Welcome to the 19th Annual Newport Beach Film Festival. Over the next week over 350 films will be showing at various venues on the Orange Coast. The festival features a wide range of films, including a selection of culinary films, films about art and design, action sports films (ranging from surfing to mountain climbing), along with a selection of narrative films, documentaries, and short films (including programs of student shorts from various schools in Southern California).
My festival opened with New Money, directed by Jason B. Kohl. A slacker is awaiting the $50,000 her father promised her when she turned 30. However, her drug use has given her stepmother leverage to convince her father with dementia to withhold the money. She and her boyfriend decide to kidnap him and try to convince him that she is a successful real estate agent. While this could have been played for laughs, it becomes a descent into darkness and failure. With no sympathetic characters and no redemption to be found along the way, the film wallows in the muck of life. The film plays at NBFF again on Wednesday.
Each night of the festival, there is a showcase of films from various regions or countries. On Friday this was a UK Showcase. Wild Honey Pie!, directed by Jamie Adams, is the story of a mid-thirties couple who relish not being in the rat race. They have decided to put on a Shakespeare by the Sea festival, but as problems arise, the cracks in their relationship begin to show—and even rupture. The film reflects well the kinds of troubles that can grow into problems within a relationship and the determination that can be required to maintain the love that is the foundation within a marriage. This film also will play at NBFF again on Wednesday.