New HIFF Signature Program Focuses on Animal Rights

Virunga, winner of the 2014 Zelda Penzel Award (and Academy Award nominee).

Still from Virunga, winner of the 2014 Zelda Penzel “Giving Voice to the Voiceless” Prize (and Academy Award nominee).

HIFF announced today that a new signature program will debut at the 2015 Hamptons International Film Festival. Compassion, Justice and Animal Rights provides a platform for filmmakers to share meaningful information, stories of inspiration, and tools for creating a safe and humane world for animals.

In the 21st century, billions of animals continue to be exploited for our food, clothing, labor, research and entertainment. They are denied their basic right to life and fundamental protections against violence and cruelty. Compassion, Justice & Animal Rights will explore this important movement on film, bringing together animal advocacy, environmental and social justice issues.

The Animal Rights platform will look to awaken respect for the dignity and rights of living beings, and will allow filmmakers to share information and tools to create a safe and humane world.

“Billions of animals continue to be abused every day and denied their basic right to life and protection against violence and cruelty,” said David Nugent, HIFF Artistic Director. “This new signature program will allow the Festival to join the important film movement that brings justice to animals, an effort that has been increasing impact and visibility worldwide.”

In 2015, the HIFF Animal Rights program will consist of a small collection of narrative and/or documentary films within the theme screened at the Festival, a private reception, and the Zelda Penzel “Giving Voice to the Voiceless” Prize, which will be awarded to one of these films at the HIFF Awards Ceremony in October. Past winners of this award, which has been part of our awards ceremony for the past three years, include Virunga (Oscar® Nominee), Emptying the Skies, and HBO’s One Nation, Under Dog.

This year’s Animal Rights lineup will include the following world premiere (with more titles to be revealed in the weeks to come):

The Champions

Director: Darcy Dennett | World Premiere
The Champions
 is an inspirational story about the pit-bulls rescued from the brutal fighting ring of Atlanta Falcon’s star quarterback Michael Vick, and those who risked it all to save them, despite pressure from PETA and The Humane Society to euthanize the dogs. A story of second-chances, redemption and hope, this uplifting documentary takes us on a journey about much more than just dogs—about prejudice, being misunderstood, the power of resilience, and the significance of the relationship we as humans have with animals.

HIFF welcomes donors at various levels to support this film movement and continue to shed light on this crucial issue of our time. Learn more by clicking here.