10th Annual San Diego Film Festival
The 2011 San Diego Film Festival begins on Wednesday, September 28 and runs through Sunday, October 2 at the Reading Gaslamp Theater in the heart of downtown. Of all the local film festivals, SDFF feels most like a glitzy Hollywood event, hosting almost as many lavish parties as feature films in stunningly ornate locales. The impetus on glam fits with the festival’s setting, and not surprisingly many of the participating sponsors are non-movie related. Film purists looking to view a wide array of new films might be disappointed by the slim schedule, but those hoping to spot a celebrity or brush shoulders with San Diego’s elite will undoubtedly flock.
Still, for my fellow cinephile’s out there, SDFF offers plenty of San Diego premieres to choose from. Divided up by five subsections (Fresh Features, Reel Life Docs, Short? Perfect?, Local Love, and Green Screen – Environmental Series), the films represent a wide array of genres and themes. Opening the festival on Wednesday night is Jonathan Levine’s 50/50, starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Seth Rogen in a dramedy about a young man trying to beat cancer. Early reviews have been mixed-to-positive so this should be a winning debut for the festival.
But it’s Thursday night’s film that has me excited. Actor/director Ralph Fiennes’s modernization of Shakespeare’s Coriolanus should be the festival’s most interesting entry. From the looks of the trailer, Fiennes has updated the story as a bona-fide combat film sporting a monster ensemble cast including Gerard Butler, Vanessa Redgrave, Jessica Chastain, and Brian Cox.
The list of other notable feature films begins with Sundance Jury Prize winner Like Crazy, a romantic drama starring Anton Yelchin and Felicity Jones. The film has been garnering praise ever since it’s festival debut early in the year, and Yelchin alone deserves your attention after anchoring the recently entertaining and stirring Fright Night remake. Also intriguing is Somewhere Tonight, an American remake of Theo Van Gogh’s 06 that stars John Tuturro, an actor always worthy of your attention. Finally, the Colombian film Todos Tus Muertos will bring some dark comedy into the drama-heavy program.
Of the documentaries being screened at SDFF, the closing night film entitled The Bully Project probably contains the most relevance to modern audiences. The doc follows five kids and their families over the course of one school year, and director Lee Hirsch’s film was an official selection at this year’s South By Southwest Film Festival. Other notable docs include Semper Fi: Always Faithful examining the life of a career military recruiter, and Project Happiness, another film about the current emotional state of the world’s children.
Overall, whether it’s celebrity or cinema that you’re interested in, there’s plenty to get excited about this year’s SDFF. For more information on the entire festival schedule, visit www.sdff.org.