LONG BEACH ISLAND – Locals and film experts alike celebrated the return of the Jersey Shore’s favorite film fest with a kick-off party and fundraiser on April 27. This event was an exciting preview of what’s to come during the four-day cinematic experience on June 6-9.
Held at the Long Beach Island Foundation of the Arts and Sciences, members of the Lighthouse International Film Festival and film enthusiasts gathered together to enjoy some Asian fusion cuisine and a special film screening in honor of the festival’s 11th year on the island.
Amir Bogen, Executive Director of the LIFF, believes that this year is going to be “much better than any other year.” This season will be Bogen’s first as Executive Director; in 2018, he served as Deputy Director under Eric Johnson.
Among the hundreds of submissions made to the LIFF this year, “we have one of the best films from South by Southwest,” an annual film festival that takes place in Austin, Texas. Bogen also mentioned that film-goers can expect to see the work of some “major documentary filmmakers” as well.
A full schedule of the dozens of films to be shown can be found at lighthouse.festivalgenius.com/2018/schedule/week.
The annual film fest brings films, special events, parties, panel discussions, and people from all over to Long Beach Island, while showcasing the local artistic community. Held each summer at various venues throughout the island, the festival promotes independent film and encourages people to experience the area as “more than just a day at the beach.”
The kickoff party is both an introduction to what the festival offers as well as a fundraiser for independent film. The event featured a gift auction offering up items from local shops, restaurants, and artisans.
Attendees also got to enjoy some tasty Asian cuisine provided by local eateries including Fuji 72, Makoto, Golden Jade, and Zen, while getting a taste for the 2019 Festival Line-Up with a special film screening.
Although it will not be shown during the festival, those at the kickoff party got a first look at the dramedy film “Don’t Let the Night End.” This film was nominated for Best Cinematography at the Queens World Film Fest. Actor and director of the film, Galia Barkol, mingled with guests and hosted a Q&A following the film screening.
“It’s my first feature film and I am an actor but I studied film,” said Barkol.
Barkol comes to LBI from Israel, which is where the main character in her film, Mia, hails from. After completing her mandatory military service in Israel, Barkol moved to Paris where she studied film. She later studied acting in New York.
“I kind of wanted to combine it all…this is my biggest project to date,” she said.
Attendees got to see her work play out on screen firsthand.
“Don’t Let the Night End” follows Mia, who loses her ability to dance due to an injury. Mia leaves life in Tel Aviv for a temporary stay in New York City where she finds respite in taking origami classes and cat-sitting for a married sales agent, who is only in New York on the weekends. Barkol explained that the movie encompasses the way that strangers can connect with one another and how complicated the relationships between parents and their adult children can become.
Former Executive Director Eric Johnson explained the process of choosing films for the festival to Jersey Shore Online at their 10th annual event. Submissions open up during the fall and extend through March. LIFF 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.
The LIFF staff works on choosing exciting films from all different backgrounds. And it is not only feature-length films that you will see but also shorts, documentaries, and virtual reality.
If you wish to attend this year’s event, you have two options. You can get an All Access Pass, which grants you access to all film screenings and special parties held during the festival. Or you can buy tickets for screenings online at lighthousefilmfestival.org or at the door.