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Hamptons International Film Festival celebrates its jubilee with a gem of a line-up

HIFF turns 25 with help from Margot Robbie, Patrick Stewart, Jordan Peele, and Annette Bening
HIFF 25 preview
Photos: Getty/Fox Searchlight Pictures]

Any cinephile looking for something to do this weekend in and around New York City is literally spoilt for choice. Not only is there the 55th New York Film Festival but New York Comic-Con is taking place, too.

However the most dazzling array of films and stars will actually unfold about two hours outside of the city, as the 25th Hamptons International Film Festival occurs in Southampton, SAG Harbor, and East Hampton.

This year’s festival includes screenings of Guillermo Del Toro’s “The Shape Of Water,” Domhnall Gleeson and Margot Robbie in “Goodbye Christopher Robin,” Martin McDonagh’s already critically acclaimed “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” Woody Harrelson as “LBJ,” Gary Oldman as Winston Churchill in “Darkest Hour,” before the festival closes with another Robbie film, this time in “I, Tonya.”

But there’s plenty more to appreciate and take in over the festival’s five-day run. I recently spoke to HIFF’s Executive Director Anne Chaisson, who broke down what’s in store at the festival, as well as underlining just how close it is to New York City.

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How does it feel to have reached the 25 year milestone?

We’re fortunate that we were kind of one of the early resort festivals. Our proximity to New York City not only makes it an easy way for people to come out, but many of the media and industry titans have homes out here. So it means you can have a lovely fall weekend in the Hamptons and see some great movies. We were also lucky that the community embraced it so much, too, especially because the Hamptons has such a vibrant cultural scene.

What sets the Hamptons Film Festival apart?

It’s so intimate, it’s so easy, it’s so nice. I’ll have a cup of coffee and I’ll run into some people that I know, and then we can decide what film, or even a talk, we’re going to see. It’s more relaxed, but still exciting as well as a low key experience. We’re very proud that we’re considered one of the top 50 film festivals in the world. Considering that there are so many film festivals out there. While we love the type of people that come to our festival, which includes pacemakers, and Academy members, and we have loyal audiences that follow our conversation series.

What are the highlights of this year’s festival that you want people to know about?

First off, the documentary about Itzhak Perlman is incredible, and he’ll be there opening night. We started a program called, ‘Compassion, Justice, Animal Rights,’ a few years ago that has become extremely popular out here, because there are so many animal advocates in the Hamptons area. So I am excited about a film called “The Last Pig” that’s winning the award in that section. I am extremely excited about our conversation with Annette Bening. We are also hosting an anatomy of a scene with Jordan Peele, Jason Blum, Allison Williams, and Daniel Kaluuya of “Get Out”, they will do a panel and then breakdown how they made some scenes in the film. We’re also giving Julie Andrews a life-time achievement award. There’s so much happening.

Why is it so important to have so many conversations about the craft of filmmaking?

I think it is so important for all film festivals to showcase the, ‘How to’s,’ behind the craft. The reason to do it is not only to show incredible films around the world, but to bring those people here and show them to other people in the industry and expose them to a new area. As well as have audiences hear how these films got made, and hear about the subject matter.

What else do you want people to know about the film festival?

How easy it is to come! It takes about 2 hours to get here on either the bus or the Long Island Rail Road, or you can rent a car or drive. We’re in Southampton, SAG Harbor, and East Hampton. It’s a triangle, and it is 15 minutes between each of them. You can get a shuttle bus between all of them.

You can buy tickets to HIFF25, and check out its schedule, by heading over its website.