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Lighthouse International Film Festival Underway At Surflight

Two films chronicle the arrival and aftermath of Superstorm Sandy

Co-directors Jeff Reichert and Farihan Zamenara are welcomed to the Surflight Theater by volunteer Kim Pepenella for a screening of their film
Co-directors Jeff Reichert and Farihan Zamenara are welcomed to the Surflight Theater by volunteer Kim Pepenella for a screening of their film
by Steve Moran

The Sixth Annual Lighthouse International Film Festival kicked off on Thursday night with a special screening of “This Time Next Year,” which was filmed on Long Beach Island and Beach Haven West following Superstorm Sandy.

The festival will run through Sunday and present nearly 40 full length films and two dozen shorts in venues up and down the Island.

 “This Time Next Year’s” producer Dan O’Mera and co-directors Jeff Reichert and Farihah Zamen were on hand at Beach Haven’s Surflight Theatre for the sold out screening and afterwards at a reception held at The Gables Restaurant and B&B.

The husband and wife directing team spent a year beginning in December 2012 in the area filming the recovery process and showcasing “the stories of full time residents and business owners’ resilience, heartbreak and hope as they battled back from the storm,” according to a festival press release.

The festival kicked off with a special presentation of the film that debuted earlier this year at New York’s Tribeca Film Festival and was the inaugural grantee of Tribeca's Resilient Communities Project.

At the beginning of the film, Ship Bottom resident and Sandy Survivor Hope Gardiner said she was not certain she would make it through the film without having to leave.

“I may just have to just get up and go out, if it I can’t take it,” she said referring to the emotions she was already feeling about reliving her experience.

Gardiner, who was shown along with her survivor support group in the film, lasted to the end, while others were observed leaving not to return.

“It was tough,” she said, “Seeing friends up there that had lost everything, some of whom aren’t back yet.”

The film shows how far the island and mainland had come back in that first year and continues to rebound, she said.

“But we can’t forget those that are still those out there with no place to call home," Gardiner said.

The festival will also present an encore showing of “Landfall: The Eyes of Sandy” on Saturday at 11:15 at the Surflight.  The film begins with the catastrophic events when Sandy hit Long Beach Island and the nearby mainland by using footage and interviews provided by those that rode out the superstorm.

Then shows what it was like being part of a community struggling together to come back right after the storm.

Local families from LBI and Stafford Township can bring their children for free with an adult ticket purchase. Also, all high school students from Southern Regional, Pinelands Regional and Barnegat high schools, as well as first responders and active duty military personnel with ID are welcome free of charge.

There will be a Q&A session with the filmmakers and residents after the screening. Funded by the Jetty Rock Foundation, “Landfall” has gone on to be shown at the Macon, GA Film Festival, the Montclair Film Festival and a Global Selection Documentary on Delta Airlines flights.

Like these two films, the festival’s offerings are by independent filmmakers and include documentaries, comedies, and dramas covering a host of subjects including, “The Foxy Merkins” a buddy comedy with a contemporary twist. The narrative “Lies I Told My Little Sister” is about a woman and her family coming together after the death of her older sister.

This year’s Documentary Centerpiece Film is the autobiographical “Evolution of a Criminal,” Darius Clark Monroe’s first-person account of how, as a 16-year-old from a struggling Houston family, he robbed a bank and went to prison; only to later graduate from college and attend NYU's Graduate Film program.

For a full listing of all the movies and times, ticket information and details about special events, including a Breakfast with the Filmmakers on Saturday visit http://lighthousefilmfestival.org/



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