A film titled “The End,” is having its World Premiere at the 2022 Hamptons International Film Festival. This short documentary is about the Gardiner family and their domain, Gardiner’s Island. The film is written and directed by Emily Sundberg who also produced it along with Eric Arzoian.
Within this documentary are a host of folks who shed some light on the lore, fascination, and history of this Island. Gardiner’s Island was purchased in 1639 by Lion Gardiner from Montaukett chief Wyandanch. The island has been owned by the Gardiner family ever since. For full disclosure the author of this article is one of those folks interviewed in the film, but had no hand in writing the film, producing it, or filming it.
Ms. Sundberg, the director, producer, and writer of “The End,” gave an exclusive interview to hamptons.com. She explained that the genesis of this film is from her youth when she spent some time at Devon Yacht Club. That summer she heard about the island. “Curiosity is one of my stronger characteristics for better or for worse, and even though I never went to Devon again, I remained enamored by the island — the idea of loneliness, the old money, the whispers of animals that only existed here.”
“The End,” is a film with a pleasant flow and tempo. It interjects both newly shot footage and interviews along with archived photos and footage. Scenes were also filmed from a moving boat observing the wildlife of the island.
There are interviews with Karl Grossman, TJ Clemente, Raymond Hartjen, Richard Barons, and Hugh King. While making the film Ms. Sundberg said one of her biggest pleasures was, “Without question the subjects I met while making the film. They were all equal parts patient and passionate.”
The film fascinates by telling a story while peeling back some of the secrets of the Gardiner family and what is on the island one cannot see just from the shore or with binoculars. It teaches while it intrigues me. It does have a quiet dignified presentation quality as if one is standing on the very coast of Gardiner’s Island and is being told its story.
This is Ms. Sundberg’s first film. When asked will there be others, Sundberg said, “This was my first film but it wasn’t Eric, Jack Mankiewicz (B-camera operator), Peter Peregrine (director of photography), Nick Nazmi (Camera operator) or Maple’s (Co-Director Maple Shipp). I learned a tremendous amount from them, especially Eric who was my creative partner on all levels. There will be many others.”
It is one thing to make a movie it is another to view it with a live audience of strangers. When asked if might she be anxious to be in a theater with people watching it Ms. Sundberg surprisingly said, “ I’m not, I think everything happened how it was supposed to happen.”
She said she called it “The End,” because, “ It was the end of a dynasty on Gardiner’s Island, and the end of Long Island, and the end of a specific generation on Long Island. But it also was the end of an intensely important chapter of my life which I felt in every moment of the film. I learned a lot about isolation, secrets, and storytelling once this project was completed.”
Emily Sundberg, who has a strong resemblance to a young Wynona Ryder, grew up in Centerport on Long Island. She didn’t study film, saying, “… but I always used cameras and journals to capture the world around me.” Her dad was a social studies teacher and 3rd generation New Yorker “who instilled New York history in our home.”
About inspirations, Sundberg said, “I am inspired by my subjects,” then added, “I’m inspired by Steve Jobs for making a great camera accessible to everyone pretty much, I’m (am also) inspired by Martin Scorsese and Nan Goldin and Edward Gorey and I’m inspired by Eric Arzoian for being patient with me.” To this, Eric Arzoian added via email, “I have nothing to add, (Emily has provided) perfect answers.”
The film is being shown at the 2022 Hamptons International Film Festival on both Thursday, October 13th and Saturday, October 15th in what is called, “The Shorts Program: The View From Long Island.” Tickets are available via hamptonsfilmfest.org