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LI Film Festival features eclectic lineup

With temperatures hot all week, the 13th annual Long Island International Film Expo may prove to be the coolest event around.

And not just for the air-conditioning at the Bellmore Movies, the mom-and-pop venue that once again serves as the festival's home. This year's lineup - more than 150 features and short films - offers another dependable mix of foreign fare, homegrown product and the chance to mingle with an industry insider or two.

The festival starts with a warm-up Thursday night, launches officially Friday and runs through July 18. Jackie "The Jokeman" Martling, the Mineola-born comedian, is scheduled to appear at the closing gala; panels will include filmmakers, screenwriters and independent studio heads.

Here's a list of the week's highlights:

The 5th Quarter (Friday at 7 p.m.) - Andie McDowell and Aidan Quinn star in the festival's opening-night film, based on the true story of a high-school football team coping with the death of a player.

Miracle Ball: The Hunt for the Shot Heard Around the World (Saturday at 4:30 p.m.) - This documentary takes a near-forensic approach to a decades-old mystery: What happened to the baseball that the New York Giants' Bobby Thomson rocketed into the bleachers to win the 1951 National League pennant? From author-filmmaker Brian Biegel of Woodbury and executive producer Sal Del Giudice of Bellmore.

Maggie Marvel (Saturday at 9:30 p.m.) - The filmmaking Brennan family from Port Washington scored a festival favorite with last year's "The Video Guys." The clan returns with this dark comedy about a suburban mom who is also a contract killer.

Bereavement (July 16 at 9:30 p.m.) - A 6-year-old boy is abducted by a serial killer and forced to watch a string of murders in this horror film from Bellport-based filmmaker Stevan Mena. The Expo program warns: "Not for the weak of heart."

The Good, the Bad and the Horror Stories: The Perils of Independent Filmmaking (July 17 at 10:30 a.m.) - Mitchell Bard, a former Bayside resident who shot his 2001 comedy, "Mergers & Acquisitions," in Syosset and Huntington, will host this filmmakers' panel.

The Last Day of Summer (July 17 at 7 p.m.) - In the final film, young character actor DJ Qualls (the wiry, white rap producer in "Hustle & Flow") takes the lead role as a fast-food employee who finally snaps. Also starring Nikki Reed, better known as Rosalie from the "Twilight" films.

LONG ISLAND INTERNATIONAL FILM EXPODaily through July 18. Bellmore Movies, 222 Pettit Ave., Bellmore, 516 783-3199, liifilmexpo.org.

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