Since its inception in 2009, SummerDocs, a series of highly-anticipated documentary ﬁlms, has become one of the Hamptons International Film Festival’s signature events. Following each screening, the director and/or subject(s) of the ﬁlm participates in a lively and engaging Q&A, often with HIFF board member Alec Baldwin, who co-curates the series with HIFF Artistic Director David Nugent.
Many past SummerDocs selections, such as Twenty Feet From Stardom, Last Days of Vietnam, The Cove, Searching for Sugar Man, and How to Survive a Plague, have gone on to receive Academy Award® wins and nominations.
For 2015′s 7th Annual SummerDocs series, presented by TNT’s Public Morals, three festival favorites screened, one in July and two more in August: Best of Enemies, Listen to Me Marlon, and Peace Officer. As in summers past, moderated Q&As with filmmakers and guests followed each screening at Guild Hall.
“We have a provocative and engaging slate for our seventh year that truly exemplifies the high caliber filmmaking that we value at HIFF,” said Artistic Director David Nugent. “The SummerDocs series continues to be a highly-anticipated mainstay of our programming initiatives, screening award-winning documentaries each year to our audience.”
“The SummerDocs series has been a tremendous success for HIFF and our patrons,” said series presenter Alec Baldwin. “The program brings the best in documentary film to Guild Hall during the summertime, when film fans are craving some serious subjects.”
Information about the three selections for the 7th Annual SummerDocs follows below.
Saturday, July 11, 7:30 pm
Directed by Robert Gordon and Morgan Neville
Directed with consummate skill by filmmakers Robert Gordon and Academy Award-winning Sundance Film Festival alum Morgan Neville (Twenty Feet From Stardom), Best of Enemies unleashes a highbrow blood sport that marked the dawn of pundit television as we know it today. In the summer of 1968 television news changed forever. Dead last in the ratings, ABC hired two towering public intellectuals to debate each other during the Democratic and Republican national conventions. William F. Buckley Jr. was a leading light of the new conservative movement. A Democrat and cousin to Jackie Onassis, Gore Vidal was a leftist novelist and polemicist. Armed with deep-seated distrust and enmity, Vidal and Buckley believed each other’s political ideologies were dangerous for America. Like rounds in a heavyweight battle, they pummeled out policy and personal insult—their explosive exchanges devolving into vitriolic name-calling. Live and unscripted, they kept viewers riveted. Ratings for ABC News skyrocketed. And a new era in public discourse was born. The film will be released by Magnolia Pictures on July 31.
Following the screening, directors Robert Gordon (Johnny Cash’s America) and Academy Award® winner Morgan Neville (Twenty Feet From Stardom) joined subject Dick Cavett for a conversation led by novelist and radio host Kurt Andersen.
Support for the screening of Best of Enemies graciously provided by the Wall Street Journal.
Saturday, August 1, 8:00 pm
Directed by Stevan Riley
Listen To Me Marlon is much less a factual recital of Brando’s acting career and personal life, than a creative odyssey into the mind and motivation of an enigma. Like an arch hypnotist Brando’s own voice leads the storytelling – there are no interviewees, no talking heads, just Marlon guiding us into the padlocked recesses of his own memory, and through the story of his life. In homage to the corkscrew personality of its subject, previously unheard audio tapes reveal witty and unexpected turns of Marlon’s thinking; dipping between light and dark, humour and self-psychoanalysis. The non-linear approach leaps and drifts back and forth in chronology to help illustrate memory’s haunting effect on the present. Visually the film conveys hypnotic states and quixotic departures as we lose ourselves in Brando’s spoken daydreams, playful asides and confiding whispers.
Friday, August 28, 7:30 pm
Directed by Brad Barber and Scott Christopherson
Peace Officer, an incredibly timely film given our country’s recent controversy surrounding debates about police force, is about the increasingly militarized state of American police. The film is told through the story of William “Dub” Lawrence, a former sheriff who established and trained his rural state’s first SWAT team, only to see that same unit kill his son-in-law in a controversial standoff 30 years later.
Driven by an obsessed sense of mission, Dub uses his own investigative skills to uncover the truth in this and other recent officer involved shootings in his community, while tackling larger questions about the changing face of peace officers nationwide. Peace Officer debuted at SXSW, where it won the Grand Jury Prize and Documentary Audience Award. Submarine Deluxe and Gravitas Ventures will release Peace Officer in select theaters (including IFC Center in NYC) on September 16.
Support for this screening of Peace Officer graciously provided by Tribeca Short List.
SummerDocs presenting sponsor TNT will take viewers to the gritty streets and the bright, seductive lights of 1960s New York this summer with Public Morals, a powerful police drama from writer, director, executive producer and star Edward Burns (Saving Private Ryan, The Brothers McMullen, TNT’s Mob City). Public Morals also stars Michael Rapaport (Justified, Prison Break) and Elizabeth Masucci (The Americans, Inside Amy Schumer).
The series centers on Terry Muldoon (Burns), an officer of the Public Morals Division, which investigates vice crimes in the city. Many of Muldoon’s fellow cops in the division walk a thin line between morality and crime as vice-related temptations threaten to snare even the best of officers, including Muldoon’s partner, Charlie Bullman (Rapoport). As Muldoon watches the Hells Kitchen streets where he grew up devoured by an escalating war within two factions of the Irish-American Mob, he becomes more determined than ever to fight back against the city’s dark underbelly so he can provide a safe place where he and his wife, Christine (Masucci), can raise their family.
Public Morals is produced in collaboration with Amblin Television and executive producers Steven Spielberg, Justin Falvey and Darryl Frank, the team behind the network’s hit series Falling Skies. Also serving as executive producer is Aaron Lubin.