The 14th Hamptons International Film Festival has wrapped, and my first trip to this fun-filled event at the eastern end of Long Island left me with a great sense of accomplishment. Not only did the films I specifically chose to see turn out to be winners, but even those that I picked blindly simply to "fill gaps" in my schedule turned out to be gems as well. A schedule of 114 films to choose from is a lot, to be sure, but a much more selective group than the 352 screened at Toronto last month. As I stated after I returned from Toronto, I attend film festivals to see indies, not Hollywood movies. These are "small" films, which often are low budget, though not necessarily, and play film festivals in hopes of getting "picked up" or "acquired" for distribution. These are films that aren't yet guaranteed to be shown in theaters. I can comment on them and root for their success. It gives a sense of investment and loyalty and passion. Of course, that's not the main reason I see them. It only describes what they are. I see them because, in my opinion, they are usually better than anything else out there. Indies are my passion. And unlike Toronto, there really weren't any "movies" on the schedule anyway. And I only saw one documentary at this festival versus the handful in Toronto.

The lineup was also quite heavy with foreign films, and unlike Toronto where about 25% of my list were foreign films, at the Hamptons exactly half were. Therefore, instead of separating those into 4 categories as I did in Toronto (Galas, Docs, Indies, and Foreign) I really only saw indies and foreign films. And when I added it all up, surprisingly, of the 5 best films I saw only one was English-speaking. The other 4 are foreign. So let's just put them all in one category: "films."

So here are, in my opinion, the best films which I saw at the 14th Hamptons International Film Festival:

Black Irish (US)
Northern Light (Netherlands)
1:1 (Denmark)
We Shall Overcome (Denmark)
The Red Cockatoo (Germany)

As it turned out, many others felt the same way. There were 4 categories in which the Golden Starfish was awarded: Narrative Feature, Documentary Feature, Short, and Films of Conflict & Resolution, which was the theme of the festival.

1:1 was given an Honorable Mention (2nd place) in the Films of Conflict and Resolution category. This was the first time this had ever been done -- in the past only one prize was awarded, but the judges were torn.

There were 3 Audience Awards, perhaps the most coveted since they are voted by the filmgoers: Narrative Feature, Documentary, and Short.

We Shall Overcome won the Audience Award for Narrative Feature which is, for all intents and purposes, "Best Picture" as voted by the public. It is also the #1 most seen film in Denmark in 2006 and won the coveted Golden Bear (Grand Prize) at the Berlin Film Festival early this year, which is arguably a better festival than Cannes for independent film. This makes it one of the world's best films of the year, if not the best.


Larry Richman

Larry Richman

For 20 years I was a professional in the entertainment industry, from commercial broadcast radio in America's fourth largest market to band management to record production. But my passion is independent film, and I spend much of the year traveling to film festivals to see indies and meet the actors, directors, and others responsible for creating them. I'm a writer, photographer, and videographer, currently serving as Senior Vice President for Media & Technology and Public Relations at PROnetworks as well as Editor at

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  • Author: Larry Richman
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