When Your NewsMag last spoke with Anne and Henry Stampfel they were celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Long Island International Film Exposition, the premiere Long Island film festival that brings independent film front-and-center as a critically acclaimed art form, and exposes independent filmmakers and actors to an exceptional avenue and outlet for creativity in which to explore their muses and succeed. The film festival is sponsored by the Nassau County Film Commission, and this year it will be celebrating its 21st year.
The festival was inaugurated at their art house cinema in Malverne in 1998. The festival outgrew the five smaller screens and moved to their Bellmore Movies eight years later; and the Stampfels have not looked back on that move since.
The festival’s move to Bellmore – which will be its 13th in Bellmore this year – brought with it the unexpected delight of actors and actresses walking the Bellmore streets and contributing to the community’s summer economic successes. It also brought with it legions of fans who rush to see their works on screen – and the actors in living color – at the festival while bringing with them appetites and thirsts filled by local eateries. Several recent movie shoots in and around town have also generated revenues for many businesses, as well, putting Bellmore squarely in the sites of filmmakers’ lenses.
In recognition of the Stampfel’s – and the Bellmore Movies and Showplace – success in achieving such accomplishments within the community the Chamber of Commerce of the Bellmores has bestowed upon them the inaugural Roy Weinman Lifetime Achievement Award.
Says Anne of the award: “We are humbled by this recognition of achievement. For us the achievement also means we’ve survived in this industry and grown with it. Plus, the award is named for a special man, Roy, who helped us many times over the years. We would patronize his business to find just the right screw or bolt and he always seemed to have whatever we were looking for. He is dearly missed in our community. We are very proud to be the first recipients.”
The Stampfels took over management of the historic one-screen theater in 1986, and purchased it outright on 2000. Before the Stampfels, there was the late Bill Zagarino of Zagarino Realty, who, according to his brother Pat, “managed the movie theater for several years, where he showed first-run movies such as “The Longest Yard.” “You could see features for $1” then, said Zagarino.
Over the years the Stampfels have recast the historic iconic movie house into a community entertainment center for children’s theatrical productions, TV commercial shoots, film auditions, marriage proposals, rock shows, country singers, comedians, dance recitals, film debuts and, of course, film festivals – in addition to its first-run movies.
“We’re also very proud of our live shows,” Ann said. She said Rob Bartlett, Jackie “The Joke Man” Martling and Mickey Rooney have all performed on its stage, as well as Kenny Vance and The Plantones.
The movie house itself is thought to be over 100 years old. Ann says they have a survey that shows the building was in Bellmore in 1912. They also claim that, through internet research, they have found documents dating back to 1908. However, they are not certain precisely how old the building is.
Originally, the Stampfels’ plan was to turn the Bellmore Movies into a multiscreen theater. Henry remarked that it seemed like the logical thing to do, in order to complete with the surrounding cinemas. However, with the wild success of the film festival over the years, they do not look back on that plan, either.
Both Anne and Henry Stampfel hope to maintain the Bellmore Movies and Showplace as one of the premiere entertainment centers in the Bellmore community and surrounding communities for many years to come.