Can Long Beach become the next TriBeca in discovering talent in the film industry?
That’s the long-range vision of Craig Weintraub, co-founder of the newly created Long Beach International Film Festival.
The festival is set to debut on the beach outside the Allegria Hotel on Aug. 30 at 7:30 p.m., when 10 to 20 filmmakers will present their work in 15 minutes or less during a series entitled “Shorts on the Beach.”
This year’s festival will be a free preview event, said Weintraub, who added that next year it will kick off a full-fledged multi-day festival.
“The goal and the vision in a number of years is to have it up there with the most prestigious industry film festivals in the country,” he said.
“This way anyone in Long Beach can come to get a taste of what’s to come in the future,” Weintraub added.
The film entries will consist of documentary or narrative, including one film entitled “Stacked,” a surfing documentary about Point Lookout resident Balarm Stack, who surfed alongside some of the world’s biggest names in the sport during last year’s Quiksilver extravaganza.
“It’s generating a lot of excitement,” said Christine Lopez, the film festival’s director of marketing. “I’m very passionate about it. It will bring a lot more exposure to Long Island as a viable place for movie companies and filmmakers to film their projects. Long Beach is a wonderful place for it.
“I’ve seen two of the films so far and I absolutely loved them,” she said. “One made me laugh and the other made me cry, all in 10 minutes. I’m really excited about it.”
Lopez said she’s a former Long Beach resident. “I loved living there,” she said. “There was a certain excitement about it. It will be very positive for the city.”
Weintraub said the beauty of the film festival is that the entries are open to anyone with an interest in filmmaking, from a teenager with a camera to a well-established filmmaker.
He encouraged residents to bring their lawn chairs and blankets for the nearly three-hour event, which will begin with musical entertainment. The films will be family-oriented with the highest rating a PG-13, he said. He hoped at least 200 to 300 residents will attend the premiere event on Aug. 30.
“This is just a little preview introducing ourselves to the public with a free screening,” said Weintraub.
Next year film categories will be created and awards and prizes will be handed out.
Weintraub said he grew up in the area, “and it has always been the most beautiful beach destination. And with my film background, this became the perfect place. Using the Allegria Hotel as a backdrop, we could really throw a wonderful film festival.”
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Nassau County is a part sponsor of the festival and has been focusing on bolstering the television and motion picture industry in the county, resulting in $90 million being spent in the local economy each year, said County Executive Edward Mangano.
Mike Witte, general manager of the Allegria, said he was excited to be involved in the process. “We’re happy to partner with them,” he said. “It will create more awareness of the city of Long Beach. Long Beach has a lot to offer especially in the arts.”
Cristen Dattoli, the hotel’s event sales manager, agreed the festival will bring awareness to the community. “Long Beach is a community-driven town,” she said, adding the hotel will hold VIP parties to honor the festival. “We hope it gets bigger and bigger each year.”