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Exciting Announcement: Opening, Closing, Headliners and Spotlight Films Revealed!

Exciting Announcement: Opening, Closing, Headliners, and Spotlight Films Revealed!

The Lighthouse International Film Festival celebrates its 16th edition, June 5-9, 2024, on Long Beach Island, New Jersey with more than 100 independent and international films!


The 16th Annual Lighthouse International Film Festival will officially open on Thursday, June 6, 2024 with a screening of LOS FRIKIS. This energetic period drama, which takes place in Cuba during the 1990s, is highlighted by the performance of rising star, Adria Arjona.

LOS FRIKIS was produced by Academy Award winners Phil Lord and Chris Miller and features a score composed by Academy Award winner Steven Price. The film is co-directed by Michael Schwartz and Tyler Nilson, who will be returning to LIFF, after presenting the East Coast Premiere of their first feature (The Peanut Butter Falcon) at LIFF 2019.

On Wednesday, June 5th, the day before its official launch, the Lighthouse International Film Festival (“LIFF”) will present a special pre-opening film entitled ONCE AGAIN (For The Very First Time) by Boaz Yakin.

The renowned filmmaker (FreshRemember the TitansAviva) will attend this East Coast Premiere of his new adventurous project and will engage in a discussion with the audience.

The festival will conclude on Sunday, June 9, with a screening of Nicole Riegel's DANDELION, starring Kiki Layne (If Beale Street Could Talk) as a young musician struggling to find her voice. 


LIFF's Headliner Lineup for 2024 will Include Two Centerpiece Screenings


THELMA (Sundance 2024) is an action-comedy, starring 93-year-old June Squibb as a grandma on a mission, roaming the streets of Los Angeles to reclaim what was stolen from her by scammers.

Josh Margolin's hilarious directorial debut is supported by the brilliant performances of Squibb, Fred Hechinger, Malcolm McDowell, Parker Posey, Clark Gregg and the late Richard Roundtree in his final performance.

GHOSTLIGHT by LIFF alumni Alex Thompson and Kelly O'Sullivan (Saint Frances) is an inter-personal drama that explores the power of theater as a means of self-discovery and emotional healing. Premiered at Sundance.


The Festival's Spotlight program is highlighted by Annie Baker's directorial debut, JANET PLANET, an A24-produced unique coming-of-age drama, starring newcomer Zoe Ziegler, and ROBOT DREAMS, an Oscar nominee for Best Animated Feature Film by Pablo Berger.


2024 Special Screenings Includes:

The World Premiere of Alex Suszko's surprising black-and-white silent romantic drama WATERPARK IN THE WINTER

The US Premiere of Paul Kemp's feature documentary SEARCHING FOR SATOSHI: The Mysterious Disappearance of the Bitcoin Creator

Paula Froehle's THE FARAWAY NEARBY, a scientific documentary about groundbreaking scientist Joe Weber. 





Opening Night Film: LOS FRIKIS

Directors: Michael Schwartz & Tyler Nilson // USA, 111 min

The latest film by LIFF alumni Michael Schwartz and Tyler Nilson (The Peanut Butter Falcon, LIFF 2019) is a coming-of-age story set in early '90’s Cuba where a group of punk rockers in search of freedom move to a rural sanitarium to escape the oppression of the so-called Special Period. During their time in this isolated government-run treatment home for people with AIDS, they play music together, create new friendships and even fall in love and have sex for the first time.

With the support of Academy Award-winning producers Phil Lord and Chris Miller (Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse), directors Schwartz and Nilson have created a bittersweet fairytale, which is fun, energetic, and exotic, yet down to earth and slightly grim. It features an original score from Academy Award winner Steven Price (Gravity) and impressive performances by a cast of newcomers, led by actress Adria Arjona (Endor, Hit Man).


Centerpiece, Friday: THELMA

Director: Josh Margolin // USA, 97 min

This poignant action-comedy gives veteran actress and Oscar nominee June Squibb (Nebraska) her first leading role and serves as the final performance of trailblazing actor Richard Roundtree (Shaft). Squibb, who does most of her own stunts in the film, plays Thelma Post, a feisty 93-year-old grandmother who gets conned by a phone scammer pretending to be her grandson (Fred Hechinger of The White Lotus). Accompanied by an aging friend and his motorized scooter, Thelma sets out on a treacherous quest across Los Angeles to reclaim what was taken from her. The film includes stars Parker Posey, Clark Gregg, and Malcolm McDowell. Courtesy of Magnolia Pictures.


Centerpiece, Saturday: GHOSTLIGHT

Directors: Alex Thompson and Kelly O’Sullivan // USA, 110 min

When a melancholic construction worker finds himself drifting from his wife and daughter, he discovers community and purpose in a local theater production of Romeo and Juliet. As the drama onstage starts to mirror his own life, he and his family are forced to confront a personal loss. LIFF alumni Alex Thompson and Kelly O’Sullivan (Saint Frances, LIFF 2019) return to LBI with their new film, starring Keith Kupferer, Tara Mallen, Katherine Mallen Kupferer, and Dolly De Leon. Courtesy of IFC Films.



Closing Night: DANDELION

Director: Nicole Riegel // USA, 115 min

This music-filled film tells the story of a struggling singer/songwriter who falls into an intoxicating romance that leads her to a deeper appreciation of her artistic journey and to the discovery of a voice that is authentically her own. Dandelion (Kiki Layne), a struggling musician who is caught in a downward career spiral, takes a last-chance gig and signs on for a biker rally/music festival in South Dakota. She soon meets Casey, a disillusioned guitarist who has long since given up on his dream, and his accompanying group of struggling musicians. The two embark upon a tempestuous romantic and musical partnership that inspires Dandelion to harness her creative spark and re-define what success means in her life. The film features a powerhouse performance by Kiki Layne, the star of The Old Guard and If Beale Street Could Talk. Courtesy of IFC Films







Director: Annie Baker // USA, 113 min

In rural Western Massachusetts, 11-year-old Lacy spends the summer of 1991 at home, enthralled by her own imagination and the attention of her mother, Janet. As the months pass, three visitors enter their orbit, all captivated by Janet and her spellbinding nature. In her solitary moments, Lacy inhabits an inner world so extraordinarily detailed that it begins to seep into the outside world. Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Annie Baker captures a child's experience of time passing, and the ineffability of a daughter falling out of love with her mother, in this singularly sublime film debut. 

Courtesy of A24


ONCE AGAIN (For The Very First Time)

Director: Boaz Yakin // USA, 106 min

Poetry, hip hop, and dance blend in this energetic film by Boaz Yakin (FreshRemember The Titans) to present a surreal exploration of the need to reinvent oneself, creatively and romantically, over and over again, throughout a lifetime. The story is told through the lens of a legendary street dancer and a young, spoken-word poet trying to decide if they are going to give their relationship one last chance.

East Coast Premiere






Director: Paula Froehle // USA, 78 min

The dramatic retelling of the tragic life of pioneer physicist Joseph Weber, whose pursuit of gravitational waves takes him on a dizzying journey, from the height of acclaim to the depths of despair, as he breaks the cardinal rule of science and clings to his ideas, even though his results cannot be duplicated. Physicists, artists, and other creatives explore the emotional side of discovery and question whether the risk is worth the journey.



Director: Alex Suszko // USA, 75 min

Presented in silent, black-and-white format, this bitter sweet romantic drama follows an apathetic young man who has just about mentally checked out of his relationship with his girlfriend, who is handicapped by a foot injury. In an attempt to reignite the relationship, they go on vacation to a waterpark, where the couple argue incessantly about even the most trivial things. When a joyful young woman appears in the pool, the couple faces its toughest test yet. Waterpark in the Winter is an acerbic look at the fragility of modern human relationships and the self-awareness necessary to curb our most toxic impulses.

World Premiere


SEARCHING FOR SATOSHI: The Mysterious Disappearance of the Bitcoin Creator

Director: Paul Kemp // CAN, 75 min

Twenty-six (26) months after creating Bitcoin, mysterious billionaire Satoshi Nakamoto vanished. His net worth has reached as high as $70B, yet none of his coins have ever changed hands.  Why did Satoshi disappear? Was he killed? Did he commit suicide? Or, did he just walk away on principle? This investigative documentary goes on a worldwide journey to piece together the most compelling case yet for who Satoshi was and why he disappeared. 

US Premiere



Director, Pablo Berger // Spain, 102 min

DOG lives in Manhattan and he’s tired of being alone. One day, he decides to build himself a robot for a companion. Set to the rhythm of 1980’s NYC, their friendship blossoms, until they become inseparable. One summer night, DOG, with great sadness, is forced to abandon ROBOT at the beach. Will they ever meet again? 

Official selection: Cannes; Nominated for Oscar for Best Animated Feature Film 

Courtesy of NEON Rated


Director: Ian Harnarine // CAN, 91 min

Trinidadian-Canadian filmmaker Ian Harnarine tells a story of a dissatisfied young man from a small town in Trinidad & Tobago, who runs a food stand with his mother selling a street food known as Doubles. A series of disappointments urge him to leave and visit his estranged father, a successful chef in Toronto. Upon arrival, things look pretty dire for all, but at least they smell and taste good.



Director: Brandon Tamburri // USA, 90 min

When a one-night stand with her awkward neighbor leaves her pregnant, a young woman decides to quickly sleep with a successful businessman and tell him he's the father of her unborn baby. Starring: Jamie Lee (Ted Lasso), Jon Heder (Napoleon Dynamite), and Shannon Elizabeth (American Pie).

East Coast Premiere




Director: Michael Furno // USA, 35 min

A showcase of ocean life-saver culture and competition, as told through the eyes of the Harvey Cedars Beach Patrol, as part of their chase for a record-setting seventh straight championship. It's a heart-pounding journey, as the Harvey Cedars Beach Patrol strives for a record seventh consecutive Long Beach Island Lifeguard Championship - a grueling 2-day, 19-event tournament, pitting them against both rival squads and the relentless sea. 

How the Waves Were Won chronicles the importance of our lifeguards and celebrates teamwork, competition, and the invaluable dedication of those who "risk a lot to save a lot." World Premiere

2. The Forgotten CoastDirectors: Chris Burkard and Brian Davis // USA, 31 min  

An immersive expedition across 41 glacial rivers, connecting a 400km series of exposed sandbars along Iceland's southern coast, with a fat bike and inflatable raft.





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