Stony Brook Film Festival to Shine a Spotlight on Cultural Heritage, Diversity

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The Stony Brook Film Festival has always been about great storytelling. This year’s festival, which is in its 23rd year and running from July 19 to July 28, is no exception.

Etruscan SMile

The Etruscan Smile with Brian Cox and Rosanna Arquette. (Photo: Po Valley Productions.)

“The Stony Brook Film Festival is about great films from the U.S. and around the world,” said Alan Inkles, founder and director of the Stony Brook Film Festival and director of the Staller Center for the Arts. “As in years past, we have all genres covered in the festival, from strong narratives and documentaries to comedies, thrillers and even science fiction.”

Bookending the festival’s opening and closing nights are hard-hitting dramas by foreign directors. On July 19, Eran Riklis, one of Israel’s most prominent filmmakers, will be in attendance for the 8:00 pm screening of Shelter.  Aurora Borealis, directed by Hungary’s Márta Mészáros will close out the festival July 28 at 8:00 pm.

“Opening night and closing night are statement films — those we choose to speak to the broadest audiences,” Inkles said. “With opening night, we try to set a tone for the rest of the festival, and with closing night we hope to leave our audience wanting more.”

Several foreign films will be making their U.S. premieres: Growing Up, from Spain, on July 20 at 9:30 pm; Octav, from Romania, on July 21 at 7:00 pm; and Israel flick Outdoors, making its stateside debut on July 24 at 7:00 pm.

This year’s film roster, while skewing toward the dramatic, has many fun offerings, as well as those dealing with timely social issues, Inkles said. And as with last year’s festival, attendees can expect to see many works by women.

“I am once again proud that our journey has brought us many female directors as we continue to lead festivals and Hollywood in our diversity,” Inkles said. “Nearly half of our films are directed by women, and many are written by, directed by and starring very diverse professionals.”

This year there will be 36 films — 20 feature-length and 16 shorts —screened, representing the best from thousands of submissions.

“When only 1 percent of the films entered and submitted are chosen, you know you have a great crop of films,” said Inkles.

On July 21 at 4 pm, the festival will feature the world premiere of Dean Darling, written and directed by 22-year-old Long Islander Calogero Carucci, who finished the film when he was 20 years old. Also making its world premiere is the powerful documentary Trauma, on July 24 at 9:30 pm. The film details the lives of several members of a medevac unit, who return home to their families, each wounded in different ways.

The Etruscan Smile, starring acclaimed Scottish actor Brian Cox, Thora Birch and Rosanna Arquette, is making its U.S. premiere on July 21 at 9:30 pm. Cox and Birch are expected to be in attendance. East Coast film debuts include The Bookshop, from the United Kingdom, July 20 at 7 pm, and the Argentinian movie Symphony for Ana, on July 26, 7 pm. 

Lovers of felines will have something to purr about again this year following last year’s recipient of the Jury Award for Spirit of Independent Filmmaking, Laura Gets A Cat. This year, the German-made A Dysfunctional Cat premieres in the U.S. on July 25 at 7:00 pm.

An added feature of this year’s festival is a triple threat in the shorts category. American actress Ashley Grace plays the lead in a film she wrote and directed titled Hunter Gatherer, screening on July 21 at 7 pm.

“With many of the films seeking North American distribution, we are expecting many U.S. distributors and sales agents to attend this year, including representatives from Magnolia Pictures, Samuel Goldwyn Films, HBO, Music Box Films, Greenwich Entertainment, Distrib Films US, and others,” said Inkles.

The Festival’s complete schedule is available at stonybrookfilmfestival.com. Tickets are now on sale. Links to all trailers will be available by clicking on the festival’s YouTube channel.

Audience Choice winners (voted on by audience members throughout the festival) and Jury Awards (Best Feature, Short and perhaps additional jury awards) will be announced live at the closing night Awards Reception following the closing night film, at approximately 10:30 pm in the Staller Center Art Gallery. Winners will also be posted around midnight that evening on the Festival website.

–Glenn Jochum

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