Festival News

After paving the way last year as the first full drive-in film festival in the world (screening 28 new films in five days during COVID times), the 2021 Lighthouse International Film Festival strives to recapture a sense of normalcy as a cultural event that offers in-person screenings of the best new indie films as well as industry panels, master classes, and parties—all during one long summer weekend (June 3-6) in the special atmosphere of Long Beach Island, New Jersey.

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The LIFF 2021 lineup includes screenings of several films that premiered at Sundance and SXSW, as well as other festivals from around the globe. Some of these films will be shown on the big screen for the first time on LBI. Many of them will be followed by Q&A sessions with attending talent, such as celebrated comic book writer and acclaimed indie filmmaker Dash Shaw, who will be presenting his new animated film Cryptozoo, which premiered virtually at Sundance. Other filmmakers who will be visiting LBI this June with their new films include director Keith Maitland (Dear Mr. Brody), indie producer Jonathan Duffy (Potato Dreams of America), actor/director Edson Jean and producer Fabiola Rodriguez (Ludi), and director Sonia Kennebeck (United States vs. Reality Winner). Also attending are Oscar nominee Tomer Shushan (White Eye), experimental documentary filmmaker Lynne Sachs, and producer Lee Broda (The Card Counter, Tesla).

Lily Topples The World
Lily Topples The World

The 13th Annual Lighthouse International Film Festival will open on June 3rd with a drive-in screening of Swan Song by Todd Stephens, starring Udo Kier and Linda Evans. It will close on June 6th with Lily Topples The World by Jeremy Workman, SXSW jury award winner for best documentary. In addition to Cryptozoo, which premiered virtually at Sundance, the LIFF 2021 lineup includes these Sundance titles: John and The Hole by Pascual Sisto (starring Charlie Shotwell, Michael C. Hall, and Jennifer Ehle) as well as the documentaries At The Ready by Maisie Crow and Playing With Sharks by Sally Aitken.

Lighthouse includes competition programs for narrative features, documentaries, shorts, episodics, and high school student films. Adding to the in-person screening program, LIFF offers an extended Virtual Cinema platform for the shorts, episodics, and a selection of features and docs that will run from June 3rd through June 13th. The festival will also host the premiere of Oscar-winning director Guy Nattiv's new documentary Life Unexpected and the world premiere of the horror thriller Canvas by Ryan Guiterman.

Opening Film

Swan Song
Swan Song

The 13th Annual Lighthouse International Film Festival is proud to announce that its opening film this year will be SWAN SONG. Todd Stephens' touching comedic drama will be shown on the big screen on Long Beach Island, NJ, following its virtual premiere at SXSW2021. The film will launch the festival, which will be held in person for four days, starting Thursday, June 3rd.

Swan Song follows retired hairdresser Pat Pitsenbarger who has given up on life from the confines of his small-town Sandusky, Ohio nursing home. But when Pat gets word that a former client's dying wish was for him to style her final hairdo, he sets out on an epic journey across the midwest town to confront the ghosts of his past—and collect the beauty supplies necessary for the job. Swan Song is a comical and bittersweet journey about rediscovering oneself, and looking gorgeous while doing so.

Swan Song was created by Sandusky-born, New York-based director and screenwriter Todd Stephens, and it stars Udo Kier (My Own Private Idaho, Melancholia, Grindhouse), Linda Evans (Dynasty), Jennifer Coolidge (American Pie, Legally Blonde), Michael Urie, Ira Hawkins, and Stephanie McVay. The film will be released in cinemas on August 6, 2021 by Magnolia Pictures.

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Narrative Feature Competition

USA, 75 minutes (drama, fantasy)
dir: Peter Collins Campbell
In an attempt to shake off her melancholy, a young woman escapes the city to her family's country cottage only to rediscover a world she'd long forgotten and the old friend who may convince her to leave reality behind.
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Everything in the End
USA/Iceland, 74 minutes (drama)
dir: Mylissa Fitzsimmons
Stranded in a small Icelandic village during Earth's final days, a Portuguese man seeks solace in the brief human connections he encounters. A quiet, contemplative humanist story set on the beautiful Nordic Island. Exploring themes of grief, death, and how in the end human connections allow us to forgive and accept.
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Here & After
Canada, 61 minutes (romantic drama)
dir: Shaun Crawford
When Ray gets a day pass from rehab, he has a chance encounter with Arora. As they spend the day together, he discovers that the mysteries she holds may change his life forever.
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Not Knowing
Turkey, 94 minutes (drama)
dir: Leyla Yilmaz
A family struggling with the difficulties of everyday life in an ever-changing world has their lives turned upside down when a malicious rumor is spread about their son. As the parents search for their son who suddenly disappeared, they come to realize that they have been lost themselves. Facing an uncertain future, they must come to terms with not knowing any of the answers.
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One Moment
USA, 114 (drama, comedy)
dir: Deirdre O'Connor
Starring legendary actor Danny Aiello in his final film performance. Middle-age siblings struggle to manage their personal lives, families and careers, while also caring for their recently widowed, aging father.
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Senior Citizen
Cyprus, 84 minutes (drama)
dir: Marinos Kartikkis
An elderly lonely man takes refuge every evening in the hospital where he spends the night sleeping on benches and chairs. Every morning he returns to his house, where his only companion is his cat and his memories. After he is discovered by a young curious nurse, a relationship of trust between the two begins to build.
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Germany, 100 minutes (psychological thriller)
dir: Michael Venus
Marlene (Sandra Hüller, Toni Erdmann) suffers a nervous breakdown in a remote village, as her 19-year-old daughter follows she comes upon a well-kept family secret and an old curse that ultimately threatens her life - a never-ending nightmare (premiered at Berlin).
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Vasy's Odyssey
Greece/Spain, 104 minutes (road-trip drama)
dir: Vasileios Papatheocharis
Two strangers travel from Spain to Greece, through France, Italy and Albania, on a trip where they will learn to face their mistakes and delve into their personal and family relationships. An adventurous journey, full of humor. A search for hope and happiness through gastronomy, folklore, old traditions, and the difficulty of communication between foreign languages.
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Documentary Competition

Anatomy of Wings
USA, 85 minutes
dir: Kirsten D'Andrea Hollander & Nikiea Redmond
Ten Black middle school girls return each week to collaborate in an after-school film project about their own coming-of-age in Baltimore City. Shot over a decade with the guidance of their black and white mentors, this self-defined 'second family' is left to question if its solidarity will survive the realities of living in a world of racial inequity.
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Chasing Childhood
USA, 85 minutes
dir: Margaret Munzer Loeb, Eden Wurmfeld
In today's world of structure, stranger danger, and helicopter parenting, free play in childhood has disappeared, giving way to unprecedented anxiety and depression. Psychologists, activists, and leaders of the free play movement fight to bring back the untold benefits of a less curated childhood.
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Operation Wolf Patrol
USA, 86 minutes
Dir: Joe Brown
Eco-activist Rod Coronado ("eco-terrorist" according to some) fights to end wolf hunting in the United States. When his Wolf Patrol is met with a tightening of hunter harassment laws that prohibit photography on public lands, he has to ask himself is he willing to go back to prison to fight a law that some are calling unconstitutional.
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Switzerland/USA, 91 minutes
Dir: Nick Brandestini
On the barrier island of Sapelo, two brothers, JerMarkest and Johnathan, are growing up in the last remaining enclave of the Saltwater Geechee people. Their greatest joy is exploring the island like their adoptive mother did as a child. At the dawn of adolescence, the brothers inherit their elder matriarch's hope, but their bond is tested as they begin to face the wider world.
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United We Heal
USA, 71 minutes
dir: Ryan Welch, Ryan Rossman
American veterans struggle to adapt to civil life. This documentary follows them as they try to navigate the trauma of PTS and choose to overcome it with an attitude of growth instead of stigma.

Wall of Shadows
Poland, 92 minutes
Dir: Eliza Kubarska
The Sherpa family breaks a taboo and takes part in the Himalayan expedition to Kumbhakarna, one of the holiest of mountains, to earn money for their son's school and save him from their own dangerous traditional line of work. They accompany the leading world-class alpinists, as the towering mountain (7710 m) confronts both the climbers and Sherpas with equal harshness.
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We Want the Airwaves
USA, 82 minutes
Dir: Scott Ryan
The journey of a trio of first-time TV makers as they set forth on a daring adventure in 2005 - an activist-focused docuseries Manifesto!. Cut from countless hours of behind-the-scenes footage and interviews with industry insiders and outsiders, the film follows the making of the series, all while exposing the harsh realities of the ethically challenged unscripted television world.

Festival Press

The Lighthouse International Film Festival is covered extensively by the national and local press. We are committed to supporting independent films and our community.

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