With the 24th Hamptons International Film Festival scheduled long in advance to arrive just a month before the presidential election, organizers faced a question: What will viewers’ appetites be for films that address politics?
“We’ve gone back and forth in our office about that,” says the festival’s artistic director, David Nugent. “Should we show some election-focused stuff, or will people be very happy to spend five days and not hear about the incessant discussion?”
In the end, Nugent and his programmers effectively split the difference. Though few if any films in this year’s lineup are as overtly political as, say, last year’s Michael Moore documentary “Where to Invade Next,” many titles tackle hot-button issues. “Loving” is a drama about racial intolerance; “Marathon: The Patriots Day Bombing” covers the 2013 terrorist attack at the Boston Marathon; the documentary “Disturbing the Peace” follows a group of Israeli soldiers and Palestinian fighters who become peace activists.
The festival also continues its tradition of picking potential Oscar winners (the musical “La La Land” and the drama “Manchester By the Sea” are both shaping up as front-runners) and scheduling live interviews with actors. This year’s guests include Edward Norton, Holly Hunter and Aaron Eckhart.
Below are several festival highlights. All times listed are after noon unless otherwise noted.
LOVING (Oct. 6 at 6:30 at Guild Hall, East Hampton). The festival’s opening night film stars Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga as an interracial couple whose battle to stay legally married became a landmark Supreme Court case in 1967.
A CONVERSATION WITH . . . AARON ECKHART (Oct. 7 at 1 at Guild Hall, East Hampton). The star of “Sully” and current festival pick “Bleed for This” — a sports drama featuring Miles Teller as the boxer Vinny Pazienza — sits for a live interview.
UNA (Oct. 7 at 8:30 at UA East Hampton). Rooney Mara and Ben Mendelsohn star in this adaptation of the stage play “Blackbird,” in which two former lovers — one was a preteen girl — meet again.
A CONVERSATION WITH . . . HOLLY HUNTER (Oct. 8 at 1 at East Hampton Middle School). The actress will appear the day after her film “Strange Weather,” about a grieving woman traveling through the Deep South, screens as the festival’s Southampton opening night film.
FRAUD (Oct. 8 at 1:45 at UA East Hampton). This documentary was assembled from more than 100 hours of YouTube videos that appear to cover seven years in the life of a prosperous American family.
LA LA LAND (Oct. 8 at 2:45 at UA Southampton). A jazz pianist (Ryan Gosling) and an aspiring actress (Emma Stone) fall in love in this original musical from director Damien Chazelle and composer Justin Hurwitz, both of the Oscar-winning “Whiplash.”
MANCHESTER BY THE SEA (Oct. 8 at 5 at Guild Hall, East Hampton). A solitary Boston janitor (Casey Affleck) unexpectedly becomes the guardian of a teenage boy. Directed by Kenneth Lonergan.
AMERICAN ANARCHIST (Oct. 8 at 6:15 at UA East Hampton). Filmmaker Charlie Siskel sits for an interview with 65-year-old schoolteacher William Powell, who at the age of 19 wrote “The Anarchist Cookbook.”
TONI ERDMANN (Oct. 8 at 7:45 at UA East Hampton). An aging father decides to loosen up his ambitious, workaholic daughter by playing “hilarious” pranks on her. This is Germany’s official Oscar entry.
THE KILLING SEASON (Oct. 9 at 11 a.m. at UA East Hampton). A screening of the first two episodes of the upcoming A&E series about Long Island’s Gilgo Beach murders. Directors Joshua Zeman and Rachel Mills and producer Alex Gibney will speak in person.
A CONVERSATION WITH . . . EDWARD NORTON (Oct. 9 at 1 at East Hampton Middle School). A live interview with the star of “Primal Fear,” “Fight Club” and “Birdman.” Norton is also the recipient of the festival’s Career Achievement Award this year.
LEGS (Oct. 10 at 2 at Bay Street Theater, Sag Harbor). Subtitled “A Big Issue in a Small Town,” this documentary captures the reactions of Sag Harbor citizens when two homeowners install a 16-foot-tall Larry Rivers sculpture in their yard.
AMERICAN PASTORAL (Oct. 10 at 7 at Guild Hall, East Hampton). The festival’s closing-night film, an adaptation of Philip Roth’s novel about an all-American father whose daughter joins the violent counterculture of the 1960s, marks the directorial debut of Ewan McGregor.
WHEN | WHERE Thursday, Oct. 6, through Monday, Oct. 10, at venues across the East End.
TICKETS Screenings are $15-$35; live interviews are $30.
INFO 631-324-4600 or go to hamptonsfilmfest.org