The Hamptons International Film Festival offered its Golden Starfish Awards to honor emerging directors from around the world in three categories: narrative feature, documentary feature and short film. The films that won had their U.S. premieres at the festival, and represent provocative films by cinema’s next wave of master filmmakers. The festival also gave out special foundation awards, private awards and grant awards to the best films of their categories.
The narrative feature that won the Starfish Award was UK film, The Selfish Giant. directed by Clio Bernard. The film centers around 13-year old Arbor (Conner Chapman won a Special Jury prize for Extraordinary Performance.) and his friend Swifty (Shaun Thomas). The two friends who are alienated from their school and neighborhood as “others” meet Kitten (Sean Gilder) the local scrapdealer who is the “selfish giant.” Arbor lionizes Kitten, attempting to ingratiate himself to the “giant” and make money. Instead, Kitten showers praise and attention on Swifty which creates a gulf between the two former friends and sends Arbor reeling into rejection and emotional pain. Director Clio Bernard targets the adolescent mind with poetic grace and captures the difficulty of learning independence and autonomy, important lessons of growing up.
Code Black was the documentary Golden Starfish winner that enjoyed its East Coast Premiere at the festival. The U.S. film focuses on the trauma bay at the Lost Angeles County Hospital which was known as “C-Booth.” This was the toughest and finest training ground for ER doctors nationwide. However, 2008 was a pivotal year. The County Hospital moved from its historic structure to a modern facility, throwing the medical staff into chaos and challenging the attempts of the doctors to offer superior medical care. The film shadows a group of young doctors as they deal with the chasm between their expectations and the Byzantine bureaucracy that is supposed to make things regular. Ryan McGarry, a full-time resident doctor at County was the director of the film. Throughout, you are haunted with the question, can the system be changed to meet expectations?
Whale Valley “Hvalfjord” had its U.S. Premiere at the festival where it won the Golden Starfish Award for best Short Film amongst its competitors. The film directed by Gudmundur A. Gudmundsson is from Denmark and Iceland. In the Short Film, two brothers struggle to find their place and purpose while living in a small remote fjord in Iceland. The film received Special Mention at Cannes 2013. The film will be shown at various film festivals and doesn’t have a release date.
The following special awards were also given.
The Victor Rabinowitz and Joanne Grant Award for Social Justice:
THE SQUARE “AL Midan“ directed by Jehane Noujaim (Egyptian revolutionaries want to create a society of conscience. But to do so they must overcome leaders and regimes, risking their lives.)
The Tangerine Entertainment Juice Award:
Free Ride, directed by Shana Betz (Can a single mother caught up in the 1970s drug trade make a better life for her daughters?)
Zelda Penzel Giving Voice to the Voiceless Award:
Emptying the Skies, directed by Doublas Kass and Roger Kass (Volunteer bird-lovers try to stop the poaching of migratory birds in Southern Europe.)
The 2013 Brizzolara Family Foundation Award for a Film of Conflict and Resolution, presented in partnership with REACT to FILM (Previously Announced):
PLOT FOR PEACE directed by Carlos Agullo (Based on the true story of the behind-the scenes diplomatic maneuverings to release Nelson Mandela from jail in South Africa in the 1980s.)
Honorable Mention: THE SQUARE “Al Midan” by Jehane Noujaim
The 2013 Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize:
DECODING ANNIE PARKER directed by Steven Bernstein (When Annie Parker discovers that she may go the route of her mother and sister to a breast cancer fatality, with the help of a geneticist, Mary-Claire, the two face monumental challenges with humor and inspiration coming up with a breakthrough. Based on a true story.)
For the 21st Hamptons International Film Festival’s entire list of films go to this festival’s official website.