A Ballerina’s Tale, Nelson George

The 2015 Hamptons Take 2 Documentary Film Festival (HT2FF) kicks off Thursday, December 3, and runs for four days, through Sunday, December 6, 2015, all at the Bay Street Theater and Arts Center in Sag Harbor, featuring award-winning films and directors.

Thursday, December 3, features the Opening Night Film, “A Ballerina’s Tale” (88 min.), directed by Nelson George, who will be attending for the Q&A. The highly-acclaimed documentary examines African-American ballerina Misty Copeland’s prodigious rise, her potentially career-ending injury, and themes of race and body image in the classical ballet world. The first African-American woman to be named in June 2015 as a principal dancer at American Ballet Theatre, Copeland was also recently named to Time Magazine’s list of the 100 most influential people, has published a best-selling memoir (“Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina”) and a children’s book (“Firebird”), starred this summer in Broadway’s “On the Town,” and is developing a television drama about the dance world.

The 8th annual Hamptons Take 2 Documentary Film Festival concludes on Sunday, December 6, with the viewing of the Closing Night Film, “Since: The Bombing of Pan Am Flight 103” (85 min.) by director Phil Furey. The film recounts the bitter fight for the truth waged by the 270 victims’ families after Pan Am flight 103, bound for JFK Airport, went down over Lockerbie, Scotland, in December 1988, bombed by Libyan terrorists who escaped punishment for their horrific crime.

The festival’s Spotlight Film and Filmmakers’ Choice Award will be awarded to director Liz Garbus for her documentary “What Happened, Miss Simone?” (100 min.) about the African-American piano prodigy and singer Eunice Waymon, who became the celebrated husky torch singer and civil rights activist Nina Simone. Simone’s complex and troubled bipolar life, which ended in France in 2003, has become the focus over the past decade of two biographies, a poetry collection, several plays, three films, and a tribute album.

HT2FF will honor documentarian Stanley Nelson with a Career Achievement Award at a Gala followed by the screening of “The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution” (113 min.)

Said HT2FF founder and executive director Jacqui Lofaro, “It is a great privilege to present our 2015 Career Achievement Award to Stanley Nelson. His award-winning documentary films on social justice issues were early windows into race relations. His latest film continues the provocative dialogue. We honor his commitment to honesty, truth and artistic rigor.”

Nelson’s 25-year film career chronicles African-American life in America, portraying “people-based movements” and social injustice. Some of these films include “The Black Press: Soldiers Without Swords” (1998); “The Murder of Emmett Till” (2003); “Freedom Riders” (2010) about the protests against segregation in the South; “Freedom Summer” (2014), about the 1964 events that led to the Black Power Movement; and now “The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution” (2015), whose story he felt hadn’t been told in its entirety before. By the end of the 1960’s, for example, a majority of the Black Panthers party was composed of black women.

With 35 films to his credit, Nelson has earned five Primetime Emmys, two George Foster Peabody Awards, two awards from the Sundance Film Festival, a MacArthur Genius Fellowship, membership in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) National Medal, presented by President Barack Obama in 2014.

He is the co-founder and executive director of Firelight Films and co-founder of Firelight Media.
Nelson is currently in production on “Tell Them We Are Rising: The Story of Historically Black Colleges and Universities”—the second of three films he is directing for a PBS series titled “America Revisited.”

Other films on the lineup include

“Indian Point” (94 min.), directed by Ivy Meeropol, about the aging nuclear power plant that looms 35 miles north of Times Square, with 50 million people in close proximity. The film presents a balanced argument about the controversial issues surrounding nuclear power.

“Imba Means Sing” (73 min.), about the children in the Grammy-nominated African Children’s Choir, who from the slums of Kampala, Uganda, tour Canada and the United States, singing and dancing to raise funds for their education and help make dreams of their future occupations come true. Award-winning director Danielle Bernstein is the founder of Clear Films Productions, which partners with organizations that can offer solutions to environmental and social issues.

“Outermost Radio” (60 min.), by multiple Emmy Award-winning director Alan Chebot, which takes an intimate look at a fiercely-independent community in Provincetown on the tip of Cape Cod, committed to keeping their freedom of expression and community radio station WOMR alive.

“Very Semi-Serious” (83 min.), an offbeat, humorous, behind-the-scenes look at New Yorker Magazine cartooning hopefuls like graphic novelist Liana Finck and legends Roz Chast and Mort Gerberg as they submit their work to Cartoon Editor Bob Mankoff; directed by Leah Wolchok.

“Modern Tide: Midcentury Architecture on Long Island” (86 min.), by Emmy Award-winning documentary filmmaker and director of Mainspring Pictures Ltd., Jake Gorst, presents a comprehensive history of the region’s best postwar architects and designers, including Albert Frey, Frank Lloyd Wright, Marcel Breuer, Andrew Geller (Gorst’s grandfather), Philip Johnson, Charles Gwathmey and others, and shows how much of this rich heritage has been lost to redevelopment and natural disasters.

“Help Us Find Sunil Tripathi” (75 min.) tells the story of a family in crisis, when Sunil is implicated as “Suspect #2” in the Boston Marathon bombings. It’s directed by former CNN International journalist Neal Broffman.

“Big Voice” (83 min.) directed by Varda Bar-Kar, follows the year-long journey of visionary Santa Monica High School choir director Jeffe Huls and his advanced but unwieldy co-ed ensemble as he pushes them to set aside their teenage egos and achieve an exquisite “one big voice.”

“Soft Vengeance: Albie Sachs & the New South Africa” (84 min.) directed by Abby Ginzberg, about the white, Jewish, South African lawyer and later Constitutional Court judge who dedicated his life to fighting with “soft vengeance” against apartheid in South Africa. The film won a prestigious Peabody Award in 2015.

“Harry and Snowman” (84 min.), a heartwarming story by director Ron Davis, about the Long Island Dutch-born Knox School riding instructor and East Hampton horse farm owner Harry deLeyer, who purchased a white Amish plow horse for $80 on its way to the glue factory and turned “Snowman” into an internationally-known Triple Crown show jumper winner in the late 1950’s. The screening of this film is sponsored by Terry Lamb of Halstead Property.

“The Newburgh Sting” (87 min.) is a shocking, galvanizing exposé of an FBI sting of four homegrown terrorists in Newburgh, New York, who planned to bomb Jewish centers in a wealthy New York City suburb and fire stinger missiles at U.S. military supply planes. The directors Kate Davis and David Heilbroner received a prestigious Peabody Award in 2015 for this film.

“Monk with a Camera” (90 min.), directed by Tina Mascara and Guido Santi, chronicles the life and spiritual quest of photographer Nicholas Vreeland, a Tibetan Buddhist monk and grandson of Vogue editor Diana Vreeland, who helped his fellow monks rebuild their monastery and was recently anointed its abbot by the Dalai Lama.

Best Shorts Program of four short films—“The Gnomist” (12 min.) directed by Sharon Liese, about a gnome who creates miniature homes in an enchanted forest, helping four women overcome their tragedies; “Every Day” (12 min.) by three-time Emmy Award-winning director Gabe Spitzer, about Joy Johnson, the oldest woman at age 86 to run the 2013 New York City Marathon; “The House is Innocent” (12 min.) by Nicholas Coles, about a couple who buys the former residence of a serial killer in Sacramento; and “Nefertiti’s Daughters” (39 min.), directed by Mark Nickolas and Racha Najdi, about the critical role that revolutionary street art played during the Egyptian uprisings.

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