Film Fest Kicks Off With Cinco De Mayo Fiesta

Attendees at the Cinco de Mayo Fiesta mingled with the LIFF members to discuss film and what to expect at this year’s festival. (Photo by Kimberly Bosco)

LOVELADIES – The Lighthouse International Film Festival (LIFF) kicked off their 2018 and 10th anniversary season with a Cinco de Mayo fiesta at the LBI Foundation of Arts and Sciences. This event was a fundraiser for the festival and an exciting preview of what’s to come during the “four-day cinematic experience,” as Managing Director of the LIFF Christine Rooney calls it. The festival will be held from June 7-10 on Long Beach Island.

What is the Lighthouse International Film Festival? Well, according to Rooney, the non-profit LIFF puts on films, film festivals, special events, parties, and panel discussions, among other events at affordable prices for not only film enthusiasts, but for everyone, to showcase the local artistic community and bring people to the island.

The LIFF will take place from June 7-10, 2018. (Photo by Kimberly Bosco)

“The LIFF is committed to bringing artists, to bringing all kinds of people here [LBI] so that they can experience our arts community and they can experience our beautiful island,” said Rooney.

She explained that the LBI Foundation of the Arts and Sciences is also both host and partner to the LIFF. “They donated the space to us [for the evening]…they support independent films, they support our mission,” she added.

Rooney emphasized that the LIFF is a very important factor in bringing more people to Long Beach Island.

“Our little slogan is ‘More Than a Day at the Beach,’” said Rooney. This is part of the organization’s effort to bring people to the island pre-season, to share with others what the island has to offer during the off-season months.

While the festival itself doesn’t begin until June, the kick-off party was meant to raise money to support independent film and to let people know what to expect, she added.

The Cinco de Mayo Fiesta brought in dozens of interested people for some mingling with the LIFF members, scintillating previews of what the festival has in store for June, an auction showcasing prizes from dozens of local businesses, and festive tacos and drinks for the occasion.

Following the auction, attendees got a special preview at what’s to come in this year’s film festival with a short highlight reel of some of the new films and features.

Auction tables were set up all around the room, presenting items from local businesses for people to bid on throughout the evening. (Photo by Kimberly Bosco)

Chip Parham, Senior Programmer for the LIFF, helps to choose which short films will be featured during the festival. First thing that goes into the decision process is whether or not “it’s a good story,” he said.

Chip remarked that he probably watched about 100 films in preparation for the festival.

“This year, for the first time, we’re doing episodic films,” he added. Attendees at this year’s festival are going to get a first look at episodic films, which are comparable to a web series.

Eric Johnson, Executive Director for the LIFF, said submissions for the international festival open up during the fall and extend through March. He noted that the members begin watching the film submissions immediately once they start coming in and, following the deadline, it takes about another six weeks to wrap everything up.

It’s a combination of individual backgrounds and a love for film that enables the LIFF members to pick and choose the films to be shown during the festival, he said.

The event featured a screen that projected snippets of films throughout the event. (Photo by Kimberly Bosco)

“We do try to have a representation,” of all different kinds of films, said Johnson. “We try to pick the most exciting films.”

“This year we’re really excited because we’re bringing back virtual reality again,” said Rooney. “We’ll have award winning films, shorts, documentaries, virtual reality, we do panels, and we also do breakfast with the filmmakers.”

If you are a big-time film fan or have some extra time to spend on the beach this summer, come out for the Lighthouse International Film Festival. Johnson remarked that the program this year has anywhere from 80-90 films to be shown over the course of four days.

You have two options in choosing to attend the festival. You can either get an All Access Pass; this gets you into everything that the LIFF has to offer, according to Rooney, including special parties, all of the screenings, and even a breakfast with film makers. Or you can buy tickets for screenings online at or at the door.

“We really recommend online because we fill up,” said Rooney.

To see the full schedule of films for the festival, June 7-10, visit