9TH ANNUAL HAMPTONS INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL

The 9th Annual Hamptons International Film Festival opened with a presentation of Yurek Bogayevicz’ “Edges Of The Lord” with Haley Joel Osment and Willem Dafoe. Bogayevicz, an acclaimed theatre director who directs films only occasionally, is best known for “Anna.” The closing night film was the much-anticipated Tom Stoppard adaptation of Robert Harris’

“Enigma” directed by Michael Apted. As the film is scheduled for an April 2002 release, the distributor, Manhattan Pictures, forbade any press from going to a screening (surprising as it screened at Sundance last January and has generally received good reviews. “Enigma” was awarded the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Feature Film Prize in Science and Technology.

The must see film of the festival was Robert Connolly’s “The Bank” starring an underrated David Wenham (“Dark City,” “Lord Of The Rings”) and Anthony LaPaglia in a wicked portrayal of a ruthless businessman. An attack on the world of high finance, and loosely based on a recent Australian banking scandal, “The Bank” is an amalgamation of “Wall Street” and “Pi” with elements from “The Sting.” Robert Connolly, a partner in the Ozzie production collective Arenafilm, is best known for producing “The Boys” (with Toni Collette) and Samantha Lang’s kinky lesbian thriller “The Monkey’s Mask” (Kelly McGillis).

“A Conversation With…,” an annual fawn-fest, was hosted by New York Times film critic Elvis Mitchell this year, and featured special guest Julian Schnabel who, once you get past the New York art world prima donna, is a very articulate and passionate individual. His conversation focused on his film “Before Night Falls,” and he gave a no-nonsense look at the way films are really packaged.

The “Artistry Of Cuba” sidebar, from what I watched, was an overall disappointment. Every since “Buena Vista Social Club” the market is being flooded by films concerned with Cuba, much in the same way Tibet is a flavor of the moment – not to denigrate all films and filmmakers addressing these particular subjects. Cuba has turned out a variety of talented filmmakers, from the great Tomas Gutierrez Alea (“Death Of A Bureaucrat”) and Ivan Acosta (“Amigos”) to Sara Gomez (“One Way Or Another”), Sergio Giral (“The Other Francisco”) and Pastor Vega (“Portrait Of Teresa”).

The ‘Films Of Conflict & Resolution’ sidebar this year highlighted 26 films that dealt with Yugoslavia and the ensuing breakup of the nation encouraged by nationalists on every side and other outside influences. Starting with events that occurred before the 10 years of on again – off again unmitigated violence in three wars fueled by racial and religious hatred, the films chosen cover a wide range of viewpoints from the Serbs, Croats, Muslims and Albanians. Bubbling under the surface of every film is the indirect influence of religion (be it Eastern Orthodox, Catholic or Muslim) and virulent nationalism, as contrasted with old-fashioned patriotism, that has led to a descent into hell that the Balkans may not come back from for another 1,000 years. In addition to the presence of Danis Tanovic’s Cannes winner “No Man’s Land,” which UA purchased after a successful bidding war, were three of his many documentaries “Portrait Of Artists In Yugoslavia,” “Dawn,” and “What Will Be.” Hopefully the American public will one day have the chance to see these films that show what happens when their government plays geo-politics with other people’s lives on their behalf, or as is more likely, on behalf of certain campaign contributors. Will PBS live up to their mandate? – Doubtful.

The downside to the Hamptons International Film Festival is that unlike most other film festivals you must have a car to get to any of the evening events and/or your hotel. Another imperative is a detailed local map as the streets. Which, if marked, are usually white square poles in the ground with faded black letters that you’ll miss if you’re going more than 10 miles an hour. In addition, there are no house numbers, so you find yourself turning into driveways belonging to modern day Garbos who want to be left alone.

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