Written by Joe Kellard
In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, the creators of the Long Beach International Film Festival, which debuted in the beachtown last summer, believed they needed to shift the focus of the event this year, after first deciding the show must go on.
“With everything this city has gone through the last several months, we needed to hold this event,” said Craig Weintraub, who co-founded the festival with Ingrid Dodd, during a Thursday morning press conference to promote the festival at the Allegria Hotel.
Weintraub, who was joined by Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano and actor Gerald Tommaso DeLouise a.k.a. Burt Young of “Rocky” fame, drew a parallel to the Tribeca Film Festival, which was established in an effort to help revitalize lower Manhattan after the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in 2001, to remind people that it’s a great place to live, shop, dine and be entertained, he said.
“We shared that purpose with them here in Long Beach,” Weintraub continued, recalling the destruction the October storm wrought in the beach town, crippling the boardwalk, devastating the beach, and destroying the city’s lone movie theater, which remains closed nearly 10 months later.
The “Shorts on the Beach” festival will kickoff at 7 p.m. with a red carpet walk on the rebuilt boardwalk outside the Allegria, at 80 National Blvd., with Dee Snider, the frontman of the heavy metal band Twisted Sister. Musician Mike Krum will perform at 7:15 p.m., and the short films will start to roll at 8:30 p.m. on the beach outside the hotel.
The free PG-13 film series will feature 10 short films, including “Spirit of Long Beach,” a documentary by Nassau BOCES students at Long Island High School for the Arts, which spotlights city residents recovering from the storm.
“It’s a wonderful night, it’s a free night; spend it here in Long Beach and spend some money in Long Beach and help revitalize our economy post-Sandy,” Mangano said, addressing county residents at large.
The county executive, who said his administration has been very supportive of a vibrant film industry on Long Island, called the festival a night to celebrate the progress the city and county have made since the storm.
“This wonderful, beautiful hotel that was devastated [has] now been restored, a good part of the boardwalk is ready to greet our residents here in Nassau County to Long Beach, and certainly the town artistry that worked so hard to showcase the creativity that we are so proud of here in our county,” he said.
City Manager Jack Schnirman, who noted that many residents with storm-damaged homes took refuge at the Allegria after Sandy, said the festival is part of a “phenomenal” summer in the Long Beach as the city continues its recovery efforts.
“We’re so excited to be here to host the film festival tonight for the second year now,” Schnirman added. “You know what they say: one year is exciting, two years is a trend, and now we’re moving towards a real strong tradition in the city.”
A portion of the proceeds the festival will collect through merchandise sales will go toward assisting residents devastated by the storm, Weintraub said. The festival will continue on Friday at the Long Beach Library, where another round of films will be screened.