Newport Beach Film Festival Presents American and International Films


Quick, think of a sunny playground that hosts world cinema.

You would be right if you said Cannes. But you’d also be right if you said Newport Beach, the coastal community and surfing mecca just south of Los Angeles.

The Newport Beach Film Festival continues to grow in size and stature. This year’s edition features an eclectic lineup of over 500 feature films, documentaries and short films from 58 countries.

Launched in 1999 and quickly becoming one of the West Coast’s fastest growing film festivals, NBFF showcases a range of international studio and independent landscape productions, with various preview screenings and an international series of projectors focused on foreign language films.

“One of our main selling points is that our location is a wonderful luxury resort destination,” said festival co-founder and CEO Gregg Schwenk. “Combined with the proximity to LA and a fabulous movie lineup, it turned out to be quite an event.”

The dazzling opening night screening of “Take Every Wave: The Life of Laird Hamilton”, directed by Rory Kennedy (“The Last Days of Vietnam”) promises to be one of the festival’s biggest attractions. In keeping with Newport Beach’s inherent surf culture, the West Coast premiere of the heavily edited documentary will take place on April 20, followed by a gala reception.

“It’s not just an action sports documentary, it’s an entirely immersive and emotional story… a portrait of an inspiring person,” said Schwenk.

“Class Rank,” by director Eric Stoltz, premieres in Newport Beach. Schwenk calls Olivia Holt’s performance “exceptionally strong” and notes that the entire film does “a great job on every level”. A political satire set in high school, “Class Rank” seems likely to benefit from the real-world political events that have recently made headlines. Bruce Dern and Kristin Chenoweth are also on the bill.

Brett Haley’s “The Hero,” which is also premiering on the West Coast, stars husband-and-wife team Sam Elliott and Katharine Ross. The film centers on a former western icon who resorted to an easy and successful life of voiceover and smoking pot work before deciding to take on another special role and rekindle his relationship with his daughter he is. separate.

“It’s a better acting performance from Elliott and a chance for people to pay attention to one of our most underrated actors,” Schwenk said.

Also on the bill: “Mad to Be Normal” by Robert Mullan, a sixties drama with hints of dark comedy starring Elisabeth Moss and David Tennant. Schwenk calls Tennant’s performance “career definitive.”

The festival executive also praised “The Exception,” which is premiering on the West Coast and will serve as the closing selection. Directed by David Leveaux, it stars Christopher Plummer and Lily James. Schwenk calls James’ performance “a real escape”.

All the films screened at the festival are carefully selected. “We take great pride in our selection process, viewing each submission five times before a decision is made,” says Schwenk.

The filmmaker and guest panels have historically drawn large crowds to the FFNB. This year, “90% of our films have a filmmaker participation,” says Schwenk. “They love to bring their work here because we’ve been a launching pad with direct access to responses from buyers and agents.”

This year, the festival will offer various seminars related to acting, editing, scriptwriting and, in collaboration with Variety’s 10 filmmakers to watch, a cinematography seminar with seven of the 10 directors present. “These events bring audiences closer to films and allow them to interact with the people who make them.”

Special events are always a big part of the NBFF, and 30 of Southern California’s best restaurants will be serving food there. In addition, each evening includes a gala. Schwenk says he’s looking forward to a private Cirque du Soleil show that is likely to attract guests a lot.

“Growing up here, I can say Newport Beach is an amazing place,” adds Schwenk. “It would be a great place to visit even if we didn’t have this film festival.”


Darcy J. Skinner

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