Narrative & Documentary Competition Films Announced for HIFF 2015

The films in the Narrative and Documentary Competition at the 23rd Annual Hamptons International Film Festival have been announced. The jury will select winners in each category; awards will be announced in a ceremony in East Hampton on Monday, October 12.

“This year’s lineup once again demonstrates our outstanding programming team’s taste in film,” said HIFF Executive Director Anne Chaisson. “We are back with smart, intriguing, and stimulating films from 10 countries from around the globe that continue to position our festival on a competitive landscape, while still staying faithful to our audience.”

The feature films in this year’s Narrative Competition include Matt Sobel’s Take Me to the River, Ciro Guerra’s Embrace of the Serpent, Avishai Sivan’s Tikkun, Grímur Hákonarson’s Rams, and Diastème’s French Blood.

This year’s Documentary Competition feature films include the World Premiere of Jon Fox’s Newman, David Shapiro’s Missing People, Jean-Gabriel Périot’s A German Youth, Michael Madsen’s The Visit, and Ilinca Calugareanu’s Chuck Norris Vs. Communism

Featuring one of the most coveted awards in the U.S., our Narrative and Documentary Competition Awards are selected by a prestigious group of industry professionals. Prize packages for Feature Jury Prize winners include essential goods and services valued at over $145,000 and cash prizes of $3,000 each.

This year’s jury includes Michael H. Weber, screenwriter of 500 Days of Summer and The Fault in Our StarsDan Guando, head of U.S. Production and Acquisitions at The Weinstein Company; Josh Charles, star of television’s The Good Wife and Masters of Sex; Marshall Fine, renowned author, journalist and film critic; and Sarah Lash, acquisitions consultant at Conde Nast Entertainment.



Embrace of the Serpent 650Colombia | East Coast Premiere | Director: Ciro Guerra
Inspired by the real experiences of explorers in the Amazon, Embrace of the Serpent centers on the relationship between Karamakate, a shaman of an extinct tribe carrying secrets and traditions, and two scientists in search of a sacred plant, capable of immense healing. Opting for powerful black and white cinematography, director Ciro Guerra tracks their parallel stories over 40 years with trips deep into the jungle. Winner of the top prize at the Cannes Directors Fortnight, the film intimately captures the thirst for knowledge and the ravages of colonialism that have destroyed the harmony and balance at the heart of the indigenous way of life.


French-Blood-650France | US Premiere | Director: Diastème
Marco (Alban Lenoir) is a young Neo-Nazi and skinhead who, along with his friends, terrorizes the lower-class suburbs of Paris hoping to clear out the “scum” that is polluting the pure, white landscape of their beloved country. Spanning almost 3 decades in Marco’s life as he struggles to understand his own anger and brutal actions, this evocative and moving portrait—the sophomore effort from writer-director Diastème—offers a rare and unsettling look into the rise of xenophobia in France. With a brilliant performance by Lenoir, this poignant drama distinguishes itself as a unique and powerful work by an emerging talent.


Rams 650Iceland | East Coast Premiere | Director: Grímur Hákonarson
Brothers Gummi (Sigurdur Sigurjonsson) and Kiddi (Theodor Juliusson) live side-by-side but have not spoken in forty years. Stubborn and competitive, they only communicate via handwritten notes delivered by their loyal sheepdog Somi. When a deadly virus threatens their prize-winning sheep and livelihood, they are forced to come together to save their unique family breed, and themselves, from extinction. Winner of the Un Certain Regard Award in Cannes, Rams details the hardships of daily farm work in remote Iceland with humanism and humor.  Stunningly combining otherworldly landscapes and powerful performances, director Grímur Hákonarson expertly builds this gentle comedy to reveal a deeper and emotionally moving tale.


Take the to the River 650 2USA | East Coast Premiere | Director: Matt Sobel
Accompanying his parents to a Nebraskan family reunion couldn’t be more uncomfortable for Ryder (Logan Miller), a gay Californian teenager. For his mother’s sake he agrees to act “normal,” but nonetheless attracts some unwanted attention from his conservative relatives. The only one who seems to like him is 9-year-old Molly (Ursula Parker), but a strange encounter between the two of them raises many questions and places Ryder at the center of a long-buried family secret. A superbly acted drama from first-time filmmaker Matt Sobel, Take Me to the River reveals itself through Ryder’s perplexed point of view, unfolding in an atmosphere of mystery and trepidation.

WSJ-logo-read-ambitiously 150The Narrative Competition is sponsored by The Wall Street Journal.



Chuck Norris vs Communism 650United Kingdom/Romania/Germany | New York Premiere | Director: Ilinca Calugareanu
In the 1980s, the last decade before the revolution overthrew communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, Romania was marred by intense austerity, isolationism and a pervasive cultural blackout. For the oppressed population, a new form of escapism emerged: illicit video nights in which smuggled Western films were shown. The majority of the films were dubbed by the same person, Irina Nistor, one of the most recognizable voices in pre-revolution Romania. First-time director Ilinca Calugareanu’s endearing and entertaining documentary shows how the magic of film created an awakening that helped to instill the seeds of the revolution.


German-Youth-650France | East Coast Premiere | Director: Jean-Gabriel Périot
Covering a decade of worldwide political unrest (1965-1975), A German Youth is a fascinating portrait of the Baader-Meinhof Group (a.k.a The Red Army Faction), a radical movement which drew into its orbit not only disillusioned students, but also established journalists and intellectuals as well as important filmmakers such as Michelangelo Antonioni, Jean Luc Godard and RW Fassbinder. Culled together from a fascinating pastiche of agitprop, news broadcasts, interviews, student films, and other archival footage, A German Youth provides the context for an ideology that shaped an entire generation.


Missing People 650USA | East Coast Premiere | Director: David Shapiro
Missing People follows Martina Batan, the director of a prominent New York art gallery, as she investigates her young brother’s long unsolved murder while obsessively collecting and researching the violent work and life of Roy Ferdinand, an outsider artist from New Orleans. Driven by both a hunger for closure and an inexplicable fascination with Ferdinand as an artist, Martha’s journey is truthfully captured by Shapiro’s brave approach to this unusual and personal story. As Martina struggles to process the information she has dug up, the inevitable collision of these parallel narratives leads to a chain of dramatic events.


USA | World Premiere | Director: Jon Fox
Orphan. Entrepreneur. Recluse. Genius. Megalomaniac. Inventor Joseph Newman is all of the above. A controversial figure in the scientific community, Newman rose to notoriety with “The Newman Device,” an electromagnetic machine that he claimed produced more energy than it took to power it. What should have been a revolutionary discovery was stopped by a lengthy and disheartening legal battle with the United States Patent Office. In his enthralling debut, filmmaker Jon Fox deftly seeks to understand the enigmatic inventor—through intimate discussions with Newman’s colleagues and, surprisingly, with the man himself.


The-Visit-650Finland, Denmark | New York Premiere | Director: Michael Madsen
Michael Madsen’s engrossing new documentary imagines an event that has yet to happen—an alien invasion on Earth. Leading us on a captivating journey through surreal, slow-motion, dream-like tableaus intercut with interviews with scientists from NASA, SETI (Search For Extraterrestrial Life Institute) and experts from the UN, The Visit takes an imagined encounter and stimulates the implications and the potential response from humankind. With questions such as “What makes you happy?,” “Do you know what is good and what is evil?,” “How do you think?” and of course, “Why are you here?,” Madsen constructs an unsettling scenario that forces us to reconfigure our insular mentality and reflect on humanity.

ID_Logo 75The Documentary Competition is sponsored by Investigation Discovery (ID) Films.


Join us at HIFF 2015: October 8–12, 2015. Passes and packages are on sale now. The HIFF Box Office will open September 26.