Established in 1982, the Long Island Film Festival is the first annual Island-wide competitive film festival of its kind to stage public screenings and champion the creative, visionary and storytelling talents of both professional and student filmmakers from both America and abroad. This makes the Long Island Film Festival the longest running film festival on Long Island. The handful of host venues that presented the Festival’s screening program and special events for the first edition included the Cinema Arts Center, Parish Art Museum in Southampton, Inter-Media Arts Center and some area colleges.
In addition to the public screenings, prizes and recognition awards, the Festival facilitated the broadcast of selected winners over cable television stations, and presented selected films/videos to the community at large through an exhibition in conjunction with Long Island’s Cooperative Extension Library System.
The LIFF would broaden and continue the journey to venue locations that included Guild Hall/John Drew Theater in East Hampton,Shelter Island, Vail-Levitt Music Hall in Riverhead and Theater 3 Cinema Village in Port Jefferson.
The decade of the 1990’s inaugurated the collaborative screening partnerships and post-festival award galas with facilities that included multiplex cinemas, technology centers, mansions and castles, the Staller Center at Stony Brook University, nightclubs and theaters in Northport Theater and the Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center. During that era, in one season, the Long Island Film Festival would receive over 200 film entries!
Under the new leadership of Thomas Santorelli, the festival is now more organized and focused. Rafer Guzman of Newsday noticed the change in 2010. He wrote, “The Long Island Film Festival, now in its 27th year, is adjusting its focus. The event has at times felt a little blurry. In 2008, it was held in venues all over Long Island and even in Manhattan. In 2009, it attempted to stretch over seven weeks, making it difficult to tell when it began and ended.”
The new changes by Santorelli include the World Lens series that focuses on independent film from all over the world. As an historian of early American cinema, he designed the LIFF Pioneer Awards, named after actors, directors, writers, and cinematographers that worked and made their homes, primarily in the Bay Shore-Brightwaters area and stretch from the silent era to recent times. We now have a new program called, Cinema Focus with Joel Martin where films are used as a vehicle to better understand such issues as immigration, the plight of the elderly, world events, the arts and other humanities areas.
We welcome new filmmakers from all genres to join us in screening and promoting your films in the Long Island Film Festival. As one early writer of film history once wrote, “the movies are America’s gift to the world.”
Our MISSION is to discover, promote and give venue to independent filmmakers, not just from the greater New York area, but from other regions of America and abroad. For 35 years, the Long Island Film Festival has presented high quality film programs and has made a major contribution to the Long Island community by promoting films that are entertaining, educational and enhance the general public’s understanding of cinema culture and the humanities.
During those 35 years, we have witnessed filmmaking transform itself from a strictly film medium to a highly technological global digital art form with sophisticated software operating on specially configured computers. As a result, there are more filmmakers attempting to break into the film industry. It is those new filmmakers that the Long Island Film Festival seeks to discover.
Our World Lens series focuses on foreign Indie filmmakers that are producing films that are pieces of their culture and set in economic, social, environmental, and political spheres. It is the commitment of the Long Island Film Festival to bring these films to America and present these perspectives to Long Islanders to enlighten and enhance their understanding of the world around us.
Cinema Focus, hosted by veteran broadcaster and bestselling author, Joel Martin. Mr. Martin will interview, in depth, filmmakers, actors, editors, etc. from all aspects of filmmaking.