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Gold Coast International Film Festival to Play in Manhasset

Very exciting news. An international film festival is being planned for June 1-5, 2011 by the Town of North Hempstead, in collaboration with the Great Neck Arts Center, to be modeled after the successful annual film festivals in Tribeca, NY and Toronto, Canada.

Four towns boasting both movie theaters and train stations have been selected—Great Neck, Manhasset, Port Washington and Roslyn. Ian Siegal, executive director, Town of North Hempstead Business and Tourism Development Corporation (BTDC), provided updates for the Manhasset Chamber of Commerce at their monthly meeting Sept. 14.

Clearview Cinemas operate theaters in all four towns— and New York City, New Jersey, etc.—where they will advertise the festival to their captive audiences from their many large screens. Referring to the theaters in the four designated towns Siegal acknowledged, “We have more screens than most film festivals do.”

Buses will run in a “loop,” transporting guests from one town to another for films, shopping, meals…

A free drive-in movie has been planned at the Nassau County Museum of Art.

Most film festivals start out small then expand and if successful, and “we have every reason to expect it will be,” Segal said, it will grow each year. The proximity to New York City is a big plus.

Jon Kaiman and the town board, Siegal said, are intent on using the festival to showcase local communities, and it is expected the festival will boost local industry. Segal explained that forms have been created for businesses to provide basic information, and a 100-word description of their business. That description will be used, as written, for inclusion in a free community guide for the “influx of thousands.” Film viewing times will be in the guide, along with local restaurants and shops that are town specific. Segal explained the four individual downtowns are being encouraged to run a street fair on one of those five days in June, and Port Washington has already selected June 5 for its Harbor Fest.

The projected cost, Segal explained, is roughly $1 million. They have hired a sponsorship director from Los Angeles who is seasoned in film festivals and who is responsible to raise about $750,000. Additionally,  $100,000 will come from Nassau County and, Siegal said, $150,000 from the Town of North Hempstead.

In addition to the sponsorship director Siegal noted that they have assembled a professional team of programmers, operations and technical people all seasoned in the film industry. The programmer, he said, used to work directly for Harvey Weinstein at Miramax as a vice president for acquisitions. And the technical person, Siegal said, is the lead technical guy for Tribeca. Siegal told the Chamber that members of the newly assembled team were  currently in Toronto observing how that city runs its festival.

Money will be spent on marketing and advertising in all five boroughs, definitely including social media—Facebook and Twitter. Siegal said a Great Neck resident with a Manhattan agency is donating his services; he devised the Master Card “Priceless” campaign.

The website is and while a page exists today, Siegal said, it should be interactive by the end of the month.

There was a question regarding sprucing up Manhasset’s downtown area and Siegal said the superintendent definitely, later in the process, will focus on areas that need attention.

The Town of North Hempstead already ranks number 46 in the nation as the best place to live. The Business and Tourism Development Corporation was founded in March 2005 to act as a liaison between the town’s government and business community by facilitating economic development and tourism within the town.