The eighth annual Hamptons Take 2 Documentary Film Festival kicks off this coming Thursday, Dec. 3, promising four days and 30 films in an event whose mantra has become “all docs, all day.”
“This is our eighth year as a film festival dedicated to the art of the documentary genre,” says festival founder and executive director Jacqui Lofaro. “We run nearly 30 films at the December festival in addition to seasonal screenings throughout the year. If there’s a theme in my career, it’s being part of building and growing something to enhance the experience for our dedicated audiences.”
The festival runs for four days, from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. from Dec. 3 through Dec. 6, all at the Bay Street Theater and Arts Center in Sag Harbor.
WPPB radio personality Bonnie Grice and arts writer, actor and director Andrew Botsford will host the event.
The festival opens Dec. 3 with a series of screenings by and for students of The Springs School, The Ross School and East Hampton High School.
The opening night film, at 8 p.m. Dec. 3, is “A Ballerina’s Tale,” directed by Nelson George. 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.
Ms. Copeland was the first African-American woman to be named in June 2015 as a principal dancer at American Ballet Theatre. She 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.
Also on Dec. 3 is a 4 p.m. screening of “Indian Point,” 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 Long Island Shorts Program at 6:15 p.m. features Sean Tracy’s and Kim Rybacki’s “The Backstretch: Where Triple Crowns Are Made,” on the trainers, jockeys, walkers, riders, veterinarians and grooms who care for the thousands of thoroughbreds in the backstretch of Belmont Park; “The Breach,” directed by Keif Roberts and Peter Haas, in the premiere showing of a film about the pros and cons of closing the 2012 Hurricane Sandy breach in the barrier island outside Bellport Bay; and “The Boxer: Long Island’s Chris Algieri,” directed by boxing journalist Bobby Cassidy, on the rise of Long Island-raised boxer Chris Algieri.
Friday night’s Spotlight Film is “What Happened, Miss Simone?,” at 8:30 p.m., about the African-American piano prodigy and singer Eunice Waymon, who became known to the world as the celebrated husky torch singer and civil rights activist Nina Simone.
Ms. 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.
Also screening on Friday, Dec. 4 are “Merchants of Doubt” at 10 a.m., directed by Robert Kenner, who also directed “Food, Inc.” His new satirical film looks into the heart of American spin, focusing on a secretive group of silver-tongued pundits-for-hire, who present themselves as scientific authorities but sow confusion about public threats like toxic chemicals and climate change.
The day continues with a 12:30 p.m. screening of “Imba Means Sing,” about the children in the Grammy-nominated African Children’s Choir, who come from the slums of Kampala, Uganda, and tour Canada and the United States, singing and dancing to raise funds for their education.
At 2:15 p.m. Friday, “The Age of Love,” directed by Steven Loring, will be presented in collaboration with the MFA Social Documentary program at the School of Visual Arts, where Loring is an alumnus. The film follows 10 senior citizens as they prepare for a speed-dating event for 70-to-90 year olds.
At ,4 p.m. “Outermost Radio,” by multiple Emmy Award-winning director Alan Chebot, 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.
At 6:15 p.m., “Very Semi-Serious,” is an offbeat, humorous, behind-the-scenes look at New Yorker cartoonist hopefuls like graphic novelist Liana Finck and legends Roz Chast and Mort Gerberg as they submit their work to Cartoon Editor Bob Mankoff.
Saturday’s evening gala begins with a cocktail reception at 7 p.m. in honor of “A Ballerina’s Tale” director Stanley Nelson, who will be honored with a Career Achievement Award that night. The reception will be followed by an 8:15 p.m. screening of Mr. Nelson’s “The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution,” followed by a conversation and Q&A with Mr. Nelson.
“His award-winning documentary films on social justice issues were early windows into race relations,” says HT2FF Executive Director Jacqui Lofaro. “His latest film continues the provocative dialogue. We honor his commitment to honesty, truth and artistic rigor.”
Earlier Saturday films include a Best Shorts Program of four short films beginning at 10 a.m. — “The Gnomist,” directed by Sharon Liese, about a gnome who creates miniature homes in an enchanted forest, helping four women overcome their tragedies; “Every Day,” 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,” by Nicholas Coles, about a couple who buys the former residence of a serial killer in Sacramento; and “Nefertiti’s Daughters,” directed by Mark Nickolas and Racha Najdi, about the critical role that revolutionary street art played during the Egyptian uprisings.
At 12:15 p.m., the film “Modern Tide: Midcentury Architecture on Long Island,” by Emmy Award-winning documentary filmmaker Jake Gorst, presents a comprehensive history of the region’s best postwar architects and designers.
At 2:15 p.m., “Help Us Find Sunil Tripathi,” 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.
At 4 p.m.,“Big Voice,” 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.”
The festival concludes on Sunday, Dec. 6, with the 7:15 p.m. viewing of the Closing Night Film, “Since: The Bombing of Pan Am Flight 103,” 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.
Earlier Sunday films include: “Soft Vengeance: Albie Sachs & the New South Africa” at 11 a.m., 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.
“Harry and Snowman,” a heartwarming story by director Ron Davis, will air at 1:15 p.m. The film tells the tale of the Long Island 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 1950s.
At 3:15 p.m., the festival will screen “The Newburgh Sting,” a shocking 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.
At 5:15 p.m., the festival will screen “Monk with a Camera,” directed by Tina Mascara and Guido Santi, which 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.
Tickets for each film, or film program of shorts, are $15 ($13 for senior citizens, no online sales). The Saturday night gala, including reception, film and Q&A, is $45. A full festival pass for all four days of films including the Gala is $125.
Tickets may be purchased from HT2FF online at www.HT2FF.com; at the Bay Street Theater box office, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday, by phone at 631.725.9500, online at www.baystreet.org, or at the door.