Thursday, September 1, 2016

Hamptons International Film Fest: Conflict, Compassion, Animal Rights, and the Environment are on the board this year




Festival will run from October 6 to October 10

East Hampton, NY (August 23, 2016) – The Hamptons International Film Festival (HIFF) unveiled today some of the Signature Programs for its 24th edition.  HIFF announced a selection of films that will screen as part of the returning Conflict & Resolution and Compassion, Justice & Animal Rights programs.  HIFF will also launch Air, Land, & Sea, a brand new section of the festival that focuses on global issues of environmental conservation, clean water, and the integrity of our planet’s natural resources, with an ocean-centric focus. The 24th annual Hamptons International Film Festival will take place October 6 - 10.

Films of Conflict & Resolution, dedicated to showcasing films that deal with the complex issues and societal effects of war and violence, and the attendant human dramas, in creative ways, will return with a mixture of features & shorts.  The program, supported by the Brizzolara Family Foundation will include the East Coast Premiere of Stephen Apkon & Academy Award®–nominated director Andrew Young’s DISTURBING THE PEACE, and screenings of Gianfranco Rosi’s Berlin Golden Bear Winner, FIRE AT SEA, and Rokhsareh Ghaem Maghami’s Sundance award-winner SONITA. The shorts portion will include Daniel Mulloy’s HOME, Melissa Langer’s MY ALEPPO and Academy Award®–nominated director Orlando von Einsiedel’s THE WHITE HELMETS.

Compassion, Justice & Animal Rights, a program that provides a platform for filmmakers to share meaningful information, stories of inspiration, and tools for creating a safe and humane world for animals, will return for its sophomore year.  The program will include the New York Premiere of Academy Award®–nominated director Kief Davidson and Richard Ladkani’s THE IVORY GAME, and a screening of Academy Award®–nominated directors Chris Hegedus and D.A. Pennebaker’s UNLOCKING THE CAGE. This program bestows one film with the Zelda Penzel “Giving Voice to the Voiceless “ Award at the HIFF Award Ceremony during the festival. 

The Air, Land, & Sea program will launch with the goal to generate awareness around man-made environmental issues and allow filmmakers and experts to share information and discuss solutions to these global problems. The program will include a screening of Emmy-nominated director Michelle Dougherty and Daniel Hinerfeld’s SONIC SEA, which focuses on protecting aquatic wildlife from the destructive effects of oceanic noise pollution. The documentary is a call to action to reduce the impacts of the shipping, seismic, and sonar noise in the ocean.  Support for this new program is graciously provided by The Fond Group. 

“Our Signature Programs help to elevate the content of the festival's programming with films that continue to provide audiences with thought provoking material,” said David Nugent, HIFF Artistic Director. “Our hope with Air, Land, and Sea is for the festival to embrace the global discussion on environmental issues, and build a platform for filmmakers and audiences to engage and interact.”

“We are delighted to announce yet another year of incredible documentary, narrative and short films as part of our Signature Programs,” said HIFF Executive Director, Anne Chaisson. “Each year these sections have attracted some of the brightest filmmakers from across the globe to the Hamptons, bringing stimulating, entertaining and intelligent material to audiences.”

The lineup of announced films includes both veteran filmmakers and newcomers to the festival.  Some returning filmmakers include Orlando von Einsiedel, whose film VIRUNGA (nominated for an Academy Award® for Best Documentary) screened at the festival in 2014, and was awarded the Zelda Penzel “Giving Voice to the Voiceless” Award: Dedicated to Those Who Suffer in Silence by HIFF; Chris Hegedus and D.A. Pennebaker who brought their film RETURN OF THE WAR ROOM to the festival in 2008; and Kief Davidson whose short film OPEN HEART screened at the festival in 2012, and was nominated for the Academy Award® for Best Documentary Short Subject.

Additional films that will screen as part of the Signature Programs will be announced in the coming months.

The 24th annual Hamptons International Film Festival, which will be held over Columbus Day Weekend, October 6th – October 10th, 2016, greatly appreciates the support from their corporate sponsors, including Delta Air Lines, Altour International, BMW, and WNBC New York. Founders Passes are currently on sale. Ticket packages will be available for purchase beginning September 6th. Individual tickets will go on sale at the end of September. To purchase passes and for additional information please visit

Full information on the announced films:


East Coast Premiere
Directors: Stephen Apkon, Andrew Young
The stirring documentary DISTURBING THE PEACE, from Award-winning director Stephen Apkon and Academy Award® nominated director Andrew Young, follows a group of Israeli soldiers and Palestinian fighters who bravely transition from former enemies to peace activists. Moving away from the protracted conflict that has caused nothing but disruption and tragedy in their own lives, they decide to form “Combatants for Peace” a bi-partisan organization whose main goal is finding a peaceful resolution to the conflict. Their transformational journey is a testament to the courage necessary to challenge the status quo despite the resistance encountered along the way.

FIRE AT SEA (Italy / France)
Director: Gianfranco Rosi
Berlin Golden Bear-winning documentary FIRE AT SEA is a beautifully crafted and poignant depiction of the European migrant crisis told from the perspective of a twelve-year-old boy. Due to its proximity to the African continent, the sleepy Sicilian island of Lampedusa has transformed in recent years into the primary transit point for migrants dreaming of freedom and a better life in Europe. Gianfranco Rosi’s masterfully shapes the story around a lively local boy, Samuele. Though his community has been thrown into transitory chaos, he seemingly lives a normal life: going to school, exploring the island, and spending time with his friends and family and Rosi skillfully juxtaposes his mundane activities over the tragedies unfurling in the background, daily, on the island.

HOME (Republic of Kosovo, United Kingdom)
Part of the Shorts Program
Director: Daniel Mulloy
A young English family sets out on a very different kind of holiday.

Part of the Shorts Program
Director: Melissa Langer
Forced to flee to South Africa, a Syrian family anxiously awaits news from home.

SONITA (Germany / Iran / Switzerland)
Directors: Rokhsareh Ghaem Maghami
Sonita Alizadeh is a young Afghan refugee living in Iran and dreaming of becoming a famous rapper. Her family, on the other hand, has different plans for Sonita, who is worth $9,000 as a bride. But Sonita's dreams are big and unyielding to the pressure surrounding her. She defies local expectations and fights back with her music by crafting powerful lyrics that condemn a society filled with violence and oppression. Together with Iranian filmmaker Rokhsareh Ghaem Maghami, who shifts from observer to active participant in Sonita’s life, they form a powerful coalition determined to bring joy and hope to everyone who witnesses their award-winning story.

THE WHITE HELMETS (United Kingdom)
Part of the Shorts Program
Director: Orlando von Einsiedel
Having chosen to remain in the war-torn city of Aleppo, the volunteer rescue group, the White Helmets, heroically risk their lives to aid their neighbors.


New York Premiere
Directors: Kief Davidson, Richard Ladkani
Bringing to light the dramatic and dire fate of the African elephant THE IVORY GAME documents the efforts to stop the systematic slaughter that is driving the African elephant to extinction. Poachers sow destruction in pursuit of the “white gold” of ivory, considered by many cultures a luxury item and status symbol. For more than a year, Award-winning director Richard Ladkani and Academy Award® nominated director Kief Davidson filmed in Africa and Asia with the help of conservationists, intelligence organizations, frontline rangers, and undercover activists trying to expose the institutionalized corruption that supports the illegal ivory trade.

Directors: Chris Hegedus, D.A. Pennebaker
In UNLOCKING THE CAGE, acclaimed filmmakers D.A. Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus follow animal rights lawyer Steven Wise in his unprecedented attempt to break down the legal wall that separates animals from humans by filing the first lawsuits seeking to transform a chimpanzee from a “thing” with no rights to a “person” with legal protections. With Tommy and Kiko, former showbiz chimps now living in neglected cages, at the center of the debate, Wise makes a compelling argument that thrusts the case into the media spotlight. UNLOCKING THE CAGE is a riveting courtroom drama filled with heart and compassion in the face of overwhelming opposition.


Directors: Michelle Dougherty, Daniel Hinerfeld
Whales and other marine life are surrounded by a unique and powerful sonic symphony. These underwater sounds help define their existence and guide them towards food, mates, and safety. Narrated by Rachel McAdams, SONIC SEA dives into their fragile world and explores the tragic impact of industrial and military ocean noise. Featuring interviews from dedicated experts and activists, filmmakers Michelle Dougherty and Daniel Hinerfeld’s must-see documentary points to the man-made sources of oceanic noise pollution and explores ways in which we can act to protect these beloved creatures.

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 each October. 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 $225,000, 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. 2016 marked the 6th time in a row that a film in 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. For more information please visit: