Tag Archive | "Hamptons Take 2 Documentary Film Festival"

“Anita: Speaking Truth to Power” at Hamptons Take 2 Documentary Film Festival

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Anita Hill testifying at the 1991 Senate confirmation hearings of U.S. Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas.

Anita Hill testifying at the 1991 Senate confirmation hearings of U.S. Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas.

By Tessa Raebeck

Anita Hill, shown speaking candidly for the first time since she testified before Congress in 1991, will open a discussion on gender inequality and sexual harassment at Bay Street Theater on Saturday at the presentation of “Anita: Speaking Truth to Power” by the Hamptons Take 2 Documentary Film Festival.

In the documentary, Academy Award-winning director Freida Lee Mock examines the experience of Ms. Hill, an attorney and law professor who testified before the U.S. Senate about being sexually harassed by U.S. Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas. Fourteen senators, all male, questioned her for nine hours.

“The challenge for me as a filmmaker is to tell a universal story of transformation and empowerment that is riveting, entertaining and amazing to a generation of women and men too young to know, but who are benefiting by Anita Hill’s courage to speak truth to power,” Ms. Mock said.

A panel discussion following the film includes: Gini Booth, executive director of Literacy Suffolk and radio/TV host for PBS and CBS affiliates; Wini Freund, former board president of the Women’s Fund of Long Island; Deborah Kooperstein, attorney and Southampton Town Justice; and Betty Schlein, past president of the Long Island National Organization of Women.

“Anita: Speaking Truth to Power” will be presented as a preliminary event of the Hamptons Take 2 Documentary Film Festival. It will be screened on Saturday, September 20, at 4 p.m. at the Bay Street Theater, located at the corner of Bay Street and Long Wharf in Sag Harbor. Tickets are $15 at the door. The festival will run from December 4 to 7. For more information, visit ht2ff.com or call (631) 725-9500.

Film Explores The Woman Behind Secretariat

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Penny_Red785

Penny Chenery Tweedy with Secretariat. Secretariat.com

By Stephen J. Kotz

Few horses have captured the public’s imagination like Secretariat, the 1973 Triple Crown winner, whose success made its owner, Penny Chenery Tweedy, the public face of horse racing. With the 140th running of the Kentucky Derby this weekend, the Hamptons Take 2 Documentary Film Festival will present the East Coast premiere of a documentary that explores the life of the famous champion’s owner, who was a trailblazer herself in a sport long dominated by men.

“Penny & Red: The Story of Secretariat’s Owner,” which is directed by Ms. Tweedy’s son, John Tweedy, will be screened at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday at the Bay Street Theatre. The screening will follow a “Triple Crown Benefit” lunch and silent auction of Secretariat memorabilia that will take place at noon at The American Hotel and raise money for the film festival and two charitable organizations dedicated to the welfare of horses, Amaryllis Farm Equine Rescue and the Secretariat Foundation.

Jacqui Lofaro, the director of the film festival, said the idea for turning the event into a three-way fundraiser was a natural. Amaryllis, run by Christine Distefano, which now has eight locations on Long Island, has several of Secretariat’s offspring among its rescued horses, and Ms. Tweedy founded the Secretariat Foundation.

Mr. Tweedy, who has enjoyed a long career as a documentary filmmaker, and Bill Nack, a former Newsday reporter who covered horse racing and wrote, “Secretariat: The Making of a Champion,” will attend both events and take part in a question-and-answer session following the screening.

“I realized my mother was getting older and her story needed to be told,” said Mr. Tweedy in a telephone interview this week. “It transformed my mother’s life—she became the human face and voice of Secretariat. And she transformed how thoroughbred owners interacted with fans.”

Ms. Tweedy was a child of self-made man who first made a fortune in New York before rescuing the old family farm, The Meadow in Doswell, Virginia, from foreclosure and transforming it into a horse farm. Ms. Tweedy, who worked in New York during World War II, was studying for an MBA at Columbia University when she got married. At her father’s request, she dropped out of school a month before graduating.

She moved with her husband, a successful lawyer, to Denver, where he became one of the founders of Vail as a skiing center. In the film, Ms. Tweedy who is now in her 90s, admitted that she was unhappy in her marriage and frustrated with her role as a housewife. When her father became ill in the late 1960s, she had her escape. She began splitting her time between her family, in Denver, and the horse farm in Virginia.

In 1972, she began a streak of remarkable success, when her horse Riva Ridge won both the Kentucky Derby and the Belmont Stakes.  But those accomplishments would pale in comparison to what would transpire just a year later.

Entering the season, Secretariat was considered a potential star, and Ms. Tweedy was able to syndicate the breeding rights for more than $6 million, an unheard of sum at the time and enough to rescue the family horse farm, which had been running losses for several years.

In the Kentucky Derby, jockey Ron Turcotte guided Secretariat from the back of the pack to a two-length win. At the Preakness, Secretariat showed a remarkable, and sustained, burst of speed in the back stretch to move from dead last to an easy victory. But it was at the Belmont, the grueling mile-and-a-half race that foils so many Triple Crown hopefuls that Secretariat enjoyed his greatest triumph, obliterating a small field of only five contenders to win by an astounding 31 lengths and shave more than two seconds off the track record.

Mr. Tweedy said that because at the time, America had been torn apart by anti-war protests, the beginning of the Watergate scandal and other problems, “there was a hunger in the culture for an uncomplicated hero.” And Secretariat fit the bill.

“We would get 250 pieces of fan mail day,” Mr. Tweedy said, adding that Secretariat was on the cover of Time, Sports Illustrated, and Newsweek in the same week. The horse, he added, was a natural ham, straightening up and posing when he heard the click of a camera.

“It was a very cathartic opportunity to talk about and explore issues that we hadn’t talked about as mother and son,” he said of making the film. It was also very much an opportunity for my siblings.”

“She was extremely capable and interested in business and she was passionate to have her own career,” said Mr. Tweedy of his mother. “She did have a heroic journey, but the back story was not known to the public.”

Tickets to the Triple Crown Benefit luncheon at the American Hotel are $125 and include admission to the film. Tickets for the film only are $15. For more information visit HT2FF.com or info@ht2ff.com or call Bay Street Theatre at 631-725-9500.

The Damage Lyme Causes

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By Karl Grossman

“We were just totally overwhelmed by it that we didn’t want to wait for the full festival to show it,” explained Jacqui Lofaro, founder and executive director of the Hamptons Take 2 Documentary Film Festival, to a full audience at LTV Studio 3 Cinema in Wainscott last month to see “Under Our Skin.”  She added: “It peels away the layers of what is an epidemic.”

The documentary is about Lyme disease.

It’s powerful, the winner of 20 film festival awards. The New York Times called it “heart rending” and stressed how it “takes aim at the medical establishment.” It takes aim and scores a bull’s-eye hit.

“Under Our Skin” is a kind of health counterpart of “Inside Job,” the 2011 Academy Award-winner for best documentary. “Inside Job” depicts the economic crisis we’ve undergone as a colossal crime perpetuated by greedy Wall Street corporations linked to and protected by figures in the federal government. “Under Our Skin” depicts a similarly colossal crime involving health care.

It documents how desperately needed treatment for long-term Lyme disease sufferers is being discouraged by health insurance companies linked to figures in the medical establishment —including physicians with whom they are connected financially.

Not only do these forces take the position that extended care of Lyme disease victims is unnecessary, holding that a few weeks of treatment with antibiotics is all that’s needed, but the film exposes how dedicated doctors who have provided needed long-term care have ended up being severely punished by the medical establishment.

It shows how the health insurers don’t want to pay for long-term care of Lyme sufferers, so our medical system has been twisted to claim such care is not needed and doctors who provide it have been losing their medical licenses. A huge scandal is exposed.

If Lyme disease is detected early, several weeks of treatment with antibiotics will, in most instances, take care of it. But, as the documentary relates, early detection is problematic. About half of people bitten by a tick carrying Lyme don’t develop the tell-tale bull’s-eye rash at the site of the bite. And tests for the disease are often unreliable.

Thus many people end up with chronic Lyme disease.

“Under Our Skin” presents a variety of long-term sufferers. The documentary follows the history of these victims, from their excruciating physical circumstances—“Pain, pain, pain, relentless pain!” exclaims one—to their care by the brave doctors who treat chronic Lyme sufferers. And, most importantly, it shows how through this long-term care they beat this hellish disease.

The documentary, produced and directed by Andy Abrahams Wilson, provides interviews with many of these doctors and presents footage of medical board proceedings to take away their medical licenses.

It examines what is behind this outrage including focusing on a panel of the Infectious Diseases Society of America which issued a key report calling for no long-term antibiotic therapy for Lyme. This report has been used by medical boards and other entities of the medical establishment to penalize doctors who provide care for chronic Lyme sufferers. The documentary notes the fiscal connections of six on this 14-member panel to health insurance companies and other conflicts of interest involving members.

After the 86-minute film was screened, there was a panel discussion at the LTV Studio on September 16 that included Dr. Joseph J. Burrascano, Jr. of Water Mill. He had been a top Lyme disease physician on Long Island providing treatment to chronic sufferers at his office in East Hampton, and is featured in the documentary. New York State health authorities took action — unsuccessfully — against Dr. Burrascano for his caring for long-term Lyme victims. His office is now closed. But he has gone on to be a major figure nationally and internationally in Lyme disease research.

Dr.  Burrascano commented that Lyme is not only a medical malady but also a “political disease” considering the “corruption” involved in the push against proper treatment when it becomes chronic.

For more information about “Under Our Skin” — including obtaining an inexpensive DVD copy for yourself  — visit www.underourskin.com