Although he was a Yale graduate from Connecticut, Nathan Hale holds a special piece of Huntington’s heart and is a significant part of Long Island history. His legacy is going to be remembered in a new film produced by and starring Long Islanders, set to come out this weekend.
On Thursday, people gathered outside of the Nathan Hale Memorial Statue beside the Huntington Historical Society on Main Street to announce and celebrate a new film about the Washington Spy Ring, “One Life to Give.”
Dressed in Revolutionary War-era clothing, “friends” of Nathan Hale stood besides Huntington Town Supervisor Chad A. Lupinacci, Huntington Town Councilman Edmund J.M. Smyth, Brookhaven Town Supervisor Edward P. Romaine, Town Historian Robert Hughes and John Tsunis, CEO of Gold Coast Bank, who all spoke of their admiration for Hale’s cause and their love for Long Island history.
Nathan Hale was “America’s First Spy” who landed in Huntington Bay after fleeing Connecticut to join the intelligence-gathering mission as a spy during the Revolutionary War. At just 21 years old, he was captured by British forces and hanged to death in New York City. With his famous last words being, “My only regret is that I have but one life to lose for my country,” his demise sparked his friend, Benjamin Tallmadge, to create the Washington Spy Ring. Spanning across the North Shore, the ring of local spies eventually helped win independence from Great Britain in the late 1700s. This film shows the friendship the two young men had and how their actions helped shape America.
Leah Dunaief, known for publishing several North Shore community newspapers with the Times Beacon Review, executively produced the film, stating that the papers were “delighted” to move from reporting, to videos, and now movie-making.
Her grandson, Benji Dunaief, wrote and directed “One Life to Give” with his friend Michael Tessler, of Port Jefferson, who co-created and produced the film. The process -from concept to completion – took just four months and they are happy to share their art showcasing how the first communities of Long Island helped shape American freedom.
“I’ve always loved the community and we needed to find a way to get back to the basics,” Tessler, 25 and now a resident of Orlando, said. “The community is something we all share.”
The film is set to premiere – for free – at the Staller Center in Stony Brook University on Sunday. Doors open at 6:45 p.m. and the film will begin at 7 p.m. at the main theater. A Q&A with cast and crew will conclude the evening and the creators plan on showing the film around the country at different film festivals.