Hamptons International Film Festival Honors Rising Female Stars – Jennifer Merin reports

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Each year, the Hamptons International Film Festival (HIFF), the 18th edition of which takes place from October 7 to 11, 2010, recognizes breakthrough performers in its Rising Stars and Shooting Stars programs, and this year all six of the honorees are women.

2010’s Rising Stars are:

  • Jessica Chastain, starring in John Madden’s The Debt, which is making its US premiere as the Centerpiece film of the festival. Chastain will next be seen starring opposite Brad Pitt in Terrence Malick’s Tree of Life, and has signed on to star as Desdemona in the classic play Othello opposite Philip Seymour Hoffman which will begin its run in Vienna next Spring, and come to New York next Fall.
  • Freida Pinto, attending the festival alongside her Miral director Julian Schnabel for the film’s US premiere. Pinto is best known for her work in Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire, for which she won a Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture and was nominated for a BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role.
  • Brittany Robertson, presenting the East Coast premiere of The Family Tree, in which she stars with Hope Davis and Durmot Mulroney. She also stars in another festival selection, the indie dramedy Cherry, directed by Jeffrey Fine. She is best known for her starring role as Lux on the CW’s drama Life Unexpected, and was recently seen in the film Mother and Child, directed by Rodrigo Garcia and starring Naomi Watts.

2010’s Shooting Stars are:

  • Zrinka Cvitešic (Coatia) starred in On the Path by Jasmila Žbanic, Competition at this year’s Berlinale. This excellent film, to be presented at HIFF, offers a complex look at various strains of Islam in contemporary Bosnia. Zrinka moreover was acclaimed for her performance in What is a man without a Moustache by Hrvoje Hribar and Horseman by Branko Ivanda. (Supported by the Croatian Audiovisual Centre)
  • Anaïs Demoustier (France) will present the film Sweet Evil by Olivier Coussemacq at HIFF. Her role as a fifteen year-old girl who is constantly on the move since her mother’s imprisonment, won her a Best Actress Award at this year´s Karlovy Vary International Film Festival. Recently, Anaïs was seen alongside Juliette Binoche in Malgorzata Szumowska´s Sponsoring. (Supported by Unifrance).
  • Pihla Viitala (Finland) most recently had a role in the Aki Kaurismäki´s production Bad Family by Äleksi Salmenperä, which premiered in the Panorama section of the 2010 Berlin International Film Festival and will now be screened at HIFF. Together with Damian Lewis she will soon be playing a lead role in the UK film Man is a Wolf to Man (Santana Brothers) which is shooting in South America this Autumn. Last year she appeared in HIFF selection, Tears of April, the award winning drama by Aku Louhimies. (Supported by the Finnish Film Foundation).

HIFF’s Breakthrough Performers Program has successfully sought out and supported promising new actors in film and grown into a dynamic, enriched program which includes intimate gatherings with directors, producers, writers, veteran actors and prominent industry executives who attend the festival.

Oscar nominee Stanley Tucci (The Devil wears Prada, Julie and Julia, The Lovely Bones) will mentor this up-and-coming talent during the 2010 festival. Past mentors have included Sharon Stone, Gena Rowlands, Joan Allen, Ellen Burstyn, Robert Altman, Miranda Richardson, Vanessa Redgrave, Frances McDormand and current HIFF board member Alec Baldwin.

According to Executive Director, Karen Arikian, “This is the third year that we are partnering with European Film Promotion to present this program of up and coming international talent. I am pleased that this collaboration has been so successful, that we have been able to recognize and honor some of Europe’s most exciting young actors from EFP’s impressive roster of talent”.

“As the second decade of the Rising Stars Program nears. the focus of this program is on the shared multi-cultural talent of promising young actors,” says Lina Todd, Rising Stars Program director. “This is the first year that we are honoring an Indian actor, the exquisitely talented Freida Pinto, along with two stunning and talented Americans, Jessica Chastain and Brittany Robertson. Our exciting program with Stanley Tucci mentoring will be an influential exchange of ideas, experiences, and creativity.”

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Jennifer Merin

Jennifer Merin is the Film Critic for Womens eNews and contributes the CINEMA CITIZEN blog for and is managing editor for Women on Film, the online magazine of the Alliance of Women Film Journalists, of which she is President. She has served as a regular critic and film-related interviewer for The New York Press and About.com. She has written about entertainment for USA Today, The L.A. Times, US Magazine, Ms. Magazine, Endless Vacation Magazine, Daily News, New York Post, SoHo News and other publications. After receiving her MFA from Tisch School of the Arts (Grad Acting), Jennifer performed at the O'Neill Theater Center's Playwrights Conference, Long Wharf Theater, American Place Theatre and LaMamma, where she worked with renown Japanese director, Shuji Terayama. She subsequently joined Terayama's theater company in Tokyo, where she also acted in films. Her journalism career began when she was asked to write about Terayama for The Drama Review. She became a regular contributor to the Christian Science Monitor after writing an article about Marketta Kimbrell's Theater For The Forgotten, with which she was performing at the time. She was an O'Neill Theater Center National Critics' Institute Fellow, and then became the institute's Coordinator. While teaching at the Universities of Wisconsin and Rhode Island, she wrote "A Directory of Festivals of Theater, Dance and Folklore Around the World," published by the International Theater Institute. Denmark's Odin Teatret's director, Eugenio Barba, wrote his manifesto in the form of a letter to "Dear Jennifer Merin," which has been published around the world, in languages as diverse as Farsi and Romanian. Jennifer's culturally-oriented travel column began in the LA Times in 1984, then moved to The Associated Press, LA Times Syndicate, Tribune Media, Creators Syndicate and (currently) Arcamax Publishing. She's been news writer/editor for ABC Radio Networks, on-air reporter for NBC, CBS Radio and, currently, for Westwood One's America In the Morning. She is a member of the Critics Choice Association in the Film, Documentary and TV branches and a voting member of the Black Reel Awards. For her AWFJ archive, type "Jennifer Merin" in the Search Box (upper right corner of screen).