Married filmmakers Gabriel Nussbaum and Elizabeth Wood can view the Hamptons International Film Festival as not only a venue for their work but the reason they met in the first place.
“We saw each other at a coffee shop," said Nussbaum. "My friend said to me, ‘Did you see that girl? That’s the type of girl you should be dating.’ I said, ‘You’re right. I bet I’ll talk to her by two this afternoon.
"Not that I knew how I was going to do that.”
As fate had it they met later that day at a gallery that was showing Wood’s project, on Christo’s “The Gates” installation in Central Park. It was the beginning of not only a romance, but a partnership.
The winter of 2006 found the couple in New Orleans, teaching film to children in the city that had been battered by Katrina. Out of that experience the couple brought Wade in the Water, Children to the Hamptons International Film Festival in 2007.
In 2009 they were married in the Hamptons, “at my mother’s house in Amagansett,” said Nussbaum.
This year Wood directed the short Loft, filmed in Brooklyn. Her film is a dark story in which a girl leaves her boy friend at a party, and winds up inviting a provocative stranger into her apartment.
“The film’s a study for a full-length feature, White Girl,” Nussbaum said, “about a girl from the Midwest who takes over her boyfriend’s drug ring in Brooklyn after he goes to jail.” He labeled it a dark satire.
Nussbaum’s own piece in the festival, How It Ended, about the last night of a terminally ill woman who decides to end her life, stars Debra Winger, and is based on a short story by James Salter.
Salter, a local writer, gave his permission to use his work, and through an acquaintance who had worked with Winger, Nussbaum got the actress to read the script.
“She donated four days of her time and we filmed it at my parents' house in Amagansett and the American Hotel in Sag Harbor,” said Nussbaum. Nussbaum's parents - Charline Spektor and Jeremy Nussbaum - own the local bookstore chain .
Everyone involved in How it Ended worked gratis. “Well-known actors will do things out of a labor of love,” said Nussbaum.
The couple will soon be heading to Brazil, to film an end-of-the-world story in which foreigners are stranded in the outback as news filters in about a global apocalypse.
“The thought was, if you’re in such a remote location, you have no way of getting out, or getting much information about what’s going on,’ said Nussbaum.
Loft will play at UA6 East Hampton, part of a short film series “The Unquiet Ones,” on Oct. 15 at 10:45 p.m., and Oct. 17 at 8:45 p.m. Nussbaum's How it Ended will screen as part of “East End Films,” on Oct. 15 at 10:30 a.m. and on Oct. 17, at 6:30 p.m.