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San Diego Film Festival: Greater and Stronger Edition to Edition

SAN DIEGO, CA - SEPTEMBER 27:  A general view of atmosphere at the opening night tribute at the San Diego Film Festival 2014 on September 27, 2014 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Vivien Killilea/WireImage)
SAN DIEGO, CA – SEPTEMBER 27: A general view of atmosphere at the opening night tribute at the San Diego Film Festival 2014 on September 27, 2014 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Vivien Killilea/WireImage)

San Diego Film Festival: Greater and Stronger Edition to Edition

Article by Alejandra Enciso Guzmán 

Amongst San Diego’s wide variety of events and amazing weather, there is also a film festival that searches to be greater and stronger edition to edition.

Starting on Wednesday, September 30th and until Sunday October 4th, the Gaslamp will roll out the red carpet and put the popcorn machine to work to screen about 104 films including shorts from Germany to Armenia. An important new dynamic for this year is the Social Justice Initiative, a platform for documentary films to tell transformational stories with lasting social impact, with the goal of shining a light on socially relevant causes, people and issues. Academy Award® winner Susan Sarandon and filmmaker Thomas Morgan (WAITING FOR MAMU) of Reframed Pictures partnered up with the San Diego Film Festival working with SDFF Executive Vice President and Director of Programming, Tonya Mantooth to curate the featured films. Vanguard Culture had the opportunity to talk to Tonya – who has been taking care of the festival for four years now, and learn more about this process and what is in for this year. “There were about 3,000 attendees and we took it up to 20,000. We have been able to double the amount of films and bring in studio films. This last year we have had 2,000 submissions from around the world. Over 65 countries have submitted for the festival and we are premiering some of the top studio films coming right out of the Toronto Film Festival and we are very excited about it” shared Mantooth, who is an eight-time Emmy award winner and responsible for Mantooth Studios, a commercial production company that also expanded into animation and visual effects, as well an entertainment division.

Several films showcased in the San Diego Film Festival have gotten distribution and it is definitely something that is aimed to grow. “My team and I will go to other film festivals like Sundance and Tribeca, looking for the films that are coming out and encouraging them to come to San Diego. And, all year long we work close with the studios and major distributors getting into discussions and negotiations about having them choose the San Diego Film Festival because they have a lot to choose from and so, we feel really fortunate”. As an example, some films featured in this discussions have been Silver Linings Playbook, which went on to win an Oscar. The following year they had 12 Years a Slave which also won an Oscar. “This year is going to be a strong year, we just announced our opening night film called Septembers of Shiraz starting Adrien Brody and Salma Hayek. Adrien will be here for the Q&A and we are really thrilled about that”.

Brody is also being honored with the Cinema Vanguard Award. “We are fans of his work. We are always looking for people who are big contributors in the film industry. Last year we honored Alan Arkin and Bo Bridges. It is really a fortunate opportunity to see who is making a difference”.

The Social Justice Initiative

Thursday October 1st, there will be a panel session which has been worked on for the past six months. The panelists are award winning documentary filmmakers that will talk about working on films that are truly changing the world. One of the panelists will be Kweku Mandela, Nelson Mandela’s grandson. “That is something that we took on, and are really proud to work with Susan Sarandon and her team and something we want to do and grow together so it is not just this year, but to be ongoing” Added Tonya.

Tonya’s tips: How to get the best out of the festival?

“Definitely take the opportunity to find one of the studio films that you will be able to see before anybody else”.

For example: Go With Me, starring Anthony Hopkins, Julia Stiles and Ray Liotta. “They are so new that studios have not done their trailers yet!”

Victoria: A film that is two hours long done in one take. “It is brilliant. It is action packed. Unbelievable and suspenseful. It won all the top awards and I can understand why”.

Documentaries recommendation: Indla’s daughter: “Amazing powerful film. I would love for people to take time to go and see that film’.

Film Shorts: Will be grouped in one hour tracks. “They are the future filmmakers and they always go to the Q&A’s. It is really exciting and it is a big part of the festival”.

For more information on passes and schedules please click here

Vanguard Culture

Vanguard Culture is an online media entity designed for culturally savvy, socially conscious individuals. We provide original interviews and reviews of the people, places, and events that make up San Diego’s thriving arts and culture community, as well as curated snapshots of the week’s best, most inspiring and unique cultural and culinary events. We believe in making a difference in the world, supporting San Diego’s vibrant visual and performing arts community and bringing awareness to important social and community causes.

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