Now in its third year, the Gold Coast International Film Festival, taking place Oct 21-27, 2013 in venues throughout the town of North Hempstead, is themed "Laugh Island" turning a spotlight on comedy with a program of films and events loaded with legendary comedians, writers and actors.
The theme carries over to this year's opening night annual Benefit Gala honoree, Susie Essman, "the hysterically inappropriate" star of HBO's "Curb Your Enthusiasm," who will be the recipient of the Artist of Distinction, Gold Coast International Film Festival Executive Director Regina Gil said during the press announcement of the festival line-up.
Susie Essman is featured in one of the festival films, "The Business of Comedy," a documentary co-produced by comedian Jeffrey Gurian about what it's like to make a living in comedy. It also stars Robert Klein, George Wallace, Tom Dreesen, Shecky Greene, Judy Carter, and comedy club owners Budd Friedman, Rick Newman, Richie Tienken and LA Comedy Store manager Tommy Morrie. The screening is followed by one of the free events offered during the festival, a Q&A with Jeffrey Gurian, Richie Tienken, Gary Licker and Scott Sobel and a signing with Gurian for his new book, "Make 'Em Laugh." (Soundview Cinema, Port Washington, Sat. Oct 26, at 5 pm).
This "Laugh Island" theme is also represented by the screening of "Comedy Warriors: Healing Through Humor", a documentary that features five severely wounded Iraq/Afghanistan veterans who are given the opportunity to explore their experiences through the healing power of humor as they work with professional comedy writers and A-List comedians including Zach Galifianakis, Lewis Black, Bob Saget and BJ. Novak, who help them write and perform stand-up comedy routines. The screening features a Q&A with Joe Kashow and Bobby Henline, two of the Comedy Warriors featured in the film.
A live event, "Set List! Stand-Up Without a Net," is a chance to see top comedians taking on bizarre, outrageous and ridiculous topics as the audience follows along on the screen behind the performer. The show is created by Paul (The Aristocrats) Provenza and his partner Troy Conrad. is being presented Friday, Oct 25, 8 pm at the Gold Coast Arts Center (formerly known as the Great Neck Arts Center).
The most remarkable aspect of the GCIFF - aside from being able to see top-quality films before they are in wide distribution and in our own neighborhood - is the opportunity that most of them afford to hear from principles associated with the film - directors, producers, screenwriters, actors.
Famed actor Paul Sorvino is coming in from Los Angeles to be on hand for a Q&A following the screening of his new film, "How Sweet it Is," a musical comedy he stars in with Joe Piscopo. Sorvino plays an alcoholic theater owner needs to put together a successful musical in order to pay off his mob debt, but problems arise when the wise guys want to cast their friends in the production (Tuesday 10/22, 7:30pm, Soundview)
Among the films that are in the laugh track include "Another Woman's Life," a romantic comedy starring Juliette Binoche as Marie, a woman who meets and spends the night with the young and wealthy Paul-only to wake up the next day and discover that 15 years have passed and she has no memory of any of it (Thursday, 10/24, 7:30pm, Bow Tie Great Neck); "Blumenthal," a "hilariously absurd" movie about a celebrated fictional playwright who has passed away after suffering a heart attack while laughing at his own joke; "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow."
A late addition to the festival is "Teddy Bears," starring Jason Ritter ("Parenthood") and Melanie Lynskey (who played Rose in "2 1/2 Men"), a dark comedy which follows three couples who head to the desert to help a friend heal after the death of his mother.
Singer and songwriter Consuelo Vanderbilt Costin, eighth-generation descendant of American entrepreneur Cornelius Vanderbilt whose family epitomizes the Gold Coast, was on hand for the festival announcement of the line-up of films. Her husband, Rafael Feldman produced one of the short films, "Mona Lisa: Leonardo's Earlier Version," and will be on hand for a Q&A after a free screening (Sunday, Oct. 27, 11 am at Soundview; reservations required).
The festival has always had a series of curated short films and this year, a new addition is a block of family-friendly short films (ages 8+), says Alexandra Gil, the GCIFF Shorts Curator, to be presented on Saturday, Oct. 26, 11 am at the Soundview (advance reservation required).
Special Events, Panels, Workshops
One of the most wonderful aspects of the Gold Coast International Film Festival are the events, panels and workshops (many free) which bring together major film makers and creative experts.
A major event, which is free," A Conversation with Jay McInerney," features the renowned writer of "Bright Lights, Big City," in an intimate onstage discussion looking ack at the making of the film version of his novel (Sat. Oct. 26, 1:30 pm at Port Washington Library).
"A Star is Born: A Prudent Parent's guide to Getting Your Kid in Show Business" is likely to be hugely popular. This free event let's you spend an afternoon with the legendary entertainment attorney Steven Beer (he helped launch Britney Spears) and Broadway Star and Long Island native Nikki Blonsky of "Hairspray" fame (Sun, Oct 27, noon, at the Gold Coast Arts Center).
Another important panel is being presented in conjunction with a life-affirming film, "The Genius of Marian," which follows the filmmaker's mother who at age 61 is diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's, and follows her as she works on a book celebrating the life of her own mother, artist Marian Steele. A panel that follows the film features filmmaker Luke White and North Shore-LIJ Health System experts who specialize in Geriatrics, Behavioral Health and Alzheimer's research. The program is sponsored by NSLIJ's Katz Institute for Women's Health (Mon, Oct. 21, 6:30 pm at the Soundview, Port Washington).
A program that will be of particular interest: Ambassador Yehuda Avner will answer questions and sign his best-selling book after the Long Island premiere of "The Prime Ministers," a documentary based on his book which explores six decades of Israel's history and brings to life never-before told stories about Levi Eshkol, Golda Meir, Yitzhak Rabin, Menachem Begin and Shimon Peres .A portion of the proceeds from the event will benefit The Simon Wiesenthal Center (Sun, Oct 27, 4 pm, Bowtie Great Neck Cinema).
Another that is certainly to generate interest is "Dancing in Jaffa," an inspiring documentary about how famed ballroom dancer Pierre Dulaine teaches ballroom dance to pairs of 11-year old Palestinian Israelis and Jews, changing their perspective, will feature an opportunity to talk with Dulaine (Sun. Oct 27, 1 pm, Bow Tie Great Neck).
"Dancing in Jaffa," is one of the films in the festival that are appropriate for families and teens.
Others that are highlighted: is "Aayna Ka Bayna," an Indian film about nine preteen boys in a home for delinquents who are drawn to hip hop dance as a means of breaking out of the self-destructive cycle. "It's Ballywood and Hip Hop and 'Moulin Rouge'," says Caroline Sorokoff, Associate Director of the festival.
Other films in this vein include a series of family-friendly short films, appropriate for ages 8 and up (free event, Sat., Oct. 26, 11 am at Soundview); "The Short Game," which follows the bdest7-year old golfers from around the world to the Pinehurst Golf course to determine the next world champion; "Approved for Adoption," which weaves animation and live action footage for a coming-of-age story; "Foreign Letters," (about a 12-year old immigrant from Israel and her friendship with a young Vietnamese refugee), and "Moon Man" (age 5+) a strikingly beautiful animated film about a curious Moon Man who hitches a ride to Earth on a passing comet (Sat, Oct 27, 1:30 pm at Soundview).
The festival features more than 50 films which are selected from hundreds that are screened by the curators (in other festivals, the filmmakers pay an entrance fee to be included).
The Gold Coast International Film Festival has been drawing filmgoers from all over Long Island and from Manhattan (most of the movie theaters and venues are within walking distance of the Long Island Railroad Stations in Great Neck, Manhasset and Port Washington).
Nassau county Executive Ed Mangano noted that the film festival is part of a growing TV and film industry that employs 2000 people and has a $140 million economic impact on the county.
The Town of North Hempstead which is a partner with the Gold Cast Arts Center in producing the festival, sees the festival at putting a spotlight on a town considered one of the best places to live, work and retire.
"Today's announcement of the lineup for North Hempstead's Third Annual Gold Coast Film Festival not only underscores the administration's commitment to use film and art as a vehicle to boost the local economy but it also confirms the Town's emergence as one of Long Island's most popular places for movie and television filming," said Supervisor John Riordan.
He also noted that network programs such as "The Blacklist" and "Person of Interest" have filmed in Manhasset just this month.
Also, a film showcased during the Furman Film Series at the Gold Coast Arts Center (formerly known as Great Neck Arts Center, the new name reflects the active partnership with the Town of North Hempstead), "The English Teacher," which featured Great Neck native Nikki Blonsky, was filmed in Port Washington. (Nikki Blonsky will be joining the free workshop, "A Star is Born," helping parents navigate the process of getting their kids into show business.)
Tickets can be purchased in individual segments (12 general; $10/seniors and students, visit goldcoastfilmfestival.org or call 516-829-2570 for special event pricing).
Passes include the VIP All Access Pass, $275, which provides access to all screenings, panels, parties and special events (excluding the Opening Night Benefit Gala); and a 6-PackFlex Pass, $60, which gives you six film tickets for the price of five, which can be used in any combination.
For festival information and to order tickets, visit www.goldcoastfilmfestival.org, 516-829-2570.
Karen Rubin, Long Island Eclectic Travel Examiner
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