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Alan Inkles

Alan Inkles is one of TBR News Media's 2022 People of the Year. Photo from the Staller Center

The director of the Staller Center for the Arts at Stony Brook University, Alan Inkles typically goes the extra mile for his audience, staff and entertainers.

Alan Inkles, left, director of the Staller Center for the Arts at Stony Brook University, poses for a photo with actor Ralph Macchio in 2015. Photo from Staller Center for the Arts

He had been trying to book Ward Melville High School alumnus and comedic film star Kevin James to bring his talents home to Stony Brook, where Long Islanders could laugh with the star of the “Paul Blart” movies and the TV show “The King of Queens.”

Unsuccessful but undeterred, Inkles attended a showing of “A Christmas Carol,” where James was performing. 

“He goes backstage to meet him, starts up a conversation and says, ‘We’d love to have you come here,’” said Kent Marks, Stony Brook Film Festival coordinator and contracts administrator at the Staller Center. James reacted favorably to Inkles and to the idea. When Stony Brook publicized the show for Jan. 27 next year, tickets sold out in a few hours. James agreed to do a second show Jan. 28, which also quickly sold out.

Co-workers, collaborators and artists appreciate Inkles’ charm, his personal touch and his vision for an arts center that has become a favorite not only for the renowned Emerson String Quartet, which is based at SBU, but also for the prestigious film festival, which Inkles started.

For guiding the Staller Center since 1995, including through the recent years when COVID-19 limited the ability to hold live performances, and for his tireless work bringing a range of performers to appreciative audiences, TBR News Media is pleased to name Inkles a Person of the Year for 2022.

Former SBU president Shirley Kenny saw the talent and determination in Inkles when she named him director of the Staller Center.

Even though Inkles was “just a kid,” Kenny said she thought “he’d be terrific,” adding, “I feel really smug because he has been so extraordinary.”

One of those guys that jumps in

Inkles has shown a readiness to deploy his charm with donors, to greet guests before performances and to help with whatever is needed.

In 2018, during a ballet performance from the Parsons Dance Company, another dancer cut the eyelid of dancer Geena Pacareu. After Pacareu went onstage for a pas de deux with her partner, she came backstage and was “lying face down, bleeding,” said Margaret Selby, the founder of Selby/Artists MGMT, an arts management company.

Inkles went backstage and told the dancer he was taking her to a hospital. He stayed with her until medical staff took care of the injury.

“Inkles is one of those guys that jumps in and does what has to be done,” Selby said.

Phil Setzer, professor of Violin in the Department of Music at SBU and founding member of the Emerson String Quartet, recalled how Inkles had booked the quartet to perform “Shostakovich and the Black Monk: A Russian Fantasy.” Inkles traveled to Princeton, New Jersey, to watch the show.

“He didn’t have to do that,” Setzer said. “He had already committed to doing it at Stony Brook.”

Setzer recalled how Inkles came backstage to speak with the performers after a show that ends sadly. Inkles was moved by the performance and wasn’t “all smiley and cheery,” the violinist said. “That, to me, was real.” 

Self-deprecating

Despite his numerous accomplishments, Inkles readily and regularly shares credit with many of his long-standing and loyal staff. His team appreciates his self-deprecating humor.

Years ago, the Staller Center featured actor and stand-up comedian Kevin Pollak, who has been part of the supporting cast of the movies “A Few Good Men,” “The Usual Suspects” and “Grumpy Old Men” and also appeared in the sitcom “Mom,” as well as other films and TV shows.

Inkles had been walking around the stage prior to the performance and saw a plastic rose. Thinking this was a leftover from an earlier production, Inkles took it away.

Before he performed, Pollak, who was already annoyed because a rising comedic star named Ellen DeGeneres warmed up the audience too effectively, noticed that the rose, which was a prop for his show,
was missing.

Pollak demanded to know what happened to the rose. A member of the crew found it and Pollak performed.

Marks said Inkles readily acknowledged that he created the problem and tells this story to show how he learned the hard way “to stay out of it.”. Inkles has said his team “knows what they’re doing and I trust them.”

Inkles is often prepared with a humorous story or response to an event, which helps him engage with anyone.

Setzer recalled how Inkles came into a room in December with a cast on his arm. When Setzer asked what happened, Inkles said, “Well, I was hanging Christmas decorations on my house and the ladder slipped, and I fell and broke my arm.”

Inkles, who had a pouty look as he told the story, got quiet for a moment, building the suspense.

“That was payback for a Jewish guy putting up Christmas decorations,” Inkles said, sending the room into hysterics.

Trusted leader and boss

Inkles has established a level of trust with the community.

“He’s always looked out for everybody’s safety and well-being,” Setzer said. “If Alan Inkles says it’s safe to come back to the Staller with masks on, and that we can keep the air circulating, then it’s safe to come back. A lot of people trust him.”

Setzer enjoys a personal and professional connection with Inkles. The day after each concert, the two of them go to the Founders Room, discuss the prior evening and share a drink of bourbon.

Inkles has demonstrated a similar camaraderie and connection with his staff and other performers.

Daria Carioscia, development director at the Staller Center, described Inkles as “the best gift giver.” He has purchased items like a remote control car for her son, who, Carioscia said, reminds Inkles of his middle child.

Carioscia recalled how she was in the office one day, frustrated by a malfunctioning keyboard. Inkles asked her what the problem was, told her to “hold on” and reappeared with a new keyboard.

Inkles encourages SBU students to get tickets early for performances that appeal to them. 

Paul Newland, outreach director at the Staller Center, also appreciates the resources Inkles has put into bringing students from Long Island to the center.

The outreach goal, which Newland said Inkles supports, is to create a spark among younger audiences that helps them develop an appreciation for and an interest in the arts.

A film festival, with a personal touch

One of the reasons the Stony Brook Film Festival has become such an appealing venue for movie makers is the format. 

Inkles wanted to provide filmmakers with a personal touch, offering features on the main stage.

Inkles makes sure the team picks up out-of-town guests at the airport, takes them to hotel rooms, provides publicity through social media, supplies dinner and arranges transportation to after-parties.

Celebrities, some of whom have become friends with Inkles, appreciate his work.

Inkles is “generous to a fault to the participants,” explained actor Brian Cox, who is on the advisory board for the festival. Inkles is “equally generous to the audience. I’ve never known a festival where so much love is generated toward the actual director of the festival.”

“Karate Kid” and “Cobra Kai” actor Ralph Macchio suggested Inkles’ “passion for the arts and film is unparalleled and his thriving spirit for the Stony Brook Film Festival is infectious.”

Arts management agent Selby suggested that “no one goes to his venue on the artistic side without knowing who he is.”

She said audiences and artists trust him and that the community is willing to give him the benefit of the doubt when he brings in new talent.

“I wish we could clone him,” Selby said.

By Melissa Arnold

There’s nothing quite like the energy of a live performance, especially if it’s been almost two years since your last show.

The Staller Center for the Arts on the campus of Stony Brook University is as eager to welcome audiences back as showgoers are to be there. Following an abbreviated but otherwise successful fall season, their upcoming spring lineup will feature a wide mix of dancing, theatrical performances and comedy.

“I had a lot of theatrical events planned for the fall, but when we scheduled them earlier this year, we had no idea what the rules were going to be for health and safety,” said Alan Inkles, the Staller Center’s director. “So we decided to focus more on bands for the fall and concentrate on theatrical performances in the spring. It’s been smooth, and everyone is just glad to be out and enjoying the theater.”

It’s a special year for the center’s quartet-in-residence. The Emerson String Quartet recently announced they will retire in 2023 after more than 40 years of performing as one of the world’s premier chamber music ensembles. They’ll be presenting two concerts this spring on Jan. 26 and April 18.

For a quarter of a century, the Broadway rock opera Rent has broken down taboos as it chronicles a group of friends fighting poverty, discrimination and addiction in the midst of the AIDS epidemic. This fall the cast kicked off their 25th Anniversary “Farewell Season of Love” tour which will include a performance at the Staller Center on March 3.

“You never know when you’re going to be seeing a show for the last time, and with something as iconic and well-known as Rent, we want to give as many people as possible the opportunity to see a wonderful, high-quality touring production,” Inkles said.

Grace, skill and beauty are all on display this season with two unique dance companies. Complexions Ballet Company pushes the boundaries of traditional and contemporary styles while tackling a variety of topics, from current events to diverse cultures and renowned musicians. Look out for “Love Rocks” during the Feb. 5 show, which celebrates the music of Lenny Kravitz.

Dance-illusionists MOMIX return to the Staller Center on April 2 for “Viva MOMIX,” a two-act collection of dance vignettes using light, shadow and props to create stunning effects. The vignettes will take the audience on a magical journey that showcases the greatest moments in the company’s 40-year history.

If you’re looking for something interesting for kids, consider The Queen’s Cartoonists on April 5. These jazz and classical musicians will take you on a crazy romp, playing live music to accompany cartoons projected onscreen above them. The cartoons are from a variety of time periods and countries, allowing audience members of any age to enjoy old classics and new discoveries.

“The Queen’s Cartoonists is a 7 p.m. show, which gives families a chance to enjoy it without staying out too late — it’s always great to introduce kids to live and orchestral music by letting them see it up close,” said Daria Carioscia, Staller’s director of development. “They’ll be performing in our recital hall, which provides a great perspective from wherever you’re sitting, and the cartoons playing behind them will be entertaining and fun for everyone.”

Carioscia also recommends the high-energy, New Orleans jazz sounds of The Hot Sardines on March 19, as well as the May 7 appearance by The Doo Wop Project. If you’ve ever wondered what the music of Jason Mraz and Maroon 5 would sound like if the Jersey Boys sang it, look no further. Both shows are heavy on audience participation, so get ready to sing and dance along. It’s a great time to introduce kids to different genres and eras of music they may have never heard before, she said.

A few more events round out the season: 

■ March 12: 2022 Gala, including performances by Emanuel Ax, Leonidas Kavakos, and Yo-Yo Ma. Regular tickets are sold out. Become a Gala Supporter to receive VIP tickets.

■ March 30: “Starry Nights,” an evening of music featuring cellist Colin Carr and Stony Brook University musicians

■ April 21: “Queen of the Flute” Carol Wincenc

■ April 22: Comedian, satirist and Grammy nominee David Sedaris

Of course, the Staller Center staff and performers all love to see their shows sold out. But when that’s not possible, they get creative and offer a seat to those who might have never seen a live performance before.

“We’ve been working really hard to fill the theater, and on the nights where we have unsold tickets, we give them away to local school districts, Stony Brook students, and other populations who wouldn’t otherwise have the chance to attend,” Carioscia explained. “Ultimately, we want to make the arts accessible to as many people as we can. It’s good for the community, and a full house also changes the energy in an exciting way for our performers.”

The staff knows that there is still some understandable concern in the community about crowds and public events, and they are dedicated to helping audiences feel safe. Masks are required in the center, as well as either proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test. No time frame is required on testing. Additionally, concessions are not being sold at this time to limit the need to remove your mask.

“We recognize that everyone is in their own place regarding what they feel comfortable doing right now. People will come back when they’re ready, and we’re going to be fair with what we’re asking from our audiences as far as safety,” Inkles said. 

“It’s been smooth, and everyone is just glad to be out and enjoying the theater. We’ve spent the last 2 years stuck inside at home, watching movies on big screen TVs. We want to give people the energy of live performance, the opportunity to have a night out and spend time together and connect again. You can’t duplicate that experience with Netflix or HBO. There’s nothing else like it.”

Stony Brook University’s Staller Center for the Arts is located at 100 Nicolls Road, Stony Brook. Tickets for the Staller Center’s Spring 2022 season are on sale now. A 10 percent discount is offered on all shows through Dec. 12. For more information, visit www.stallercenter.com or call 631-632-ARTS (2787) or email [email protected]

All photos from Staller Center for the Arts.

The 26th annual Stony Brook Film Festival, presented by Island Federal Credit Union, wrapped up with a Closing Night Awards Reception on July 31. 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 22 to 31.

Making its world premiere at the festival, Anchorage won the Grand Prize this year. Director Scott Monahan and screenwriter Dakota Loesch star as two brothers who attempt to drive a trunk full of opioids from Florida to Alaska to cash in big in the Land of Gold. But their plan gets challenged by their surroundings, their shortcomings, and their tendency to dip into their own supply. This one-of-a-kind film explores the national crises of opioid addiction.

Special Achievement in Directing was awarded to Trey Nelson for his directorial debut in The 5th Man, a documentary that tells the extraordinary story of Paul Limmer, a world class track coach at Mepham High School in North Bellmore, whose dedication impacted so many lives. This film is also the first documentary to ever open the Stony Brook Film Festival.

The Spirit of Independent Filmmaking Award, given 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, was awarded to Red River Road. Written and directed by Paul Schuyler, the film was shot entirely under COVID-19 lockdown by one family and their dog that served as the entire cast and crew.

Written and directed by Lina Luzyte, The Castle captured the Audience Award for Best Feature. The film features Monika, a thirteen-year-old Lithuanian girl living in Dublin with her mother, a pianist who works at a local fish factory, and her grandmother, who has dementia and requires constant supervision. After singing with her mother at a small locale, they are approached with an invitation to play in ‘The Castle’ which they are told is one of the best music venues in Ireland. 

Willow received the Jury Award for Best Feature. Written and directed by Milcho Manchevski, the film tells of a young peasant woman who seeks the help of an aged sorceress in the attempt to get pregnant. Centuries later, two contemporary women find themselves struggling with their own beliefs, modern science, and societal mores, in their own struggles to navigate motherhood. With its amazing images and unconventional narrative, this is a film whose story and characters exhibit that rare authenticity that makes you forget you’re watching a movie.

Noisy received the Audience Award for Best Short. A film by Cedric Hill, it features two strangers on a noisy subway who discover they have way more in common than where they’re heading. 

Rounding out the awards, The Saverini Widow captured the Jury Award for Best Short. A French film by Loïc Gaillard, it details how a widow’s life falls to pieces when her son is killed in a clash. Left with only her dog, she plots a desperate scheme. With stunning visuals and no dialogue, this film keeps you riveted to the end.

Of the winning films, filmmakers and cast and crew from Anchorage, Red River Road, and The 5th Man were in attendance to accept their awards. It was an unusual year indeed, with only American filmmakers in attendance for the live Q&A sessions following their screenings, but a joyful and celebrated return to the theater.

Virtual passes are now available to view the encore screening of the Festival on IndieFlix Festivals through Aug. 30. Passes for the entire 4 weeks are $85 per household or $25 for a weekly pass. Virtual passholders will be able to watch films multiple times and will have access to a number of features and shorts beginning each Thursday at 7 p.m. through Monday at midnight. Pre-recorded discussions with filmmakers, directors, cast, and crew will be included as well. For more information, call 631-632-2787 or visit stonybrookfilmfestival.com.

Photos courtesy of Staller Center for the Arts

'When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit'

Organizers of the Stony Brook Film Festival hosted a virtual awards ceremony on Tuesday, Dec. 15. All of the festival winners were in attendance at the ceremony to accept their awards. 

Jury Award for Best Feature

‘The Subject’

The Subject, directed by Lanie Zipoy and written by Chisa Hutchinson, won the Jury Award for Best Feature. The Subject tells the story of a successful documentary filmmaker haunted by his last film, which captured the murder of his subject, a black teen in Harlem. The timely film explores the relationship between an artist and their subject and addresses the harsh reality of race and class among the privileged. The film features Jason Biggs, Aunjanue Ellis, Anabelle Acosta, Carra Patterson, Nile Bullock, and Caleb Eberhardt.

Audience Award for Best Feature

When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit, directed by Caroline Link and written by Anna Brüggemann, Judith Kerr, and Caroline Link, won the Audience Award for Best Feature. The film features Riva Krymalowski, Marinus Hohmann, Carla Juri, Oliver Masucci, and Justus von Dohnányi. When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit is a German film based on the beloved semiautobiographical children’s book by Judith Kerr. 

Anna is a nine-year-old living with her family in Berlin in 1933 when her life completely changes. To escape the Nazis, her father — a well-known Jewish journalist — quietly flees one night, and the rest of the family follows. Anna has to leave everything behind, including her beloved pink rabbit, and begins a new life full of challenges as a refugee abroad. A beautiful story for the whole family, filled with suspense, drama, sadness, and hope, with a timely message about being a refugee in a foreign land.

Jury Award for Best Short

They Won’t Last, a lighthearted short film written and directed by Portlynn Tagavi, won the Jury Award for Best Short. The film tells the story of a woman’s uncertain future when her hopeless boyfriend proposes after a friends’ perfect wedding.

Audience Award for Best Short

The Audience Award for Best Short was presented to Extra Innings. Written and directed by John Gray, the film tells the story of a reporter who interviewed the Boston Red Sox manager in an attempt to uncover secrets from his past. 

Spirit of Independent Filmmaking

The final award presented was the Spirit of Independent Filmmaking, which is awarded 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 recipient was Higher Love. Written and directed by Hasan Oswald, the film is a harrowing and unblinking documentary about lives affected by hard drugs, shown with honesty, compassion, desperation, and hope. 

Like many other events around the country, this year’s Festival went virtual through a partnership with IndieFlix. Attendance soared with the virtual option as patrons across the country tuned in to watch the films with family and friends every weekend. Attendees sent regards from across the country, saying “what a relief to have this escape during this time,” and “these films are the only bright spot in our week.” 

“We were thrilled to be able to offer this virtually during the Pandemic, and we were so happy to receive such positive and uplifting feedback from our patrons. The arts are needed now more than ever, and we can’t wait to get back to offering world-class programming in person as soon as it’s safe to do so. Until then, we’ll keep getting creative with virtual programming,” said Alan Inkles, Director of the Stony Brook Film Festival and the Staller Center for the Arts.

The Staller Center for the Arts also announced on Tuesday night that virtual films will continue. Patrons can purchase a Spring Movie Pass to view 14 films for only $40. Films will be offered virtually throughout the Spring using the IndieFlix app. Additionally, the center will continue to provide virtual arts and education outreach and other virtual programming options throughout the year. Visit stallercenter.com or stonybrookfilmfestival.com for more information.

The film festival kicks off tonight with a screening of 'Dreamfactory.'

If the pandemic of 2020 has done anything, it has made us realize how small the world truly is – and how alike we all are in our hopes, dreams, fears and failings. This year, more than ever, thought-provoking and innovative films introduce us to inspiring characters and transport us to new worlds, all from the comfort and safety of our homes.

For the first time in its 25-year history, the Stony Brook Film Festival, presented by Island Federal, moves from a 10-day live event to a 12-week virtual festival starting tonight, Sept. 10, at 7 p.m. and closing with a live Awards Ceremony on Dec. 15.

The films, which can be watched on all platforms and devices in your home including FireTV, AndroidTV, AppleTV, Roku, Chromecast and GooglePlay, feature 24 new and independent premieres from a dozen countries including the United States, Israel, Germany, Hungary, Poland, France, Switzerland, New Zealand, Canada and Portugal. Each feature is preceded by a short film.

The exciting lineup offers stories of every genre: comedy, coming of age, romance, drama and documentaries with many of the films sharing a theme of life interrupted, a universal topic many can relate to as we navigate the COVID-19 pandemic.

“In these very uncertain and precarious times we find ourselves in we hope the mix of these socially conscience films balanced with uplifting, often fun and joyous stories, with spectacular performances, will provide the stimulation and entertainment we are all so desperately craving,” said festival director Alan Inkles.

The Festival kicks off tonight with the American premiere of Dreamfactory, the romantic story between two movie extras who are torn apart when East Germany closes its border and erects the Berlin Wall. An epic tale told against the backdrop of history, this film is part comedy, part musical, part romance, and a pure joy from beginning to end.

Tickets are available as an all-access, 12-week pass for $60 or may be purchased as a single ticket for each film for $6. The pass for 24 films allows 72 hours each week for viewers to watch and re-watch the weekly line-up. It also includes exclusive filmmaker interviews and Q&As with directors, cast and crew, as well as behind-the-scenes footage and back stories. For more information, visit stonybrookfilmfestival.com or call 631-632-ARTS [2787].

Film schedule:

September 10

FEATURE: Dreamfactory (Germany)

SHORT: Extra Innings (United States)

September 17

FEATURE: The Subject (United States)

SHORT: Corners (United States)

September 24

FEATURE: Those Who Remained (Hungary)

SHORT: Sticker (Macedonia)

October 1

FEATURE: Of Love and Lies (France/Belgium)

SHORT: Generation Lockdown (United States)

October 8

FEATURE: When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit

(Germany/Switzerland)

SHORT: Walk a Mile (New Zealand)

October 15

FEATURE: The Art of Waiting (Israel)

SHORT: Waterproof (United States)

October 22

FEATURE: Higher Love (United States)

SHORT: A Simple F*cking Gesture (Canada)

November 5

FEATURE: Long Time No See (France)

SHORT: Touch (Israel)

November 12

FEATURE: Submission (Portugal)

SHORT: They Won’t Last (United States)

November 19

FEATURE: Relativity (Germany)

SHORT: Forêt Noire (France/Canada)

December 3

FEATURE: On the Quiet (Hungary)

SHORT: Jane (United States)

December 10

FEATURE: My Name is Sara (United States)

SHORT: Maradona’s Legs (Germany/Palestine)

December 15

CLOSING NIGHT AWARDS CEREMONY LIVE 7 p.m.

* Please note: All films in the Stony Brook Film Festival are premiere screenings and have not been rated. Viewer discretion is advised. Films are available to begin streaming at 7 p.m. on Thursdays.

Eddie Alfano stars in the upcoming short, Internet Gangsters, on May 24. Photo from Staller Center

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Stony Brook University’s Staller Center for the Arts is sharing a selection of award-winning short films from previous Stony Brook Film Festivals to watch at home. The shorts, which debuted on May 5,  will be available for free online and will be screened twice a week through June. The films are announced on a weekly basis at www.stonybrookfilmfestival.com/shorts.

“We receive numerous requests every week from our patrons and followers asking for more content to be available at home during this crisis. These shorts are a great way to give them a taste of what the Stony Brook Film Festival is, and it shows what kind of films we premiere,” said Staller Center and Stony Brook Film Festival Director Alan Inkles. 

The series includes introductions from Festival co-programmer, Kent Marks, and Q&A footage from previous festivals.

 “We are excited to see all of our patrons soon, but until then, be safe and stay healthy, and we hope you enjoy this selection of shorts from the Stony Brook Film Festival,” said Inkles. 

Upcoming shorts include Internet Gangsters, a film by Sam Friedlander and starring Deer Park native Eddie Alfano, on Sunday, May 24 at noon; Hunter Gatherer, a film by Ashley Grace on Tuesday, May 26 at noon; and Across the Line, a film by Nadav Shlomo Giladi (in Arabic and Hebrew with subtitles) on Tuesday, June 2 at noon.

To gain access to the films, visitors can subscribe online at www.stonybrookfilmfestival.com or by visiting www.stallercenter.com/athome. 

On March 7 Kelli O’Hara and Sutton Foster joined forces for the first time in a double headline show at Stony Brook University’s Staller Center for the Arts for their 2020 Gala and, though no one knew it at the time, this would be the last show of the Staller Center season. Performing songs from their lengthy repertoires, both Tony-winning performers gave it their all to a sold-out crowd despite mounting precautions and fears surrounding COVID-19. 

“I know this is a time of a little bit of nerves and wonder and mystery and anxiety … we want to give you a night away from that,” O’Hara said during her performance. The show went on, but out of an abundance of caution, the Gala’s reception was canceled. Little did O’Hara know, her comment about it being the last time audiences would be together, quickly became true. (see more photos at www.tbrnewsmedia.com)

Days later, on March 10, at the urging of Interim Stony Brook President, Michael Bernstein, the Staller Center announced that all March events were canceled. Bernstein’s bold and forward-thinking guided Staller Center Director, Alan Inkles, in his decision to cancel the Starry Nights concert, which was scheduled that same evening. 

One week after that, Inkles also took the lead and stated that all events at the Staller Center through May 15 would be canceled. In the following days, other theaters and arts organizations, including the Metropolitan Opera, followed suit. In a time of considerable unease, theatre venues across the world have closed their doors to limit the spread of COVID-19.

“We were the first East Coast Arts Center that canceled shows for March last week and second in the country,” Inkles said. Indeed, the Staller Center decided to close before larger venues such as Broadway, The Metropolitan Opera House, and London’s West End. 

Performances by the Russian National Ballet, America’s Got Talent finalist Diavolo, and the 30th-anniversary show of Bela Fleck & the Flecktones, among many others, are no longer coming to the Staller Center this season. “We are working with all of our artists and their managers in attempting to reschedule their shows in upcoming seasons and working together to find creative ways to minimize the financial hardships that appear imminent for these performers,” said Inkles. 

Other canceled events include: three remaining MET Opera Live in HD screenings, the Spring Film Series, A Capella Live, Starry Nights, Jack Licitra: U are the Music!, the Emerson String Quartet, Carol Wincenc, and the Doo Wop Project. The Paul W. Zuccaire Gallery is also closed to all in-person visitors through the end of May.

The Box Office is closed to in-person visitors, but patrons are asked to call or email the box office at 631-632-ARTS[2787] or [email protected] with questions or concerns. 

While Staller is offering credit or refunds for all ticketholders, generous sponsors, donors, and partners are offering their help, and many patrons have kindly donated their tickets back. 

“We are certainly seeing some great humanity in the art world as everyone scrambles to help each other,” Inkles said. 

Stay tuned for announcements on the Staller Center’s 2021-22 Season at www.stallercenter.com and visit www.stonybrookfilmfestival.com for information on this July’s 25th Annual Stony Brook Film Festival.

All photos by Millie Elangbam/Staller Center

The Old Field Club, 86 West Meadow Road, E. Setauket will host the Three Village Community Trust’s 15th annual celebration, An Evening with Alan Inkles, on Wednesday, Nov. 13 at 7:30 p.m. The trust’s annual gala is a celebration of the trust’s achievements over the past years, recent acquisitions and continuing restoration projects as well as its major fundraiser of the year.

Alan Inkles

Inkles, the director of Stony Brook University’s Staller Center for the Arts, will present an engaging talk on the “Survival of the Arts,” sharing stories from his more than three decades of experience at the inner workings of an arts center, the constant development in efforts to engage audiences for the cultural arts and how the Staller Center manages to grow its success.

A highlight of the evening will be the drawing for a pair of tickets to “Hamilton.” The winner can select day and time (with two or three alternative dates), and the prize includes free door-to-door limo service. Tickets are $100 each, and only 100 tickets will be sold.  To purchase a chance on this drawing, visit www.threevillagecommunitytrust.org/hamilton.

The festive evening will also feature a raffle for works by local artists in addition to featured artist Eleanor Meier’s watercolor, Homage to Tillie. Raffle tickets are $25 each and only 200 will be sold. 

Admission to the gala is $60 per person and includes wine, a sumptuous buffet provided by the Old Field Club, desserts, prizes and live music by Carl Safina and the Three Village Vanguard Trio.  

To RSVP, please call 631-689-0225 or email [email protected]

2019 Stony Brook Film Festival Grand Prize winner Priya Ramasubban, director of Chuskit, with Stony Brook Film Festival and Staller Center for the Arts Director Alan Inkles. Photo by Nick Koridis

The 24th annual Stony Brook Film Festival wrapped up with a Closing Night Awards Reception held on July 27. The evening recognized the outstanding new independent films screened at the festival, which was held at SBU’s Staller Center for the Arts from July 18 to 27. 

Dozens of filmmakers, directors, cast and crew attended the event. With support from presenting sponsor Island Federal and other corporate and private donors, the Stony Brook Film Festival was able to welcome and host guests from all over the world including Spain, Austria, Israel, the United Kingdom, Canada and India. 

The opening night film, Balloon, from Germany, was sold out as were many of the other screenings in Staller Center’s 1,000-seat Main Stage theater.

Chuskit, directed by Priya Ramasubban, won the Grand Prize. “When the jury and the audience rank the same film the highest, then it receives a Grand Prize,” said Alan Inkles, festival director. This is the second year in a row and the ninth time in the festival’s 24-year run that a film has received a Grand Prize. “This festival was one of the most competitive yet,” he said. “Nearly 3,000 films were submitted, and only 36 were selected for the festival, so Chuskit was really a very special film – it’s a must-see.”

And the winners are:

 2019 Jury Award for Best Feature

In God I Trust

East Coast Premiere (Canada)

Directed by Maja Zdanowski; written by Paul St. Amand and Maja Zdanowski; starring Marc Senior, John Cassini (Se7en), Steven Roberts, Bilal Oliver and Melissa Roxburgh (Star Trek Beyond).

  2019 Audience Choice for Best Feature

The Silent Revolution

East Coast Premiere (Germany)

Written and directed by Lars Kraume; from the book by Dietrich Garstka; starring Leonard Scheicher, Tom Gramenz, Ronald Zehrfeld (Sweethearts) and Florian Lukas (The Invisibles)

 2019 Jury Award Best Short

Toke Is Cheap

(Canada)

A film by Kerry van der Griend

 2019 Audience Award Best Short

The Portraitist

New York Premiere (Luxembourg)

A film by Cyrus Neshvad

 Entries will be accepted for the 25th Annual Stony Brook Film Festival starting on Dec. 1. For more information, visit www.stonybrookfilmfestival.com.

The German film ‘Sweethearts’ starring Karoline Herfurth and Hannah Herzsprung makes its U.S. premiere at the festival on July 20. Photo from Staller Center

The Staller Center turns into a movie lover’s mecca when new independent films from nearly 20 countries screen at the Stony Brook Film Festival on evenings and weekends from Thursday, July 18 to Saturday, July 27. The popular festival, now in its 24th year, brings a highly selective roster of diverse films, making it a favorite of moviegoers and filmmakers alike.

Produced by the Staller Center for the Arts at Stony Brook University, the festival pairs memorable short films with an array of features you won’t see anywhere else. This year’s event, presented by Island Federal, brings in filmmakers, cast and crew who field questions after the screenings, adding a unique dimension to the experience.

The idea of family forms the foundation for many of the features and shorts at the festival this year. Whether they are by birth or by choice, flexible or dysfunctional, generational or newly formed, you will see families of all stripes in films that take place in nearly 20 countries, from Australia to Austria, India to Israel and Spain to South Africa.

The families in this year’s films are found in Cold War era East Germany and the political upheaval of 1980s Jerusalem. They brave the isolation of North Dakotan farmlands, experience drug-fueled head trips in the California desert and solve idiosyncratic murders on a small Turkish island. They live in Paris’ Chinatown as well as remote Himalayan villages; they travel the dusty roads of Senegal and the long highway from the south of England to the Isle of Skye; and they revel in the lush rain forest of Queensland and the wilds of Appalachia.

PREMIERES

There are many world, U.S., East Coast and New York premieres in this year’s festival including the opening film, Balloon, a German film based on the true story of two families who escaped East Germany on their homemade hot air balloon, which is making its New York premiere on July 18.

The festival closes with another New York premiere of the French film Lola & Her Brothers, a charming comedy about three adult siblings who are still trying to look after one other after losing their parents.

Several American indie films will have their world premiere at the festival, and many foreign films, including Yao, Sweethearts, Miamor perdido, Lady Winsley and Made in China will have their U.S. premieres. 

American features include Them That Follow, a tense drama featuring Academy Award winner Olivia Colman; the raucous comedy Babysplitters, featuring Long Island native Eddie Alfano; and Guest Artist, a stunning and humorous film written by and starring Jeff Daniels and directed by Timothy Busfield. 

“The quality and diversity in our dramas, comedies, and documentaries are extremely high and I expect our audience to be thoroughly entertained this summer,” said Alan Inkles, Stony Brook Film Festival founder and director. 

For a complete film schedule and descriptions of all of the films, visit www.stonybrookfilmfestival.com.

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. Film passes are on sale for $90, which includes admission to all 20 features and 16 shorts over 10 days. 

Passholder perks include VIP gifts, discounts to over a dozen area restaurants throughout the summer, guaranteed admission 15 minutes before each film, and the opportunity to purchase tickets for the Closing Night Awards reception. 

For $250 you can purchase a Gold Pass and receive all the Regular Pass perks plus reserved seating with filmmakers and guests, as well as entry to the exclusive Opening Night party and the Closing Night Awards reception. 

Single tickets for individual films are also available for $12 adults, $10 seniors, $5 students. For more information or to order, call the Staller Center Box Office at 631-632-2787.