“This is beyond a small little film festival,” said Ingrid Dodd, the co-founder of the Long Beach International Film Festival, which has grown over the last three years. “Now it’s in contention with the big ones.”
The event, a showcase for shorts, fiction and documentary films, was expanded from two to six days this year. Beginning with an opening night at Molloy College’s Madison Theatre on July 30, the festival included two days of feature films, a concert and red carpet event on the beach and a closing night awards ceremony at Molloy on Aug. 4.
On Aug. 1, the festival hosted its free outdoor event at the Allegria Hotel on the beach, featuring live music, movie screenings and a VIP filmmakers’ tent.
The LBIFF received 342 submissions for this year’s festival from all over the world. Dodd said that this was the first year that tickets were sold for the event, which she said has grown tremendously since its inception.
At the opening night party and screening of “Wisdom to Know the Difference” at the Madison Theatre, actor Daniel Baldwin, a Long Island native and the film’s director, was on hand for a Q&A after the movie, which stars his brother, William Baldwin, and actor Lou Diamond Phillips. The film won for best song, best editing and best feature film.
More than 450 people were in the VIP tent alone at the Allegria event, and by the time the movie screenings started that night, between 3,000 and 4,000 people had attended throughout the day, Dodd said.
“We also had our live stream which was actually off the charts,” she said referring to the festival’s website. “Not only were there thousands of people on the beach but people were watching from all over the world.”
As the VIP tent was filling up on Aug. 1 with filmmakers, sponsors and VIP guests, Long Beach residents and visitors set up beach chairs and blankets to watch the live concert series, including a special performance by American Idol contestant Robbie Rosen, of Merrick. Bleachers set up on the boardwalk became a place for runners, bicyclists and others to take a break and watch the show.