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Delayed due to COVID-19 concerns, the Newport Beach Film Festival is still intent on bringing attention to innovation in the film industry. The virtual event, scheduled to take place Oct. 1-11, follows a drive-in opening night film screening that took place Aug. 13. “A Life of Endless Summers: The Bruce Brown Story” unspooled in a parking lot in Fashion Island mall between Bloomingdales and Nordstrom.

While organizers are still ironing out some details, here is what else is in store for the festival.

Recreating the Experience Virtually

Among the conversations and panels online is Cinematography From Set to Screen, presented by Panavision. The conversation will include DP Don Burgess, known for his work on the likes of “Forrest Gump” and “Cast Away,” and Corinne Bogdanowicz, a senior colorist at Light Iron. Both Burgess and Bogdanowicz have worked on “Allied,” “Wonder” and “The Christmas Chronicles” and will discuss the process of recording and adjusting the colors for footage ahead of a film’s release.

Another industry discussion is A Conversation With Cinematographer Robert McLachlan. McLachlan worked on HBO shows including “Game of Thrones” and “Westworld.” Both conversations will offer opportunities for audience participation.

More industry talks are in the works, as well, as the Newport Beach Film Festival’s team aims to provide opportunities to this year’s virtual attendees similar to what would be provided in person.

Fresh Slate of Titles

The documentary “A Life of Endless Summers: The Bruce Brown Story,” which tells the story of filmmaker Brown, known for creating “The Endless Summer,” took the drive-in route and premiered in August.

The festival is now scheduled to show a completely new list of films, many of which are documentaries. The new list features 36 films, including “Insert Coin,” a doc about the group of video-game creators who made “Mortal Kombat,” “NBA JAM” and other successful games.

“Fully Realized Humans,” a comedic drama about two soon-to-be parents on a mission to better themselves before bringing a child into the world, is another entry.

Alongside the feature-length films, 231 short films will play at the Newport Beach Film Festival. More than 30 countries are represented in this roster. In 2019, films from about 50 countries were in the lineup; the virtual festival set off by the pandemic caused a slight decrease in this year’s number.

Eugene Levy’s Inaugural Lifetime Achievement Award

“Schitt’s Creek” star Eugene Levy, who won his first-ever acting Emmy on Sept. 20, was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award at a virtual celebration earlier this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

In addition to Levy’s lead comedy actor Emmy, the show swept the comedy series category, including acting wins for his co-stars Catherine O’Hara, Annie Murphy and son Daniel Levy. Levy’s career spans almost five decades, with starring roles in hit films, including “American Pie,” and the recently ended comedy series “Schitt’s Creek.”
Newport Beach Film Festival CEO Gregg Schwenk said that the virtual version of the festival makes celebrating Levy’s achievements difficult, but current conversations involve potentially honoring Levy at the next in-person iteration.

How to Virtually Attend the 21st Annual Festival

Tickets for the Newport Beach Film Festival go on sale Sept. 25 on the event’s website. The all-access pass costs $75, while those interested in viewing only a few films can pay $10 per screening. The festival’s complete schedule will become available closer to its opening date.