Film festival in Mastic Beach

A local filmmaker is launching the first-ever film festival for Mastic Beach. James Evans, producer for Donna’s House Productions and a Mastic Beach native, will open the doors to local and international independent filmmakers at several spots on Neighborhood Road on May 3, 4 and 5.

It will be the first formal event Donna’s House Productions — named after Evans’s mother — hosts. The event will be a fundraiser for the studio’s first major film, “Bait & Tackle,” which will be filmed mostly in Mastic Beach. Evans has been working on the company for a few years and, during his time making films, wanted to create a film festival as well. The festival will feature over 20 films, some from the U.S. and Long Island, and some coming in from countries like Portugal, Iran and Turkey. The venue will be the Mastic Beach Property Owners Association building, and the Cultural Arts Guild.

The theme for the event is A Celebration of Grit. The quality will be shown through strong characters that show resolve, as well as the people behind the camera bringing the characters to the screen.

“Grit is a very important quality to have,” Evans said. “It’s a quality that Mastic Beach definitely exudes.”

Evans’s larger goal is to bring an awareness of local art to the Mastic Beach community, as he says it is everywhere. The event will also feature local artists and musicians to show off their craft. He also hopes that by opening the community up to more art, there can be a de-stigmatization of Mastic Beach, which he said gets a poor perception from those who don’t really know what goes on. Evans left Long Island for a brief time to work and learn in Virginia and New York City, but said his work keeps bringing him back home. He’s also heard from colleagues how Mastic Beach has a certain aesthetic that makes a film better.

“My creative work was constantly bringing me back here,” he said.

Friday will kick off with “The Grit of Entrepreneurship” including a new documentary, “Neighborhood Road … and around the corner,” co-directed by Evans and Amy Gaipa, a local author, who will read from their work and a talk will follow with local business owners featured from Neighborhood Road in the documentary.

Saturday will feature films: “The Grit of a Hometown Girl,” “The Grit of Motherhood,” “The Grit of Observation” and “The Grit of a Free Spirit” in the morning block. Concluding the day in the afternoon/evening block is “The Grit of Inspiration: Long Island,” “The Grit of Perseverance” and “The Grit of Healing.” Tony Guma, a William Floyd graduate, screenwriter, producer and director, will headline “The Grit of a Hometown Boy” and screen his pilot, co-produced by JJ Abrams, “The Ruination of Anthony Guma,” followed by a talk.

Sunday’s morning programming will feature “The Grit of Storytelling Part 1,” “The Grit of Perception” and “The Grit of Storytelling Part 2.” The festival will come to its finale at the Mastic Beach Property Owners Association featuring screenwriter Richard Vetere headlining “The Grit of Heritage,” screening his short documentary, “Where Are We Now? The Italian-American Today” in addition to a short narrative he wrote, “The Kids Menu.” A Sunday Italian dinner will be offered and then the festival will premiere the short film, “Whiskey Kills the Hunger,” filmed at the MBPOA in December 2018.

Each day’s programming concludes at the Arts Council space next door to Linsa Torr’s at 373-375 Neighborhood Road with live music, including The Reluctant Romantics, JFK and The Assassins, Pandafan and more. Screenings will be held on Friday evening, Saturday from 11-7 and Sunday morning from 11-2 at the Mastic Beach Property Owners Association, 31 Neighborhood Road. For more information, visit donnashouseproductions.com.

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