To gather or not to gather?
That was the question facing the Gold Coast International Film Festival this year as the outlook for COVID-19 wavered between optimism and uncertainty. Would movie-lovers turn out in person, even with the Delta variant raging? Then again, what’s a film festival if it exists only on laptops and tablets? Based on email surveys of past attendees, Gold Coast organizers found that audiences were roughly split in their attitudes.
"There are certainly people who are only interested in virtual and there are people who are only interested in in-person," said festival director Caroline Sorokoff. "We wanted to provide a great slate for both populations."
To that end, the 11th Gold Coast International Film Festival is holding both physical and online editions Sunday through Oct. 17. There will be 10 features and one shorts program screening at the Manhasset Cinemas, while eight features and three shorts programs will screen online. (The virtual films are available only to Nassau County residents.) Passes will allow access to all films, but reservations for online screenings are encouraged as even those have limited "attendance."
As always, the festival’s emphasis is on foreign fare, documentaries and films connected to Jewish identity. At least one theatrical screening, "Walk With Frank," about a local Vietnam War veteran, will be followed by an in-person Q&A session, while some online films will include prerecorded talks.
"We take our mission very seriously — about supporting artists and supporting people who love the arts," Sorokoff said. As the movie industry slowly returns to something like normal, and as audiences grow more willing to return to theaters, she added: "We just want to make sure we’re here when they’re ready to come back."
Here are a few selections from this year’s festival.
THE HUMANS (7:30 p.m. Tuesday) — Richard Jenkins, Beanie Feldstein, June Squibb, Steven Yeun and Long Island’s Amy Schumer star in this story of a Pennsylvania family celebrating Thanksgiving in a Manhattan apartment. First-time director Stephen Karam adapts his Tony Award-winning play.
ADVENTURES OF A MATHEMATICIAN (7:30 p.m. Oct 16) — At the dawn of the nuclear age, Polish-Jewish scientist Stan Ulam (Philippe Tlokinski) escapes a Nazi invasion and joins the nascent Manhattan Project. Adapted from Ulam’s eponymous autobiography. Also starring Joel Basman and Esther Garrel and directed by Thor Klein.
WALK WITH FRANK (3 p.m. Oct. 16) — This documentary focuses on Frank Romeo, a Vietnam War veteran from Bay Shore who helped raise awareness of post-traumatic stress disorder walking across New York State. Romeo is scheduled to speak after the screening with Nassau County Executive Laura Curran and others.
BECOMING COUSTEAU (4:30 p.m. Oct. 17) — French explorer and conservationist Jacques Cousteau, who became a world-renowned figure thanks to his documentaries about ocean life, gets a documentary of his own. The film, directed by Liz Garbus ("What Happened, Miss Simone?"), is due for release in theaters Oct. 22 through National Geographic Documentary Films.
CHASING CHILDHOOD (virtual) — A critical look at modern parenting and its possible overemphasis on child safety, after-school programming and resumé building. Port Washington Superintendent of Schools Michael Hynes, who is featured in the film, will speak with other experts in a prerecorded Q&A session.
HERE WE ARE (virtual) — A father facing the decision to put his grown son with autism into a specialized facility decides to take him on a road trip. Nir Bergman’s comedy-drama from 2020 won four of Israel’s Ophir Awards. In Hebrew with English subtitles.
A COPS AND ROBBERS STORY (virtual) — Corey Pegues became a shining star within the New York Police Department and rose to commander of the 67th Precinct — only to fall from grace when he was revealed to have been a member of the city’s notorious Supreme Team organized crime outfit as a youth in the 1980s. Ilinca Calugareanu directs this documentary.
The Gold Coast International Film Festival
WHEN | WHERE Oct. 10-17, Manhasset Cinemas, 430 Plandome Rd., and online.
INFO $15; all-access passes $150; 516-829-2570, goldcoastarts.org