The Long Beach International Film Festival Returns August 1-4; Q&A With Founder Craig Weintraub
Launched in 2012 with just 50 submissions and 12 film screenings on the beach, the Long Beach International Film Festival is set to return for its sixth annual edition from August 1st through 4th. Within its four-day run, the 2017 edition of LBIFF will not only feature more than 40 films -- some of which premieres -- but also beach concerts, culinary events, a charity-oriented casino night, and filmmaker panel discussions. To top it all off, many of the festival's events are centered around the Allegria Hotel, adding the beauty of the boardwalk and beach to the audio-visual entertainment on-hand.
While this year's celebrity attendees have not yet been announced -- prior attendees include Long Island natives like Joan Jett, Twisted Sister's Dee Snider, actor Daniel Baldwin, UFC fighter Chris Weidman and Taking Back Sunday's Mark O'Connell -- many of the participants of Taste Of The Beach have been. The list of restaurants involved includes Seasons 52, Bonefish Grill, Morton's The Steakhouse, Swingbellys BBQ, Mesita, and Spuntino Wine Bar and Italian Tapas. Last year's Taste On The Beach sold out prior to the event, so advance tickets are recommended for 2017.
To learn more about the past, present and future of the Long Beach International Film Festival, No Place Like Long Island spoke with festival founder Craig Weintraub. More on the LBIFF can be found at www.longbeachfilm.com.
How would you describe the Long Beach International Film Festival to someone who hasn't yet attended it?
Craig Weintraub: It’s more than just a film festival, it’s an experience! An extraordinary four days of world premieres, short film-inspired dinners, live musical performances, a casino night fundraiser, filmmaker Q&As, tasting events, and so much more. It’s a festival for all of the senses.
Any differences between this year's festival and last year’s?
Craig Weintraub: We’re always trying to build a better festival experience year after year. This year we’ve introduced Chefs & Shorts Dinner: A Pairing Of Gastronomy, Wine & Short Films, as well as Casino Night, where we’re raising money for the Cohen Children’s Medical Center.
Was there a highlight for you in last year's festival?
Craig Weintraub: Annually, we give our Community Achievement Award. Last year's was presented to the Long Beach Parks & Recreation Team who work so hard every day to bring great events, big and small, for the community of Long Beach to enjoy. The arts and culture they promote are so important to the community.
How has the festival grown since the first year it was presented?
Craig Weintraub: We began in 2012 with just our 90-minute Shorts On The Beach Film Series, a free event to invite and introduce the festival to our community. Since then, we’ve kept Shorts On The Beach our annual free event, while adding a multi-day festival of screening over 80 films along with exciting culinary events and important fundraisers.
How do you go about finding filmmakers for the festival?
Craig Weintraub: We have an open submissions process for filmmakers from around the globe to enter their film into our festival. We have received submissions from hundreds of filmmakers from over 30 countries.
Is there something you wish more people knew about the festival?
Craig Weintraub: Aside from our film screenings and entertaining events, we donate as much of our proceeds as we can to local charities in need.
When not busy with the festival, how do you spend your time?
Craig Weintraub: I travel to other film festivals, researching and absorbing as much as I can. Additionally, writing, producing and directing several projects, both in development and production. But most importantly, spending as much time as possible with my wife, six-month old daughter and our two chihuahuas.
Do you have a favorite Long Beach restaurant?
Craig Weintraub: It's hard to choose, but Lost & Found is my current go-to.
Finally, Craig, any last words for the kids?
Craig Weintraub: We’ve teamed up with Nesquik this year for Shorts On The Beach. They’ll be there with the iconic Nesquik Bunny and plenty of chocolate milk to go around!