The Hamptons International Film Festival (HIFF) has added new signature categories for its upcoming run with the Compassion, Justice & Animal Rights program, which will provide filmmakers the opportunity to advocate social justice issues and animal rights. HIFF also renamed its morning talks to Winick Talks at Rowdy Hall in honor of late director and producer Gary Winick. The festival also announced Monday a partnership with the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM)’s PLURAL+ International Youth Video Program as it continues to extend its education initiatives in the Hamptons. This year’s festival will run from October 8-12.
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The Compassion, Justice & Animal Rights 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 underscore “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,” per the announcement.
The festival will present the world premiere of Darcy Dennett’s The Champions in the new signature program. The documentary follows the pit-bulls rescued from the brutal fighting ring of NFL quarterback star Michael Vick, and the people who were determined 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.”
The festival also announced the Winick Talks at Rowdy Hall. Gary Winick (Tadpole, 13 Going on 30, 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 Hamptons 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.
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