Small Film Festivals Showcase America’s Cultural Landscape

A still from “Venecia,” to be screened at the Latino Film Festival at the Parrish Art Museum this Sunday afternoon.

The Hamptons International Film Festival is just weeks away, but there are plenty of chances to see some fascinating films that explore the true breadth of culture in American at smaller film festivals on the South Fork in the upcoming weeks.

This year is a banner year for the African American Film Festival in Southampton, which celebrates its 10th Anniversary with a program titled “Sing Your Song” at the Southampton Arts Center from Oct. 1 through Oct. 4.

This weekend, Organización Latino-Americana of Eastern Long Island presents its 12th annual OLA Latino Film Festival at the Parrish Art Museum in Water Mill, a weekend showcase of acclaimed and award-winning recent Latino cinema.

Films in the Key of Life

The Latino Film Festival opens Friday evening, Sept. 25 at 5:30 p.m.with a screening of the 2014 Chilean film “La Once,” the story of five elderly women who have gathered for tea once a month for 60 years, through periods of radical historical changes.

The Latin jazz band Mambo Loco will perform at 7 p.m.

On Saturday, the Parrish Art Museum will host a Spanish-language tour of the gallery at 3 p.m., followed by a compilation of short films at 4 p.m. The shorts include two documentaries: a study of nannies in Mexico and of a youth orchestra in Chilé, and two narrative pieces: one, the Cuban film “Las Ventanas,”  is the story of a woman who makes clay dolls and wonders what she could have done with her life, and the other, “Danzak , is a Peruvian story based on a book by José María Argudeas of a young girl who makes a promise to her dying grandfather.

More information on all four films is online here.

Sunday is filled with activities, beginning at 1 p.m. with familiy art projects, music and performances and dance classes with the Herencia Caleña Latin Dance Company.

Yesenia Montilla, a New York City poet with Afro-Caribbean roots, will read her works, along with her South Fork students, at 2 p.m.

The afternoon concludes with a screening of the Cuban film “Venecia” at 4 p.m.

The film follows three beauty salon employees on payday who go shopping for a dress, beginning an unexpected journey into the depths of Havana’s nightlife. The film, which presents an unfiltered, tough version of the lives of working-class Cuban women, was screened in at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival.

Each film screening is $10, but the other weekend events are free to the public. A full schedule of events is online here.

Singing a Song of Celebration

Next weekend, the 10th Annual African American Film Festival pulls out all the stops, with a four-day long celebration of African American film themed “Sing Your Song.”

Martin, Malcolm and Me
Martin, Malcolm and Me

The festival will kick off on Thursday, Oct. 1 at 6:30 p.m. with the East End premiere of the stage play “Martin, Malcolm and Me” by writer/director J.D. Lawrence, followed by a question and answer session.

The play tells the story of Lucky, whose unarmed older brother is wrongfully killed by a police officer who is later acquitted, after which Lucky takes part in a violent and reckless protest. His actions put him face to face with two well dressed gentlemen, Martin and Malcolm, whom Lucky mistakes for fellow protestors. The two mysterious men befriend Lucky, taking him on a historical, educational journey.

Friday, Oct. 2 will embody this year’s theme of “Sing Your Song” with spoken word/live jazz performances by R&B singer Cheryl Pepsii Riley, HBO Def and Grammy Award Poet J Ivy, Dynamic two-time Grammy Award singer/songwriter Tarrey Torae and the jazz quartet Charles Certain and Certain Moves.

Soundtrack for a Revolution
Soundtrack for a Revolution

Saturday, October 3 will feature four films celebrating iconic African American artists who help change both the artistic and political landscape of America.

“Soundtrack For A Revolution,” to be screened at 1 p.m., tells the story of the American Civil Rights Movement through music.

At 2:30 p.m., the festival will screen “Marvin Gaye: What’s Goin On,” a documentary by director Sam Pollard, an editor for Spike Lee and an NYU film professor and filmmaker.

At 4:15 p.m. will be a screening of “Half Past Autumn: The Life and Work of Gordon Parks,” an intimate look at the life and career of Gordon Parks, a Renaissance man who has excelled as a photographer, novelist, journalist, poet, musician, and filmmaker.

The screenings will conclude with “All Me: The Life and Times of Winfred Rembert,” at 7:15 p.m. The film is a documentary on the artist Winfred Rembert, whose paintings depicted bigotry in America in the latter part of the 20th Century.

Sunday, Oct. 4 continues this year’s theme with two films about two legendary African American performers: reggae innovator Bob Marley and blues queen Bessie Smith.

The day’s screenings open at 1:30 p.m. with a remembrance of civil rights activist Julian Bond, who passed away in August of this year.

“Julian Bond: Reflections from the Frontlines of the Civil Rights Movement” is a documentary film by Eduardo Montes-Bradley, which will be followed by a panel discussion with civil rights experts Natalie Byfield, Carol Spencer, and William Pickens III.

“Marley” will be screened at 4:15 p.m., followed by “Bessie” an HBO film about legendary American blues singer Bessie Smith, at 6:30 p.m.

All films at the festival are $12 in advance and $15 at the door, however the final film “Bessie” is open to the public and payable by only a donation to the Southampton African American Museum at the door.

Tickets to the Thursday and Friday evening performances are $30 in advance and $35 at the door, and can be obtained by calling Nancy Stevens-Smith at 631.428.1857 or Joanne Humble at 631.764.4792. More information on the festival is online here.

Take 2 Festival Honors Social Justice Documentarian

Stanley Nelson
Stanley Nelson

The Hamptons Take Two Film Festival, an annual documentary film festival at Sag Harbor’s Bay Street Theatre, isn’t until December, but the festival announced this week that Stanley Nelson will be the recipient of this year’s Career Achievement Award.

The award is given to filmmakers whose documentary contributions throughout the years have been significant and impactful, bringing an original vision and a clear voice to the documentary genre.

With 35 films and multiple industry awards to his credit, Mr. Nelson’s films have earned five Primetime Emmys, two awards from the Sundance Film Festival, and two Peabodys. He is a MacArthur “Genius” Fellow, a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and a recipient of the NEH National Medal in the Humanities presented by President Obama in 2014.

“It is a great privilege to present our 2015 Career Achievement Award to Stanley Nelson,” said film festival Executive Director and Founder Jacqui Lofaro. “His award-winning documentary films on social justice issues were early windows into race relations. His latest film, “The Black Panthers: Vanguard Of The Revolution” continues the provocative dialogue, even more relevant in America today. We honor his commitment to honesty, truth and artistic rigor.”

The Black Panthers: Vanguard Of The Revolution” will be screened at this year’s festival, which runs from Dec. 3 through Dec. 6.

“It is always great to receive accolades; it doesn’t get old,” said Mr. Nelson  Documentary filmmakers don’t get recognition every day. “To be recognized because people are seeing and liking my films is great and the award means this is happening”.

The Career Achievement Award will be given at a Gala Evening, Sat. December 5, 2015. For information about the festival and for tickets, visit


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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