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Stony Brook film fest rises with 'Sonny'

Left to right: Sergio Hasselbaink as Waldemar and

Left to right: Sergio Hasselbaink as Waldemar and Ricky Koole as Rika in a scene from "Sonny Boy," directed by Maria Peters. Photo Credit: Handout

The full lineup of this year's Stony Brook Film Festival is complete, with 34 feature films and shorts all showing in Staller Center July 21-30.

The festival, now in its 16th year, continues to offer one-stop shopping for fans of foreign films, American independents and documentaries. Among the highlights this year are the opening-night film "Sonny Boy" (July 21), a romantic drama based on a popular Dutch novel; the documentary "Kings Park: Stories From an American Mental Insitution" (July 25), made by a former inpatient; and the closing-night film, "Almanya" (July 30), a comedy about a large Turkish family living in Germany.

Stony Brook's single, 1,000-seat venue means the festival doesn't "take over the town" in the way that can make a Sundance or even a Hamptons festival so exciting. But it also means no hustling from venue to venue, and no overlapping screenings that force you to choose between films. Anyone who's been to a big festival knows how maddening those decisions can be.

There are other pros and cons to being small. One downside is that large studios like to premiere their films at big, name-brand festivals, which puts Stony Brook fairly far down on their list. Then again, the festival's limited space and limited screening slots mean there's no room for filler; Stony Brook frequently turns down almost-worthy entries that have played at larger festivals.

For the complete schedule, tickets and passes, go to stonybrookfilmfestival.com.

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