The inaugural Gold Coast Film Festival

Old friends reunite at their favorite bar in

Old friends reunite at their favorite bar in " Roadie" (2010) directed by Michael Cuesta. Pictured: Ron Eldard, Jill Hennessy, Bobby Cannavale. (Credit: Hero Content Photo/)

An old-money enclave will make room for an upstart arrival when the Gold Coast International Film Festival makes its debut Wednesday.

Set on the North Shore, the land of fictional Gatsbys and real Vanderbilts, the festival nevertheless describes itself as populist and diverse, with a 45-film lineup that covers comedies, documentaries, sneak previews, foreign films and movies with local ties. More than a dozen stars and filmmakers, including Bruce Dern and director Baz Luhrmann, are scheduled to appear.

Organizers are hoping to draw visitors from Manhattan, Westchester, Connecticut and -- egad! -- New Jersey by playing up the area's glamorous history and playing down its provincial reputation.

"I think this is a very sophisticated, upscale, intelligent community," says Regina Gil, the festival's founder and executive director. "I think there's more 'urban' in this suburban stereotype than people think."

The festival is an outgrowth of the Great Neck Arts Center, which Gil founded in 1995, and its well-respected Furman Film Series, whose programmer, Sean McPhillips, also programs the festival. It's a $1.25 million project funded by public and private partners, including Panavision, which donated a $60,000 camera package to go to a winning filmmaker, and Clearview Cinemas, which is offering the use of five venues in Great Neck, Manhasset, New Hyde Park, Roslyn and Port Washington. (Clearview is owned by Cablevision, which also owns Newsday.) The Town of North Hempstead will provide shuttle bus service among the five theaters.

"We wanted to come out of the gate not as a storefront operation but a top-drawer festival," says Gil, adding that the North Shore has never had a major film festival of its own. "We're offering a great slate of films, and it'll be an introduction for the community to an experience that I don't think they'll ever forget."

 

Festival highlights

 

AN EVENING OF CONVERSATION WITH BRUCE DERN The festival celebrates opening night by presenting its inaugural Legend Award to the 74-year-old actor. (Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Landmark on Main Street, 232 Main St., Port Washington.)

SLACKISTAN One year after Pakistan's return to democracy, a group of college grads wanders through the shisha cafes and house parties of Islamabad. (Friday at 3 p.m. at Herricks Cinema 4 and Saturday at 10 p.m. at Roslyn Cinemas.)

CHASING MADOFF A documentary on whistle-blower Harry Markopolos and his 10-year struggle to alert authorities to the growing Ponzi scheme of Bernard Madoff. Director Jeff Prosserman will appear in person. (Friday at 6:30 p.m. at Manhasset Cinemas.)

ROADIE After touring with Blue Oyster Cult for 20 years, Jimmy (Ron Eldard) returns home to Queens and confronts real life. Jill Hennessy and Bobby Cannavale also star in this drama from Dix Hills brothers Michael and Gerald Cuesta. (Friday at 7 p.m. at Squire Cinemas and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at Manhasset Cinemas.)

BOB AND THE MONSTER West Islip filmmaker Keirda Bahruth focuses on Bob Forrest, lead singer for the band Thelonious Monster and a former drug addict who transformed himself into a popular counselor. Forrest and Bahruth will attend screenings. (Friday at 10 p.m. and Saturday at 5:30 p.m. at Squire Cinemas.)

BEATLES STORIES Seth Swirsky, a songwriter and musician from Great Neck, interviews celebrities and plain folk about their brushes with members of the Fab Four. Swirsky will attend screenings. (Saturday at 8:30 p.m. and Sunday at 4:30 p.m. at Squire Cinemas.)

HOLY ROLLERS Jesse Eisenberg stars in an offbeat drama about Hasidic drug mules in New York City. Kevin Asch, of Great Neck, directs. (Sunday at 10:30 a.m. at Squire Cinemas.)

CHILDREN'S BOOK-TO-FILM DISCUSSION David Paterson, screenwriter of the Disney film "Bridge to Terabithia" -- his mother wrote the 1977 novel -- will talk about the adaptation process. (Sunday at 3 p.m. at Great Neck Arts Center, 113 Middle Neck Rd.)


WHEN | WHERE Wednesday through Sunday at various North Shore theaters

TICKETS Passes are $250-$1,000; single screenings are $15.

INFO 516-444-3456; goldcoastfilmfestival.org

 

Participating theaters

 

Squire Cinemas

115 Middle Neck Rd.

Great Neck

516-466-2020

Herricks Cinemas

3324 Hillside Ave.

New Hyde Park

516-747-1789

Manhasset Cinemas

430 Plandome Rd.

516-365-9188

Port Washington Cinemas

116 Main St.

516-883-6464

Roslyn Cinemas

20 Tower Place

516-621-3970

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