I look forward to film festivals and it is time for me to head to the beach for the 17th annual Newport Beach Film Festival. This year there are over 350 films from 50 different countries. Obviously I won’t get to them all. But I like to try to find a broad sample of films from among the many offerings.
Although NBFF may not be as widely known as festivals like Sundance or SXSW, I’m never surprised that, when Oscar nominations come out, I discover there is something I’ve seen at this festival among them, often from the shorts or documentary films.
Some of the films that have caught my attention in my early planning (and of course I can’t see all of them) are The Man Who Knew Infinity, a UK film about an Indian who was admitted to Cambridge during World War I; Love Is All You Need?, about a scandalous heterosexual love affair in a world where same sex relations are the norm; The Wizard, about an Iranian refugee in the US and finding his identity in his high school wrestling team; Rwanda and Juliet a doc about an American who goes to Rwanda to stage a production of Romeo and Juliet with Hutu and Tutsi actors; and Fare, a thriller by a filmmaker who is Christian, but this is not your typical faith-based film—it is R rated and is inspired by (but not the story of) C.S. Lewis’s Screwtape Letters.
There are some interesting retrospectives being shown this year as well. There is always a John Wayne film (he lived in Newport Beach). This year it will be the 1966 film El Dorado. Disney’s The Fox and the Hound will be shown to commemorate its thirtieth-fifth anniversary; and The Lord of the Rings:The Fellowship of the Rings will mark fifteen years with a screening of the Extended Cut.
And, of course, there will be shorts. I’ve always been fond of the way the programmers at NBFF have organized the shorts programs into interesting sets. Some of the programs titles include “After ‘16”, a group of Irish shorts dealing with the Easter Uprising 100 years ago; dance is celebrated in “Dance in You Shorts”;”Made in California Shorts”; New Short Beginnings” “Not Short on Hope”; and “Older Not Shorter. On Saturday and Sunday one venue is dedicated to Collegiate Shorts programs, including from Chapman University,UCLA, USC, UC Irvine, Orange Coast College, Saddleback College, and Cal State Fullerton.
There are also several films in the Arts, Architecture, + Design section, an Action Sports section, and a Music section, including a program on April 30 of music videos.
What I’m looking forward to the most is being surprised by something I never heard of that may rock my world. It seems to happen at least once every festival.
I’m ready for the lights to go down.