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Film fest to feature celebrities, comedy

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Posted: Thursday, October 10, 2013 3:48 pm

The Gold Coast International Film Festival has announced its lineup of films to be screened later this month, as well as the recipient of its Lifetime Achievement Award - veteran actor Paul Sorvino, of “Goodfellas” and “Law and Order” fame.

Sorvino stars as a musical theatre-loving mob boss in the recently released comedy “How Sweet It Is,” which will be screened at the festival, Great Neck Arts Center Executive Director Regina Gil said.

“We’re bringing him in from LA and he’s going to be there on Tuesday night at the screening to talk about it with the audience,” Gil said.

The festival, produced by the Great Neck Arts Center, will also honor “Curb Your Enthusiasm” star Susie Essman, who will receive the Artist of Distinction Award for Comedy.

Essman, who was connected to the festival through the efforts of the festival’s head of live comedy programming Jeffrey Gurian, will also bring her brand of standup comedy to the festival’s gala at The Space in Westbury.

The gala will adopt a different atmosphere compared to its pervious incarnations at Oheka Castle, with cocktail dresses and donors’ checks sharing a club-style space with Essman’s off-color jokes.

“It’ll be a completely different, irreverent kind of a gala,” Gil said.

The change in tone is part of the 2013 festival’s emphasis on comedy and on expanding the appeal of film, Gil said.

“That’s the point - the arts run the gamut from so-called low-brow entertainment to so called highbrow entertainment,” Gil said. “It will serve everybody. Our tagline is everybody is invited”

The event will also feature performers from “Comedy Warriors,” a documentary about wounded veterans who take to standup comedy to tell their stories.

Rounding out the celebrity appearances will be British actress Bonnie Wright - or, as fans of the “Harry Potter” franchise know her, Ginny Weasley” - who will screen her short film “Separate We Come, Separate We Go.” Comedy actors Melanie Lynsky and Jason Ritter are also scheduled to attend the gala.

For those seeking more serious fare, the festival will be screening Cannes Film Festival Palme d’Or winner “Nebraska,” starring Gold Coast International Film Festival 2011 Legends Award recipient Bruce Dern.

Overall, Gil said, the festival’s lineup will bring a sense of humor to the serious business of highlighting great films.

“I think comedy is harder to do than drama,” Gil said. “It’s easy to make people cry, it’s a lot harder to make people laugh.”

Tickets for the festival, which runs Oct. 21 through Oct. 27, are available at www.goldcoastfilmfestival.org. Screenings will be held at Bow Tie theaters in Great Neck, Manhasset and Port Washington and at the Soundview theater in Port Washington.

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