The 9th annual Hamptons Take 2 Documentary Film Festival (HT2FF), will run four full days of “all docs, all day,” from Thursday, December 1, through Sunday, December 4, all at the Bay Street Theater and Arts Center in Sag Harbor, with Q&As after every film and an Audience Award.
There’s something for every documentary film lover in this year’s line-up,” says HT2FF founder and executive director Jacqui Lofaro of Bridgehampton, a documentary filmmaker herself.
“There’s a film about Hamptons artists, visionary architect Eero Saarinen, African-American writer Maya Angelou, New York City’s Symphony Space co-founder Isaiah Sheffer, R&B songwriter Bert Berns, the extraordinary New York Times obit writers, perfect 10 gymnast Nadia Comaneci, an American beauty pageant winner, Israeli cuisine, saving Jamaica Bay, saving Martha’s Vineyard, the militarization of American policing, an exposé of America’s nuclear arsenal, an inspiring story of a boy with autism, one about animal rights, and one about cyberwar.”
The Opening Night Film is “A Moment in Time: Hamptons Artists” directed by Lana Jokel, featuring intimate interviews from the 1990’s with prominent Hamptons artists such as John Alexander, April Gornik, Sven Lukin, Nathan Joseph, Li-Lan, Eric Fischl, Elizabeth Strong Cuevas, Donald Sultan, Audrey Flack, Howard Kanovitz, John Chamberlain and Robert Dash.
The Hamptons Take 2 Documentary Film Festival concludes on Sunday with the Closing Night Film, “Unlocking the Cage” by the award-winning team of directors Chris Hegedus and D.A. Pennebaker. The film follows animal rights lawyer Steven Wise’s attempt to give cognitively complex animals, such as chimpanzees, some limited personhood rights to protect them from physical abuse.
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 1, 10:30 a.m.-10 p.m.
OPENING NIGHT FILM
The Opening Night Film on Thursday, December 1, at 8 p.m., “A Moment in Time: Hamptons Artists” (95 min.), directed by Lana Jokel, features intimate interviews from the 1990’s with prominent Hamptons artists such as John Alexander, April Gornik, Sven Lukin, Nathan Joseph, Li-Lan, Eric Fischl, Elizabeth Strong Cuevas, Donald Sultan, Audrey Flack, Howard Kanovitz, John Chamberlain and Robert Dash. It will be preceded by a wine reception and followed by a Q&A with filmmaker Jokel and featured artists.
Screening Earlier That Day Are:
10:30 a.m. a special Young Voices Program, open only to participating middle and high schools, of two short docs, “Next Medal” and “Brendan Gallagher: Always a General,” followed by a special workshop for students on using film to create impact and change, presented by filmmaker Megan Kiefer, founder of the Take Two Film Academy, based in New York City.
2 p.m. “Hearing Is Believing” (100 min.), directed by Lorenzo DeStefano, an inspiring story—reveling in the love of music and the mystery of creativity—of a young girl Rachel Flowers, born prematurely with no eyesight, who began playing Bach fugues by ear, and started studying from the age of four at the Southern California Conservatory of Music.
4:15 p.m. “Saving Jamaica Bay” (76 min.). David Sigal directs this documentary, narrated by Susan Sarandon, about how one community overcame government inaction and Hurricane Sandy to clean up and restore a national wildlife refuge near JFK Airport that had become a dumping ground.
6 p.m. “Mirrors to Windows: The Artist as Woman” (78 min.), by Susan Steinberg, an Emmy Award-winning director of American Masters documentaries on Paul Simon, Edward R. Murrow and Ahmet Ertegun, here intimately focuses on the creative spirit of 10 diverse women artists from six countries.
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 2, 10 a.m.-10:30 p.m.
AN AMERICAN MASTERS 30th ANNIVERSARY TRIBUTE
The special Friday evening event is a tribute to American Masters 30th anniversary of profiling America’s most creative writers, musicians, artists, filmmakers, activists, scientists and others who were true “masters” in their fields. The series has won multiple Emmy, Peabody, Oscar, Grammy, Producers Guild and other awards.
6 p.m. The tribute begins with the screening of “Eero Saarinen: The Architect Who Saw the Future” by award-winning director Peter Rosen, who will be at Bay Street for the Q&A. Cinematographer is son Eric Saarinen, who uses drone technology to visit the sites of his father’s iconic work, such as New York’s TWA Flight Center at JFK International Airport, Virginia’s Dulles Airport, the St. Louis Gateway Arch, and several buildings on the Yale University campus.
8 p.m. Tribute Awards. With a wine reception before and at start of this tribute, HT2FF honors both Susan Lacy, who launched the American Masters series on PBS in 1986, serving as executive producer until 2014, and current executive producer Michael Kantor, 2014 to present. Susan Margolin of Saint Marks Production will host a conversation with both pioneers.
8:30 p.m. Screening of “Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise” (114 min.) about the incredible life of the African-American poet, writer, singer and activist, followed by a Q&A with filmmakers Bob Hercules and Rita Coburn Whack.
Screening earlier that day are:
10 a.m. Bang! The Bert Berns Story” (94 min.), directed by Bert’s son Brett Berns and Bob Sarles, about the R&B songwriter who wrote legendary songs like “Twist and Shout,” “Piece of My Heart,” “Everybody Needs Someone to Love,” which became chart-topping covers for the Beatles, Rolling Stones and Janis Joplin. Participating in the Q&A will be pop music archivist and filmmaker Joe Lauro.
12 p.m. “Beauty and the Beer” (70 min.), a personal documentary about the Miss Rheingold beauty contest, directed by Anne Newman, a 1960 finalist who went on to become a model, actress and producer.
2:15 p.m. “Do Not Resist” (72 min.) directed by Craig Atkinson, the son of a Michigan police officer, about the rapid militarization of policing in America today. It won Best Documentary Feature at the Tribeca Film Festival.
4 p.m. “Uncle Gloria: One Helluva Ride!” (76 min.), a film by two-time Emmy Award-winning producer/director Robyn Symon, which takes a new twist on transgender life, as a 67-year old Jewish macho, homophobic owner of an auto wrecking company hides from the law as a woman.
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 3, 11 a.m.-11 p.m.
GALA and CAREER ACHIEVEMENT AWARD TO ALEX GIBNEY
7 p.m. On Saturday night, December 3, HT2FF honors filmmaker Alex Gibney with a Career Achievement Award at a Gala beginning with a cocktail buffet reception at 7 p.m.; opening remarks and presentation of the award at 8 p.m.; the 8:30 p.m. screening of his latest film “Zero Days” (116 min.), a harrowing exposé of cyberwar and Stuxnet, the self-replicating computer malware that the United States and Israel used to destroy a key part of an Iranian nuclear facility; and a 10:30 p.m. Q&A with Gibney, led by Ron Simon from the Paley Center for Media.
Said HT2FF founder and executive director Jacqui Lofaro, “It is a great privilege to present our 2016 Career Achievement Award to Alex Gibney, who has been called ‘the most important documentarian of our time’ and ‘one of America’s most successful and prolific documentary filmmakers.’ ”
Gibney has directed 28 documentaries in the past 11 years, serving as producer on many more, and garnering an Academy Award (“Taxi to the Dark Side”), five Emmys, several Peabodys, a Grammy, the Writers Guild Award, the Independent Spirit Award, and others.
His gripping documentaries have investigated all aspects of power—in sports (“The Armstrong Lie”), in politics (“Client 9” and “Casino Jack and the United States of Money”), in the economy (“Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room” and “Park Avenue: Money, Power and the American Dream”), in religion (“Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief” and “Mea Maxima Culpa”), and in the military (“We Steal Secrets: The Story of Wikileaks” and his latest film “Zero Days”).
Earlier Saturday films include:
11 a.m. “Pele, My Paradise” (34 min.) directed by Antonella Carrasco Zuffi, about a remote Pacific Island whose land and culture were devastated by a natural disaster, presented in collaboration with the MFA Social Documentary program at New York City’s School of Visual Arts, where Zuffi is an alumna. Faculty advisor Deborah Dickson will represent SVA for the Q&A.
This film screens with “Art & Heart, the World of Isaiah Sheffer” (51 min.), directed by Catherine Tambini (“Farmingville,” “Suzanne Farrell: Elusive Muse”), the winner of this year’s HT2FF Filmmakers’ Choice Award. Sheffer was a beloved cultural figure in New York City, co-founder and artistic director of Symphony Space, and producer of literary and political cabaret productions as well. The annual Filmmakers’ Choice Award honors an outstanding documentarian nominated by previous awardees.
1 p.m. “Obit” (93 min.), directed by Vanessa Gould, about the extraordinary New York Times obituary writers.
3 p.m. “Pickle” (12 min.), a hilarious short film by Amy Nicholson about a couple’s bad luck with a bevy of rescue animals.
This screens with “Nadia Comaneci: The Gymnast and the Dictator” (56 min.), directed by Pola Rapaport. The film is a first-person narration from the memoirs of the amazing Romanian gymnast, balancing the glory of the 14-year old who achieved a perfect 10 in the 1976 Montreal Olympics, and the hardships under the regime of Nicolae Ceausescu.
5 p.m. “Life, Animated” (89 min.) directed by Roger Ross Williams, tells the inspiring story of an autistic boy Owen Suskind, the son of Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Ron Suskind, who was unable to speak until his family discovered a unique way to communicate by immersing themselves in the world of Disney animated films.
SUNDAY, DECEMBER 4, 11 a.m.-9:30 p.m.
CLOSING NIGHT FILM
7:30 p.m. The Hamptons Take 2 Documentary Film Festival concludes on Sunday with the Closing Night Film, “Unlocking the Cage” (91 min.) by the award-winning team of directors Chris Hegedus and D.A. Pennebaker. The film follows animal rights lawyer Steven Wise’s attempt to give cognitively complex animals, such as chimpanzees, some limited personhood rights to protect them from physical abuse. Joining Hegedus and Pennebaker for the Q&A is attorney Liddy Stein.
The HT2FF Sunday schedule opens with:
11 a.m. “One Big Home” (90 min.) directed by Thomas Bena, the founder and executive/creative director of The Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival. Twenty years in the making, this film chronicles Bena’s crusade against the proliferation of outsized homes in Chilmark on Martha’s Vineyard, where he lives with his family.
1 p.m. “In Search of Israeli Cuisine” (97 min.) is a fascinating portrait of the Israeli people told through food. Directed by Emmy/Peabody Award-winner Roger Sherman, founder of Florentine Films, the film follows chef Michael Solomonov, co-owner of the acclaimed Zahav restaurant in Philadelphia, as he visits and tastes foods, cheeses and wines from Israeli trend-setting restaurants, as well as home kitchens and street vendors, drawing from the over 100 cultures that make up Israel today. Solomonov’s cookbook, “Zahav: A World of Israeli Cooking,” was named 2016 Cookbook-of-the-Year by The James Beard Foundation.
This film will be preceded by an 11-12:30 p.m. luncheon at Page Restaurant, 63 Main Street in Sag Harbor, featuring a four-course, sit-down “Tasting Adventure in Israeli Cuisine” with Oscar-nominated filmmaker Roger Sherman. Tickets are available online only, with limited seating.
3:30 p.m. “Uncle Howard” (96 min.), directed by Aaron Brookner, is the story and legacy of his uncle, filmmaker Howard Brookner, whose work captured the cultural revolution of the late 1970’s and early 1980’s and whose life was cut short by AIDS.
5:30 p.m. “Command and Control” (92 min.), directed by Emmy/Peabody Award-winner Robert Kenner (“Food, Inc.” and the 2015 HT2FF Audience Award winner “Merchants of Doubt”), is a chilling documentary about the management of America’s nuclear arsenal, based on the book by Eric Schlosser. Journalist Karl Grossman, with a specialty in nuclear issues, will participate in the Q&A.