, Same Quality
Like a butterfly emerging from a chrysalis years in the making, Hamptons Doc Fest is the mature new vision of what had been known previously as the Hamptons Take 2 Documentary Film Festival.
The previous title, a mouthful and a bane of many of those charged to cover the festival and provide its listings, was always clunkier than the high-quality programing the festival has become known for on the East End of Long Island and beyond.
Now, the festival has rebranded itself with a new name and logo just in time for its 2018 iteration, which opens tonight at Bay Street Theater with “Every Act of Life,” a profile of Terrance McNally. Known for his award-winning dramas and musicals, including the Tony winners “Kiss of the Spider Woman,” “Love! Valour! Compassion!,” “Ragtime,” and “Master Class,” Mr. McNally is also one of the crusaders for equal rights for the L.G.B.T.Q. community. Originally screened at the Tribeca Film Festival this year, Jeff Kaufman’s film features interviews with colleagues and friends such as Jon Robin Baitz, Nathan Lane, Edie Falco, Joe Mantello, Larry Kramer, John Slattery, and many more. A special talkback session will feature Mr. McNally in a dialogue with Harris Yulin, an actor and veteran of many South Fork productions.
For this year’s gala, the festival will honor Sheila Nevins with the Lumiere Career Achievement Award. She is a longtime producer of documentaries and the president of HBO Documentary Films. The award will be given at an event on Saturday, marked with a wine and buffet reception, an interview of Ms. Nevins by Marc Levin, a fellow filmmaker, and a screening of two of the films she fostered into being: “Triangle: Remembering the Fire,” which goes back in time to 1911 to examine the Triangle Shirt Waist Factory fire in New York City, and “The Number on Great Grandpa’s Arm,” a 19-minute film about a Holocaust survivor.
There will be “Spotlight” films shown tomorrow and Sunday nights. “Carmine Street Guitars,” tomorrow, will be presented jointly with the Sag Harbor Cinema Arts Center. Ron Mann’s film offers a look at five days in the life of the store and its master guitar maker Rick Kelly and his apprentice Cindy Huleg, who craft their sought-after instruments out of reclaimed wood for patrons who have included Lou Reed and Bob Dylan. A discussion after the screening will be moderated by Giulia D’Agnolo Vallan, who is the artistic director of the Sag Harbor Cinema Arts Center, and will include Mr. Mann and G.E. Smith, an Amagansett guitarist who has played on “Saturday Night Live” and on tour with Pink Floyd.
Sunday’s film is Donna Zaccaro’s “To a More Perfect Union: U.S. v. Windsor,” which is about Edie Windsor, a Southampton part-time resident who was at the center of the unraveling of the Defense of Marriage Act. Facing thousands in estate taxes after her longtime partner and spouse of two years died in 2009, she took her fight to the courts, ending up in the highest court in the land. The Supreme Court’s decision in United States v. Windsor in 2013 struck down the Defense of Marriage Act and allowed for same-sex unions to have the same rights as those of straight couples. Ms. Windsor’s second spouse, Judith Kasen-Windsor, will take part in a post-film talkback. Ms. Windsor died last year.
The festival will also feature a closing night film, “Free Solo,” which is free of charge as part of the festival’s community day. Directed by Jimmy Chin and Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi, it follows Alex Honnold on a quest to climb the face of El Capitan, a 3,000-foot mountain in Yosemite National Park by himself and without a rope.
In addition to the audience award, to be announced Monday, and the career achievement award, there are four other awards related to screenings this weekend. Tomorrow, Matthew Kaplowitz will be honored with the Hector Leonardi Art & Inspiration Award for “Nothing Changes: Art for Hank’s Sake,” which will be screened at 5:30 p.m. Mr. Kaplowitz and the associate producer of the film, Andrea Levine, will attend and take part in a talk afterwards. The film, which looks at art and life of Hank Virgona, an 88-year-old painter and Kaplowitz’s great uncle, documents him commuting between his Woodhaven, Queens, home and his Union Square studio, over the course of two years.
On Saturday, Samuel Pollard will receive the Filmmakers’ Choice Award for an outstanding documentarian nominated by previous filmmakers. His award-winning film is “Sammy Davis, Jr.: I’ve Gotta Be Me,” to be screened at 2 p.m. Mr. Pollard will discuss the film with Laurence Maslon, a New York University arts professor and radio host who wrote the film.
“Strangers No More” and its director Kirk Simon, who died in April, will receive the Sloane Shelton Human Rights Award on Saturday during a screening beginning at 4:30 p.m. It is about a school in Tel Aviv that brings children together from 48 countries and diverse backgrounds to learn side by side. A panel consisting of three East End documentarians — Nigel Noble, Roger Sherman, and Ron Simon, the director’s brother — will participate in a post-film discussion.
On Sunday, Tim Wardle, the director of “Three Identical Strangers,” released in theaters earlier this year, will receive the Breakout Director Award during a screening at 1 p.m. After three identical triplets from Long Island are adopted by three different families, they manage to find each other. Yet, their reunion story takes a sinister turn as the secret of why they were separated comes to light. Mr. Wardle will discuss the film after the screening with Jason Weinberg, Shawn Sachs, Carter Burden, and Roger Sherman, all members of the selection jury.
These are far from the only films being shown at the festival. The Hamptons Doc Fest will run from today through Monday exclusively at Bay Street Theater. Each day includes several screenings beginning as early as 10:30 a.m. and ending some 12 hours later. A full schedule of films and highlights is on the festival’s new website, hamptonsdocfest.com. Tickets are $15 for most films; $25 for special screenings. The gala tickets cost $50.