Atlantic City Cinefest boasts wide-ranging talents -

Atlantic City Cinefest boasts wide-ranging talents

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ATLANTIC CITY - Harris Haith considers Atlantic City a second home. So when it came time to shoot his feature film, "The Starks Coalition," filming in Atlantic City was a no-brainer.

"It was a great backdrop for the story in terms of coming to the casinos down in Atlantic City and losing everything," said Haith.

The film was screened Saturday afternoon as part of the Downbeach Film Festival's "Atlantic CIty Cinefest," a weekend-long event showcasing the work of both amateur and professional film makers.

"It's a great opportunity for seasoned professionals like myself and for students to get their work out and be evaluated by the public," said director Michael Angelo DiLauro, whose documentary "La Mia Strada," was screened Saturday.

Showing documentaries, comedies, horrors and more, the Cinefest slate was as diverse as the city itself.

"It's diverse in many ways, not just ethnically. You know, age wise, gender wise, the whole thing," said Rowan University Professor Ned Eckhardt, who was at the festival to present a series of student films about sexual abuse on campus.

And with the larger Garden State Film Festival coming to the city in April, film makers say this is Atlantic City's chance to make a name for itself in the world of cinema.

"Atlantic City is wide-open. This is a place where a lot of films can be shot," said Haith.

"It has a lot of glamour to it, Atlantic City itself, but it also is close enough to the large markets: Philadelphia, New York and Washington D.C. to generate a lot of interest in an audience from those areas as well," said DiLauro.

"There's more here now than the gambling. It's sort of slowly turning and trying to Disney-fy a little bit the activities and what's going on," said Eckhardt.

For more information on the festival, you can visit

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