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Annual L.B. International Film Festival returns

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The eighth annual Long Beach International Film Festival returned with film premieres, red carpet events, food tastings and a free beach concert.

The events ran from July 31 to August 3 and showcased more than 50 films, including feature-length narratives, documentaries, short and animated films.

Organizers kicked off the festival at a news conference at the Allegria Hotel on July 25, where they were joined by Nassau County Executive Laura Curran, State Assemblywoman Judy Griffin and county officials, filmmakers, musicians and chefs.

The festival began with the premiere of the film “Astronaut” which featured Academy Award-winning actor Richard Dreyfuss and was screened at the Regal Lynbrook 13 Theater –– the film is about a widower who lies about his age to enter a lottery for a chance to travel on the first commercial flight to outer space. When his name gets drawn, he finds himself preparing for the ultimate adventure.

The screening was followed by the “Taste on the Beach” event at Kennedy Plaza, which had more than 30 restaurants showcasing a variety of food, wines, beers and spirits along with live music celebrating filmmakers and artists.

On August 1, the third annual “Chefs & Shorts” event was held, offering guests a unique dining experience, pairing food and short films at the Allegria. Guests were given a five-course meal with wine pairings, each course inspired by a short film.

Among the many events, there was a live concert, featuring acts like Riff Reggae band Aqua Cherry from Port Jefferson, as well as Long Island singer Sammi Rae and Long Beach native DJ CHEF, who simultaneously cooks and deejays.

Along with the beach concert, multiple short films were screened on the beach and at the Long Beach Public library. “Shorts on the Beach,” a culinary event that showcased samples from more than 40 Long Island restaurants, took place at the Allegria on August 2, and screened short films at a custom-built movie theater on the sand.

All the events led to the closing night at the Long Beach Hotel, which featured a casino night fundraiser and an awards ceremony for films. The film “Rory’s Way” took home the prize for best feature narrative and “ Julie Blue” nabbed the award for best foreign narrative, among several awards winning films.

“The films are the backbone of the festival,” said festival co-founder Craig Weintraub. “From enjoying food and wine, listening to live music, or watching international films, the Long Beach International Film Festival is an event that has just about everything.”

A portion of the funds from tickets sold went to benefit the Long Beach Soup Kitchen and Cohen Children’s Medical Center.