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Another year of unprecedented film, parties, celebrities, food and more in Newport Beach, Calif.
The Newport Beach Film Festival rolled in and out this year with a style and quality rivaling the likes of Sundance, Tribeca and the others in defining the roll of independent film throughout the United States. With more than 360 films from 47 countries shown this year, the festival held it's reputation as an established yet rising star in the film festival community.
Celebrating its 11th year, the Newport Beach Film Festival has stayed committed to bringing first-class international film to the public, and will continue to do so in the future. Every year the festival offers a diverse collection of studio and independent films from around the world, including Irish, Australian, Asian, French, Italian and more. Doing so has drawn audiences both local and global to its doorstep over the years, building an international film community right here in Orange County.
Things kicked off Thursday, April 22nd with Five Star Day, notably the first opening night film from a local Orange County director since the festival's founding in 1998. Directed by Huntington Beach native Danny Buday, the film follows a young man whose less-than-stellar birthday leads him on a journey to test the legitimacy of astrology by hunting down three people born at the same time and place as he. The film showed to a packed house, followed by a gala featuring a performance from Cirque du Soleil Mystére, food from several exceptional Orange County restaurants, and beverages supplied by Perrier, Absolut, and Stella Artois.
The week continued from there with films beginning at around 1 p.m. everyday and wrapping up at 10 p.m. Each night would finish with a party in various savvy Newport Beach locales, bringing filmmakers and filmgoers together to talk about the day, over some amazing food and cocktails.
An estimated 51,000 moviegoers attended the festival over the week, matching it with last year's numbers, according to Gregg Schwenk co-founder of the festival.
Several films played to sold-out crowds this year, including Orange County-centered documentaries "We Were Feared" and "Living it Forever."
A number of celebrities were spotted on any given day of the 2010 festival. Original surfer girl, Kathy Kohner Zuckerman, famous as "Gidget," appeared on Wednesday, April 28th, for the showing of Accidental Icon: The Real Gidget Story. Zuckerman, the one-time youngster who spurred a national cultural phenomenon, spent the afternoon signing autographs and talking to fans, young and old.
However, she was not the only name to make an appearance this year. Jordan Belfi, Samm Levine, Yeardly Smith, Cam Gigandet, Jena Malone, Michael Damian were just a few of those attending for the first time and some returning after years of showing films in Newport.
Presenting at the festival for the third time since 2006, Michael Damian, of daytime drama fame, showed his film Flicka 2, about a big-city girl whose life is turned upside down when she moves with her family to a Wyoming ranch.
Although it was business as usual in some respects, a few new additions were made to this year's festival, including the NBFF Filmmaker's Five blog where directors, producers, and writers were given a platform to share about their film, their careers and future plans in the industry. View the blog at http://newportbeachfilmfest.posterous.com
Saturday free seminars returned this year with discussions on Documentary Directing, Screenwriting, and Film Music Composition. Attendees to these sit-downs got to pick the brains of a number of filmmakers with films at the festival, including Christopher Landon - writer and director of Burning Palms; Pamela - of 9 and Monster House; Richard Sherman - composer for Disney hits such as Mary Poppins; Josh Pomer - director of the award-winning documentary Westsiders.
The week closed with the much anticipated Letters to Juliet, staring Amanda Seyfried and Vanessa Redgrave. In this film, young and old love come to fruition when a American girl travels to the city of Verona, home of the star-crossed lover Juliet Capulet of Romeo and Juliet fame. She joins a group of volunteers who respond to letters to Juliet seeking advice about love and answers one of the letters dated 1951. The closing night, held in the iconic Regency Lido Theater, sold out. Following the film, people spilled into the walkways surrounding the theater for a night of dancing, spectacular food and drinks, again from Absolut, Perrier, and Stella Artois.
Now it's back to the drawing board in the search for next year's lineup. See you in April!
Social Media Maven, Writer with many hats, Film-Trivia-Fiend, Blogger, Editor, iPhone addict, Internet Marketer, Live Event Corespondent, and all-around Oddball. Author & Creator of NBFF Filmmaker's Five - official blog for the 2010 Newport Beach Film Festival. Former journalist for the LA Times Community News Bureau (cops, courts, entertainment, business, features). Promoter of various Orange County personalities and establishments. Venturing into the insanity of social media one sardonically planted foot at a time.