Now Showing, the Hamptons International Film Festival (HIFF) series that brings “acclaimed art house, independent, and world cinema” to the East End, will offer several exciting screenings throughout February. While until now the viewings were only held at Guild Hall in East Hampton, film buffs will be pleased to learn that Now Showing is expanding to Bay Street in Sag Harbor.
Aki Kaurismäki’s The Other Side of Hope can be seen at Bay Street on Sunday, February 4 at 1 p.m. The comedy follows displaced Syrian Khaled (Sherwan Haji), who finds himself in Helsinki as a stowaway, and middle-aged salesman Wikström (Sakari Kuosmanen), who has a midlife crisis resulting in him leaving his wife and quitting his job. After winning big during a poker game, Wikström decides to impulsively buy a restaurant called the Golden Pint. Even though Khaled is denied asylum, he decides not to return to Aleppo, leading to a chance encounter with Wikström.
“It’s at once honest and artful, a touching and clearsighted declaration of faith in people and in movies,” said A.O. Scott of The New York Times.
Maggie Betts’ Novitiate can be seen at Guild Hall on Saturday, February 10 at 6 p.m. The film was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance Film Festival and Betts won the Special Jury Prize – Breakthrough Director award. She was also nominated for the Bingham Ray Breakthrough Director Award at the 2017 Gotham Independent Film Awards. Set in the 1960s, the coming-of-age story revolves around Cathleen (Margaret Qualley), a teenage girl who falls “in love” with God. She enters a Catholic convent as a postulant under the guardianship of the Reverend Mother (Melissa Leo), where she meets fellow nuns Sister Evelyn (Morgan Saylor), Sister Emily (Liana Liberato), and Sister Margaret (Ashley Bell). The group struggles to deal with issues of faith, passion, and devotion within.
“An excellent feature debut for Maggie Betts. Melissa Leo may be the standout element – this performance becomes a small masterpiece,” said Justin Chang of Los Angeles Times.
The next Now Showing screening will take place on Sunday, February 18 at 1 p.m. at Bay Street Theater. Ziad Doueiri’s The Insult explores a minor incident in Beirut between Tony, a Lebanese Christian, and Yasser, a Palestinian refugee, that quickly escalates and gets blown out of proportion. The two end up facing off in court, and a media circus that ends up dividing the two communities ensues.
“Lebanese filmmaker Ziad Doueiri’s legal thriller fairly crackles with timely provocations. And don’t be put off if the film’s structure initially seems schematic to a fault. This is a director who’s more than adept at filling in the spaces between feuding characters with insinuating nuance,” said Peter Travers of Rolling Stone.
Academy Award-nominated shorts can be seen at Bay Street Theater on Saturday, February 24. Presented by Shorts HD and Magnolia Pictures, the theatrical experience will include both the Best Animated Short Film (at 12 p.m. and again at 5 p.m.) and the Best Live Action Short Film (at 1:30 p.m. and again at 6:30 p.m.).
The final screening of the month is the annual Winter Classic, which will be held on Saturday, February 24. At 7 p.m., HIFF will present Strangers on a Train at Guild Hall. The Alfred Hitchock classic was based the 1950 novel of the same name by Patricia Highsmith. When tennis star Guy Haines (Farley Granger) and a stranger, Bruno Anthony (Robert Walker) meet randomly, this chance encounter sets into motion a deadly chain of events.
HIFF Board co-chair Alec Baldwin and Artistic Director David Nugent will lead a conversation following this screening.
Guild Hall is located at 158 Main Street in East Hampton and Bay Street Theater is located at 1 Bay Street in Sag Harbor. For more information, visit hamptonsfilmfest.org.