HIFF 2013: Day 3 Highlights

It’s Day 3 of HIFF 2013, and the Festival is in full swing. On today’s docket: movies, movies, movies, and a tribute to Working Title Films, an integral part of our Focus on UK Film program. We’ve got you covered! 

If the ticketing site says “Sold Out,” keep in mind that we are hearing that patient filmgoers on rush lines are having excellent luck getting into films they want to see. Good luck!

Presented by BAFTA New York and the Hamptons International Film Festival, the Golden Starfish Award for Lifetime Achievement will be presented today to Working Title Films Co-Chairs Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner. Join us for an in-depth conversation between Bevan, Fellner, Richard Curtis (writer/director, About TimeLove Actually) and Edgar Wright (writer/director, The World’s EndShaun of the Dead), providing the ultimate insiders’ perspective on one of today’s most prolific and successful producing teams, which has developed and nurtured an incredible generation of globally beloved UK talent. Learn more. The 2013 sponsors of Focus on UK Film are BAFTA New York and the GREAT campaign.

Join best-selling author Jonathan Franzen today at the North American premiere of Emptying the Skies, a film based on his New Yorker article about the poaching of migratory birds in southern Europe and introduces us to the intrepid volunteer squad of bird-lovers trying to stop it. Trapped at “pinch points” near the Mediterranean, these globetrotting songbirds are considered culinary delicacies and reap big bucks on the black market, yet many species are endangered and some face extinction. Director and co-director Douglas and Roger Kass skillfully translate the spirit of Franzen’s words onto the screen and deservedly win this year’s Zelda Penzel Giving Voice to the Voiceless AwardInterview with the filmmaker.

When tennis great Jimmy Connors arrived at the 1991 U.S. Open, the one-time tennis superstar was eight years removed from his last Grand Slam title, ranked 174th in the world, and approaching his 39th birthday. But on the verge of a first-round exit, Connors unexpectedly re-captured his magic, embarking on an extraordinary run than included an epic contest with Aaron Krickstein. This is What They want not only illuminates this improbable march past a series of talented and youthful adversaries, but also explores how Connors became a provocative personality who helped make tennis a high-octane spectator sport.

The Shooting Gallery was one of the premier production companies for independent film in the 1990s, responsible for art-house hits like Laws of Gravity, Sling Blade, and You Can Count on Me. After the success of fellow alum Hal Hartley, a cabal of grads from SUNY Purchase decided to start a fast-paced company with a can-do, DIY attitude. But success came at a cost. Many of the original founders left, as business self-interest replaced the earlier common purpose and expansion into “new media” came to the fore. Director Whitney Ransick, one of the original crew, retells a fascinating, universal story about the “Enron of independent films.” Interview with the filmmaker.

Bring the kids to HIFF today! The Short Game follows the young golfers, ages seven and eight, who descend on the World Championship of Junior Golf and dream of being the sport’s next phenom. Debut director Josh Greenbaum turns his lens on eight hopefuls—including Anna Kournikova’s younger brother Allan, and Amari “Tigress” Avery who shares a birthday, hometown, and ethnic background as one Tiger Woods—to form a fascinating and often funny portrait of a group of very young athletes and their families as they navigate the narrowly-focused, peculiar, and highly competitive subculture of junior golf.

After years of avoiding doping allegations, Lance Armstrong admitted to lying about his use of performance-enhancing drugs, an admission that led to one of the most notorious defrocks in sports history. Alex Gibney, the Academy Award®-winning documentarian behind Taxi to the Dark Side and Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room, masterfully documents Armstrong’s post-cancer return to cycling and the deafening controversy surrounding his current cultural status as both a shamed athlete and role model. Director in attendance.

“C-Booth,” the trauma bay at the Los Angeles County Hospital, was the first, the toughest, and the best training ground for ER doctors in the country. In 2008, the County Hospital moved from its historic structure to a modern facility, catapulting the medical staff into an institutional identity crisis. Code Black follows a group of young doctors as they grapple with the divide between their idealistic expectations and the realities of a heavily bureaucratic system. Director Ryan McGarry—a full-time resident doctor at County while making this film—poses the question: can they change the system? Director in attendance. Interview with the filmmaker.

In the poorest county in North Carolina, activists Emily Pilloton and Matthew Miller work with students to introduce design and creativity as a tool for community improvement. Barely getting by on grants and loans, Pilloton and Miller are committed to their yearlong initiative to empower their students to re-invent themselves and their struggling community. Culminating with a final project to build a new farmers’ market pavilion, If You Build It, from the director of Wordplay, offers a vision for a new kind of classroom and examines design’s power to be an engine of civic transformation.