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San Diego International Film Festival: Five Days of Screenings, People and Parties

the eagle huntress
Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

This year’s fest is anchored by two high-profile films. “Other People,” written and directed by “Saturday Night Live” star Chris Kelly, and starring Molly Shannon, Bradley Whitford and Jesse Plemons, will open festivities on Sept. 28. Then, in a very different vein, Otto Bell’s documentary “The Eagle Huntress” will be the closing film on Oct. 2.

While the former is a heartfelt, biographical story about a struggling comedy writer helping his mother as she’s dying from cancer, the latter tells the story of a 13-year-old nomadic Mongolian girl who breaks with ancient tradition in her quest to become Mongolia’s first female practitioner of the art of hunting game in tandem with a trained eagle.

In between, the festival will screen Garth Davis’ debut “Lion,” starring Rooney Mara, Nicole Kidman, and Dev Patel. The Weinstein crowd-pleaser tells the story of how a 5-year-old Indian boy was separated from his family, wound up adopted by an Australian couple on a different continent, and managed to find his birth mother 25 years later using Google Earth.

Director Theodore Melfi returns to the festival with a first look at footage from his new film “Hidden Figures” (Fox 2000), the inspirational untold true story of three brilliant African-American women, played by Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, and Janelle Monáe, working at NASA on the launch of astronaut John Glenn into orbit. Access Hollywood’s Scott Mantz will lead a discussion with Melfi following the footage presentation.

 Other highlights include gala presentation screenings: Mick Jackson’s “Denial,” starring Rachel Weisz, making its U.S. premiere; Pedro Almodóvar’s “Julieta,” starring Adriana Ugarte (California premiere); Kevin Pollak’s “The Late Bloomer,” with Brittany Snow, Maria Bello, and J.K. Simmons (world premiere); “Citizen Soldier,” from directors David Salzberg and Christian Tureaud (world premiere); and “Trespass Against Us” (West Coast premiere), with Michael Fassbender, Brendan Gleeson, and Rory Kinnear.

(Pictured above: “The Eagle Huntress”)