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San Diego Film Fest expands venues and preems

'Quartet,' 'Seven Psychopaths' among headliners

With a new infusion of capital as well as changes to its leadership, the 2012 San Diego Film Festival has expanded its venue and has put together a slate of high-profile indie pics.

The expansion helped bring more talent to the fest, according to fest chairman DaleStrack. Running Sept. 26-30, fest will screen slate includes headline films “The Oranges” (featuring Hugh Laurie, Leighton Meester, Catherine Keener), the Dustin Hoffman-helmed “Quartet” (with Maggie Smith, Michael Gambon and Billy Connolly) and comedy “Seven Psychopaths” (featuring Colin Farrell, Woody Harrelson and Sam Rockwell). World preems include thiller “Red Line” and “The Story of Luke.”

Sweeping changes were made after the 2011 fest, most notably with a new board of directors led by Strack. Though the fest had been run since 2001 by co-creators Robin Laatz and Karl Kozak, the five-member board was brought in to bring greater business and financial expertise to the fest’s development.

“They did a great job building the fest over a decade and left us with an amazing foundation. They came to us, however, because they were looking to grow [the fest] to its full potential,” Strack said. “They didn’t quite have the wherewithal financially and business-wise at that point.”

In light of that, the fest pursued bigger sponsorships with brands such as Wells Fargo, BMW and Arclight Cinemas, found more investors and worked with nonprofit org Patron of the Arts for additional funding. The board also courted local media and the San Diego Mayor’s Office to expand the fest’s exposure. Strack believes the value of the cash and contributions amounts to “hundreds of thousands of dollars” more for the 2012 event.

Crucially, this growth helped launch the expansion of the fest from one venue — the Reading Theater in the Gaslamp Quarter — to two, with the addition of the Museum of Contemporary Art — La Jolla’s Sherwood Auditorium this year.

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