Pictured above: A still from “Aquarela,” to be screened Thursday, April 21 at the Sag Harbor Cinema.

Hamptons Doc Fest inaugurates spring Earth Day weekend with its annual Docs Equinox celebration, four days of live programming of four dramatic documentary films and Q&As highlighting the importance of taking care of our fragile world.

The films will be presented in partnership with both the Southampton Arts Center and Sag Harbor Cinema April 21 through April 24. 

“The great naturalist Arnold Leopold once said: ‘Like winds and sunsets, wild things were taken for granted until progress began to do away with them’,” says Hamptons Doc Fest founder and Executive Director Jacqui Lofaro. “Each documentary film in our environmental film series speaks to saving Mother Earth. We are her stewards, we are the watch-keepers. Earth Day is a good time to remind ourselves of that responsibility.”

The Raw Power of Ice and Water

The series begins on Thursday, April 21 at 6 p.m. with a screening of “Aquarela” (2019, 90 min.) at the Sag Harbor Cinema.

Using no dialogue or narration but only fast-frame cinema, sound, and a heavy metal score, director Victor Kossakovsky captures stunning images of the raw power of water and ice in their many forms in seven countries around the world — from Russia’s frozen Lake Baikal, to Miami during hurricane Irma, to Venezuela’s mighty Angel Falls — plus dramatic footage across the Atlantic Ocean. 

“When I was first approached about making a film about water, I actually refused,” said Mr. Kossakovsky, who has won over 100 national and international film festival awards. “I have seen several dozens of films about water in the last ten years. But they are mostly people just talking about water — the importance of water, politics of water, lack of water, climate change and water. So I said if we are going to do another film talking about water, then no, I am not interested in this. But if water will speak by herself for 90 minutes, if water will have a chance to be our main actor — this I will do.”

“I have been wanting to bring ‘Aquarela’ to our cinema for years now,” said Sag Harbor Cinema artistic director Giulia D’Agnolo Vallan. “It is a brilliant example of how daring artistic ambition in a documentary can empower what is already a very urgent message. Furthermore, water surrounds us here on the East End. It is an integral part of our landscape, of our economy and has been a constant source of inspiration for generations of local artists. This co-presentation with Hamptons Doc Fest is a perfect opportunity to celebrate it.”

The next three Hamptons Doc Fest films for Earth Day weekend are co-presented by and will be screened at the Southampton Arts Center. 

“Southampton Arts Center’s commitment to the environment is evidenced in the exhibitions and programs we present throughout the year with and for our community,” says SAC Executive Director Tom Dunn. “As we endeavor to creatively confront the alarming state of our planet and its inhabitants, we understand the value of partnering with like-minded organizations like Hamptons Doc Fest. We’re thrilled to collaborate with our friend Jacqui Lofaro and her team to co-present three thoughtful, dynamic and actionable documentaries in celebration of Earth Month. These incredible films have the power to inspire the critical actions needed to save our planet.”

Bring Your Own Brigade

The second film will be “Bring Your Own Brigade” (2021, 127 min.), to be screened Friday, April 22 at 6 p.m. at SAC. It held its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2021, was directed, produced and written by two-time, Oscar-nominated British filmmaker Lucy Walker.

She and her crew embedded with a team of firefighters during the 2018 Camp Fire in Malibu and Paradise, the most destructive fires in California history. Drawing on hundreds of hours of wildfire footage and interviews with firefighters, survivors and scientists, the film reveals the heroism and horror of the fires, investigates the causes of wildfire epidemics, and examines what can be done to lessen the staggering death and destruction and restore health to woodlands that have been mismanaged too long.

After the screening, director Lucy Walker will appear in a live Q&A Zoom about the film.

The Velvet Queen

On Saturday, April 23 at 2 p.m. the Southampton Arts Center will play host to “The Velvet Queen” (2021, 90 min., in French, with subtitles).

The film, a meditative and philosophical experience, directed by wildlife photographers Vincent Munier and Marie Amiguet, follows Munier and writer Sylvain Tesson as the two men perched on a cold mountain ridge, patiently wait in hopes of catching sight of the elusive Tibetan snow leopard, in the meantime filming Tibetan wild yaks, foxes, bears and mountain cats.

Renown in his field, Munier was named BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year three years in a row. Tesson is the author of the book “The Art of Patience—Seeking the Snow Leopard” about the story of the film.

Post screening, there’s a live Q&A with ecologist and author Carl Safina, where his books will also be available for sale.


Closing the four-part film series will be “River” (75 min., 2021), co-presented with the Southampton Arts Center on Sunday, April 24, at 3 p.m. Written and directed by Jennifer Peedom, co-written/co-directed by Joseph Nizeti, “River” is a bird’s eye view of our most precious resource as seen in 39 countries spanning six continents around the globe. 

Narrated by Academy Award-nominated actor Willem DaFoe, with a score performed by the Australian Chamber Orchestra, the film, with its extraordinary cinematography, shows rivers from perspectives never seen before, including satellite filming, and retells the history of rivers and human civilization.

After the screening, director Joseph Nizeti will appear in a live Q&A Zoom about the film.


Tickets and information for the Docs Equinox screenings are available at  www.hamptonsdocfest.com, www.sagharborcinema.org  and www.southamptoncenter.org 

The Sag Harbor Cinema requires proof of Covid vaccination. Tickets to “Aquarela” on April 21 are $15, $12 for members and seniors.

The Southampton Arts Center requires proof of COVID vaccination or a negative test with ID. Tickets to “Bring Your Own Brigade,” “The Velvet Queen” and “River” on April 22, 23, and 24, respectively, are $15 each, $10 for SAC members.

Beth Young
Beth Young is an award-winning local journalist who has been covering the East End since the 1990s. She began her career at the Sag Harbor Express and, after receiving her Masters from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, has reported for the Southampton Press, the East Hampton Press and the Times/Review Media Group. She founded the East End Beacon website in 2013, and a print edition in 2017. Beth was born and raised on the North Fork. In her spare time, she tinkers with bicycles, tries not to drown in the Peconic Bay and hopes to grow the perfect tomato. You can send her a message at editor@eastendbeacon.com

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