Bradley Cooper, Natalie Portman, Nicolas Cage and dozens of other stars will appear on screen at the 31st Hamptons International Film Festival, which runs Oct. 5 through 12.
Usually, some of those stars would appear on various red carpets, too. With the actors’ strike now in its fourth month and actors still not publicizing their films, however, festivals all over the world have had to do without their star power — and the Hamptons is no exception.
“At this point, what’s done is done with our planning,” said David Nugent, the festival’s artistic director. If the strike were suddenly resolved, he added, the festival stands ready to move quickly and make room for new guests. “We’d love to have as many creative people as possible here,” Nugent said.
There will be plenty of those in any case. One is Paul Simon, who’ll sit for a live interview on behalf of his new documentary, “In Restless Dreams: The Music of Paul Simon,” directed by Alex Gibney. Todd Haynes, director of “May December,” starring Natalie Portman as an actor doing research on a problematic role, will also sit for a live interview and accept the festival’s Achievement in Directing Award. Celine Song, director of this year’s art-house hit “Past Lives” (which will play as a Special Screening), will accept the festival’s Breakthrough Artist Award. There’ll also be overseas stars, independent film actors and documentary subjects who don’t fall under the complicated rules of the strike.
Hamptons International Film Festival
WHEN|WHERE Oct. 5-12 at venues across the East End.
TICKETS $15-$35; passes and packages are $200-$2000. Call (631) 825-0050 or go to hamptonsfilmfest.org.
Here are a few highlights from this year’s festival:
NYAD (Oct. 5 at 7 p.m., East Hampton Middle School)
The opening-night film tells the true story of athlete Diana Nyad (Annette Bening), who at the age of 60 attempts a 110-mile swim from Cuba to Florida. Jodie Foster plays her coach, Bonnie Stoll.
THE OLD OAK (Oct. 6 at 2 p.m., East Hampton Regal UA) After more than 25 features, director Ken Loach, 87, delivers what may be his last: A drama about a northern England mining town that becomes home to a group of Syrian refugees. With Dave Turner and Ebla Mari.
20,000 SPECIES OF BEES (Oct. 6 at 5:15 p.m., East Hampton Regal UA) A Basque family’s tradition of beekeeping is passed down through women — and perhaps to 8-year-old Aitor (Sofía Otero), who though male at birth identifies as a girl.
IN RESTLESS DREAMS: THE MUSIC OF PAUL SIMON (Oct. 6 at 5:15 p.m., East Hampton Middle School)
Alex Gibney’s three-and-a-half-hour documentary traces the entirety of Simon’s prolific career, from his folk-duo days with Art Garfunkel to the making of his latest album, “Seven Psalms.”
THE PERSIAN VERSION (Oct. 6 at 7:45 p.m., East Hampton Regal UA) A comedy about an Iranian-American woman (Layla Mohammadi) trying to juggle the demands of her family with a secret romantic life. Director Maryam Keshavarz will attend the screening.
ALL OF US STRANGERS (Oct. 6 at 8:30 p.m., Sag Harbor Cinema)
A London man is drawn back to his suburban hometown, where his dead parents are somehow still alive. With Paul Mescal, Andrew Scott and Claire Foy. Directed by Andrew Haigh (“45 Years”).
DREAM SCENARIO (Oct. 6 at 8:45 p.m., East Hampton Regal UA)
Nicolas Cage plays an evolutionary biology professor who suddenly begins appearing in millions of people’s dreams. With Julianne Nicholson and Tim Meadows. Written and directed by Kristoffer Borgli.
STORY & PICTURES BY (Oct. 7 at 1 p.m., East Hampton Library) A documentary on the world of children’s literature. This is the film’s world premiere; director Joanna Rudnick and illustrator Christian Robinson will attend the screening, which includes a reception.
AMERICAN FICTION (Oct. 7 at 2:15 p.m., East Hampton Regal UA)
A struggling author (Jeffrey Wright) pens an intentionally terrible novel that unexpectedly becomes a literary sensation. With Issa Rae and Sterling K. Brown. Directed by Cord Jefferson.
FINGERNAILS (Oct. 7 at 6:15 p.m., East Hampton Regal UA) Despite a new technology that can confirm true love, Anna (Jessie Buckley, “Women Talking”) begins questioning her relationship with Ryan (Jeremy Allen White, “The Bear”). Directed and co-written by Christos Nikou.
THE HOLDOVERS (Oct. 7 at 8:15 p.m., East Hampton Middle School)
Paul Giamatti and director Alexander Payne (“Sideways”) reunite for this comedy-drama about a grouchy prep school instructor who is forced to stay on campus with a handful of students during Christmas break.
MAY DECEMBER (Oct. 8 at 5 p.m., East Hampton Middle School)
Julianne Moore and Charles Melton play a once-notorious couple who must dig up the past when an actor (Natalie Portman) arrives to do research for a film based on their story. Directed by Todd Haynes (“Carol”).
FANCY DANCE (Oct. 8 at 3 p.m., Southampton Arts Center) Lily Gladstone, of Martin Scorsese’s upcoming “Killers of the Flower Moon,” plays a Native American hustler searching for her missing sister (Isabel Deroy-Olson).
THESE DAYS (Oct. 8 at 5:15 p.m., East Hampton Regal UA) In the Salvadoran community of Brentwood, a young muralist (Billy Mayorga Reyes) becomes involved in a local anti-gang initiative. Director Junior Gonzalez will attend this screening.
RON DELSENER PRESENTS (Oct. 10 at 5:15 p.m., East Hampton Regal UA) A documentary on the New York rock promoter whose memorable shows range from the Beatles at Forest Hills Tennis Stadium to David Bowie at Carnegie Hall.
THE ZONE OF INTEREST (Oct. 10 at 8:15 p.m., East Hampton Regal UA) Rudolf Höss strives to build a good life for his wife and children. Their elegant dream house is located just a few yards from Auschwitz, where he is camp commandant. With Christian Friedel and Sandra Hüller. Written and directed by Jonathan Glazer from the novel by Martin Amis.
MAESTRO (Oct. 12 at 7:45 and 8:15 p.m., East Hampton Regal UA) The closing-night film looks into the private lives of the iconic symphony conductor Leonard Bernstein (Bradley Cooper, also directing) and his wife, Felicia Montealegre (Carey Mulligan). With Maya Hawke and Sarah Silverman.
Alex Gibney talks about his Paul Simon documentary
Alex Gibney’s latest documentary, “In Restless Dreams: The Music of Paul Simon,” traces its subject’s seven-decade career from his early years with Art Garfunkel to the making of his 15th solo album, “Seven Psalms.” The film, which as of press time had yet to find a distributor, will play Friday at the Hamptons International Film Festival. Simon, who turns 82 on Oct. 13will sit for a live interview on Saturday. Gibney recently spoke to Newsday about the experience of watching a musical icon at work.
Paul Simon started making “Seven Psalms” in early 2019 and then asked you to document the process. Why did he pick you?
He reached out to me because he liked the film I did on Frank Sinatra [2015's "Sinatra: All or Nothing at All"]. We met in Austin [near Simon’s recording studio in Wemberley, Texas]. And then we had a dinner or two in New York, and we started talking. He played me the guitar riff for “Seven Psalms” and also some accompanying sounds. And then later, he said, “You know, as part of making this film, how would you like to come down and watch me make the album?” I rushed down there.
There are strong spiritual and religious themes in the songs. Was that new territory for him?
Not entirely new, but I think he was very much leaning into it in these songs. He says it on camera: "This is really an argument with myself about belief."
He also says a similar thing that Bob Dylan says about songwriting – that the songs aren't really his, they just come to him. Were you able to see that in action?
A lot of the lyrics had been written by the time I'm observing. But you can see a little bit, in terms of how he chooses the musical atmosphere for the song. It's almost like a potter with a wheel. There's the wheel that's spinning, but you’re slowly kind of shaping the clay.
You can't make a Paul Simon retrospective without Art Garfunkel. Did he grant a new interview for the film or is that archival?
It's archival. I did approach him, and he wanted a bit more control than I felt was warranted. So, at the end of the day, he declined to be interviewed. We did a pretty deep dive into the archives to be able to get his perspective, which we included.
Paul Simon is now almost totally deaf in his left ear. Do you think he'll find a way to play live again?
He's trying. It’s easier for him with very minimal instrumentation. He can play now, and compose on his own with the guitar. The hardest thing for him is to hear his voice inside an array of other instruments.
Was it personally meaningful for you, making this film?
Hugely, hugely personally meaningful. Both because he's a genius and an extraordinary character, and a really fun and interesting person to be around. It became a hugely meaningful and illuminating process for me, and I was grateful for the opportunity to take the journey.
— RAFER GUZMAN