For Andrew Flanagan and his father John Flanagan of Rocky Point, attending the Stony Brook Film Festival has become an annual family tradition. Each year, they say, the films get a little bit grander, a little more diverse.
"I like to be able to see the diversity in the world, rather than just seeing what Hollywood is always telling us to see," Andrew Flanagan said. "There are good Hollywood films, but it’s always hitting the same note. ... It’s nice to see what else the world has to offer."
For Lynn Rein of Oakdale, who has been coming to the festival for nine years, the foreign films have special meaning.
"I just really enjoy the mix, the themes," she said. "I’ve seen a lot more foreign entries now than ever before. ... It’s an opportunity to see other countires, other cultures. It means a lot."
Longtime festival attendees say much the same thing: each year the festival gets better and better, and that's what brings them back the following year.
Irene Nugent of Lake Ronkonkoma described the films she saw this year as "astounding."
"Every year I see every film, and one or two stick with me," she said. "This year, I'm going to carry the memories of all these films a long time."
She said she would be back next year, as did her sister Mary Ellen Nugent of New York City, who also said the quality of the films was even better than previous years.
Festival director Alan Inkles "was channeling his inner Barbara Walters this year, making us all cry," she said. "The emotions were so intense. Even more so than other years."
Wendy Feinberg of South Setauket came to all 10 days of the festival last year on crutches, due to a hip injury. This year, she's back, and called the film sepection an "array of wonderful films both U.S. and foreign."
"People go to the Sundance Film Festival," she said, "but me, I’m coming to the Stony Brook Film Festival. I put it on my calendar a year in advance."