Film Fest Highlights Crises, Both International & Local

Pictured Above: A still from “Retrograde,” about the chaotic last days of the American war in Afghanistan.

This year’s Hamptons International Film Festival, held Oct. 7 through 16 at several venues on the South Fork and Shelter Island, highlights numerous films that focus on the planet’s environmental fight, as well as human conflict. 

Among the highlights are the U.S. Premiere of “Freedom on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom,” by, directed by Evgeny Afineevsky, an urgent record of Russia’s unprovoked war in Ukraine and the resilience of Ukrainian citizens. The festival also plays host to the East Coast Premiere of “Retrograde,” Matthew Heineman’s document of the final nine months of America’s 20-year war in Afghanistan.

The film includes multiple perspectives — of the last US Special Forces units deployed there, a young Afghangeneral and his corps fighting to defend their homeland against all odds, and the civilians desperately attempting to flee as the country collapses.

Environmental films include the U.S. Premiere of “The Forest Maker,” directed by Volker Schlöndorff, who followed renowned Australian agronomist Tony Rinaudo as he implements his reforestation techniques around the world, and the U.S. Premiere of Jennifer Baichwal’s “Into the Wees: Dwwayne “Lee Johnson” Vs. Monsanto,” about the San Francisco-area groundskeeper’s fight to hold the company that makes Roundup accountable for his diagnosis of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. 

The festival also features two very local stories — “The Power of Community: How One Town Stood Against Domestic Violence,” directed by Markie Hancock, about the grassroots group that started The Retreat’s domestic violence shelter in 1992, and “The Quiet Epidemic,” Kindsay Keys and Winslow Crane-Murdoch’s exploration of the difficulties faced by people here suffering with chronic Lyme disease.

Tickets to these films are $15, and can be purchased online at as of Sept. 26. A full schedule of showtimes is also available at that website.

Beth Young

Beth Young has been covering the East End since the 1990s. In her spare time, she runs around the block, 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

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