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Unveiling LIFF's Centerpiece, Spotlight and Special Screening Films 2023

The Lighthouse International Film Festival is proud to announce their 2023 Centerpiece and Spotlight films, as well as their Special Screenings, which highlight an epic year of programming at the long-running New Jersey fest. The festival's Centerpiece films are Charlotte Regan's British comedy Scrapper, which won huge accolades at Sundance 2023 including best international narrative feature and Edith Hagigi's New York City-set Bleecker starring Ben Stiller and Tovah Feldshuh. Spotlight Films at this year's LIFF include the World Premiere of Luca Balser's acclaimed anthology What Doesn't Float; the eight-years-in-the-making SXSW doc Great Photo, Lovely Life; Graham Foy's The Maiden; and the North American Premiere of Niels Arden Oplev's Rose. And finally, the festival is very proud to share Special Screenings, which include the World Premiere of Pain Under the Skin by Iranian filmmaker and critic Mohsen Jafari Rad who passed away this year, two weeks after his release from jail.

The festival will also hold the World Premiere of The Bastard Sons, from New Jersey filmmaker Kevin Interdonato. The Lighthouse International Film Festival celebrates its 15th edition this June 7th through the 11th in Long Beach Island, New Jersey.


Centerpiece Films Scrapper (dir. Charlotte Regan) UK, 84 minutes A vibrant and inventive father-daughter comedy that tells the story of Georgie, a resourceful 12-year-old girl who secretly lives alone in a flat in a working-class suburb of London after her mother's death. To survive, she steals bikes and pretends to live with an uncle to keep social workers at bay. When her estranged father, Jason, suddenly arrives, he forces Georgie to confront reality. Initially resistant to his efforts, Georgie eventually realizes that they both have a lot of growing up to do. Harris Dickinson (Triangle of Sadness) and newcomer Lola Campbell deliver remarkable performances in this moving and frequently hilarious story. Winner of a Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival, Scrapper is full of spirit, humor, and formal daring that sets it apart from much of British working-class cinema. With irresistible charm and emotional depth, it is a film about two emotionally tangled people navigating the challenges of adulthood and parenthood. Bleecker (dir. Edith Hagigi) USA, 104 minutes Intertwining stories of motley characters in NYC's Village being told with heart and humor. The straight face in this pack is Maya, who has come to the Big Apple to find her place in the world. She starts to care about these folks and really tries to help one of them in this brighter-than-bleak slice of life. Spotlight Films What Doesn't Float (dir. Luca Balser) USA, 70 minutes // World Premiere Seven stories. One city. A disparate group of characters fill out this darkly comedic anthology of New Yorkers at their wits’ end. When the dailiness of urban life is suspended by an unforeseen conflict, each character must make a decision. While the outcomes vary, a unified sense of the city emerges: New York becomes a mirror to the ego, reflecting our true character, while the rest sink to the bottom. Luca Balser’s directorial debut was shot by acclaimed cinematographers Sean Price Williams and Hunter Zimny. The cast includes Pauline Chalamet and Larry Fessenden, among others. Great Photo, Lovely Life (dirs. Amanda Mustard and Rachel Beth Anderson) USA, 112 minutes Photojournalist Amanda Mustard returns home to Pennsylvania to investigate the sexual abuse crimes committed by her grandfather. A visual whirlwind of memories from her family’s archive unravels a world of secrets through interviews, photographs, and home movies. An eight-year cinematic journey, this doc chronicles a granddaughter’s attempt to disrupt a cycle of intergenerational trauma through the voices of the survivors and her grandfather himself. The Maiden (dir. Graham Foy) Canada, 117 minutes A perfect summer day ends in tragedy, weaving a cosmic connection between three suburban teenagers. Best friends Colton and Kyle float the river, trade dreams, and spray paint in the local ravine. Like the boys, Whitney explores the ravine, seeking solace by writing and drawing in her diary. But when her best friend abandons her, Whitney disappears. Rose (dir. Niels Arden Oplev) Denmark, 106 minutes // North American Premiere Rose follows two sisters, Inger and Ellen, and how their relationship is challenged on an anticipated bus trip to Paris. Inger is not solely on a trip to see Paris; she has a hidden agenda. Tucked in her pocket is a letter from an old boyfriend, her first love, who left her when she was young — an experience that might have spurred the mental illness that she still suffers from. Special Screening: Standing with Iranian Filmmakers Pain Under the Skin (dir. Mohsen Jafari Rad) Iran, 60 minutes // World Premiere In a small village, a man who owns many properties is known as a trustworthy and benevolent person outside the house, but treats his two wives and nine children with strange violence inside the house. This film is the narration of the last child of the family, who is himself a well-known journalist and critic of violence and its visible and hidden dimensions. The filmmaker Mohsen Jafari Rad, who was arrested for his participation in the anti-government protests, died January 18th, 2023, two months after his release from prison. According to the official reports, the 35-year-old documentary filmmaker and critic committed suicide by consuming aluminum phosphide tablets. According to the film’s distributor, Mohsen dedicated his film to “the Iranian women who were subjected to violence.” Special Screening: New Jersey’s Best The Bastard Sons (dir. Kevin Interdonato) USA, 84 minutes // World Premiere Life for a crew of organized criminals is disrupted when Vincent Damiano’s father, the family’s boss, is murdered. Vincent and his ‘bastard’ brothers, a group of orphaned souls raised together, have an idea of who killed their father… his partner Rome. In a valiant and calculated attempt to regain the business and exact vengeance on Rome over the course of one day, the Bastards wage an all out war in order to get their pound of flesh.

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