SHIP BOTTOM – The Lighthouse International Film Festival (LIFF) brought its 10th annual season to a close with an after party and awards ceremony on June 10, the final day of the four-day festival.
This year’s festival was a great success, according to LIFF Executive Director Eric Johnson. Johnson will be stepping down as executive director, a position to be taken over by the current deputy executive director, Amir Bogen, for next year’s event.
“I think the festival went great this year, there was a fantastic turnout,” said Johnson. “Up and down the island, we saw turnouts for not just the crowd-pleasing films, but the avant-garde films, the challenging documentaries, and the shorts program as well as our new storytellers’ episodic category.”
Even for the new genres, such as the episodic features, there was a positive audience response, according to Johnson.
“It’s just another great way of storytelling, and other great content,” he added regarding the episodic category.
Johnson noted that it is always a good idea to expand the content in the festival, which this year included a new virtual reality section as well as the storytellers genre.
A favorite of LIFF volunteer Rafael was the closing night film, one of the four headliners, “Anote’s Ark.” This documentary showcased Kiribati, a low-lying pacific island that faces destruction from sea-level rise and climate change.
The films covered a host of topics, from challenging issues such as climate change, to behind the scenes stories of the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders, to a daughter’s quest to find her father on our very own Long Beach Island.
The festival also gives students a chance to showcase their work, and an opportunity to join the film world at an early age. The winning student film was, ironically, centered on a group of boys trying to make a film for a film festival that can’t find the right topic.
One LIFF volunteer noted that the filmmakers or directors from Manhattan, New York are considered local because the festival attracts those from foreign countries as well.
There was a full house at the restaurant for the ceremony, held at Joe Pop’s Shore Bar & Restaurant in Ship Bottom, where film buffs and producers rubbed elbows and LIFF members and volunteers mingled with locals.
Outside of its members, the LIFF has a whole host of volunteers who tackle various tasks to make the event possible. It is a collective effort on behalf of the members, volunteers, and caring community that bring the festival to life each year.
“They [LIFF volunteers] have given their time and dedication…we could not do it without our community who have donated everything from paper goods to fliers, to the food we’re eating tonight,” said Christine Rooney, Managing Director of the LIFF.
Food was donated from local business such as Incredibowls and the Philly Pretzel Factory while the space was donated by Joe Pop’s for the private event.
The first two awards given were the non-film awards.
“These are a couple awards that the festival holds dear because they are supporters of the festival…that are integral to making the festival happen,” said Johnson.
These include the Community Service Award which was given to the Long Beach Island Foundation of the Arts and Sciences. The LBI Foundation partners with LIFF to host events. The other award was the Pat Dengler Volunteer of the Year Award, awarded to Kelly Travis, one of the special events coordinators of the festival.
The awards for each category in the festival follow:
- Best HS Student Film: “Pick Again,” by Kieran Sherry and Will Vinsko
- Storytellers Audience Award: a tie between “Unspeakable,” director Milena Govich and “Adventure Capital,” co-directors Everett Glovier and Zach Myers
- Grand Award Storytellers: “Lost Kings,” Director Terrance Smalls
- Special Jury Award Screenwriting Narrative Short: “Still Water Runs Deep,” Director Abbesi Akhanie
- Grand Jury Award Narrative Short Film: “Atlantic City,” Director Miguel Alvarez
- Short Film Special Jury Award Documentary: “Nobody Loves Me,” Director Jeff Reichert and Farihah Zaman
- Grand Jury Award Doc Short: “Brooklynn,” Director Charles A. Mysak
- Short Film Audience Award: “Head Above Water,” Director Eric Shahinian
- Doc Feature Audience Award: “Half The Picture,” Director Amy Adrion
- Documentary Feature Special Jury Award: “306 Hollywood,” Directors Elan Bogarin, Jonathan Bogarin
- Documentary Feature Grand Jury Award: “Phantom Cowboys,” Director Daniel Patrick Carbone
- Spotlight Audience Award Narrative: “Easy,” Director Andrea Magnani
- Spotlight Audience Award Doc: “Daughters Of The Sexual Revolution,” Director Carra Greenberg
- Narrative Feature Audience Award: “Night Comes On,” Director Jordana Spiro
- Narrative Feature Special Jury Award: “The Fever and The Fret,” Director Cath Gulick
- Narrative Feature Grand Jury Award: “Night Comes On,” Director Jordana Spiro.
The festival was comprised of 6 Spotlight films, 6 Narrative films, 6 Documentary films, 5 VR (virtual reality) experiences, nearly 70 short films, 13 Storytellers episodic series, and 16 student films.
Winning films were chosen by the LIFF Jury, made up of a series of experienced and seasoned writers, directors, producers, and even film teachers.