The 29th Hamptons International Film Festival will Run October 7 to 13

Jacques Cousteau wears his iconic red diving cap aboard his ship Calypso, circa 1970s. Photo: The Cousteau Society.

On August 12, HamptonsFilm announced that the 29th edition of the Hamptons International Film Festival will take place October 7 to 13, 2021, with live and in-person events and screenings across the East End.

The festival will open on Thursday, October 7, with the world premiere of  Academy Award-nominated director Matthew Heineman’s “The First Wave,” a documentary feature spotlighting the everyday heroes inside one of the country’s hardest hit hospitals at the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic as they come together to fight one of the greatest threats the world has ever encountered.

“Oscar-nominated filmmaker Matthew Heineman has made a stunning film highlighting not only the resilience of the human spirit, but the selflessness of healthcare workers who risk their own lives to keep us safe. We are honored to open our 29th edition with the world premiere of his film, which succeeds at exploring the gravity of a historic moment through his intimate style of filmmaking,” said HamptonsFilm Artistic Director David Nugent. “We are also thrilled to announce a strong group of films screening as a part of our Signature Programs — including films by local artists as well as those wrestling with the issue of the sanctity of our planet and the lives of the animals with whom we share it.”

As part of HIFF’s Signature Program Views from Long Island, supported by Suffolk County Film Commission, HIFF will feature the world premiere of Kelcey Edwards’ “The Art of Making It.” The documentary follows a diverse cast of young artists at defining moments in their careers as they explore whether the art world ecosystem meant to nurture them is actually failing them.  Screening as part of the festival’s Conflict and Resolution section, JR’s “Paper & Glue,” a film that  features world renowned artist JR (Academy Award nominee for “Faces, Places”) turning the camera on his own work as he builds some of his monumental projects. Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Liz Garbus’ “Becoming Cousteau,” which will have its New York premiere as part of the Air, Land & Sea section, takes an inside look at legendary explorer Jacques-Yves Cousteau and his life, career, and mission to protect the Earth. Garth De Bruno Austin’s “The Last Horns of Africa,” makes its East Coast Premiere as a part of the Compassion, Justice and Animal Rights section, and features gripping and never-before-captured footage of  the current rhino poaching war raging across Africa.

The festival also announced the poster artist for the 2021 edition will be local East End artist and HIFF co-founder and founding chairman of the board, Toni Ross’ “Finding Beauty in a Dark Place.” Created over a span of eight months, from 2020 to 2021, “Finding Beauty” consists of 52  individual weavings of wool, cotton, linen, and silk, assembled as one. This piece charts the course of the COVID-19 virus throughout the United States.  From Maine to Alaska, measuring 18 feet in length, “Finding Beauty” speaks to an inherent duality in the daily graphing of the virus. The elegant nature of the graphs belies the pain, fear, and sadness wrought by the virus. However, their graphic beauty highlights the contrasts within our country, offering an appreciation for the gift of time in slow motion. It is this duality of the beautiful and the tragic that moved Ross to weave this story. Our story. And so it continues. Previous festival poster artists include Bastienne Schmidt (2020), Lee Krasner (2019), Patton Miller (2018), Eric Fischl (2017), John Alexander (2016), Bruce Weber (2011), Julian Schnabel (2001), April Gornik (1995, 2005), Cindy Sherman (2006) and Donald Sultan (1996), among others.

“Especially this year, we are excited to bring together our film-loving community to celebrate the art of film and storytelling. We are also elated to announce our 2021 poster artist is our very own founder, Toni Ross, renowned artist, East Ender, restaurateur and recipient of the 2019 HIFF Dick Cavett Artistic Champion Award,” said Anne Chaisson, executive director of HamptonsFilm. “Toni meticulously created this new piece throughout the Pandemic to commemorate and reflect on our shared experience. I am forever grateful for her generosity.”

HamptonsFilm will take enhanced safety measures for the 29th edition in accordance with COVID-19 regulations across the state. Attendees will be required to show proof of vaccination for all in-person events, and will be required to wear masks. HamptonsFilm holds the safety of our guests, filmmakers, and staff as our highest priority, and is closely monitoring any and all changes to New York State and Suffolk County health guidelines.

The 29th Annual Hamptons Film Festival will run October 7 to 13, 2021. Passes will be on sale after Labor Day. Additional information on HamptonsFilm’s year-round programming, SummerDocs and free outdoor summer screenings In Herrick Park can be found on the website,

2021 Hamptons International Film Festival Lineup

Opening Night

“The First Wave”

World Premiere

dir. Matthew Heineman (USA), 2021

A scene from Matthew Heineman’s documentary “The First Wave.”

With exclusive access to one of New York’s hardest-hit hospital systems, Oscar-nominated and Emmy Award-winning director Matthew Heineman’s documentary spotlights the everyday heroes at the epicenter of COVID-19 as they come together to fight one of the greatest threats the world has ever encountered. Leaving a devastating trail of death and despair, this once-in-a-century pandemic changed the very fabric of daily life and exposed long-standing inequities in our society. The “first wave” of COVID-19 ravaged New York from March through June 2020. Employing his signature approach of character-driven cinema vérité, Heineman documents those harrowing first four months, embedding with a group of doctors, nurses and patients on the frontlines as they all navigated the crisis. With each distinct storyline serving as a microcosm through which we can view the emotional and societal impacts of the pandemic, “The First Wave” is a testament to the strength of the human spirit.

“The Art of Making It”

World Premiere

dir. Kelcey Edwards (USA), 2021

An image from “The Art of Making It,” diirected by Kelcey Edwards.

Against the backdrop of a culture in crisis, this documentary follows a diverse cast of young artists at defining moments in their careers to explore whether the art world ecosystem meant to nurture them is actually failing them. Are we at risk of losing the creative voices of a new generation as universities, galleries and museums face cataclysmic changes? Or, are we on the verge of recreating outdated modes of experiencing art to make it accessible to all? Embracing the conundrum of how artists must be in the market yet not of it, “The Art of Making It” is both a cautionary tale about what America stands to lose if we don’t rethink what we value and why and a love letter to those who persevere in their artistic practice in spite of the extraordinary odds against ever achieving success.


“Becoming Cousteau”

New York Premiere

dir. Liz Garbus (USA), 2021

Jacques Cousteau in a diving suit, 1972. Cousteau added yellow stripes to his crew’s diving suits so they would stand out more clearly in dark waters. Photo: Yousuf Karsh.

Adventurer, filmmaker, innovator, author, unlikely celebrity and conservationist: For over four decades Jacques-Yves Cousteau and his explorations under the ocean became synonymous with a love of science and the natural world. As he learned to protect the environment, he brought the whole world with him—he sounded alarms more than 50 years ago about the warming seas and our planet’s vulnerability. In BECOMING COUSTEAU, two-time Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Liz Garbus takes an inside look at Cousteau and his life, his iconic films and inventions, and the experiences that made him the 20th century’s most unique and renowned environmental voice—and the man who inspired generations to protect the Earth.

“The Last Horns of Africa”

East Coast Premiere

dir. Garth de Bruno Austin (United States), 2021

An image from “The Last Horns of Africa” directed by Garth de Bruno Austin.

With unprecedented access, this film is a gripping and intimate look at the current rhino poaching war raging across Africa. We follow the journeys of two conservation heroes who put their lives on the line to protect the rhino in their care, while a top-secret, covert operation endeavors to bring down South Africa’s most notorious rhino poaching syndicates. Hidden away in South Africa is the world’s largest rhino orphanage, run by Petronel Nieuwoudt, who deals with the aftermath: the orphaned rhino calves knowingly left for dead by poachers. Through her eyes, the viewer gets an insight into the incredible bonds that are formed and the heart-wrenching reality of where these calves have come from. Meanwhile, in Kruger National Park — ground zero for rhino poaching — Don English, a veteran ranger, commands his brave team on the front line of the rhino horn war as they set out on an almost insurmountable task of protecting the rhinoceros in an area the size of Israel. From never-before-seen footage of South Africa’s largest undercover wildlife investigation and interviews with poachers, the filmmakers risk their lives as they are thrust into the underground world of illicit rhino horn deals organized by South Africa’s ruthless rhino poaching kingpins. “The Last Horns of Africa” is a firsthand look at the complexities and moral debates of contemporary conservation, which has found itself entangled in the dark web of corruption and the illegal wildlife trade.

“Paper & Glue”

dir. JR (France, USA), 2021

An image from “Paper & Glue” directed by JR along with Agnès Varda. Photo by Marc Azoulay.

In “Paper & Glue,” artist JR turns the camera on his own work as he builds some of his most monumental projects. From early illicit graffiti videos captured on Paris rooftops at night, to the US-Mexico border, to the favelas of Rio de Janeiro, to a current collaboration at a California supermax prison, the film follows JR as he turns these communities inside out, turning images of residents into eye-catching and immersive art installations. “Paper & Glue” follows the Oscar-nominated “Faces Places,” which was directed by JR along with Agnès Varda.