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'The First Wave,' pandemic doc set at LI hospital, will open Hamptons film fest

Matthew Heineman's "The First Wave," the opening night

Matthew Heineman's "The First Wave," the opening night film at this year's Hamptons International Film Festival, was shot at Long Island Jewish Medical Center in New Hyde Park during the early days of the pandemic. Credit: Hamptons International Film Festival

"The First Wave," a documentary about a Long Island hospital battling the COVID-19 pandemic, will hold its worldwide premiere as the opening night selection of this year’s Hamptons International Film Festival, organizers announced Thursday.

Directed by Oscar nominee Matthew Heineman ("Cartel Land"), "The First Wave" follows workers inside the Long Island Jewish Medical Center in New Hyde Park as they face the early onslaught of a pandemic that would go on to kill millions and shut down economies around the world. The film serves as a tribute to "the selflessness of health care workers who risk their own lives to keep us safe," according to programmer David Nugent.

The festival will return to in-person screenings and events after holding a nearly all-virtual version in 2020. Proof of vaccination will be required to attend all in-person events, and masks will be mandatory. Festival organizers promise to "take enhanced safety measures for the 29th edition in accordance with COVID-19 regulations across the state," according to a news release.

Several titles at the festival have also been announced. "The Art of Making It," a documentary about young artists facing pivotal moments in their careers, will hold its world premiere. "Becoming Cousteau," Liz Garbus’ study of the life of famed diver and conservationist Jacques Cousteau, will screen in the Air, Land & Sea section. "The Last Horns of Africa," a documentary on Africa’s poaching war, will appear in the Compassion, Justice and Animal Rights section. In "Paper & Glue," the French photographer and graffiti artist known only as JR documents his creations on Paris rooftops, in the favelas of Rio and even at a California supermax prison.

The 29th annual Hamptons Film Festival will run Oct. 7-13. Passes will go on sale after Labor Day. For more information go to hamptonsfilmfest.org.

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