“Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship."

The final line of “Casablanca” is delivered by Humphrey Bogart’s Rick Blaine as he walks alongside Claude Rains’ Captain Louis Renault into the fog-filled night.

It’s one of the most iconic moments in film history — a climax that marks the completion of Blaine’s redemptive journey as he stays behind to allow his former lover, Isla, escape Nazi persecution. Blaine’s self sacrifice opens the door to new discovery: friendship.

Film has always had that rare power of expanding our horizons, granting us the ability to see the world in a new light — or perspective — that we had never seen before. Lucky for us Ridgefielders, we don’t have to go far for that sensation this weekend thanks to the third annual Ridgefield Independent Film Festival which kicks off tonight — Thursday, Oct. 18.

In all, 103 films from 20 countries will be shown over the next four days. It’s an impressive feat. Perhaps most admirable though is the partnership between the festival’s organizers and the Downtown Ridgefield merchants, who pushed back their annual Fall in Love With Ridgefield festival a week to share the spotlight with filmmakers and documentarians from around the globe.  

In an era where discord is the norm, it’s refreshing to see a meetings of minds — and of creative spirits — to create something for everyone to enjoy.

So this weekend, go out and support the artists and support the merchants.

It’s never too late to start a new friendship.