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Alan Ankles

The festival opens with 'The Blond Boy from the Casbah.'

Stony Brook University’s Staller Center  for the Arts turns into a movie lover’s mecca when new independent films screen at the Stony Brook Film Festival on evenings from Thursday, July 18 to Saturday, July 27. The popular festival, now in its 29th year, will become a hub for some of the best filmmakers working today, a meeting ground for favorite actors and rising stars, and a showcase of new masterpieces as it pairs memorable short films with an array of features you won’t see anywhere else.

Presented by Island Federal, this year’s lineup boasts 36 films from 19 countries and kicks off with the U.S. Premiere of The Blond Boy from the Casbah, Alexandre Arcady’s semi-autobiographical dramedy about growing up in Algeria before emigrating to France as a teen. Festival Programmer Kent Marks describes the film as a “thought-provoking, unique journey through the past on the surprising path to self-discovery.”

Closing the festival is the U.S. Premiere of the German epic One Million Minutes, an inspiring true story that follows an over-worked family trying to find balance in their lives, starring festival-favorite Karoline Herfurth.

The festival will close with a screening of ‘One Million Minutes.’

While the films are never chosen with an overall theme in mind, oftentimes, a theme seems to emerge, and 2024 is no exception. “While our goal is to always program the best films we can find, this year, we gave ourselves the added goal of keeping an eye out for films that appeared to be on the lighter side so we could give our audience some extra laughs in their lives — something that we felt many people could use,” says SBFF & Staller Center Director, Alan Inkles. 

As festival-goers have come to expect, the 2024 schedule is still peppered with hard-hitting films, compelling dramas, and some very unique science-fiction.

This year’s festival features nine films from Stony Brook Film Fest Alumni. “Filmmakers depend on these festivals to help them get their films distributed so as many people can see them as possible and to gauge how a live audience is responding to their work – Our alumni love returning because we have a large, engaged audience and ensure they get the best showing and hospitality possible,” says Marks. “One of the most exciting parts for me is seeing these films up on the big screen and watching how the audience reacts,” says Outreach Director Paul Newland, “after spending so much time previewing these films, it’s truly exciting to see them have their big premiere in the festival, and our filmmakers love it too.”

One of the key features of the Stony Brook Film Festival is that there is absolutely no other way to see these films. 

“Netflix and streaming services are easy and comfortable, and we get that, but these films are not offered on streaming services. They’re films looking to get picked up for distribution in order to stream or play in theaters – a lot of people don’t get that – so this is the prime opportunity to be the first to know and to see some truly incredible films that you cannot see anywhere else,” says Inkles. This year’s festival boasts 17 world, U.S., East Coast, and U.S. premieres of features and shorts throughout the festival.

This year’s festival has a secret film—one that you will only know about if you come in person on July 21. The film—a major motion picture starring well-known Hollywood faces—was produced by a native Long Island filmmaker whose films have previously played the festival. It tells an inspirational true story with an amazing local hook. As with almost all films in the festival, a question-and-answer session between the filmmakers and the audience will follow the preview.

“We are very excited to have filmmakers from all over the world join us for their premiere screenings. Our audiences can gather in a huge theater with Long Island’s largest screen, to see movies the way they were meant to be seen,” said Inkles. 

Additional sponsors for the Stony Brook Film Festival include Campolo, Middleton & McCormick, LLP; Suffolk County; Altice Media; and WLIW21.

FILM SCHEDULE

For a complete description of all of the films, visit stonybrookfilmfestival.com.

OPENING NIGHT
Thursday, July 18 at 7 p.m.

Short: Chauncey

Feature: The Blond Boy from the Casbah

Friday, July 19 at 7 p.m.

Short: Iron Lung

Feature: The Queen of My Dreams

Friday, July 19 at 9:30 p.m.

Short: Detox

Feature: Humanist Vampire Seeking Consenting Suicidal Person

Saturday, July 20 at 7 p.m.

Short: The Hope Chest Has a Secret Drawer

Feature: The Strangers’ Case

Saturday, July 20 at 9:30 p.m.

Short: Two Cents & A Footlong

Feature: Take A Chance on Me

Sunday, July 21 at 7 p.m.

Short: The Grievance

Feature: SPECIAL SNEAK PREVIEW of a major motion picture produced by a SBFF alumni and Long Island resident

Sunday, July 21 at 9:30 p.m.

Short: Revived

Feature: Month to Month

Monday, July 22 at 7 p.m.

Short: Where We Belong

Feature: Marguerite’s Theorem

Monday, July 22 at 9:30 p.m.

Short: In the Night

Feature: Excursion

Tuesday, July 23 at 7 p.m.

Short: Split Ends

Feature: Free Money

Tuesday, July 23 at 9:30 p.m.

Short: Where Do Ants Sleep At Night

Feature: A Fantastic Relationship

Wednesday, July 24 at 7 p.m.

Short: exuvia

Feature: Mediha

Wednesday, July 24 at 9:30 p.m.

Short: [subtext]

Feature: Running on Sand

Thursday, July 25 at 7 p.m.

Short: Mimesis

Feature: Mastergame

Thursday, July 25 at 9:30 p.m.

Short: Bible Camp

Feature: Daughter of the Sun

Friday, July 26 at 7 p.m.

Short: The Overlook

Feature: After the Fire

Friday, July 26 at 9:30 p.m.

Short: On the paths awakened

Feature: A Real Job

CLOSING NIGHT
Saturday, July 27 at 7 p.m.

Short: If

Feature: One Million Minutes

CLOSING NIGHT AWARDS

9:30 p.m. Presented on stage.

Ticket information 

All screenings are held at Stony Brook University’s Staller Center for the Arts, 100 Nicolls Road, Stony Brook in the 1,000-seat Main Stage theater. Cinephiles will want to see all 36 films. There’s passes for that. For those who can’t, there are passes for that, too. All festival pass types come with guaranteed priority seating, Q&As with filmmakers, discounts, and other perks at partner locations, including local eateries and breweries, as well as a festival gift.

The Flex Pass is intended for those who aren’t sure about purchasing a 10-day pass. For $75, pass holders also receive entry to any five nights of the festival except for closing night.

A Regular Pass – $100 – also includes entry to all films and the closing night awards ceremony.

The Gold Pass VIP – $250 – also includes entry to all films, VIP First Priority reserved seating, and invitations to the Opening Night and Closing Night parties at St. Georges Golf Club in Setauket and on the rooftop at Curry Club at SaGhar in Port Jefferson, respectively.

Individual tickets  of $15 per person, $13.50 for seniors will be available after July 5. Tickets may be purchased at stonybrookfilmfestival.com/pass.

To learn more about the different membership levels and their benefits, call the box office at 631-632-2787 or visit www.stonybrookfilmfestival.com.

This article originally appeared in TBR News Media’s Summer Times supplement on June 20.

The Emerson String Quartet performed its final concert at the Staller Center for the Arts to a packed house on October 14, signaling the end of the quartet’s nearly 25-year-long history as Artists in Residence at Stony Brook University. They were rewarded with four standing ovations from the sold-out 1,000-member audience.

The program featured Beethoven String Quartet in Bb Major and Schubert String Quintet in C Major. Special guest and former Emerson cellist David Finckel joined the ensemble — including cellist Paul Watkins, Eugene Drucker and Philip Setzer on violin, and Larry Dutton on viola — for the Schubert piece.

Following the concert, a reception for the group and honored guests was held in the Zuccaire Gallery, with remarks from Stony Brook President Maurie McInnis; Alan Inkles, director of the Staller Center for the Arts; former Provost Robert McGrath; Gilbert Kalish, professor in the Department of Music; Judith Lochhead, professor and former chair of the Department of Music; and Christina Dahl, chair of the Department of Music.

McGrath, Kalish and Lochhead, along with former Stony Brook President Shirley Strum Kenny, were instrumental in bringing the group to campus as Artists in Residence.

Following the remarks, Inkles awarded the group members with trophies in recognition of their years performing as a group in the Staller Center. Despite a busy touring schedule over the past two decades, the group members have always made time to serve on faculty committees and to be available for music students.

Dahl described to the group a recent faculty meeting in which Setzer participated in a faculty meeting on a Sunday evening while he was on tour in Milan, where the time was 12:30 am.

 “T​​hey come to faculty meetings, serve as lecturers and advisors and sit on dissertation committees,” Dahl said. “The rest of the world sits in on their concerts, but one of the most remarkable things about their long association with the department is that they never stood on ceremony, or acted as if they deserve special consideration.”

President McInnis looked toward the future with the group members as they continue to serve as faculty within the Department of Music. 

“Through the Emerson String Quartet Institute in the Department of Music, group members Eugene Drucker, Lawrence Dutton, Philip Setzer and Paul Watkins, along with the quartet’s ex-cellist, David Finckel, will remain at Stony Brook to coach and mentor student string quartets,” she said.

President McInnis continued, “It was such an honor to be in the audience to celebrate the Emerson String Quartet’s nearly 22-year-long history as Artists in Residence at Stony Brook University and the Grand Finale Concert of what has been nearly 100 sold-out concerts held in the Staller Center on our campus. While it is bittersweet to join together for the final farewell Staller Center concert for the Quartet, we are grateful they will remain as colleagues in Stony Brook’s Department of Music where they will uphold their legacy, sharing their gifts with our students in the Emerson String Quartet Institute.”

The 28th annual Stony Brook Film Festival, presented by Island Federal Credit Union, wrapped up with a Closing Night Awards Ceremony on July 29.  The evening recognized the outstanding new independent films screened at the festival, which was held at Staller Center for the Arts at Stony Brook University from July 20 to 29.

With hundreds of artists creating 36 films from 26 countries, the Stony Brook Film Festival became a hub for some of the best filmmakers working today, a meeting ground for favorite actors and rising stars, and a showcase of new masterpieces. Of those 36 films, 11 received awards. 

Yes Repeat No, a challenging and engaging meta masterpiece, won the Jury Award for Best Feature. Director Michael Moshe Dahan was in attendance for both the screening and to receive his award. “Thank you to all of the people who believe in human rights and democracy all over the world … and to all the people who want to make difficult material all over the world because finding the questions to ask is sometimes harder than getting the answers,” Dahan said in his acceptance speech. 

Two feature films won the audience’s hearts, resulting in two winners for this year’s Audience Choice Award for Best Feature: The Grandson, a charged thriller that boasts “revenge is a dish best served old,” and First Snow of Summer, a masterfully shot and magical romance in a whimsical setting, came out on top. 

The Grandson‘s director Kristóf Deák could not be at the Festival to accept his award but remarked, “I couldn’t be happier that The Grandson won the audience award at this year’s Stony Brook Film Festival. I feel a special connection to U.S. audiences since my short film Sing won the Academy Award in 2017. That film’s festival journey also began with audience awards, and for a filmmaker like me who makes his films for audiences, first and foremost, it remains the most important praise.” 

“Because it may lead to discussions about how we treat the elderly in our society, I hope [The Grandson]is a testament to how we should never ‘write them off’ as useless. I want to thank my wonderful cast, crew, co-writer, and wife for making this film with me,” said Deák

First Snow of Summer, in its North American premiere, was another beautiful and poignant film from German Sales Team, Picture Tree International. Festival Founder and Director Alan Inkles has been working with Founder/Co-Managing Director of Picture Tree, Andreas Rothbauer, for several years and this is the second consecutive year one of their films has won the Audience Choice Award, with last year’s biting dark comedy, Contra, taking home the same prize. 

“You can feel the warmth and genuineness of this new German film, and the audience in our full house screening of First Snow of Summer obviously agreed … the film has a ‘fantasy-like Amelie’ feel to it, and is ripe for a U.S. theatrical run,” said Inkles after the awards ceremony. “One of our goals with the Festival is to get these independent films in front of distributors to help reach larger audiences throughout America,” he added, and said he plans to continue working with Andreas to make that happen.

The Spirit of Independent Filmmaking is awarded to filmmakers that utilize a uniquely indie lens to bring their incredible stories to life. A first in the Festival’s history, this category was awarded to two different features: Friends From Home, a quietly hilarious cross-country odyssey by New York filmmakers, and Where the Road Leads, a Serbian film about a sleepy village brought to life with subtle humor and masterfully directed. 

“If you told us we would be watching our film on a 40-foot-screen, we wouldn’t have believed you, and this was awesome,” said Mike Koslov of Friends From Home. “We just tried to make a film as honest and close to the heart as we could,” said Joe Blank, co-writer and director of the film. Both flew in from LA for their screening and the awards ceremony. 

Director Nina Ognjanovic traveled from Serbia to be here in person for her screening of Where the Road Leads and for the awards ceremony. Ognjanovic praised the film festival at the ceremony for showing her film to over 400 attendees and for recognizing her work.

The Jury Award for Best Short went to Chipper, while the Audience Award for Best Short went to Stuck. 

Director and lead actor of Chipper, Shaun MacLean, and Jayson Warner Smith, respectively, were both in attendance at the awards ceremony, with Shaun attending earlier during the Festival for his screening and leading a lively Q&A. Shoval Chiprut and Daniel Brushin from Stuck flew in from Israel and were present for both their screening and the awards ceremony. 

Opening Night Feature Award went to Sea of Time; Closing Night Feature Award went to Divertimento; Open Night Short Award went to The Red Suitcase and The Basics of Love received an for  Closing Night Short.

In addition to Island Federal’s generous support as presenting sponsor, additional sponsors for the Stony Brook Film Festival included Campolo, Middleton & McCormick, LLP; Suffolk County; Altice Media; and WLIW/PBS.

2023 FESTIVAL WINNERS

YES REPEAT NO
2023 JURY AWARD FOR BEST FEATURE

THE GRANDSON
2023 AUDIENCE AWARD FOR BEST FEATURE

FIRST SNOW OF SUMMER
2023 AUDIENCE AWARD FOR BEST FEATURE

WHERE THE ROAD LEADS
2023 SPIRIT OF INDEPENDENT FILMMAKING

FRIENDS FROM HOME
2023 SPIRIT OF INDEPENDENT FILMMAKING

CHIPPER
2023 JURY AWARD FOR BEST SHORT

STUCK
2023 AUDIENCE AWARD FOR BEST SHORT

SEA OF TIME
2023 OPENING NIGHT FEATURE

DIVERTIMENTO
2023 CLOSING NIGHT FEATURE

THE RED SUITCASE
2023 OPENING NIGHT SHORT

THE BASICS OF LOVE
2023 CLOSING NIGHT SHORT

———————————————–

During the Festival, the Staller Center announced its exciting Fall 2023 Live Performing Arts season which kicks off on Sept. 5 with Corinne Bailey Rae, Pat Metheny on Sept. 23, Tara McNeill and Alexander Bernstein on Sept. 30, Disney Pixar Coco Live-to-Film concert on Oct. 9, Emerson String Quartet’s farewell concert on Oct. 14, Ballet Hispanico on Oct. 21, Jessica Vosk on Oct. 28, Evan + Zane on Nov. 3, iLuminated on Nov. 5, Tom Segura on Nov. 11, LeAnn Rimes on Nov. 18, Cat Kid Comic Club Musical on Nov. 19, Starry Nights chamber music concert on Nov. 29, Isaac Mizrahi on Dec. 1, Jane Monheit on Dec. 9, and concludes with GALA 2024 on March 9 with special guest Leslie Odom, Jr. For tickets and more information, visit www.stallercenter.com.

Vanessa Aleksander and Ignacy Liss in a scene from March ‘68. Photo courtesy of Staller Center

Stony Brook University’s Staller Center  for the Arts turns into a movie lover’s mecca when new independent films screen at the Stony Brook Film Festival on evenings and weekends from Thursday, July 20 to Saturday, July 29. The popular festival, now in its 28th year, will become a hub for some of the best filmmakers working today, a meeting ground for favorite actors and rising stars, and a showcase of new masterpieces as it pairs memorable short films with an array of features you won’t see anywhere else.

Presented by Island Federal, this year’s lineup offers 36 films from over 26 countries. The Festival kicks off with the U.S. premiere of the Dutch film Sea of Time. Led by Sallie Harmensen (SkyTV’s Devils), Reinout Scholten van Aschat, and of Danish stage and screen fame Elsie De Brauw, the harrowing, heartbreaking, and ultimately hopeful film is anchored by the powerhouse performances that examine enduring love in times of hardship.

Many international films in this year’s Festival are threaded by this theme of love overcoming life’s difficulties. Whether it is the blossoming young love against all odds in the Polish period drama March ’68, the touching Japanese film Trapped Balloon (starring Toko Miura of the 2022 Oscar-winning film Drive My Car), the gorgeous and romantic love story of My Sailor, My Love with Scottish film icon James Cosmo (Game of Thrones, His Dark Materials) and Tony-Award Winner Bríd Brennan (Dancing at Lughnasa), or the hilarious, music-infused road trip feature Grandpa Goes South from Slovenia.

Continuing on this shared theme of overcoming is Martha, a film that tells the true story of Martha Liebermann, wife to famed painter Max Liebermann, as she faces the Third Reich on own her terms. 

At the same time, the powerful documentary Radioactive, directed by Stony Brook University professor Heidi Hutner, recounts the saga about four housewives from Three Mile Island facing down the nuclear industry Goliath for over forty years, and The Grandson tells the story of a man’s refusal to allow heartless scammers to get the best of his grandfather in this tight Hungarian thriller.

There is no shortage of independent cinema in this year’s lineup, including the Serbian puzzle piece Where the Road Takes You, which takes the Western trope of the stranger in town who saves the girl and flips it on its head. From Canada comes the quirky comedy I Like Movies about the reformation of a crabby, awkward teenage cinephile. 

Also providing comic relief is the scenic and quietly riotous American indy Friends From Home, shot on the cheap during Covid, and from Italy, the strangely compelling Amanda, about a young woman who suddenly decides that an acquaintance from her very young childhood is now her best friend.

Rounding out a host of stellar independent offerings is the wild Yes, Repeat, No, set in a studio where three actors are all auditioning for the same role. This courageous and unforgettable film zeroes in on questions of conflicting identity while managing to surprise at every turn.

Some recognizable faces also show up in this year’s lineup, including Richard Kind, Karen Allen, and Peter Reigert in Hit Man: Secrets of Lies and the wickedly hilarious Two Chairs, Not One, starring Caitlin Reilly (HBO’s Hacks), whose wildly popular TikTok account has amassed hundreds of millions of views.

The closing night feature tells an extraordinary tale of overcoming. Divertimento shares the true story of sisters Zahia and Fettouma Ziouani, a conductor and a cellist, who, despite being Algerian immigrants from the wrong part of Paris, managed to create a world-class professional orchestra with little more than respect, determination, and sheer talent. Opening and closing with the insistent rhythm of Ravel’s Bolero, the film makes its hopeful message equally insistent: family and community can make the impossible possible.

“We are very excited to have filmmakers from all over the world join us for their premiere screenings. Our audiences can gather in a huge theater with Long Island’s largest screen, to see movies the way they were meant to be seen,” says Festival Director Alan Inkles. 

“Not only are these films not available on any streaming format, but you also get to hear directly from the filmmakers themselves, ask them a question at our live Q&A, and even vote for your favorite,” he said.

Additional sponsors for the Stony Brook Film Festival include Campolo, Middleton & McCormick, LLP; Suffolk County; Altice Media; and WLIW/PBS.

FILM SCHEDULE

OPENING NIGHT

Thursday, July 20 at 8 p.m.

Feature: Sea of Time

Short: The Red Suitcase

Friday, July 21 at 7 p.m.

Feature: Exodus

Short: Hit Friends

Friday, July 21 at 9:30 p.m.

Feature: I Like Movies

Short: Chipper

Saturday, July 22 at 7 p.m.

Feature: My Sailor, My Love

Short: The Countryman

Saturday, July 22 at 9:30 p.m.

Feature: Grandpa Goes South

Short: Two Chairs, Not One

Sunday, July 23 at 7 p.m.

Feature: Martha

Short: Stuck

Sunday, July 23 at 9:30 p.m.

Feature: Friends From Home.

Short: At A Glance

Monday, July 24 at 7 p.m.

Feature: Trapped Balloon

Short: Healer

Monday, July 24 at 9:30 p.m.

Feature: A Fleeting Encounter

Short: Winter’s Passing

Tuesday, July 25 at 7 p.m.

Feature: Elik & Jimmy

Short: The Third Defector

Tuesday, July 25 at 9:30 p.m.

Feature: Amanda

Short: Mahogany Drive

Wednesday, July 26 at 7 p.m.

Feature: Radioactive: The Women of Three Mile Island

Short: Queen Moorea

Wednesday, July 26 at 9:30 p.m.

Feature: Where the Road Leads

Short: Hit Man: Secrets of Lies

Thursday, July 27 at 7 p.m.

Feature: March ‘68

Short: The Father, The Son and The Rav Kalmenson

Thursday, July 27 at 9:30 p.m.

Feature: Yes Repeat No

Short: Demon Box

Friday, July 28 at 7 p.m.

Feature: The Grandson

Short: Death By Puppies

Friday, July 28 at 9:30 p.m.

Feature: First Snow of Summer

Short: Voices

CLOSING NIGHT

Saturday, July 29 at 8 p.m.

Feature: Divertimento

Short: The Basics of Love

CLOSING NIGHT AWARDS

10:30 p.m. Presented on stage.

——————————————-

Ticket information

All screenings are held at Stony Brook University’s Staller Center for the Arts, 100 Nicolls Road, Stony Brook in the 1,000-seat Main Stage theater. 

Festival goers can choose from a Gold Pass “VIP” ($250), Regular Pass ($100), new! Flex Pass ($75), or Individual Pass of $15, $13.50 seniors. To learn about the different membership levels and their benefits, call 631-632-2787 or visit www.stonybrookfilmfestival.com.

This article first appeared in Summer Times, a seasonal guide supplement by TBR News Media.

The 27th annual Stony Brook Film Festival, presented by Island Federal Credit Union, wrapped up with a Closing Night Awards Ceremony on July 30.  The evening recognized the outstanding new independent films screened at the festival, which was held at Staller Center for the Arts at Stony Brook University from July 21 to 30. 

This year’s winners included BerenshteinJury Award for  Best Feature; ContraAudience Award for Best Feature; All That Glitters and Summer of Bees tied for the Jury Award for Best Short; Ousmane — Audience Award for Best Short; Peaceful   Opening Night Feature Award; Lost TransportClosing Night Feature Award; Lentini Opening Night Short Award; and Mila Closing Night Short Award.

In addition, Glob Lessons, directed by Nicole Rodenburg and written by Rodenburg and Colin Froeber, received The Spirit of Independent Filmmaking Award which is given every year to a filmmaker whose work exemplifies the spirit and breadth of filmmaking where the focus is on the art and most often produced with an extremely limited budget. 

This year’s Festival bestowed a special Humanitarian Award on Dr. Gabriel Sara, co-star of and consultant on the opening night feature, Peaceful. A cancer specialist at Manhattan’s Mount Sinai West, Dr. Sara helped launch The Helen Sawaya Fund, a philanthropy program whose mission is to enhance the experience of cancer patients through art and music. 

“The dignity and empathy which Dr. Sara brings to his work became the impetus for Peaceful, a film that touched us all so deeply,” said Alan Inkles, Director of the Stony Brook Film Festival. “We are proud to confer [this award] on Dr. Sara for his vital and important work in improving the lives of cancer patients.”

Highlighting the live Awards Ceremony was a presentation by the filmmakers of Red River Road, winner of the 2021 Spirit of Independent Filmmaking Award. Writer/director Paul Schuyler proudly announced that Red River Road was acquired for distribution by Gravitas Films with the help and support of the Stony Brook Film Festival.

“For over 27 years, filmmakers have continually conveyed to us that we are the most hospitable festival they’ve been to,” said Inkles. “We are able to treat our filmmakers like royalty because we have two constituents in mind when we plan our festivals — our filmmakers and our audience. With the support of Island Federal and many of our other supporters, we are proud to provide a full experience to our audience, bringing together filmmakers and cast members from all over the world to give first- hand accounts of their process.”

During the Festival, the Staller Center announced its Fall 2022 Live Performing Arts season which kicks off on Sept. 23 and includes performances by Michael Feinstein, Katherine McPhee and David Foster, and Vic DiBitetto, among others. Visit www.stallercenter.com for the entire Fall season line-up.

Anthony Famulari in a scene from The Switcheroo. Photo courtesy of Staller Center
Fest to include indie weekend, female directors panel, SBU grads

By Melissa Arnold

Stony Brook University’s Staller Center for the Arts turns into a movie lover’s mecca when new independent films screen at the Stony Brook Film Festival from Thursday, July 21 to Saturday, July 30. The popular event pairs memorable short films with an array of features you won’t see anywhere else, making it a favorite of moviegoers and filmmakers alike.

Now in its 27th year, the festival will celebrate its return to a fully live experience after some creative adjustments during the pandemic. Over the course of nine days, 38 films from 27 countries will be screened on evenings and weekends. But deciding what to show is no easy task.

More than a thousand films are sent to festival director Alan Inkles each year, he said. With the help of co-director Kent Marks, they go through an intense process of screening, debating, and cutting before the final selections are made.

The resulting collection showcases both shorts and feature-length films in all kinds of styles and genres. Among them is a short sci-fi comedy called The Switcheroo, directed by brothers and Stony Brook natives Ryan and Anthony Famulari. The film will be screened on Sunday, July 24 at 7 p.m. 

“I try not to read anything about a film before I watch it — I owe it to our viewers to not favor anyone, so I’m not going to pick a film just because it’s local. We choose a film because it’s enjoyable,” Inkles explained. “That said, I love that we’ve been able to include Switcheroo and have Long Island represented. Comedy is hard to do, especially for young filmmakers, but this story is so charming, funny, and just really nailed it. And when I read that the brothers were from Stony Brook, I thought it was great.”

The Switcheroo stars Anthony Famulari playing both a heartbroken scientist and his charismatic clone. The clone tries to help his creator land a date, which reveals some surprising and funny secrets.

Cloning was the perfect concept to explore for the brothers, who were living together during the worst of the pandemic and looking for something fun to do.  

“The idea was more of a necessity, considering we didn’t have a crew or a large budget,” said Anthony, 33. “But we wanted to make something that was still enjoyable and interesting. We both gravitate to stories with sci-fi elements, and it was a great solution to the creative challenges of the time.”

The brothers grew up with their own interests, but shared a deep love of movies and storytelling. Both went on to major in journalism at Stony Brook University. While there, Ryan played football and Anthony dove into theater. They also worked together conducting and filming interviews on campus, and wrote film scripts in their spare time.

“Anthony was always a ham, but I didn’t see him act for the first time until college. I found that he was really good at it,” recalls Ryan, 35. “This has been a passion for us for a long time. We’ll go see a movie and then get into a deep discussion about it for an hour after. Our filmmaking is like that too. We’ll wrestle over an idea, but that’s fun for us.”

These days, the Famularis are on separate coasts — Ryan went to grad school for creative writing and is currently living in New York working remotely for a Los Angeles-based animation studio, while Anthony lives in Los Angeles pursuing acting while also working for an animation studio. But they’re still writing together and looking forward to whatever comes next.

“We’re constantly bouncing ideas around, and with each one of our short films, we learn something new and continue to improve,” Anthony said. “At the end of the day, our goal is to create something enjoyable that’s worth people’s time, while pursuing our passions.”

Also of note during this year’s festival is a panel discussion on women in filmmaking, and a weekend celebrating the spirit of American-made indie films.

“We have a lot of female writers and directors represented here, and have since the festival first began,” Inkles said. “It was important for us to feature them in a special way, and provide a unique opportunity for conversation, both among the panelists and with the audience.”

The panel is an exclusive benefit open to those who purchase festival passes. A variety of options are available, including an opening weekend pass.

Many film screenings will also include a question and answer session with the filmmaker. “That’s what makes a film festival so interesting as opposed to just going to the movies — you get the chance to talk with the filmmakers directly and learn more about their process,” Inkles said.

The Stony Brook Film Festival will be held from July 21 through July 30 30 at Stony Brook University’s Staller Center for the Arts, 100 Nicolls Road, Stony Brook. Individual tickets and premium passes are available. For the full schedule and more information or to purchase tickets, visit www.stallercenter.com or call the box office at 631-632-2787.

This article was updated July 23, 2022.

Catherine Deneuve and Benoît Magimel in a scene from Peaceful. Photo courtesy of Staller Center

Stony Brook University’s Staller Center  for the Arts turns into a movie lover’s mecca when new independent films screen at the Stony Brook Film Festival on evenings and weekends from Thursday, July 21 to Saturday, July 30. The popular festival, now in its 27th year, pairs memorable short films with an array of features you won’t see anywhere else, making it a favorite of moviegoers and filmmakers alike.

Presented by Island Federal, the 2022 Festival lineup offers 38 films from over 28 countries. The Festival kicks off with the North American premiere of Peaceful, starring Catherine Deneuve, Benoît Magimel, and Gabriel A. Sara. A life-affirming drama about acceptance and resilience, Peaceful follows Benjamin, an acting teacher with a terminal illness as he navigates his final months and days. The beating heart of the film comes from Gabriel Sara — a cancer specialist from Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan in real-life — who portrays Benjamin’s very humane specialist Dr. Eddé. Catherine Deneuve’s powerful performance as Benjamin’s mother is unforgettable.

“This year’s Festival is somewhat of a family affair, with several real-life family members making films, and members of our Stony Brook family returning,” says Festival co-programmer Kent Marks. “Our Sunday night independent feature, the very touching This is a Film About My Mother, which was shot in Ithaca, New York, stars real-life siblings Tess and Will Harrison and was written and directed by Tess.”

The theme of family continues with the mesmerizing Korean independent film, Seokkarae. Written and directed by Mike Beech, and starring his wife, Jiwon Lee, the character-driven film depicts a quiet twenty-something attempting to keep the family business going despite tough odds. Jungle is another such collaboration, written by real life partners Claudia Verena Hruschka and Kieran Wheeler, with Wheeler directing and Hruschka giving a gut-wrenching performance in this hard-hitting short from Australia. 

From Australia to Stony Brook, The Switcheroo is co-directed by Stony Brook brothers Ryan and Anthony Famulari. Made for next to nothing during COVID, this hilarious comedy has the brothers serving as the entire crew, with Anthony cast in the very funny role of a man and his clone. Two more co-directors are sisters Austin and Westin Ray with their UK-based quiet thriller Before Seven. The Ray’s, Festival alums from 2014, served as directors, writer (Westin) and composer and cinematographer (Austin). Another SBFF festival alum is John Gray, who won the audience choice award for his 2020 film Extra Innings, and is back this year with the intriguing family drama The Little Drummer Boy.

Women will take center stage at this year’s SBFF, both in front of and behind the camera. SBFF’s opening and closing night features and shorts were all helmed by female directors. In all, 17 of the Festival’s 38 films were directed by women. Two films, Kitchen Tales and Before Seven, were made with nearly all-female crews. 

The Jackie Stiles Story and Nasima are two completely different documentaries about female athletes from the middle of nowhere — a small Kansas town and a small seaside village in Bangladesh — who both beat the odds and made a huge impact in their respective sports of basketball and surfing. 

There are heroines from all walks of life, whether in the New Zealand drama The Justice of Bunny King, the Israeli epic Image of Victory, the Albanian thriller Vera Dream of the Sea, or the American indie Peace in the Valley, all of which feature knock-out performances by their lead actresses.

Reflecting on current issues, two films in the Festival, Olga and Berenshtein both take place in and around Ukraine, and both are from times when the Ukrainian people faced down an oppressive regime — whether it be from the Nazis or their own government.

Mila, a must-see short film on SBFF’s closing night, is a debut effort by writer/director Cinzia Angelini and made by 350 animators from 35 countries, who volunteered their services to help Angelini get her story made after all major studios turned it down. Inspired by events of the 1943 Trento bombing in Italy, this heart-warming story depicts a young girl who has lost everything but still clings to hope. 

The closing night feature, Lost Transport, is a powerful and deeply moving film set during the final days of World War II, uniquely told from a female perspective. When German soldiers abandon a deportation train, leaving the fate of its occupants in the hands of advancing Russian troops, three women from vastly different backgrounds, set aside their differences, working together to survive.

“The diversity of filmmakers is a hallmark of Stony Brook Film Festival, with student filmmakers, seasoned pros, and nine first-time directors represented this year,” says Festival Director Alan Inkles. “We are very excited to have filmmakers from all over the world join us in-person this year for their premiere screenings. Our audience can gather in a huge theater with Long Island’s largest screen, to see movies the way they were meant to be seen. Not only are these films not available on any streaming format, but you also get to hear directly from the filmmakers themselves, ask them a question at our live Q&A, and even vote for your favorite.”

For 27 years, the Stony Brook Film Festival has hosted 549 filmmakers from 78 different countries, featured nearly 55 World Premieres and over 75 U.S. premieres. In total, the Festival has screened almost 1100 independent films from all over the world. The Festival kicks-off with an Opening Night Party and closes with an Awards Ceremony and Closing Night Party.

FILM SCHEDULE

OPENING NIGHT

Thursday, July 21 at 8 p.m.

Feature: Peaceful, France

Short: Lentini, United States

 

Friday, July 22 at 7 p.m.

Feature: Olga, Switzerland, Ukraine,  France

Short: Kitchen Tales, United Kingdom

 

Friday, July 22 at 9:30 p.m.

Feature: Glob Lessons, United States

Short: Before Seven, United States

 

Saturday, July 23 at 4:30 p.m.

Doc Feature: The Jackie Stiles Story, U.S.

 

Saturday, July 23 at 7 p.m.

Feature: Contra, Germany

Short: The Little Drummer Boy, U.S.

 

Saturday, July 23 at 9:30 p.m.

Feature: Peace in the Valley, U.S.

Short: Elevate, United States

 

Sunday, July 24 at 4:30 p.m.

Documentary Feature: Nasima, U.S.

 

Sunday, July 24 at 7 p.m.

Feature: Berenshtein, Israel & Ukraine

Short: The Switcheroo, United States

 

Sunday, July 24 at 9:30 p.m.

Feature: This is a Film About My Mother, U.S.

Short: North Star, United States

 

Monday, July 25 at 7 p.m.

Feature: Hit the Road, Iran

Short: Summer of Bees, Finland

 

Monday, July 25 at 9:30 p.m.

Feature: Seokkarae, Korea

Short: Saving Elodie, United Kingdom

 

Tuesday, July 26 at 7 p.m.

Feature: Hard Shell, Soft Shell, France

Short: Almost Winter, United States

 

Tuesday, July 26 at 9:30 p.m.

Feature: The Justice of Bunny King, NZ

Short: The Dress, United States

 

Wednesday, July 27 at 7 p.m.

Feature: Image of Victory, Israel

Short: Milk, United Kingdom

 

Wednesday, July 27 at 9:30 p.m.

Feature: The Test, France

Short: Free Fall, France

 

Thursday, July 28 at 7 p.m.

Feature: Haute Couture, France

Short: Jungle, Australia

 

Thursday, July 28 at 9:30 p.m.

Feature: Sons of the Sea, South Africa

Short: Ousmane, Canada

 

Friday, July 29 at 7 p.m.

Feature: Vera Dream of the Sea, Kosovo & Albania & Republic of Macedonia

Short: All that Glitters, United Kingdom

 

Friday, July 29 at 9:30 p.m.

Feature: Black Box, France & Belgium

Short: Aysha, Germany

 

CLOSING NIGHT

Saturday, July 30 at 8 p.m.

Feature: Lost Transport, Netherlands & Luxemborg & Germany

Short: Mila, United States

 

CLOSING NIGHT AWARDS

10:30 p.m.

Ticket information

All screenings are held at Stony Brook University’s Staller Center for the Arts, 100 Nicolls Road, Stony Brook in the 1,000-seat Main Stage theater. Festival goers can choose from a Gold Pass, Festival Pass, or Individual Pass. Passes start at $20. All passholders will hear from filmmakers throughout the Festival and have the opportunity to rate and vote on favorite films to help choose the winners of this year’s Festival. 

Gold Passholders receive entry to all films, VIP reserved seating, a Stony Brook Film Festival swag bag, discounts at local restaurants and businesses, access to Opening and Closing Night After Parties, filmmaker Q&A’s, and the Closing Night Awards Ceremony. Festival Passholders receive entry to all films and guaranteed seating for sold-out films, filmmaker Q&A’s, access to the Closing Night Awards Ceremony, discounts at local restaurants and businesses, voting for Audience Choice Award, and a Stony Brook Film Festival Passholder gift. For more information or to order, call 631-632-2787 or visit stonybrookfilmfestival.com.

*This article originally appeared in TBR News Media’s Summer Times supplement on June 24.

Photo from Staller Center

In their only New York appearance, 16-time Grammy award-winning musician, composer, and producer David Foster and acclaimed singer, television and Broadway star Katharine McPhee will bring their viral Instagram sensation “The Kat & Dave Show,” direct from their living room to Stony Brook University’s Staller Center for the Arts for one live show, Thursday, Dec. 1 at 7 p.m.

In her first appearance at the Staller Center since 2010, McPhee will perform some of her biggest songs from American Idol, Smash, and Broadway’s Waitress. ‘The Kat & Dave Show” will also showcase Foster’s hit songs created for countless music legends including Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson, Celine Dion, Josh Groban, Stevie Wonder, Earth, Wind & Fire, Dolly Parton, Chicago, Hall & Oates, Gloria Estefan, and many others.

“We are thrilled to welcome back Katharine McPhee and for the first time, David Foster,” said Alan Inkles, Director of Staller Center for the Arts. ‘The Kat & Dave Show,’ their ‘quaranstream’ Instagram Live concerts, delighted legions of fans during the early days of the pandemic. The combination of these two powerhouse entertainers is sure to be a treat for our audiences.”

Tickets for “The Kat & Dave Show,” starting at $62, are on sale online at www.stallercenter.com. For a limited time, ticket buyers can receive 10% off by using code KAT10DAVE. 

Pixabay photo

Save the date! The Meadow Club, 1147 Route 112, Port Jefferson Station will be hosting the 7th Annual United Nations Day of Yoga on June 21 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The event is open to all and will include a variety of yoga classes for all ages and levels, meditation sessions, vendors and more. 

This event is being sponsored by Indu Kaur, Director of The Meadow Club; Jas Singh, founder of ReflectandRespond; Sharmila Nigam, founder of One Love Generation; and Marcy Guzman of The Healing Center at Port Jeff Salt Cave, along with 14 holistic teachers and volunteers.  

Brookhaven Councilmember Jonathan Kornreich, Suffolk County Legislator Kara Hahn, Director of the Staller Center Alan Inkles, and President of the Port Jefferson Station/Terryville Chamber of Commerce Jennifer Dzvonar, to name a few, will be in attendance for the candle lighting ceremony to start the morning program. 

A vision of Indu Kaur, owner of The Meadow Club, the event is intended to promote harmony, world peace, health and wellness through the various practices of yoga and holistic modalities.

Event speakers include Dr. N who is Board certified Doctor of Integrative Medicine, Alternative Medicine and Doctor of Humanitarian services with PhD graduated from International Quantum University of Integrative Medicine; and Meditation teacher Bhante Kottave Nanda from Long Island Meditation Center. 

Attendees will be able to learn and practice various forms of yoga such as Hatha, Chair, Kundalini, Restorative, Vinyasa, Yin, Yoga Nidra and more from local instructors of Yoga, Pranayama breathing, Ayurveda, Holistic health lifestyle, meditation, Reiki, financial wellbeing and more.

In addition, a delicious vegan vegetarian buffet will be available for a nominal fee along with raffle of baskets valued at $200+ to support this fully volunteered sponsored event and raise awareness of peace with yoga, love, and light. Bring your own yoga mats or mats will be available for purchase.

The event is FREE and open to the public. RSVP requested by calling 631-828-4818.