Hamptons Doc Fest Awards and a movie man

Karen Arikian on the Hamptons Doc Fest awards, Stig Björkman and Joyce Carol Oates

by Anne-Katrin Titze

Stig Björkman’s Joyce Carol Oates: A Body in the Service of Mind, produced by Stina Gardell, to open the Hamptons Doc Fest (pictured Joyce Carol Oates with the late Stephen Sondheim)
Stig Björkman’s Joyce Carol Oates: A Body in the Service of Mind, produced by Stina Gardell, to open the Hamptons Doc Fest (pictured Joyce Carol Oates with the late Stephen Sondheim) Photo: Anne-Katrin Titze

In the first installment with Artistic Director Karen Arikian we discussed the Hamptons Doc Fest Awards and Stina Gardell’s Movie Man star and director of the Opening Night film, Joyce Carol Oates: A Body in the Service of Mind, Stig Björkman. Dawn Porter following an introduction by Chris Hegedus will receive the Pennebaker Career Achievement Award from Lana Jokel on that evening with screenings of Bree Wayy: Promise, Witness, Remembrance and a work-in-progress excerpt of Cirque du Soleil.

Hamptons Doc Fest Artistic Director Karen Arikian with Anne-Katrin Titze on Joyce Carol Oates: “We would welcome her with open arms.”
Hamptons Doc Fest Artistic Director Karen Arikian with Anne-Katrin Titze on Joyce Carol Oates: “We would welcome her with open arms.”

On Saturday, Sam Pollard and Rex Miller will receive the Human Rights Award for Citizen Ashe on Arthur Ashe and on Sunday the first ever Producer Impact Award will go the late Diane Weyermann with a Citizenfour screening and conversation with Laura Poitras to follow. Tuesday Doug Tirola’s Bernstein’s Wall, produced by Susan Bedusa, will receive the Tee & Charles Addams Foundation Art & Inspiration Award and Tasha Van Zandt’s After Antarctica is honoured with the Andrew Sabin Family Foundation Environmental Award.

From New York, Karen Arikian joined me on Zoom for an in-depth conversation on the 14th edition of Hamptons Doc Fest.

Anne-Katrin Titze: Hi Karen!

Karen Arikian: Hi Anne-Katrin!

AKT: This is a busy week for you!

KA: Oh yes, very busy, putting on the last touches, making little changes. All that goes into putting together a film festival, as I’m sure you well know.

Karen Arikian on Pennebaker Career Achievement Award recipient Dawn Porter: “We’re thrilled and she was so enthusiastic and she is also letting us see an excerpt from her up-and-coming film on Cirque du Soleil …”
Karen Arikian on Pennebaker Career Achievement Award recipient Dawn Porter: “We’re thrilled and she was so enthusiastic and she is also letting us see an excerpt from her up-and-coming film on Cirque du Soleil …” Photo: Anne-Katrin Titze

AKT: Absolutely. You made some great choices with the awards. The Pennebaker Career Achievement Award is going to Dawn Porter, which is great.

KA: We’re thrilled and she was so enthusiastic and she is also letting us see an excerpt from her up-and-coming film on Cirque du Soleil and of course the film [Bree Wayy: Promise, Witness, Remembrance] on Breonna Taylor. We’re so pleased to have her with us this year.

AKT: Have you seen the Cirque du Soleil film or only the excerpt?

KA: We haven’t even seen the excerpt! They’re putting it together, you know, she’s in the middle of shooting. We were just asking: What are you working on next? And she was very open with that. A lot of filmmakers are not really interested in showing you a work-in-progress. It’s going to be an excerpt of 8 minutes or so, but I’m looking forward to seeing it very much.

AKT: Chris Hegedus is going to present it to her and there’ll be a conversation?

KA: Yes, the award is named after DA Pennebaker and Chris is on our advisory board. She’s very involved every year. So she will introduce the evening, the award itself is turned over by Lana Jokel, who is supporting the award for us. She’s a filmmaker based out East and has a long history of making films with artists from the East End [of Long Island] for many years. She will present it and the conversation afterward is going to be between Dawn Porter and Julie Anderson, who is a producer/filmmaker herself and also on our advisory board. We have the women.

Lana Jokel to present the Pennebaker Career Achievement Award to Dawn Porter after a Chris Hegedus introduction
Lana Jokel to present the Pennebaker Career Achievement Award to Dawn Porter after a Chris Hegedus introduction Photo: Anne-Katrin Titze

AKT: Yes, looking at previous winners of that award, there was Barbara Kopple, Sheila Nevins, Liz Garbus, lots of women there too; she’s in good company.

KA: Yes, Susan Lacy also. Yeah, a great group. Our advisory board is very thoughtful and they contribute a lot to reach out to these different people we would really love to recognize.

AKT: The Human Rights Award goes to Sam Pollard and Rex Miller for Citizen Ashe. I just finished putting together a feature on an interview with Rex that I did.

KA: It’s a very important film, because I don’t know if people remember all that he did. You remember him as an African-American tennis player, one of the first, but what he did beyond that on a social level is so incredible. Sam’s been with us a lot the past years. We’ve had his film last year as our opening night film, the Martin Luther King film, MLK/FBI.

AKT: The Art & Inspiration Award goes to Bernstein’s Wall, which I had seen at Tribeca.

KA: We’re really thrilled to have that film. It’s such a wonderful wonderful portrait and Doug [Tirola] and Susan [Bedusa] are both coming out to the festival. I believe they are flying in from Mill Valley [Film Festival] and then immediately coming to us. The film has had a certain degree of exposure, but it’s exactly the kind of film that our audience would so respond to. I think being a community festival, it’s so important that we pick films that resonate with the audience out there.

Tap dancing Stig Björkman on the Movie Man set
Tap dancing Stig Björkman on the Movie Man set Photo: Stina Gardell

AKT: Are you expecting Joyce Carol Oates?

KA: We would welcome her with open arms. Stig has been in touch with her. I think she’s in her mid-eighties [83], I don’t think we’re going to see her. We invited her and we’re still hoping. She’s a very private person as we all know, and she reveals a lot in that documentary. I think it’s emotionally a difficult film for her and I think that a little bit plays into the situation, whether she’d be sitting in the audience with us. She’s with us in spirit, she’s close to Stig, and he’s coming over.

AKT: At age 83!

KA: Exactly! I don’t know if you saw Movie Man, but he’s the protagonist in Movie Man, and you can just see, he’s such a charming lovely man, but he just needs to travel! He needs to get going.

AKT: I did a feature with Stina [Gardell] on Movie Man.

KA: Oh, okay!

AKT: And the fact that he is tap dancing is fascinating.

KA: It’s so beautiful, that guy is inspiring.

AKT: You have to have him dance at the festival!

KA: Ooh, what a great idea! Will you come out and dance with him please? Just a little soft-shoe!

AKT: Actually I used to tap dance as a child, yes. But I won’t dance.

Hamptons Doc Fest 2021
Hamptons Doc Fest 2021

KA: That’s so funny. Okay, maybe you’ll just come and join us anyway. You’re always welcome!

AKT: I wish you a wonderful festival.

KA: Thank you so much for your interest in our festival, we really appreciate it. I hope you come out, we’d love to have you.

AKT: In the future we will definitely do that and maybe I’ll tap dance.

KA: Oh, I expect that! No maybe. You take care, Anne-Katrin!

Coming up - Karen Arikian on The Automat, films connected to farming on Long Island and beyond, After Antarctica, Joan Churchill’s Shoot from the Heart and getting a glimpse at D.A. Pennebaker’s worldview, experience from last year’s online festival and The Adventures of Saul Bellow.

Joyce Carol Oates: A Body in the Service of Mind screens on Friday, December 3 at 7:00pm followed by a Q&A with Stig Björkman and Stina Gardell at the Sag Harbor Cinema.

Joyce Carol Oates: A Body In The Service Of Mind opens the 14th edition of Hamptons Doc Fest
Joyce Carol Oates: A Body In The Service Of Mind opens the 14th edition of Hamptons Doc Fest

Movie Man screens on Saturday, December 4 at 2:30pm followed by a Q&A with Stig Björkman and Stina Gardell at the Sag Harbor Cinema.

Citizen Ashe screens on Saturday, December 4 at 5:00pm followed by a Q&A on Zoom with the Human Rights Award recipients Sam Pollard and Rex Miller in conversation with Nancy Buirski at the Sag Harbor Cinema.

Gala: Honoring Dawn Porter reception by invitation takes place on Saturday, December 4 at 8:00pm at the Sag Harbor Cinema. Pennebaker Career Achievement Award Program starting at 9:00pm includes screenings of the short Bree Wayy: Promise, Witness, Remembrance and a work-in-progress excerpt of Cirque du Soleil with a conversation between Dawn Porter and Julie Anderson at the Sag Harbor Cinema and Dawn’s feature film Trapped will screen on Tuesday, December 7 at 2:30pm at the Bay Street Theater.

Bernstein’s Wall screens on Sunday, December 5 at 5:00pm followed by a Q&A with Tee & Charles Addams Foundation Art & Inspiration Award recipients Doug Tirola and producer Susan Bedusa at the Sag Harbor Cinema.

The Producer Impact Award to the late Diane Weyermann with a Citizenfour screening and conversation with Laura Poitras to follow will take place on Sunday, December 5 at 7:30pm at the Sag Harbor Cinema.

After Antarctica screens on Tuesday, December 7 at 7:30pm followed by a Q&A on Zoom with the Andrew Sabin Family Foundation Environmental Award recipient Tasha Van Zandt at the Bay Street Theater.

Hamptons Doc Fest in cinemas (Sag Harbor Cinema, Bay Street Theater) runs from Friday, December 3 through Friday December 10. Select films are screening online in the US from December 11 through December 18.

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