The 2023 Hamptons International Film Festival has officially unveiled its Centerpiece screening and special events lineup.
Alex Gibney’s “In Restless Dreams: The Music of Paul Simon” will be this year’s Centerpiece presentation, screening October 6. Prolific documentarian Gibney previously helmed Theranos doc “The Inventor” and “Restless Dreams” will be making its New York premiere at the East End festival.
Gibney spent three years on “In Restless Dreams” following musician Simon’s creation of new album “Seven Psalms.”
“In early 2021 amid the pandemic, Paul invited me to film him while he was making his most recent album, ‘Seven Psalms.’ Paul was losing his hearing in one ear, and it was a devastating time,” Gibney said in a press statement (via Deadline). “His tribulations in making that album about faith and mortality are the emotional heart of this story. Creating a visual dreamscape to meet Paul’s life as an artist has been painstaking, and one of my greatest joys.”
The documentary will showcase Simon’s expansive career ranging from Simon & Garfunkel to “Graceland.”
“We are honored to be able to share this exclusive look into the creative process and legacy of Paul Simon, who is undoubtedly among the most influential artists of the twentieth century,” Anne Chaisson, HamptonsFilm Executive Director, said. “Alex Gibney is one of the foremost documentary storytellers of our generation, and we look forward to hosting him and the incredible film he created with Paul Simon at this year’s event.”
Todd Haynes will be awarded the Achievement in Directing Award for upcoming film “May December,” which is also opening NYFF. “May December” stars Julianne Moore and Charles Melton as a couple that dominated the tabloids due to their salacious start. Natalie Portman portrays an actress looking to fictionalize their love story for the big screen. The film will screen as the Spotlight selection.
“‘May December’ is a gripping exploration of scandal and its influence over American society,” HamptonsFilm Artistic Director David Nugent said. “Todd Haynes has a unique ability to captivate audiences through his provocative explorations of identity and performance, and we are thrilled to welcome him back to HIFF to speak about his latest film and his prolific career.”
HIFF will further host a slew of world premieres for films including Holocaust biopic “Avenue of the Giants” based on the true story of Herbert Heller, who kept his experience as a teenage boy surviving years in Auschwitz hidden from his family. Luke Blumm plays Heller, who befriends a young teenager (Elsie Fisher) and opens up about his WWII survival. Stephan Lang and Robin Weigert also star in the film written and directed by Finn Taylor.
“I’ll Be Right There” follows a single mother (Edie Falco) as she tries to keep her growing family together, with Bradley Whitford and Michael Rapaport co-starring. Children’s picture book documentary “Story and Pictures By,” plus true crime doc “They Called Him Mostly Harmless” and feature “Tell Them You Love Me” are additionally making their respective world premieres at the regional fall festival.
The 2023 HIFF festival will kick off October 5 with “Nyad,” a biopic about swimmer Diana Nyad who made history completing the trek from Cuba to Florida at age 60. Annette Bening portrays Nyad onscreen, with Jodie Foster playing her best friend and coach Bonnie Stoll. Rhys Ifans also stars in the film, which is set in 2010.
The 31st annual Hamptons International Film Festival runs October 5 through 12 in Sag Harbor and East Hampton in New York. The full HIFF lineup will be announced shortly.
IN RESTLESS DREAMS: THE MUSIC OF PAUL SIMON
New York Premiere
dir. Alex Gibney (USA), 2023
This definitive portrait of Paul Simon follows him inside the studio as he makes his new album Seven Psalms, while looking back on his six-decade career with countless musical peaks from Sounds of Silence to Graceland.
Sponsored by Audi
AVENUE OF THE GIANTS
dir. Finn Taylor (USA), 2023
Herbert Heller carries a traumatic secret from his childhood in Eastern Europe: now the owner of a toy store in Marin County, California, Herbert survived the Holocaust in his teens. The Nazis forced him into the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp at the age of 12, but he managed to escape three years later and kept the secret from everyone — including his own children — for 60 years. When Herbert is diagnosed later in life with a terminal illness, he befriends Abbey, an isolated teenager whose own brush with pain and death inspires him to open up. Abbey and Herbert reveal their stories to each other, forge an unlikely intergenerational friendship, and together find a path toward healing.
I’LL BE RIGHT THERE
dir. Brendan Walsh (USA), 2023
Wanda (Edie Falco, The Sopranos, Nurse Jackie) has her hands full: her 8-months-pregnant daughter (Kayli Carter,Mrs. America) wants a wedding, which her ex-husband (Bradley Whitford, The West Wing, The Handmaid’s Tale) is flaking on paying for, her mother (Jeannie Berlin, Succession) thinks she’s dying, her wayward son (Charlie Tahan, Ozark) is either going into rehab or the army, her long-time boyfriend (Michael Rappaport, Only Murders in the Building) doesn’t excite her, but her new girlfriend (Sepideh Moafi, Black Bird) doesn’t either, and she barely has time for herself, not that she would know what to do with it anyway.
dir. Todd Haynes (USA), 2023
Twenty years after their notorious tabloid romance gripped the nation, Gracie Atherton-Yu and her husband Joe (twenty-three years her junior) brace themselves for their twins to graduate from high school. When Hollywood actress Elizabeth Berry comes to spend time with the family to better understand Gracie, who she will be playing in a film, family dynamics unravel under the pressure of the outside gaze. Joe, never having processed what happened in his youth, starts to confront the reality of life as an empty-nester at thirty-six. And as Elizabeth and Gracie study each other, the similarities and differences between the two women begin to ebb and flow. Set in picturesque and comfortable Camden, Maine, May December is an exploration of truth, storytelling, and the difficulties (or impossibility) of fully understanding another person.
Documentary Feature Competition
Sponsored by Silvercup Studios
TELL THEM YOU LOVE ME
dir. Nick August-Perna (USA), 2023
TELL THEM YOU LOVE ME explores the extraordinary story of Anna Stubblefield, an esteemed university professor who becomes embroiled in a controversial affair with Derrick Johnson, a non-verbal man with cerebral palsy. Anna says she unlocked Derrick’s mind from his body by teaching him to communicate using a keyboard. The relationship that followed would lead to a criminal trial that would challenge our perceptions of disability and the nature of consent. Through exclusive footage and interviews with those on both sides of the case, this feature documentary weaves a riveting and endlessly nuanced story about communication, race, and sex.
World Cinema Documentary
Sponsored by Dragon Hemp
STORY & PICTURES BY
dir. Joanna Rudnick (USA), 2023
STORY & PICTURES BY is the first feature documentary to take audiences behind the scenes to meet the boundary pushers who create children’s picture books. The film follows Christian Robinson, Yuyi Morales, and Mac Barnett—the stars of the new “golden age” of kids lit— as they create experimental work that reflects the mysteries of childhood, champions the marginalized, and provides children with windows and mirrors, even when the creators’ own lives are not fairy tales. Through rare archival, untapped insights, and stop-motion paper animation, we also come to understand why classics such as “Goodnight Moon,” “Where the Wild Things Are,” “The Very Hungry Caterpillar,” and “The Snowy Day” changed the art form and stand the test of time.
THEY CALLED HIM MOSTLY HARMLESS
dir. Patricia E. Gillespie
When an unidentified hiker is found deceased in the Florida wilderness, authorities release a sketch. Multiple hikers call in claiming to have met the man. There’s only one problem: he never told them his name. It would take two years, thousands of devoted internet sleuths, and a miracle of science to identify him—and that’s when the trouble really started. A character-centric reimagining of a classic genre, THEY CALLED HIM MOSTLY HARMLESS is about finding yourself when you’re looking for someone else.