Hamptons fest will host 17 world premieres

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NEW YORK -- The 15th annual Hamptons International Film Festival will host 50 features including 17 world premieres, beginning with the opening-night presentation of Bob Balaban's Doris Duke biopic "Bernard and Doris" starring Susan Sarandon and Ralph Fiennes.

The event, which runs Oct. 17-21, will close with Kirsten Sheridan's musician drama "August Rush" starring Freddie Highmore, Keri Russell, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Terrence Howard and Robin Williams.

Vanessa Redgrave will be honored with the annual Golden Starfish Award for Career Achievement in Acting and a talk with moderator Alec Baldwin sponsored by New Line/Picturehouse. Veteran director Sidney Lumet also will discuss his 50-year-plus career as part of the "A Conversation with ..." series.

The fest programming was led for the first time by five-year HIFF veteran Josh Koury and Newport International Film Festival special consultant David Nugent. Former artistic director Rajendra Roy was named Chief Curator of the Museum of Modern Art Department of Film in May. The HIFF board is still on a search for an executive director to replace Denise Kassell, who left this year, to work alongside board chairman Stuart Match Suna and festival director Gianna Chachere.

This year's competitors for the Golden Starfish Narrative Competition are Will Geiger's morbid romance "Elvis and Anabelle," Chaz Thorne's black comedy "Just Buried," Tom Collins' friendship drama "Kings," Birgit Moller's German character study "Valerie" and actor Chris Eigeman's mother-son thriller "Turn the River" starring Famke Janssen. The jurors include Arianna Bocco, Elvis Mitchell and John Sloss, and the winner will receive over $185,000 in goods and in-kind services.

The Golden Starfish Documentary award will go to Marshall Fine's Rex Reed profile "Do You Sleep in the Nude?" Steven-Charles Jaffe's cartoonist sketch "Gahan Wilson: Born Dead, Still Weird," Matthew Galkin's "I Am an Animal: This Story of Ingrid Newkirk and PETA," Bettina Blumner's German docudrama "Pool of Princesses" or Greg Whiteley's debating study "Resolved." Liz Ogilvie and Jamie Johnson will appear on the jury.

Several features with high-profile filmmakers will be shown in the Spotlight Films section. Albert Maysles' docu "Grey Gardens: From East Hampton to Broadway," Ellen Spiro & Phil Donahue's Iraq docu "Body of War," Alison Eastwood's "Rails and Ties," Tamara Jenkins' "The Savages," Andrew Wagner's "Starting Out in the Evening" and Paul Schrader's "The Walker" are among the featured films.

This year's Rising Stars program, connecting new acting talent with filmmakers, will include Hannah Herzsprung ("Four Minutes"), Blake Lively ("Elvis and Anabelle"), Egbert Jan Weeber ("Vivere") and Sundance Film Festival winner Jess Weixler ("Teeth").

The program 15 Years 15 Stories will offer anecdotes about the fest's history from Michael Lynne, Gary Winick and others. Other programs include Films of Conflict and Resolution, the Hallmark Channel-sponsored "Focus on Family Film Series" and Gray Matter films dedicated to the late Spalding Gray.

The fest will be held in East Hampton, N.Y., with additional venues in Southampton, Sag Harbor and Montauk.
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