by Emily J Weitz
The Marder family is one of those long-time East End families that seems to juggle nature and the arts seamlessly. And isn’t that what the East End is all about?
Films on the Haywall is an event that started a few years back, casually, as a way to incorporate film into the Silas Marder Gallery.
“When the gallery was created,” says Silas Marder, “we always knew we wanted to involve an aspect of film into the program along with the art. The first few years, there were one or two screenings a season, and it grew to be more formalized.”
That’s where the Hamptons International Film Festival comes in. This year, they’ve stepped in to partner with the Silas Marder Gallery for the Films on the Haywall series.
“My family has been proud of supporting the film festival in different ways over the years,” says Marder. “It’s an important part of our local cultural community here. So this is sort of an expansion of that working together.”
From the film festival’s point of view, this was a great partnership to form.
“We’ve worked with Silas before,” says David Nugent, Director of Programming for the Hamptons International Film Festival. “We think they’re a fantastic organization that does a well-curated summer program. We believe in partnering with interesting groups and organizations. This is something our Executive Director Karen Arikian believes in deeply.”
As the two organizations worked together to create a program for the summer, they were both thinking about films that not enough people had seen, but that weren’t hugely obscure.
“People who are passionate about films know these films,” says Nugent. “These films have stood the test of time. They are as good if not better than when they were first released.”
The first two films were selected by the film festival, and the rest were chosen by the Silas Marder Gallery.
“In general the selection is with Hillary Hamann,” says Marder, “who has a masters in film from NYU and a huge encyclopedic knowledge of film history. There are some that are more known and mainstream, and we balance that out with some that are more obscure. This year we have ‘Citizen Kane,’ ‘To Kill A Mockingbird,’ and the ‘Wizard of Oz’… But ‘King of Hearts’ is not something you’ll get to see everyday. It’s a brilliant, wonderful film. The series tries to maintain that balance.”
A key aspect in choosing the right films for the series is the fact that the films are being viewed outdoors.
“I think certain films play much better outdoors,” says Marder. “We spend all year looking at films, taking into account the storyline and the soundtrack and the visuals. Some, you get more out of them by watching them outside. Some films it’s amazing, because themes or aspects could be magnified.”
An impetus of this magnification, Marder says, is the element of spontaneity that comes with an outdoor screening.
“Outdoors, you have the weather conditions, the ambient sounds,” he says. “The breeze through the trees in the nursery. All of that is out of our control, and that’s a part of the viewing experience.”
Finally, Marder wanted this series to be a family event.
“Children should see classic films,” he says. “They’re not all appropriate for children, but most of them are. That was a big intent for us. So many films and media today is cut so quickly and pushed to people. It creates an overload and a desensitization. With older films, your mind slows down with the storytelling, and it opens up aspects of your brain that you don’t utilize today with the fast pace of things. When children view these films from a young age, they get a whole new sensitivity to the world.”
Even though Films on the Haywall is a much more organized event than it used to be, the original intent remains the same: to allow for that delicate play of nature and culture.
“It’s about taking advantage of being outside,” says Marder. “So much of our family life is being outdoors, in the environment, and it’s something that really fits into who we are. So much of gardening and landscape design is about that: creating circumstances where people are open to different experiences. Without something like this, there wouldn’t be a reason to come together as a group in this space and have that common experience. Contrast that with everyone showing up at a theater in a dark black box with air conditioning. It’s quite a contrast.”