HIFF 2014 Golden Starfish Competition

We are pleased to announce that twenty films have been selected for this year’s Golden Starfish competition, including the U.S. premieres of Melanie Laurent‘s BreatheGabriel Mascaro‘s August Winds, Tamara Erde‘s This is My Land, and the East Coast premieres of Peter Strickland‘s Duke of Burgundy and Ronit Elkabetz and Shlomi Elkabetz‘s Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem.

The Golden Starfish Awards (GSA) honor emerging directors from around the world in narrative feature, documentary feature and short film competitions, along with the newly added category for documentary short films. Juried by world-class filmmakers and industry professionals, these competitions represent the important, provocative premieres by cinema’s next wave of filmmakers.

“Our competition sections are always a highlight of the Festival for us as they focus on new films by emerging artists. With 20 films, made by artists from 15 different countries, our audiences get a real sense for cinematic trends all around the globe,” said David Nugent, HIFF Artistic Director. “With this year’s Festival we are also inaugurating a competitive section for Best Short Documentary, as our commitment to non-fiction cinema is something in which we pride ourselves.”

We are very excited to once again be working with long-time sponsors The Wall Street Journal and A&E Indie Films, who will sponsor the Golden Starfish Award Narrative Competition section and Golden Starfish Award Documentary section, respectively.

The Golden Starfish Awards ceremony will take place on Monday, October 13, in East Hampton, and the 2014 jury will be announced at a later date.

Passes and packages for HIFF 2014 are on sale now. Please join us on Columbus Day Weekend: October 9-13.



AUGUST WINDS  “Ventos de Agosto”

Brazil | US Premiere
Director: Gabriel Mascaro
On a tiny coastal village in Brazil, Shirley and Jeison pass the time by working on a coconut plantation. On their spare time, he dives for seafood while she sunbathes and dreams of being a tattoo artist. Their restless but tranquil life is provoked as intense tropical storms approach, washing ashore a corpse. Drawing on his documentary roots, Gabriel Mascaro deliberately eschews a traditional narrative in favor of an atmospheric and lyrical approach. Weaving the textures of the landscape with superb, natural performances, Mascaro delicately reveals a thoughtful and, sometimes humorous, meditation on life and death.


BREATHE “Respire”

France | US Premiere
Director: Melanie Laurent
Famed actress Melanie Laurent (Inglorious Basterds, Enemy) steps behind the camera for Breathe, an assured and refined look at fragile adolescent friendships. Entering the private world of Charlie and Sara, whose raw attraction quickly makes them inseparable, we see tenderness turn sour as Sarah shifts her attention to a young pilot, leaving Charlie heartbroken. Superbly acted by Josephine Japy (Charlie) and Lou De Laage (Sara), Breathe is an honest look at young friendships, where passion can easily turn into obsession and the harsh reality of trying to find your voice means you may be left lost, wounded, and devastated.



United Kingdom | East Coast Premiere
Director: Peter Strickland
Similar to a larva transforming into a caterpillar only to cocoon and bloom into a butterfly, Peter Strickland’s The Duke of Burgundy shifts and twists from a classic melodrama into a perverse and psychedelic sadomasochistic lesbian experience – all done with an artists eye for mood and detail. Both the gothic scenery and haunting score envelop the senses and manipulate the viewer into a feeling of frenzy. Elevated by powerful and sensual performances by the two leads, Strickland’s strange film achieves a unique beauty and profundity somewhere between David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive and Luis Buñuel’s Belle De Jour.



Israel, France, Germany | East Coast Premiere
Directors: Ronit Elkabetz, Shlomi Elkabetz
This final piece of the trilogy by Israeli siblings Ronit and Shlomi Elkabetz, explores the unfolding of a marriage under the jurisdiction of a rabbinical court in which a Jewish marriage may only end if the husband presents a “gett,” a divorce document, to his wife. Calling attention to a male-dominant process that can take years, sometimes decades, and set entirely in the courtroom, this brilliantly written and acted film reveals the slow dissolution of a marriage between Vivane (Ronit Elkabetz) and Elisha (Simon Abkarian). Balancing the seriousness of what’s at stake with an often-humorous tone, Gett offers a deeply moving take on an otherwise painful process. 



United States | New York Premiere
Director: Sara Colangelo
A haunting portrait of the unintended consequence, Little Accidents follows the wake of tragedy in small town America where a mining disaster leaves 10 dead and the delicate social fabric of a community in tatters. When the son of the chief executive goes missing, his wife; the lone survivor to the disaster, Amos; and Owen, a local boy left fatherless by the tragedy, become bound to one another by their shared grief and through a series of shocking revelations. A stunning work by first-time feature filmmaker, Sara Colangelo, it features a stellar cast, including Elizabeth Banks, Boyd Holbrook and Chloe Sevigny.

GOLDEN STARFISH AWARD: Documentary Feature 


United States | New York Premiere
Director: Margaret Brown
On April 20, 2010, the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded devastating communities throughout the Gulf Coast of the United States. Eleven lives were lost, the natural ecosystem was destroyed, and the pollution forced countless local businesses to shut down.  Margaret Brown’s The Great Invisible, winner of the Grand Jury prize at SXSW, is a thought provoking and complex human drama that lifts the curtain on a corrupt and negligent industry driven by greed. With harrowing testimonies from survivors, families, local fisherman, an others perpetually effected by the disaster, Brown seeks to tell a sobering and layered account of a tragedy still unfolding.



The Netherlands | New York Premiere
Director: Jaap Van Hoewijk
On June 12, 2013 in Huntsville, Texas, preparations take place for the lethal injection of Elroy Chester, a man convicted of the rape of two teenage girls and the murder of their uncle. After 15 years on death row, Chester will be executed at precisely 6 PM. While his family prepares to say goodbye, the victims and their family prepare for closure. Killing Time is the emotional follow up to the 1995 film, Procedure 769, Witness to the Execution, which examined those who came to Chester’s court sentences. Returning to Texas once more, director Jaap van Hoewijk turns his lens on the people most affected as they pass the final hours.



Italy, Germany | East Coast Premiere
Director: Carlo Zoratti
We all have needs. Some are more difficult or specific to fulfill than others. For 29-year-old Enea, his need is even more special, as his autism directly hinders his goal of love – especially of the physical kind. So his two best friends Carlo and Alex set out with Enea on a quest through Europe to help him be the ladies man he so desperately wishes he could be. By turns funny, insightful and frustrating, The Special Need reveals the autist’s everyday struggles in surprising and unexpected ways. It’s often said that difficult personal tasks are labors of love; well, in this case, this trio’s story couldn’t be more accurate.



France | US Premiere
Director: Tamara Erde
“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world,” said Nelson Mandela, and artist-filmmaker Tamara Erde’s first feature length film examines how the shared, complex and charged history of Israel and Palestine is taught to the next generation in this volatile region. Does it fuel conflict or encourage peace? How much freedom does the Ministry of Education give teachers? Through dialogues, debates, celebrations and field trips at six independent schools, this fascinating documentary observes how young minds are shaped by what is said and, just as importantly, by what is unspoken.



Slovakia, Czech Republic, Croatia | US Premiere
Director: Pavol Pekarčík, Ivan Ostrochovský, Peter Kerekes
Charged as terrorists, but now hailed as heroes three Czechoslovakian’s recount and reenact their odd and fascinating tales of armed resistance against the old communistic powers. Three portraits by three directors. A Presidential assassination foiled through sheer laziness, a botched political tribune bombing due to alcoholism and a notorious bulletin board bomber who wanted nothing more than to blow up…you guessed it. Each story may be different, but the sentiment is the same: actions are what define you and even if you don’t hurt anyone or change anything, they still may be recognized for better or for worse.

GOLDEN STARFISH AWARD:  Narrative Short Film

Featuring brave, innovative and remarkable stories, the Golden Starfish Award for Best Narrative Short Film honors new talent in the field. The winner will receive a $500 cash prize and qualify for consideration at the Academy Awards for Best Live Action/Animated Short Film.


Canada | US Premiere
Director: Kazik Radwanski
Told through close details of hands and objects, this film intimately portrays uncertainty and loss.


Italy, Iran | North American Premiere
Director: Ali Asgari
Narges and her friend are calling everyone they can think of with an unusual request. They urgently need someone to look after her baby for a night or two…


Sweden | North American Premiere
Director: Jerry Carlsson
Two arborists, Samir and Sara, are hired to cut down a perfectly healthy tree. This, and the urgency with which it needs to be done, surprises them but they agree and as they work, comprehension dawns.


United States | East Coast Premiere
Director: David Formentin
A Hasidic woman in Brooklyn discovers she has an STD. Although limited by her social standing in a deeply Orthodox community, she seeks the origin of her illness.


United Kingdom | North American Premiere
Director: Daisy Jacobs
Using seven-foot-tall characters in life-size sets, The Bigger Picture uniquely animates a stark and darkly humorous tale of caring for an elderly parent.

GOLDEN STARFISH AWARD: Documentary Short Film

Our inaugural Golden Starfish Award for Best Documentary Short Film highlights some of the year’s most interesting opinions and viewpoints and is sure to capture your imagination. The winner will receive a $500 cash prize.


Argentina | East Coast Premiere
Director: Manuel Abramovich
Memi is 11 years old, and she is going to be Queen of the Carnival. It’s a dazzling honor, but you have to suffer to be beautiful.


The Netherlands | North American Premiere
Director: Marleen van der Werf
Sitting in her favourite oak tree 11-year old Filine encounters little wonders in the natural world around her. Filine doesn’t like changes that much. She sometimes wishes she could be a tree and everything would stay the same.


Canada: US Premiere
Director: Marie-Josée Saint-Pierre
Through the ingenious repurposing and animation of archival footage, a remarkable and revealing documentary homage to filmmaker Claude Jutra pulls us deep inside the life, times and imagination of the artist.


United Kingdom | North American Premiere
Directors: Pia Borg, Edward Lawrenson
From 1946 to 1981 a psychiatric hospital in the UK allowed its patients to create art. After the dissolution of the asylum only around 5,500 pieces survived. This is their story.


United States | US Premiere
Directors: Josh Koury, Myles Kane
Baseball legend Ted Williams lived his life in the public eye and his death, like his life, will be forever frozen in time – however this time (contrary to the instructions in his will) via cryostasis.