New Friendships Form at Francis’ Restaurant and the Lighthouse Film Festival

Apr 18, 2018
Photo by: Pat Trotter

As a Beatles song goes, you get by with a little help from your friends. Just ask Christine Rooney, who, along with the entire Lighthouse International Film Festival, is celebrating 10 years of bringing gritty, uplifting, thought-provoking and moving independent films to the LBI region.

On April 12, Rooney and about 20 friends gathered at Francis’ Restaurant to eat, drink and do what they do so well … talk about movies. But the event, now in its third year, is about so much more than that.

“Independent movies are a passion,” Rooney said over the chatter of friends, old and new, mingling on a chilly Thursday evening in April at the Jersey Shore. “The people who make independent movies have a point of view to share and a story to tell. These are stories that matter made by people who want to bring people together.”

That was certainly the case last week, as Rooney, who personally greeted every individual who stepped foot inside Francis’, introduced them to others. On several introductions, she mentioned the individual or the couple had recently moved to the area full time. Asked why they choose to become involved with the Lighthouse International Film Festival, each said because they wanted to meet new people.

Over delectable food from the Basque region of France and Spain, prepared by Francis Pons, a classically schooled and trained French-born chef, attendees had the opportunity to do just that – make new friends. From the marinated octopus (melts in your mouth) to Basque chicken (light as a feather) and dessert (divine), wine (check out Neptune Liquors in Harvey Cedars for amazing recommendations) and talk flowed freely. And suddenly, there were no longer any strangers in the restaurant. Whether individuals connected over wine, food, movies or their love of Long Beach Island, it didn’t seem to matter much as people from all walks of life forged new friendships.

“Events like this,” Rooney said, “really highlight what is the best and most unique of our area. We’re the only film festival that receives homemade French croissants daily during the event.”

— Gina G. Scala

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