ATLANTIC CITY — Keith Vaile won’t have to travel far this weekend for the premiere of his three new films.
The Atlantic City resident will be heading to Dante Hall, where his movies — featuring locations in the city and throughout the region — will kick off the Atlantic City Cinefest.
The film festival is celebrating its 10th year since its initial inception as the Downbeach Film Festival. It stretches from Friday to Sunday and features about 75 films, ranging from three-minute shorts to feature-length pictures.
Cinefest venues are Dante Hall Theater, 14 N. Mississippi Ave., and the Noyes Arts Garage, 2200 Fairmount Ave. Both are managed by Stockton University.
William Sokolic, founder and president of the festival, said Cinefest has a good base of regional filmmakers who submit their movies each year in hopes of screening them and networking with other writers and directors from across the country.
“They like the ambiance,” Sokolic said. “We’re not Tribecca. We aren’t Toronto. You don’t have six or seven screening venues or a weeklong festival. It’s a family affair.”
Vaile, a regular at Cinefest, said he will be celebrating the premiere of his films Friday night with family and friends, some of whom will be screening their own works this weekend. Vaile’s latest films include the short comedy “The Dating Service,” another short titled “The Mystery of Jasper,” and a feature-length film titled “Lost.”
Parts of each of Vaile’s films were shot in Atlantic City, Ventnor, Galloway Township and Mays Landing. He even showcased local businesses, filming multiple scenes at Cedar Food Market in Atlantic City.
Vaile said he enjoys using his hometown to his artistic advantage.
“It definitely does help that it’s in my backyard, but people and businesses let me shoot, and that gives them exposure. This is my home,” Vaile said.
In addition to the film screenings, Weist Barron Ryan acting studio will hold casting calls throughout the day Saturday and Sunday at Dante Hall, and a film panel will take place Saturday.
On Sunday, actor Al Sapienza, who has appeared in films such as “The Big Short” and TV shows ranging from “The Sopranos” and “Law and Order” to the Syfy Channel’s “Ascension,” will receive the 2017 Lifesaver Award.
Scott Rosenfelt, the producer of “Home Alone,” “Mystic Pizza,” “Teen Wolf” and “Smoke Signals,” will announce plans for a movie about Atlantic City’s 500 Club on Friday. Rosenfelt, who owns a home in Margate, will be writing the script and producing the film. He has been working with Paulajane D’Amato on the story of her father, Paul “Skinny” D’Amato, and his famous nightclub. The script will primarily encompass the period between D’Amato’s purchase of the club in the late 1940s through the Democratic National Convention in 1964. It will be bookended by the fire that destroyed the club in 1973.
In addition to the local personalities such as Vaile and Rosenfelt, the festival is a homecoming for some directors.
Bob Celli grew up in Princeton and remembers spending many days in Atlantic City. He now lives in New York City and his new film, “Brooklyn in July,” will be shown this weekend.
The film focuses on a World War II veteran who has come back to Brooklyn as a chauffeur and experiences racism his first day on the job. It’s been accepted to 23 festivals and has won about 10 awards, Celli said.
“We’re excited to show in Atlantic City because it’s a historical city and this whole film centers on history,” Celli said.
Skyko Tavis will be traveling from Los Angeles for the East Coast premiere of his film, “Candy and Ronnie.” The film centers on a couple who go through a wild weekend with a pizza guy.
Tavis grew up in western Pennsylvania and said he’s happy to come back East.
“We’re super excited,” Tavis said. “(The festival) has been going strong for 10 years and we’re thrilled to have been chosen because Atlantic City is a pretty popular spot, and for us to go from coast to coast, it’s an honor for us to come out. I’ve got a bit of East Coast.”