FilmJune 02, 2015

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Expect the unexpected is one of my routine rules of thumb. And, in many ways, the Lighthouse International Film Festival, which runs from June 4 through June 7 on Long Beach Island, epitomizes that.

The festival is a three-day, multi-venue film-lovers’ extravaganza, with features, shorts, documentaries and family fare, as well as appearances by leading film industry professionals, and other special events.

And it’s happening at the shore!

The LIFF is what Managing Director Christine Rooney describes as a “cinematic experience.”

“We have events where people can meet filmmakers and talk to them about their films,” Rooney says, “It’s also a wonderful way for those who love movies to mingle with other like-minded people.”

Finders Keepers

The All-Access Pass, which costs $125 and admits holders to all screenings and events, is just the ticket! Rooney said that it is advisable, if you are so inclined, to purchase your festival passes online in advance. Single day tickets are also available.

There will be parties at The Dutchman’s Brauhaus all three nights, – Friday, June 5, from 9:00 p.m. to 12:30 a.m., featuring music by Grace Guggenheim; Saturday, June 6, 9:00 p.m. to 12:30 a.m., with a Table Tennis Exhibition that showcases some of the world’s best players; and the Closing Party and Awards Ceremony, Sunday, June 7, 6:00 to 9:00 p.m.

Saturday and Sunday both kick off at 9:00 a.m. with Breakfast with the Filmmakers at Joe Pop’s Shore Bar in Ship Bottom. On both mornings, film critic Glenn Kenny will moderate a discussion. –I hear that this has become one of the most popular meet-and-greet events of the weekend!

Abby SingerThe festival is clearly packed with overall entertainment value, but Rooney explains that it’s much more than that. “Events like this, that allow independent filmmakers to get their work out to a broader audience, have become incredibly important,” says Rooney. “These films tell our stories. They are funny. They are informative. And they offer a slice of life and a fresh perspective.”

Spotlight Films include “Call Me Lucky,” a Sundance favorite; “Catch Me Daddy,” a break-out film at Cannes; “Sam Klemke’s Time Machine,” a documentary hybrid directed by Matthew Bate; “The Tribe,” a Cannes’ Critic Week Grand Prize winner about a group of students at a school for the deaf that is told entirely in sign language; and “When Animals Dream,” described in the program as a “werewolf romance coming-of-age-story,” by Danish director Jonas Alexander Arnby.

The Narrative Centerpiece Film, “Abby Singer, Songwriter,” tells the tale of a musician and a movie maker who meet and start working together, and features real-life musician Jamie Block and real-life director Onur Tukel playing not-real-life versions of themselves. Both Block and Tukel will be at the festival, and a musical performance will follow the screening.

There are documentaries spanning subjects from Antarctica, to professional boxing, to independent radio, and more, as well as a wide selection of shorts that will be screened in blocks and also shown before feature films throughout the weekend.

Top Spin 2And, on Saturday afternoon, there is a Student Short Film Block that highlights works of high school filmmakers.

Rooney tells me that many of the films shown at the festival go on to wider distribution. “A lot of these movies appear on the Independent Film Channel, for example,” she says. “And others go on to open in major markets.

“And,” she proudly points out, “you can see them here first!”

A perfect example of this is “Safelight,” which is scheduled to be released in theaters on July 17. The film is directed by Tony Aloupis, who will be on hand at the screening (Saturday, June 6th, 8:00 p.m.).

The idea for the festival, which is now in its seventh year, came out of a kitchen table conversation among a small group of Long BeachIsland folks committed to the arts. And every person who helps present this remarkable event each year is a volunteer.

“Volunteers do everything,” Rooney says. “More than 100 people contribute to make the festival happen. For each one of us, it is a labor of love.”

Catch me DaddyRooney also points out that there is island-wide involvement in support of the festival. “Many of the restaurants and places to stay are offering special deals,” she said. “And, on the same weekend, visitors can take part in the annual Long Beach Island Wine Festival.

“The arts play a critical role on Long BeachIsland,” Rooney, a year-round resident says. “We have a huge arts community.”

Each year, the Long Beach Island Art Council hosts a LBI Artist Open Studio and Gallery Tour—taking place June 27 and 28 this year—and the New Jersey Maritime Museum in Beach Haven has a variety of ongoing exhibits and presentations.

“A visit to Long Beach Island,” Rooney says, “is much more than just a day at the beach.”

Click here for a list of screening and event venues. The full schedule, with interactive components, is available at


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About Author

Shen Shellenberger
Shen Shellenberger

Shen’s been a Jersey girl for most of her life, other than living for a three-year stretch in Portland, Oregon, and six magical months in Tokyo. Shen loves the arts in all of its various forms – from the beauty of a perfectly-placed base hit to the raw energy of rock ‘n’ roll – and has successfully passed on this appreciation to her three grown children. Shen’s most recent jobs include WXPN (1993-2001) and the Philadelphia Museum of Art (2003-present). Shen also has been a working freelancer for 25 years, and operated her own frame shop in Mt. Holly in the late-70s.