Seventeenth Annual Newport Beach Film Festival 8

One could go around the world from film festival to film festival–from Toronto to Cannes, Berlin or Venice to Honk Kong, and back to the US to Sundance, Tribeca, Nashville, Aspen or Newport Beach. They are world-wide.

This year, Newport Beach residents, and many more around the world, will have the chance to enjoy the 17th Annual Newport Beach Film Festival. Although it seems as if it were just yesterday, it was nearly 17 years ago when a group of movie lovers banded together to organize the very first festival.

Back then, the festival included nearly 200 films and had around 10,000 attendees. Last year, the festival screened more than 400 films, and hosted more than 54,000 guests, setting a new attendance record.

This year, the event runs April 21 through April 28 and has a special program planned that includes several different series: Action Sports, Environmental, Art, Architecture + Design, Music, and Family. In addition, the program includes a Collegiate Showcase, Music Video Showcase, Youth Film Showcase, Film Market, UK Spotlight, and a free Seminar Series.

While the Newport Beach Film Festival is considered a predominately local fanfare by most, this year the festival was preceded by a pre-BAFTA (British Academy of Film and Television Arts) private reception at the Bvlgari Hotel in London. Braced for temperatures in the crisp thirties, the Newport Beach Film Festival crew flew to London for the second consecutive year. That crew, along with its partners Orange County Film Society, Screen International and Visit Newport Beach, California, bestowed two awards in British film: Outstanding Achievement in Global Cinema, and Best Actress.

Both of the previously mentioned pre-BAFTA awards were given to Brooklyn’s highly-deserving cast and crew. Saoirse Ronan received Best Actress for her role in the Lionsgate film. Additionally, director James Crowley and screenwriter Nick Hornby graciously accepted the award for Outstanding Achievement in Global Cinema. This pre-BAFTA award would foreshadow an achievement to come later that week, when Brooklyn would go on to win Outstanding British Film at the BAFTAs. Currently, Brooklyn is nominated for three Oscars: Best Motion Picture of the Year, Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role, and Best Writing, Adapted Screenplay.

Other notable attendees at the private reception across the pond included Jared Harris (Mad Men, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows), Gregg Schwenk, CEO and co-founder of the Newport Beach Film Festival, and Gary C. Sherwin, CEO and President of Visit Newport Beach.

Here at home, the hustle and bustle of preparing the finest, most thrilling film festival to date has locals and film stars alike buzzing with excitement. The Opening Night Gala, hosted by Fashion Island, expects 3,000 guests and will feature culinary tastings from 40 esteemed Southern California restaurants, along with hosted bar and entertainment. Post-parties follow on Friday and Saturday nights and will highlight this year’s most popular films amidst delectable hors d’oeuvres and entertainment. Throughout the week, more than 400 films will be shown at four main venues, including the newly-remodeled Big Newport Theater, the luxurious Island Cinemas, the family-friendly Triangle 8 Cinemas, and the historic Lido Live Theater.

As an exclusive sneak preview of this year’s festival, there are some tantalizing titles, such as After the Reality, which will be making its world premiere. Another notable film, Love is All You Need, inspired by the viral, sensational, award-winning short film of the same name, touts homosexuality as the norm and to be heterosexual to be shunned and ridiculed.

In the documentary category, festival-goers will enjoy Orange Sunshine, the never-before-told story of the Brotherhood of Eternal Love, or, the “Hippie Mafia of Orange County.” The film relays the beginnings of the spiritual group of surfers and hippies, and how these locals became the largest suppliers of LSD during the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Additionally, attendees will also be able to view the documentary Fursonas, better known as Furries,” which features a closely-knit network of people interested in anthropomorphic animals.

For more information and program updates, visit NewportBeachFilmFest.com or contact 949.253.2880. Tickets go on sale April 1.