HIFF Launches Compassion, Justice & Animal Rights Program

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The Hamptons International Film Festival, which will run October 8 through October 12, announced Monday it will add new signature programs during its 23rd year. HIFF has launched the Compassion, Justice & Animal Rights program, which will provide filmmakers the opportunity to showcase social justice and animal rights issues. Also, HIFF has renamed the morning talks to Winick Talks at Rowdy Hall in honor of late director and producer Gary Winick. The festival will also partner with the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) and the International Organization for Migration’s PLURAL+ International Youth Video Program as it continues to extend its education initiatives on the South Fork.

The Compassion, Justice & Animal Rights signature program will showcase three narrative or documentary films, one of which will receive the annual Zelda Penzel “Giving Voice to the Voiceless” Award at the festival’s Awards Ceremony. The platform will look to awaken respect for the dignity and rights of living beings, and will allow filmmakers to share information and tools to create a safe and humane world. This year, the festival will showcase the world premiere of Darcy Dennett’s “The Champions.” The documentary follows the pit-bulls rescued from the brutal fighting ring of NFL quarterback star Michael Vick, and those who risked everything to save them, despite pressure from PETA and The Humane Society to euthanize the dogs.

“Billions of animals continue to be abused every day and denied their basic right to life and protection against violence and cruelty,” said David Nugent, HIFF Artistic Director. “This new signature program will allow the festival to join the important film movement that brings justice to animals, an effort that has been increasing impact and visibility worldwide.”

Director Gary Winick.
Director Gary Winick.

The festival also announced the Winick Talks at Rowdy Hall. Gary Winick – the director of “Tadpole,” “13 Going on 30,” and the producer of “Tape” and “Chelsea Walls” – who premiered multiple films at the festival and who won the HIFF Audience Award in 1999 for his drama “The Tic Code,” was a longtime supporter of the festival and considered the East End his second home. The Gary Winick Memorial Fund, which was established to help young filmmakers hone their craft and further the art of cinema, will support the Winick Talks at Rowdy Hall. The fund previously created scholarships at AFI and Tufts University, both schools Mr. Winick attended. Winick Talks at Rowdy Hall will take place Friday, October 9, Saturday, October 10 and Sunday, October 11 between 10 and 11 a.m., where each morning guest artists will be featured in a moderated conversation.

Focusing on the themes of migration, diversity, and social inclusion, the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM)’s PLURAL+ festival annually showcases films selected from a pool of over 200 submissions. Each year, approximately 25 films, which are a maximum of 5 minutes in length and in any language with English subtitles, receive awards selected from an International Jury.

“We are delighted to expand our on-going local student initiatives through our partnership with the UNAOC and IOM. It is part of our mission to enlighten our audiences with issues happening both worldwide and within our own backyards,” said HIFF Executive Director, Anne Chaisson. “The art of film has always been a catalyst in change for a better world and understanding the human condition, and these films provide the basis for open discussion, plus informative curricula for the classroom.”

For more information, visit hamptonsfilmfest.org.

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