×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

San Diego Film Festival Gives Stars, Veterans Cinematic Salute

Now in its 14th year, the San Diego Film Festival, produced by the San Diego Film Foundation, bills itself as “5 Days, 100+ films — binge watching for film lovers.” And in the crowded fall festival landscape it has managed to separate itself from the herd by offering “more star-power, more gala films and more industry-related events, including panels and parties, than ever before,” says Dale Strack, chairman. “This year we got nearly 2,000 submissions from some 65 countries.”

While the fest has grown, it has also fine-tuned its focus and embraced new programs, adds Tonya Mantooth, VP of programming.

For this edition, SDFF has partnered with Susan Sarandon and Thomas Morgan (“Waiting for Mamu”), who together run Reframed Pictures, to create the Social Justice Initiative — a panel and workshop making its debut Oct. 2.

This new program is designed as a platform for documentaries telling transformational stories of lasting social impact, with the goal of shining a light on socially relevant causes, people and issues. Sarandon, Morgan and Mantooth are curating the films.

Moderating the panel: film critics Jeffrey Lyons and Ben Lyons. Panelists include Sarandon; Morgan; Kweku Mandela of Out of Africa Films and Nelson Mandela’s grandson; Roger Ross Williams (“God Loves Uganda”); and Dawn Porter (“Gideon’s Army,” a 2014 Spirit Award nominee).

Others addressing social justice issues at the fest include Jack Robbins, Sarandon’s son, who co-directed “Storied Streets” about homelessness; and Leslee Udwin, whose “India’s Daughter”  centers around a brutal rape and murder in New Delhi.

Mantooth also notes that the fest will screen “He Named Me Malala,” the new Fox Searchlight documentary from Davis Guggenheim.

Strack and Mantooth see social-issue films as moving SDFF into a year-round role. “We plan to take them — and other films — to schools, to help educate and foster awareness of these issues,” Mantooth says.

The fest is also more San Diego-specific than ever, recognizing the role and presence of the military in the city’s life. “We’re starting a new military initiative this year, with films and filmmakers that tell military stories,” Strack says. “And we’re mixing civilian and military audiences to try and help close the growing gap between the two.”

The program will screen a diverse range of independent and studio films about service members, followed by discussions with military personnel.

As with the social-issue films, the fest plans to make the military movies a year-round initiative, taking them to bases, Strack says. “And we’ll also take indie films that aren’t military-themed to bases, and gradually radiate the program out around the whole country.”

(Pictured: “I Smile Back,” which plays at the festival.)

More Film

  • Donald Trump Chucky Childs Play

    'Child's Play' Stars on New Chucky's 'Creepy' Resemblance to Donald Trump

    At Wednesday night’s world premiere of the “Child’s Play” remake, it was obvious that evil doll Chucky — the star of seven films over three decades — had a little work done. And now he bears a striking resemblance to Donald Trump. “Oh, you caught that?” Aubrey Plaza asked Variety on the black carpet outside [...]

  • Academy Museum of Motion Pictures Opening

    Academy Museum Opening Delayed Again to 2020

    The opening date of the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures has been delayed again, this time to an unspecified date in 2020. The museum, now under construction at the corner of Wilshire Boulevard and Fairfax Avenue, has long been beset by delays and cost overruns. In December 2018, the Academy announced that it would open [...]

  • Bradley Cooper speaks at the 30th

    Producers Guild Shifts 2020 Awards Show to Hollywood Palladium

    The Producers Guild of America will hold its 31st Annual Producers Guild Awards at the Hollywood Palladium, shifting the site from the Beverly Hilton Hotel. The PGA had already announced that the show would take place on Jan. 18. The organization, which represents more than 8,000 producers, announced Thursday that it has launched a new [...]

  • Adam Driver appears in The Report

    Amazon’s ‘The Report’ Gets U.K. Theatrical Release Ahead of Streaming Launch

    Amazon Studio’s “The Report” will be released theatrically in the U.K. three weeks before it lands on the Prime Video streaming service. The Scott Z. Burns film tells the story of Daniel J. Jones, a U.S. Senate staffer who worked to reveal that truth about an “enhanced interrogation” program run by the CIA in the [...]

  • Elton John performing at Earls Court,

    Elton John Has a Message for Struggling LGBTQ Youth: 'Be Proud of Who You Are'

    Elton John isn’t at a loss for words when asked if he has a message for young LGBTQ people who are struggling with their sexuality or gender identity. In an exclusive interview with Variety at last month’s Cannes Film Festival, just hours before the world premiere of his long-in-the-works biopic “Rocketman,” John spoke candidly about the [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content