For more than a year, Town of North Hempstead officials had been looking at ways to promote its local communities to non-residents and help businesses in the area succeed.
Then Regina Gil, the founder and executive director of the Great Neck Arts Center, had an idea – the town would host an annual Gold Coast International Film Festival like the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City. The event would be held every June and bring in a roster of dynamic films that could generate a large audience to the North Shore of Nassau County.
After promoting the event to Town of North Hempstead Supervisor Jon Kaiman and the town board, Gil learned that everybody loved the idea and the first annual Gold Coast International Film Festival was set for next year from June 1 to June 5 throughout the Town of North Hempstead.
“This event will be a great draw and focus on the Town of North Hempstead,” Gil said. “The town is a kind of elegant and beautiful resource that is one of the best kept secrets in New York. This event will bring visitors and film buffs in the film industry here and generate tremendous excitement for the Town of North Hempstead.”
Ian Siegel, executive director of the Town of North Hempstead Business and Tourism Development Corporation, said he has met with various community chambers of commerce’s promoting the film festival and has gotten good responses. Siegel said similar film festivals usually generate between 40,000 to 50,000 people and this type of attendance would help local businesses.
“There has been an overwhelming positive feedback that people want this festival to happen,” Siegel said. “The goal of this event is for it to create a residual impact where people who attend the festival will hopefully continue to come back to the town whether it is to go see a movie, have dinner or shop at local businesses throughout the year.”
The Town of North Hempstead has partnered with Clearview Cinemas to screen about 25 to 30 films at different area cinemas. The screening venues for the film festival is Great Neck Squire Cinemas, New Hyde Park Herricks Cinema 4, Roslyn Cinemas, Manhasset Cinemas and Port Washington Cinemas. Special screenings will also take place at Adelphi University, Hofstra University, the Nassau County Museum of Art, and the Great Neck Arts Center.
Siegel said the town has over $1 million budgeted for the event, but is relying upon sponsorships from companies and businesses within the town to help pay the cost. Siegel said the town has hired a professional sponsorship expert to talk with businesses about participating in the festival. He said the town is also applying for national and state grants that could support the festival.
“The sponsorship expert is key in getting the proper value for all of our sponsors who sign up for the festival,” Siegel said. “The expert knows exactly the right fit for every sponsor’s business which should help spread the news about the festival.”
The film festival will feature a variety of films including feature length films, short films, foreign-language films, independent films, documentaries and other types. Siegel said the films will be screened by invitation only from 9 a.m. to midnight and prices to see a show will be similar to a regular movie.
“People will have an opportunity to see films not released yet,” Siegel said. “The films that will be shown at our festival are not the traditional blockbuster movies that come out during the summer. They will be smarter films that people of all ages will be able to see. We want people to have excitement when they go to the movies and also enjoy everything that the Town of North Hempstead has to offer.”
Special events at the film festival will include a red carpet before the screening of the film, opening and closing night parties, a family film day and a question and answer sessions with notable actors, directors and producers. There will also be an awards ceremony for the best narrative feature, best documentary feature, best short film best of New York shorts tribute and a tribute event to a noted film industry personality.
“We plan on having extra amenities and features that don’t come with seeing the traditional film,” Siegel said.
Siegel said the town plans on creating a community guide that will be given out to anybody who purchases a ticket for a screening to tell them where to shop and eat when they are here. Siegel said buses will transport people from one town to another to see the attractions that every community has to offer. Siegel said the movie theatres are also walking distance from the Long Island Rail Road for anybody who may be traveling from Manhattan to the film festival.
Siegel said the festival will provide an opportunity for the town to highlight why it is a special place for residents and non-residents.
“We want town residents and anybody who lives outside the community to come here,” Siegel said. “We will showcase this community to the outside public and show them why this is a great place to live, do daily activities and retire. We are looking forward to showcasing everything that the town has to offer to the public.”
For more information on the Gold Coast International Film Festival, visit the festival’s web site at www.goldcoastfilmfestival.org.