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A women's screenwriting retreat

The Lighthouse International Film Festival is thrilled to offer our Write by the Beach screenwriters'/filmmakers' retreat again in 2022. The purpose of the retreat is to provide the participating screenwriters with an opportunity to create, share, network, connect, and be inspired. Long Beach Island has long been a haven for artists and writers seeking inspiration.

In 2021, the Lighthouse International Film Festival selected three women filmmakers/screenwriters from dozens of applications for this year's retreat. Applicants must be the primary screenwriter on at least one produced short or feature film. The selection process is competitive and the submissions are always outstanding.


The 2021 Write by the Beach participants were:


Abessi Akhamie
Born in Heidelberg, Germany, Abbesi Akhamie is a Nigerian-American writer-director and producer, working between Lagos and New York City. She is an MFA Film graduate of New York University with her work focuses on Africa and its diaspora, as well as the politics of culture and identity. Her debut short film, Still Water Runs Deep, premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival and won Best Student Short Film at Aspen ShortsFest. Her recent short film, The Couple Next Door, won the Audience Choice Award at the Reel Sisters of the Diaspora Film Festival. Currently, she is developing her debut feature film, In My Father's House, which will be filmed in Nigeria with support from TIFF Filmmaker Lab, WIF Sundance Financing Intensive, and the Attagirl feature lab program. As an artist, Abbesi has received support from the following institutions: Berlinale Talents, Jacob Burns Film Center, Black Rock Senegal, and the Princess Grace Foundation.


Project Description: As part of Write by the Beach, Abbesi will continue developing on her debut feature film, In My Father's House. Her feature is a meditative drama that explores the politics of identity and belonging through Anike, a 31-year-old woman who arrives in Lagos for the first time to meet her estranged father, Shola. This project has been graciously supported by a NYSCA/NYFA Individual Artist Grant and the Attagirl Feature Lab Program.

Anna Bierhaus
Anna's scripts have regularly placed in ScreenCraft, Austin Film Festival, Launch Pad's Top 100, and Top 5 in Final Draft, among others. Currently, one of her scripts is ranked #13 on the Red List in their horror/thriller category. Last year, the Tribeca Film Festival selected her for their N.O.W. Content Creators Market, and she was a finalist for the Tangerine Entertainment fellowship for Stowe Labs and also won a fellowship to Rocaberti Writers Retreat. Her pilot, Rockaway, premiered at Cinequest, where it won "Best TV Pilot" and recently screened at the Queens World Film Festival in NYC, where it won "Best Web Content."

Project Description: Death Kinetic – A depressed, math-whiz teenager sublimates her grief over her brother's death into solving a local murder case.

Christina Garofalo Bonifacio
Christina is an L.A.-based author, journalist, and screenwriter. She wrote and produced Love in 2020, a six-episode Rom-Com web series that premiered at Lighthouse International Film Festival and went on to screen at TCL Chinese Theatres in Hollywood, at the Oscar-qualifying Hollyshorts Film Festival and Dances With Films. The series won Best Web Series at LA Femme International Film Festival and the Toronto International Women's Film Festival. Christina is the author of the book When Dogs Heal: Powerful Stories of People Living with HIV and the Dogs That Saved Them.

Project Description: Christina is currently working on turning Love in 2020 into a feature film. Other projects in the works include a half-hour sitcom pilot and a coming-of-age feature.

The Lighthouse International Film Festival would like to thank our Write by the Beach sponsors, Dr. R. Jambro and Ted Schumskas. Thank you also to LBI Dreammakers, Yoga Bohemia of Surf City, Surf Buggy Bike Shop, Sassafras Hill Farms, Shell Liquor, Agnello Market of Barnegat Light, and Wally's Restaurant for their support.


The Lighthouse International Film Festival is committed to fostering and supporting diverse and dynamic storytelling. The Festival has long recognized the inequities faced by women in film and is committed to supporting women in film by screening women-written/directed/produced films and by providing them with opportunities to network and create. The Lighthouse International Film Festival is determined to address the problems and solutions that documentary filmmaker/producer Elyse Steinberg has so eloquently conveyed: "If you look at the statistics of how many women directors, producers, writers there are in comparison to men – it is astounding. There is an unfortunate inequity in the business and there is a clear need to include more women storytellers. We need more diverse voices. To get the best creative stories we need a wider range of voices being represented. I think as a society and culture we all benefit from a diversity of voices being heard." Our commitment is driven by our belief in the value of inclusion, diversity, and equity in film.


The Lighthouse International Film Festival is an award-winning festival which will take place on Long Beach Island, NJ from June 2-5, 2022.