Surf City — Here is the long, the short and the in-between of the 2019 Lighthouse International Film Festival.
The 11th version of the beloved festival will screen, if my count is right, 14 feature-length narrative films – 15 if you include a special 30th anniversary screening of “Born on The Fourth of July” – eight full-length documentaries, 77 short films, 11 entries in the “Episodic Competition,” four surf films, 21 student films, and – here’s a new one if I’m not mistaken – seven “long shorts.”
One of those long shorts, the 29-minute documentary “To Make a Long Story Short,” which tells the story of one of the shore’s most popular party bands, Shorty Long and the Jersey Horns, was covered in last week’s SandPaper because its screening is a special event, with a concert by the band following the showing of the film. Now let’s take a look at the other six.
Four will be presented starting at 10 a.m. on Friday, June 7, at the Surf City Firehouse, located at 713 Long Beach Blvd. in Surf City.
“Free Fall,” by Russian director Alexy Slinkin, is 30 minutes long. A man tries to commit suicide by jumping off a dangerous cliff, but is interrupted by a woman who, by chance, has decided to do the same thing, in the same place, at the same time. She decides to postpone her attempt and splits. He waits for her to return, in the meantime saving other people who come to the cliff to end their lives.
If the film makes Russians seem like a despondent people, well, Russia has long been known for its high suicide rate, with alcohol use being a prime factor. Actually, though, that rate has been declining for decades. In 2016 the rate had reached 15.4 suicides per 100,000 citizens, the lowest in 54 years. Unfortunately, the rate in the United States is going in the opposite direction. In 2016 there were 44,965 recorded suicides, a rate of 13 per 100 people, the highest rate in 28 years. The Golden Gate Bridge is the American equivalent of Slinkin’s cliff, with over 1,600 recorded suicides since 1937. Interestingly, two documentaries were made about Golden Gate suicides, one of which, the 2006 British-American film “The Bridge,” shot over 10,000 hours of footage over 365 days of filming and captured 23 of the 24 known suicides in 2004.
“Free Fall” will be followed by “The Nephew,” directed by Wilhelm Kuhn. The 20-minute French film is set in Burgundy at the end of World War II. Jules decides to give his nephew Louis a very special 15th birthday present – a trip to a brothel. “Through the evening’s bittersweet encounters,” the film’s blurb reads, “Louis discovers the adult world, in all its cruelty.”
Kuhn is expected to attend.
The next long short of the morning brings us back to Russia with “Yakov In Snow” by director Dmitriy Orlov. “There is a house within the snow,” the LIFF says of the film. “There’s a table in the house. There’s food on that table and there are two educated men talking with each other. But who are they?”
The final film of the long shorts block is “Stormchaser,” directed by Gretl Claggett.
“All Bonnie Blue ever wanted was to chase tornadoes with her Dad. But dreams die with time. Now, she’s become a different kind of storm chaser – hawking storm-doors ‘door-to-door’ for her charismatic boss, Flip Smyth, a cult-like figure to Bonnie and his tribe of young salesmen. But when Bonnie realizes that Flip’s sales doctrine of ‘Flip the Switch!’ is just a way to exploit customers, a different kind of switch flips inside Bonnie – unleashing an inner and outer storm of violence.”
Claggett and actor Stephen Plunkett are expected to attend the screening.
The second block of long shorts will be screened at the Long Beach Island Foundation of the Arts and Sciences, located at 120 Long Beach Blvd. in Loveladies, starting at 12:50 p.m. on Saturday, June 8.
“Carry Tiger to the Mountain,” directed by Rajiv Shah, is 20 minutes long. It tells the story of “A terminally ill jazz trumpeter (who) cannot reconcile the differences between the two people he loves most, his compassionate caregiver and a neglected daughter who fights to get closer to him.”
Shah and producer Denise Grayson are scheduled to attend.
The festival’s seventh long short will follow. It is “Find Harbour For a Day,” a 25-minute French film directed by Paul Marques Duarte.
“When Adele, an English teacher, spontaneously allows a 15-year-old migrant to illegally board a ferry bound for England with her class, she has no idea of the importance of her gesture and its consequences for this overnight trip.”
Please note that “Free Fall,” “The Nephew,” “Yakov In Snow” and “Find Harbour For a Day” are all subtitled.
Tickets for each long shorts block are $12 and may be purchased online at lighthousefilmfestival.org or at the door.