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Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center Premieres International Oscar Submissions

With movie theatres still unable to operate, Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center is turning to virtual film screenings. With its virtual cinema and brand new interactive series Watch with WHBPAC, Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center continues to innovate the performing arts as it has since the pandemic began. Curated by Director of Sales and Volunteer Services Allison Frost, the virtual cinema has offered viewers the ability to see independent films and documentaries not found on other platforms.

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“We are really excited for Watch with WHBPAC series. We have been missing the person-to-person connection of live events, and this is a way to engage moviegoers with something they won’t see anywhere else,” says Marketing Director Heather Draskin.

The Rose and Don Ciampa World Cinema curates film series from independent film distributors, most of which are not found on other streaming cinema platforms. “Some of the film choices may seem a little odd at first (a movie about taxidermists?) but they’ve been chosen because the filmmakers treat their subjects like real people first, and not walking talking oddities living at the edge of society.  And honestly, that’s refreshing these days,” says Frost. Titles currently streaming include submissions for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Film from Japan, Sudan, and Latvia, and more. “We hope people watch these submissions and then tune into the Academy Awards to see who won,” says Draskin.

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Streaming Calendar as follows

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Blizzard of Souls – Latvia’s Official Submission to the Academy Awards Blizzard of Souls pays stark witness to the horrors and brutality of the First World War, as seen through the eyes of an innocent 17-year-old farm-boy turned soldier. Though he is underage, and his dad, a former marksman, is overage for the army, they are both conscripted into one of Latvia’s first national battalions. The thrill of training is soon followed by reality, as shells burst around them in the endless mud. He grows up on the battlefield, fighting at the side of his father and brother, their lives are constantly in jeopardy. Adapted from the book by Aleksandrs Grins, which was banned in the U.S.S.R., the story was based on Grins’ own war experiences in a Latvian battalion, and the film is the biggest box office success in Latvia in the past 30 years.

Friday, January 8 – Monday, February 8

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Some Kind of Heaven  Filmmaker Lance Oppenheim cracks the manicured facade of The Villages — a massive, self-contained retirement community located in Central Florida. Behind the gates of this utopia lie a small group of Villages residents and one interloper who are unable to find happiness within the community’s pre-packaged paradise. Friday, January 15 – Monday, February 15

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My Little Sister – Switzerland’s Official Submission to the Academy Awards Lisa, once a brilliant playwright, no longer writes. She lives with her family in Switzerland, but her heart remains in Berlin, beating in time with that of her twin brother Sven, the famous theatre actor. Since Sven has been suffering from an aggressive type of leukaemia, the relationship between them has become even closer. Lisa does not want to accept this blow of fate, she does everything in her power to bring Sven back on stage. For her soulmate she neglects everything else and even risks losing her husband. Her marriage goes awry, but Lisa only has eyes for her brother, who reflects her deepest longings and awakens in her the desire to be creative, to feel alive again. Friday, January 15 – Monday, February 15

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You Will Die at Twenty – Sudan’s Official Submission to the Academy Awards Winner  of the Lion of the Future Award for best Debut Feature at the Venice Film Festival, YOU WILL DIE AT TWENTY is visually sumptuous “coming-of-death” fable. During her son’s naming ceremony, a Sheikh predicts that Sakina’s child will die at the age of 20. Haunted by this prophecy, Sakina becomes overly protective of her son Muzamil, who grows up knowing about his fate. As Muzamil escapes Sakina’s ever-watchful eye, he encounters friends, ideas and challenges that make him question his destiny. Sudan’s first Oscar submission, YOU WILL DIE AT TWENTY is an auspicious debut and a moving meditation on what it means to live in the present. Friday, January 22 – Monday, February 22

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My Rembrandt Rembrandt, the grandmaster of intimacy, rocks the art world; 350 years after his death, many people, even entire nations are obsessed with his paintings. Aristocrats cherish, experts rule, art dealers investigate, collectors hunt, museums battle. The epic documentary MY REMBRANDT dives deep into the art world of Old Masters, exploring the motives of its elite. Friday, January 22 – Monday, February 22

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True Mothers – Japan’s Official Submission to the Academy Awards After a long and unsuccessful struggle to get pregnant, Satoko and her husband decide to adopt a child. Over the next six years, the middle-class couple and their young son Asato settle into a comfortable, albeit routine, life. The family’s orderly existence is shattered by the arrival of Hikari, a young woman claiming to be Asato’s biological mother, demanding his return. As tensions mount, Satoko grows more and more emboldened to defend her family. Weaving together multiple timelines and genres with a contemplative pacing and keen sense of place, hallmarks of Kawase’s work, TRUE MOTHERS is “is a deeply touching celebration of women who assume duties of love, support and compassion” (Awards Watch). Friday, January 29 -Sunday, February 28

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Atlantis – Ukraine’s Official Submission to the Academy Awards A prize-winner at the Venice Film Festival and Ukraine’s official selection for the 2021 Academy Awards, Atlantis is a gorgeous and visionary sci-fi drama. Eastern Ukraine, 2025. A desert unsuitable for human habitation. Water is a dear commodity brought by trucks. A Wall is being build-up on the border. Sergiy, a former soldier, is having trouble adapting to his new reality. He meets Katya while on the Black Tulip mission dedicated to exhuming the past. Together, they try to return to some sort of normal life in which they are also allowed to fall in love again. Friday, January 29 – Monday, March 1

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The theatre is also unveiling a brand new interactive watch partyWatch with WHBPAC – curated by Frost. This bi-weekly assemblage of patrons and staff features a curated a series of films available on streaming services you may already subscribe to, and will moderate a chat as patrons watch and comment in real-time.  Designed to be tech easy (and easy on the wallet), this program will educate, entertain, and inspire up to 100 people a night. 

Says Frost: “I am especially excited about viewing these movies with our audience. In particular, Fast Color promises to be the one film you shouldn’t miss. I encourage everyone with a film hobby to tune in and discuss these films with a likeminded group of people.” 

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Watch with WHBPAC schedule as follows, each Tuesday night at 8pm 

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February 2nd, 8 pm: Fast Color

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February 16th, 8 pm: Stuffed 

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March 2nd, 8 pm: Generation Wealth 

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March 16th, 8 pm: Marina Abramovic: The Artist is Present 

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March 30th, 8 pm: A Suitable Girl

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Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center has continuously worked to bring the performing arts to the East End through any means possible. Through producing virtual content, livestreamed performances, and virtual cinema, WHBPAC continues to pave the way for the arts during the pandemic. “We have never stopped,” says WHBPAC Executive Director Julienne Penza-Boone. “We have to continue to be inspirational to the community in every way we can,” says Penza-Boone.

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Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center

The Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center is a year-round, community-based, not-for-profit 501(c)3 arts organization, founded in 1997, that serves patrons on the East End and beyond. We are a vibrant venue committed to providing a greater understanding and appreciation of the arts and meeting the cultural aspiration of the area by:

  • Presenting world-class performing arts, music, dance, comedy, and cinema from around the world.
  • Providing premier arts education programs to the widest and most diverse audiences, regardless of socioeconomic status.
  • It is also our mission to contribute positively to the local economy and to enrich the community’s quality of life.

Known as the “Crown Jewel” of Westhampton Beach, Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center originally opened as Prudential’s Westhampton Theatre in 1932 as a movie theatre before eventually falling into disrepair. In 1996, a group of concerned citizens joined together to revive the art deco theatre and restore it to its former glory. Throughout the process, the community was the backbone of the fundraising effort. More than half the cost of the entire renovation project came from residents and business owners. And on July 4, 1998, the new Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center reopened its doors to the public, where it has since cultivated its reputation as the pioneer of the Hamptons performing arts community. The theatre relies on sponsorship and fundraising to support its mission to keep the arts alive on Long Island and to sustain community growth. Welcoming over 45,000 patrons each year through Mainstage performances and Arts Academy programming, WHBPAC is a visionary of the cultural arts.

Learn more at https://www.whbpac.org  

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AAQ / Resource: McDonough & Conroy Architects, P.C.

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