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Long Beach International Film Fest draws filmmakers, filmgoers to beach party

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What could be better than a film festival Long Beach style, enjoying "a Little Jamaica" on the beach with musical performances by Cass Dillon, Ben Metzger and Ruff Stuff; a glamorous red carpet event under a tent drawing local and national celebrities, and as night fell and the stars came out, an evening of short films?

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The Long Beach International Film Festival, now in its third year and expanded to six days, concluding with a gala awards event on Monday, August 4, provides a special ambiance for filmmakers and film-lovers, in which one of the leading characters is Long Island, itself.

"The Long Beach International Film Festival continues to provide an opportunity for filmmakers to come and see the types of filming locations Nassau County has to offer whether it be our beaches, mansions, suburban areas and, of course, Gold Coast Studios and Grumman Studios, which are all New York State-approved movie studios which qualify for the much sought after 30% tax credit," said Nassau County Executive Edward P. Mangano.

"Long Island has always supported the television and motion picture industry," Ingrid Dodd, Co-Founder of the Long Beach International Film Festival remarked. "It is amazing to see these successful production studios bringing projects such as the new Spider Man movie to our area, becoming proof positive that Long Island is a go to destination for filmmakers. In fact, in support of this, we are awarding a free day of filming on the Grumman stage to our Festival winner for Best Picture. Film is alive and well on Long Island".

Filmmakers came from as far as Australia and Brazil and as near as Great Neck and Long Beach, itself.

The festival, which last year drew 3,000 people, provides an opportunity to watch hand-picked independent movie releases from around the world and take part in exclusive film and music events, Q & A panels with award winning filmmakers and directors.

Filmmakers, who came from as far as Australia and Brazil and as near as Great Neck and Long Beach, itself, came to network and get exposure. They were invited to learn the tips, tricks and secrets of the trade at a workshop hosted by the NYS Governors Film Office at Grumman Movie Studios, in Bethpage.

Filmmakers like Carina Rush of Brewster, NY, co-producer of "No Letting Go," a film about a boy's undiagnosed mental illness. The feature-length film expands upon the short film, "Illness" that is being screened at the film festival, and features cameo roles by Jared Gilman, the young star of "Moonrise Kingdom," and other actors from the film (including Rush's son). Gilman was at the beach party.

And Kristin Skye Sargent, an actress turned producer, who came from Australia, whose passion to address the cause of anti-bullying was apparent in the sensitive short film, "Go Fish," about a boy traumatized by the loss of his father, whose odd coping behaviors make him the target of bullying.

And from Brazil, "Radical Rio," directed by Raphael Erichsen, about Dada Figueiredo "the biggest anti-hero in Brazilian surf history." His documentary, Radical Rio, tells the story of a poor boy who trade the streets of the suburbs for the waves of Rio de Janeiro most popular surf spot at the 70s.

From Great Neck, filmmaker Alan Ginsberg made his first feature film, "Trouble With Women," here on Long Island, which he describes as "a comedy with a little romance."

Joy Shatz, actress and director, known for "Russian Dressing" (2012), was the producer, director, and played all 13 parts in the one-woman short film, "Wild Woman" a quirky "mockumentary" about a reporter who goes on a quest to solve a modern mystery. She wrote, directed, co-produced and did the music for the movie, but still needed crew, particularly the make-up artist, Kelley Coleman (make up for one of the characters took 4 1/2 hours.)

"The Long Beach International Film Festival has been incredibly popular in each of its first two years, and we are so excited for this year's expanded event. The Festival has already become a wonderful City tradition that thousands of residents and visitors look forward to attending" said Jack Schnirman, Long Beach City Manager.

Among the highlights of this year's festival was the world premiere of "Wisdom to Know The Difference" which was directed by Massapequa's own Daniel Baldwin and stars his brother William Baldwin and Lou Diamond Phillips. The screening at Madison Theatre at Molloy College was part of our opening ceremonies on July 30 and featured an exclusive Q & A with Daniel Baldwin and his cast and crew after the film.

"Having the Madison Theater involved this year is a wonderful addition to the festival, and especially exciting due to the fact the Long Beach Theatre is still closed due to Hurricane Sandy", said Craig Weintraub, Co-Founder of the LBIFF.

The Long Beach community was invited to a free event on Friday, August 1, "Shorts on the Beach," on the beach, with concerts and a series of Short Films, including the winner of the 2013 Gold Coast International Film Festival, "Pigeon Impossible."

The event also featured musical performances by former American Idol contestant Siobhan Magnus, one time Billy Joel collaborator Cass Dillon, Long Beach's own Ben Metzger and Joe Horowitz, the jamming reggae band Ruff Stuff, with the Jamaica Tourism Bureau creating a "Little Jamaica" atmosphere on the beach for the festival goers.

Also, long-time New York State Assemblyman and life-long Long Beach resident, Weisenberg was presented with the Elovich Weisenberg Community Award for his exemplary community service. He has been a staunch advocate of state-funded programs for the disabled.

Other festival events included "Throwback Thursday Drive-In Movie Night" with a screening of the film classic "Grease" at Nickerson Beach.

Saturday's events taking place at the newly renovated Madison Theater at Molloy College featured a screening of the documentary “Side By Side” with A-list directors James Cameron, Martin Scorcese, Robert Rodriguez, David Lynch and others interviewed by A-list actor Keanu Reeves. There was a Q&A with Director Christopher Kenneally and others in person directly after the film.

The awards gala on Monday, August 4 at the Madison Theater is hosted by legendary long Island comedian Joey Kola, and headlined by Comedian Chris Monte (from Mall Cop 2 and other films) who will perform selections from his Off-Broadway play, "Shut Up Sit Down and Eat", hosted by legendary long Island comedian Joey Kola.

Among the celebrities sighted at this year's reception on the beach: Joan Jett, Chris Keanelly (True Detective), Jets star Wesley Walker, NY Giants star Leonard Marshall, Chris Monty (Mall Cop), Joey Kola (Rachel Ray), Michael Kenneth Williams (The Wire), Richard Pryor Jr., Raquel Castro (The Voice), Siobhan Magnus (American Idol), Robbie Rosen (American Idol), Miss Long Island Michelle Medoff (from Great Neck), Miss Teen Long Island Sabrina Franza (from Oceanside), DJ Chef (Cutthroat Kitchen), comedian Jeffrey Gurian.

Festival pricing runs from $15 for one screening to a VIP all access pass for $200 which includes Opening Night, Drive-In Movie, Shorts on the Beach Film Series, Free Concert Series, VIP Filmmakers Lounge, All films Saturday and Sunday, Filmmaker Q & A's and Closing Night.

For more info www.longbeachfilm.com, twitter@LBIFFNY, Instagram @LBIFFNY and Facebook www.facebook.com/Longbeachinternationalfilmfestival

Karen Rubin, Long Island Eclectic Travel Examiner

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