Stars play supporting role at Stony Brook Film Fest

Published: July 20, 2009


In Hollywood, it's not what you know but who you know.

And in Stony Brook, things work the same way.

The Stony Brook Film Festival, launching its 14th iteration Thursday, is starting to see results from its film-industry connections, according to Alan Inkles, director of the festival and of the Staller Center for the Arts, where the annual event is held. Several movies this year landed in his mailbox because of recommendations from past participants. And the various sneak previews, world premieres and celebrity appearances suggest Stony Brook is establishing itself as a viable showcase for movies.

The drama "Tickling Leo" (playing Saturday), for instance, is produced by Mary Stuart Masterson, whose directorial debut, "The Cake Eaters," won Stony Brook's Best Feature jury award last year. One of the actors in "The Cake Eaters" recommended the festival to the producers of "Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Undead," a zombie comedy screening Friday. And a confirmed appearance by Lauren Graham, star of the opening night film "The Answer Man," marks a big "get" for the festival.

"We're seeing dividends being paid from 13 years of doing this," Inkles said. "I'm finding the doors are opening a little easier for me now."


The Answer Man(8 p.m.) Graham, of television's "Gilmore Girls," will appear at this sneak preview screening (the film will be released Friday). The story centers on an unhelpful self-help guru ( Jeff Daniels) who encounters a cheerful chiropractor (Graham) and a young man battling alcoholism (Lou Taylor Pucci). With Olivia Thirlby, Kat Dennings and Nora Dunn.


Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Undead(9:30 p.m.) An unemployed lady-killer (Jake Hoffman, Dustin's son) meets what may be a real killer: the author of an unusual version of "Hamlet." With Jeremy Sisto ("Law & Order"), Devon Aoki ("Sin City") and Huntington's own Ralph Macchio, all of whom will appear at this screening. Original score by Sean Lennon.


Blindness - Saramago in China (4 p.m.) In this documentary, a Beijing theater troupe tries to produce a play based on the book "Blindness," by the Nobel-winning Portuguese author Jos√¬© Saramago (the film adaptation with Julianne Moore came out last year). The result, however, is a bureaucratic power struggle over the rights. Director Xilin Chen and producer Xiaoni Chen will appear for this world premiere.

TICKLING LEO (7 p.m.) The film, written and directed by Jeremy Davidson, Masterson's husband, is set around Yom Kippur, as three generations of a family delve into dark secrets dating back to WWII. With Eli Wallach, Lawrence Pressman, Annie Parisse and Victoria Clark.


Life Is a Banquet: The Rosalind Russell Story

(4 p.m.) A documentary on the screen actress known for gutsy, proto-feminist characters in such movies as "Auntie Mame," "His Girl Friday" and "Gypsy." Based on her autobiography of the same name, with passages read by Kathleen Turner. In person: writer-director Jonathan Gruber.


The Missing Person (9:30 p.m.) A private detective ( Michael Shannon, Oscar-nominated for his supporting role in "Revolutionary Road") hopes to earn a reward for bringing a mysterious man back to his wife. With Amy Ryan ("The Office") and John Ventimiglia ( "The Sopranos"). East Coast premiere.

July 31

A Woman in Berlin (9:30 p.m.) Based on an anonymous diary, this German-Polish production tells of a woman who, like many during World War II, uses her wits and her beauty to find a male protector during the Red Army invasion of Berlin.

Aug. 1

The Little Traitor (8:30 p.m.) Palestine, 1947: After a British officer ( Alfred Molina) catches a boy out after curfew, the two strike up an unlikely friendship. A sneak preview of this October release.