Another Film Festival?

Does the New York area really need another film festival? Personally, my first instinct would be to answer in the negative, but when my editor at Jewish Week asked me to do a little looking into the 1st annual Gold Coast International Film Festival, which opens on June 1 on the North Shore of Long Island, not all that far from where I wrote my first published film criticism 40 years ago, I felt at the very least an atavistic need to check it out. If there had been a film festival within easy driving distance when I was in high school . . . I might still be in high school.

I filed the story a couple of hours ago and will link to it when it's up on the JWeek website, but let me say a few things in defense of this new festival, as I'm sure that most of you will be as skeptical as I was. First, keep in mind that although Long Island already hosts several film festivals but, as my wife -- an Island native herself -- observes, it's called Long Island for a reason. It's 150 miles long. I can't picture driving from New York City to Albany to see a movie (unless someone was paying me an exorbitant sum). Second, the demographics of the area around Great Neck and North Hempstead are very different from the target audiences of the other LI festivals anyway.

But the real defense of this festival is its programming, which is highly intelligent, featuring a deft mixture of documentary and fiction, foreign and American independent.They have stayed away from the really obvious, nausea-inducing "audience" movies, but there are numerous films on their schedule that are genuinely entertaining, and more than a few that are challenging. Of the four they are showing that I have written about, three are excellent -- Dover Kosashvili's Infiltration, Yoav Potash's Crime After Crime and the criminally over-looked Iranian film Tehroun, by Nader T. Homayoun -- and the fourth, Just Like Us by Ahmed Ahmed, is decidedly amiable. And although several of the films on the schedule have played in other New York festivals and other venues, there is nothing here that could remotely be called over-exposed.

I'm told that the organizers of the festival have some fairly detailed transportation arrangements worked out and, as someone who commuted on the Long Island Rail Road for four years of college, I can tell you that it's not that hard to get out to this part of the island. Check out their website (the link above will take you there), and give it a thought.