Hamptons film festival begins with Marilyn Monroe documentary

Alec Baldwin and Tony Bennett arrive for the

Alec Baldwin and Tony Bennett arrive for the screening of "The Zen of Bennett" at the Hamptons International Film Festival,' hosted by Alec Baldwin at the Guild Hall in East Hampton (August 14, 2012) (Credit: John Roca)

The Hamptons International Film Festival launched its 20th year last night with a screening of Liz Garbus' "Love, Marilyn," a documentary on Marilyn Monroe that arrives on the 50th anniversary of her death.

"She's a really iconic film figure," festival programmer David Nugent said at a pre-screening party at East Hampton's The Maidstone hotel. "And it's a nice side-note that she spent two summers out here with Arthur Miller in Amagansett, not far from here."

Stars still like to come to the Hamptons, which is one benefit of having a film festival here. This year's scheduled guests include Richard Gere, Melissa Leo, Alan Cumming, Nathan Lane and Sienna Miller. There are some unlikely names as well. The Nobel Prize-winning economist John Nash will speak Friday at a screening of "A Beautiful Mind," the movie based on his life. On Sunday, Stevie Nicks will talk about a new documentary about her, titled "In Your Dreams."

Opening night at the festival can be a low-key affair, with many guests and filmgoers not yet here or just beginning to trickle in. Rudy Giuliani and his wife, Judith, strolled the red carpet outside Guild Hall; Domhnall Gleeson (the final "Harry Potter" films) showed up to the opening-night party at East Hampton Point with Alicia Vikander, his co-star in the upcoming drama "Anna Karenina."

"Everything's coming together," said Karen Arikian, the festival's executive director. "I can start to feel the energy of people arriving."

But the festival also prides itself on being a showcase for unknown and local filmmakers. "This is my first time here," said East Hampton's Hilary Leff, a first-time film producer whose documentary about local agriculture, "Growing Farmers," shows Sunday. "People here seem to know about it, and these are people from all over. We're already making connections."

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