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By Mark Bell | September 23, 2013

The 21st annual Hamptons International Film Festival, running October 10-14, 2013, has announced its signature programming, including the Golden Starfish competition films lineup. From the official press release:

The Hamptons International Film Festival (HIFF) is proud to announce its robust lineup of signature programs for the 21st edition, which includes “A Conversation With…” Helena Bonham Carter and Bruce Dern, The Alfred P. Sloan film prize awarded to DECODING ANNIE PARKER, the Conflict & Resolution Award winner PLOT FOR PEACE, and the Golden Starfish competition line-up.

“A Conversation With…” Helena Bonham Carter will take place on Saturday, October 12. “A Conversation With…” Bruce Dern is slated for Sunday, October 13. Bonham Carter is attending the Festival on behalf of BURTON AND TAYLOR, which will premiere in the UK Focus on Film section. Dern will be attending with NEBRASKA, a Festival Centerpiece.

“Fourteen years ago, HIFF created strong signature programs and partnerships to showcase films that engage viewers in world affairs and highlight stories of science and technology,” said Anne Chaisson, Executive Director. “We are honored to partner with and grateful to the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and the Brizzolara Family Foundation for their continued support of our efforts to bring these unique and groundbreaking films the attention that they richly deserve.”

HIFF and The Sloan Foundation are thrilled to announce that the recipient of the $25,000 Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize is director Steven Bernstein for his feature film DECODING ANNIE PARKER starring Helen Hunt (THE SESSIONS), Samantha Morton (JOHN CARTER, THE MESSENGER) and Aaron Paul (BREAKING BAD). The October 11th screening of the film will be followed by a panel discussion that will focus on cancer research and the ethics surrounding genetic trademarking.

“We are honored to partner with the Hamptons International Film Festival in awarding Steven Bernstein’s powerful new film, DECODING ANNIE PARKER, this year’s Alfred P. Sloan Foundation-Hamptons International Film Festival Feature Film Prize,” said Doron Weber, Vice President, Programs at the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. “In its unsparing, clear-eyed depiction of the scourge of breast cancer on one remarkable woman’s life and its role in helping another remarkable woman make a major scientific discovery, this film shows how stories of science and technology cut to the heart of our human ability to triumph over the most overwhelming odds.”

This year’s Conflict & Resolution (C&R) program consists of an amazing line-up of films from Africa, Egypt, Lebanon and Israel. HIFF is proud to announce the recipient of the Brizzolara Family Foundation $5,000 cash award to PLOT FOR PEACE. Additionally, for the first time HIFF is awarding an Honorable Mention to THE SQUARE with a $2,000 cash award.

Below is the complete list of films in this section.


ANA ARABIA (Israel/France)
US Premiere

Director: Amos Gitai
Beautifully and masterfully shot in one 81-minute take, ANA ARABIA follows Yael, a young journalist, as she meets a family of Jews and Arabs in a forgotten shanty enclave on the “border” between Jaffa and Bat Yam in Israel. Originally sent to interview Yussuf, the Muslim widower of a Jewish woman, Yael becomes engrossed in the man’s personal stories and the endangered, fragile balance of their physical space, orchard included. Renowned filmmaker Amos Gitai captures lyrical moments of connection and revelation while depicting a sublime metaphor of coexistence.

Director: Roger Ross Williams
Through vérité interviews and hidden camera footage, GOD LOVES UGANDA takes viewers inside the evangelical movement in Uganda, where American missionaries have been credited with both creating schools and hospitals, and promoting dangerous religious bigotry. The film, deftly directed by Academy Award® winning documentarian Roger Ross Williams (MUSIC BY PRUDENCE), follows evangelical leaders in America and Uganda along with politicians and missionaries as they attempt the task of eliminating “sexual sin” and converting Ugandans to fundamentalist Christianity. Shocking, horrifying, touching, and enlightening, the film raises complex issues about religion, sexuality, and their uneasy intersection.

PLOT FOR PEACE (South Africa)
North American Premiere

Director: Carlos Agullo
A true story of intrigue, PLOT FOR PEACE traces the behind-the-scenes diplomatic maneuverings to release Nelson Mandela from jail in South Africa in the 1980s. For the first time, heads of state, generals, diplomats, master spies and anti-apartheid fighters reveal how Africa’s front line states helped end apartheid. One man stood at the center of the whirlwind, a mysterious French businessman dubbed “Monsieur Jacques.” Jean-Ives Oliver, a native of Algeria, gained the trust of the leaders and diplomats in the region as well as abroad, and Director Carlos Agullo gives us exclusive insight to this fascinating, determined and enigmatic man.

SLEEPLESS NIGHTS (Palestine/Lebanon)
East Coast Premiere

Director: Eliane Raheb
Eliane Raheb’s directorial debut is an incisive look at the psychological aftermath of the Lebanese Civil War. Assaad Shaftari was a high-ranking intelligence officer for an extreme right Christian faction during the war, and Maryam Saiidi is a mother still relentlessly seeking answers as to why her son, a student and Communist Party member, disappeared. Not only does Raheb bring their stories together, she instigates meetings between the two. We witness a soldier’s attempts at atonement and a mother’s rage, and learn that even after 30 years, Lebanon is a country not completely healed from its past.

Director: Jehane Noujaim

“As long as there’s a camera, the revolution will continue,” says one of the young subjects of THE SQUARE. It does continue, and two years of struggle (right until the summer of 2013) are shown through the eyes of a group of protesters from all walks of society that first came together in Tahrir Square during the Egyptian Revolution of 2011. The documentary follows these unlikely companions as they face violence, religious oppression, the assumptions of their elders, and the gap between their expectations and the reality of trying to change the country they will inherit.

HIFF announces the Golden Starfish competition line-up for Best Narrative Feature ($145,000 in cash and in-kind filmmaking services), Best Documentary Feature ($3,000 in cash) and Best Short Film, which will qualify for an Academy Award in the category of Best Live Action Short Film ($1,000 in cash).

“The films in our Golden Starfish section allow us to shine a light on exciting new work by emerging filmmakers from around the world,” says Artistic Director David Nugent. “This focus on international cinema, as well as on up and coming filmmakers, remains central to our mission as an organization.”

Jury participants include actress Emily Mortimer, filmmaker Alex Karpovsky, producer Dan Crown, photographer and filmmaker Michael Halsband, and New York Film Critic Circle member Karen Durbin.

Below is the complete list of narrative, documentary and short films in competition for the Golden Starfish awards.


US Premiere

Director: Sébastien Betbeder
Cast: Vincent Macaigne, Maud Wyler
Arman has just turned 33. He longs for change. Maybe he’ll eat healthier? No, he decides to go jogging and, as he turns a corner, he bumps into the beautiful Amélie. The first meeting is a shock; the second will be like a stab in the heart. Benjamin is Arman’s best friend. Unlucky in life, his fortune is destined to change. Over the course of two autumns and three winters, the lives of the three intermingle and are filled with meetings, accidents, love stories, and memories in this stylish, original French romantic comedy.

East Coast Premiere

Director: Jeremy Saulnier
Cast: Macon Blair, Devin Ratray, Amy Hargreaves, Kevin Kolack, Eve Plumb, David W. Thompson
A classic American revenge story, BLUE RUIN follows a mysterious outsider whose quiet life is turned upside down when he returns to his childhood home to carry out an act of vengeance. Proving himself an amateur assassin, he winds up in a brutal fight to protect his estranged family. Writer/director/D.P. Jeremy Saulnier, lauded for his work as cinematographer on provocative recent indies like PUTTY HILL and SEPTIEN, unspools his second directorial effort with stark economy and unnerving potency, crafting a guttural neo-noir that packs a mean, lean punch.

MISTER JOHN (Ireland/Singapore/UK)
North American Premiere

Director: Christine Molloy and Joe Lawlor
Cast: Aidan Gillen, Zoe Tay, Michael Thomas, Claire Keelan
John was, in many ways, an enigma to his brother Gerry (Aiden Gillen). After John’s sudden and somewhat mysterious death, Gerry travels to Singapore to settle his brother’s shady business affairs and check on the man’s family. It’s also a convenient reason for Gerry to escape in the wake of his crumbling marriage. From its onset, MISTER JOHN dashes our dramatic expectations and––in the sure-footed hands of filmmakers Joe Lawlor and Christine Molloy and Gillen’s brilliant performance––remains consistently surprising as both a character study and a meditation on identity.

East Coast Premiere

Director: Janis Nords
Cast: Kristofers Konovalovs, Vita V?rpi?a, Mat?ss Liv??ns, Indra Bri?e
Twelve-year old Raimonds lives with his single mom and does what he can to make her proud, like playing the saxophone in the school band. But his mischievous side lands him in trouble at school. He decides to hide a school note from his mom––and the lies escalate from there. He runs away from home with the help of his friend Peteris, who gives him the keys to an unoccupied apartment, an act that has unforeseen consequences. Janis Nords’ second film is a soulful story of friendship and truth set against the cool hues and the nightlights of Riga and featuring a 400 BLOWS-esque performance by newcomer Kristofers Konovalovs.

US Premiere

Director: Clio Barnard
Cast: Conner Chapman, Shaun Thomas, Sean Gilder, Rebecca Manley, Siobhan Finneran
The arresting sophomore feature from Clio Barnard (THE ARBOR),THE SELFISH GIANT is a contemporary fable about 13-year old Arbor (Conner Chapman) and his best friend Swifty (Shaun Thomas). Excluded from school and outsiders in their own neighborhood, the two boys meet Kitten (Sean Gilder), a local scrapdealer––the Selfish Giant. Arbor emulates Kitten, keen to impress him and make some money. However, Kitten favors Swifty, leaving Arbor feeling hurt and excluded and driving a wedge between the boys. Barnard imbues her remarkable film with an unparalleled poetic touch and a keen perspective on adolescent yearning.


East Coast Premiere

Director: Dan Shadur
For a certain group of Israelis in the 1960s and ’70s, Tehran, Iran was a utopia. Enjoying close relations with Shah’s regime, their paradise was built on construction contracts, weapons sales, and oil. Then the Iranian Revolution arrived. In what begins as a nostalgic quest to understand his family’s glory days, Dan Shadur’s tale becomes a thrilling documentary filled with rare home footage and interviews, revealing a new perspective on the 1979 overthrow. BEFORE THE REVOLUTION reminds us that memory can be deceptive and, in a world of constantly shifting political dynamics, often manipulated.

International Premiere

Director: Liesbeth De Ceulaer
Imbued with a mesmerizing, dreamlike quality, Liesbeth De Ceulaer’s confident first feature takes us to the majestic Redwood Forest and introduces us to people who have strong personal connections to this once isolated region of California. Through seamless vignettes and stunningly saturated cinematography, we meet activists, scientists, loggers, tree dwellers, and Native Americans who share their compelling stories and their bond to these impressive ancient woods, which are now being threatened by excessive logging. De Ceulaer’s bold documentary transports us to this unique and fabled land.

CHIMERAS (Finland/Sweden/China)
East Coast Premiere

Director: Mika Mattila
Cast: Liu Gang, Wang Guangyi
At the height of his career as one of China’s most successful contemporary artists, Wang Guangyi is settling into middle age with increasing ambivalence, a frontline witness to his scene’s contradictory commercial impulses. Meanwhile, Liu Gang is a supremely promising new face on the scene, plucked from art school and thrown into the high gloss world of corporate-sponsored gallery openings and fawning from largely Western curators. In CHIMERAS, Finnish director Mika Mattila weaves the lives of these two men in subtle yet enthralling blend of cinéma vérité, art biography, and prescient cultural analysis.

East Coast Premiere

Director: Ryan McGarry
“C-Booth,” the trauma bay at the Los Angeles County Hospital, was the toughest and best training facility for ER doctors in the country. In 2008, the County Hospital moved from its historic structure to a modern facility, catapulting the medical staff into an institutional identity crisis. CODE BLACK follows a group of young doctors as they grapple with the divide between their idealistic expectations and the realities of a heavily bureaucratic system. Director Ryan McGarry––a full-time resident doctor at County while making this film––poses the question: can they change the system?

East Coast Premiere

Director: Jennifer Steinman
Any single race in the 4Desert Ultramarathon Series is a life-threatening challenge. DESERT RUNNERS is a thrilling documentary about ordinary people who endure the 150 mile ultra-marathons through the world’s four most treacherous deserts in one year: the Atacama Desert in Chile, the Gobi Desert in China, the Sahara in Egypt, and Antarctica. Filled with physical and emotional highs and low, the film goes beyond the terrain to reveal their personal obstacles and determination. This captivating story combines stunning scenery with an intimate view into the complex way human beings deal with heartbreak and triumph.


New York Premiere

Director: Jean-Bernard Marlin

International Premiere

Director: Nazli Elif Durlu

KUSH (India/USA)
North American Premiere

Director: Shubhashish Bhutiani

GYPSY (Portugal)
North American Premiere

Director: David Bonneville

WHALE VALLEY (Denmark/Iceland)
US Premiere

Director: Gudmundur A. Gudmundsson

The Hamptons International Film Festival appreciates the support from their corporate sponsors including American Airlines/Altour International, Capital One, The Wall Street Journal, Silvercup Studios and A&E Indie Films.

The 21st Annual Hamptons International Film Festival will take place this year from October 10th – 14th. For more information about the Festival please visit our website at

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