The 16th annual Stony Brook Film Festival opens on Thursday, July 21, with the U.S. premiere of Sonny Boy from the Netherlands, directed by Maria Peters. On Closing Night, Saturday, July 30, Stony Brook screens the East Coast premiere of Almanya, a German film directed by Yasemin Samdereli. More than 15,000 patrons are expected during the ten days, with film passes for entry to all films $75. Single tickets are $9 and $7 and go on sale subject to availability on July 11 at stonybrookfilmfestival.com or by calling (631) 632-ARTS.
Thirty-four screenings include features, documentaries and shorts from around the world, chosen from the largest field of entries ever received. Staller Center, which produces the festival, will host many international directors and stars. At the U.S. premiere of Sonny Boy, a large contingent is expected to attend from Holland: the director, co-writer and co-producer Maria Peters; the lead actress, Ricky Koole; producer Hans Pos; and Remko Nods, the real-life son of Waldy Nods, the “Sonny Boy” of the story. In addition, Annejet van der Zijl, the writer of the eponymous bestselling novel, is expected at the screening. Yasemin and Nesrin Samdereli are expected to attend the Closing Night screening of Almanya. U.S. invitees include Isabella Rossellini (for the U.S. premiere of Late Bloomers), Liana Liberato and David Schwimmer (Trust), Jill Hennessy (Roadie), and Eric Stoltz (for the New York premiere of Fort McCoy), among others.
“In addition to outstanding international premieres, we are excited about the compelling U.S. entries and films with Long Island connections,” said Alan Inkles, founding director of the festival. “We have the world premiere of 9/11: An American Requiem, which focuses on the health of first responders and the Stony Brook Medical Center’s World Trade Center Medical Monitoring and Treatment Program. We’ve decided to make the screening free on Sunday, July 24, at 3:00 pm. A version of the film will be shown on PBS on 9/11. We also have a sneak preview of Kings Park: Stories from an American Mental Institution, directed by Lucy Winer, who was committed as a suicidal teenager in the late 60s.”
Shorts with Long Island connections include The Absence, a film by Alex DeMille, with scenes in Oheka Castle and farms in Southold. All That Remains, a film by Cody Blue Snider, was filmed locally in the Three Village and Port Jefferson area.
U.S. premieres include two from the Netherlands: Sonny Boy and Don’t Touch My Children. Karina Smulders, who stars as the mother in Don’t Touch My Children will be familiar to those who saw last year’s Bride Flight. With Love from the Age of Reason and My Wife’s Romance are both from France. Silence is Golden from Poland is a comedy about a voice-over actress; and Late Bloomers starring Isabella Rossellini and William Hurt explores a couple’s struggle in their 30-year marriage and is a U.S. premiere from France/Belgium/U.K. in English.
East Coast premieres include Losing Control (U.S.), Mama Gógó (Iceland), Stay With Me (Canada) and Almanya (Germany).
New York premieres include features Fort McCoy (U.S), Young Goethe in Love (Germany), The Tree (Australia/France) and These Amazing Shadows (U.S.), which is a bonus film for passholders. These Amazing Shadows tickets may go on sale the day of the screening subject to availability.
Women directors are prominent in the line up. Among them are Valerie Weiss (Losing Control), Kate Conner (Fort McCoy co-written with Michael Worth) and Amy Unell (Starting at the Finish Line). Losing Control, a romantic comedy about a Harvard graduate student and female scientist who wants to apply scientific principles to find “the one,” makes an East Coast premiere. Valerie Weiss is a scientist turned filmmaker. She presented a short film at Stony Brook in 2006 (Transgressions) and is returning with her first full-length feature.
A poignant documentary that was filmed in Israel over four years, Love During Wartime, by Gabriella Bier, follows the lives of a Jewish woman and her Palestinian husband. Trust, directed by David Schwimmer, stars newcomer Liana Liberato in the story of a 14-year-old who becomes enraptured with a boy she meets online, and also stars Clive Owen and Catherine Keener as her parents. Roadie stars Ron Eldard as the rock band roadie, Jill Hennessy and Bobby Cannavale.
Slated for late summer or early fall releases are a number of Studio Spotlight premieres. Isabella Rosselini and William Hurt star together in Late Bloomers. A beautiful period piece, Young Goethe in Love tells the story behind the passionate romantic who wrote a cult classic of the 18th century, The Sorrows of Young Werther. Mozart’s Sister is a French film about Maria Anna “Nannerl” Mozart who was a musical prodigy in her own right. Piano in a Factory, a film from China, looks at the life of a little girl in a fading factory town in northeastern China.
Filmmakers attend screenings to represent their films and winning filmmakers are brought back for the Closing Night HBO Awards Reception. Film critic John Anderson will host the awards ceremony as he has in past years. For more information about tickets to receptions, Gold Passes for reserved seating and past festivals, go to www.stonybrookfilmfestival.com. All films are shown in the Staller Center Main Stage Theatre.