San Diego International Film Festival Opens This Week

This year’s San Diego International Film Festival begins October 15 and ends the 20th managing to pack the schedule with some amazing films, shorts, animation and documentaries. That is what the SDIFF does, bring the filmmakers to show their best with every range of human emotion in every frame.

Opening night begins with the film JOJO RABBIT showing at the beautiful Balboa Theatre downtown. That is followed by a gathering at the to speak with filmmakers, industry and perhaps a celebrity or two. It’s a beautiful way to the start the festival and the weather is usually pretty nice to be able to walk downtown after.

The second day starts with the film SAFE INSIDE which is the story of Ana and Tom traveling across France. Hired to work at an estate in the countryside, secrets are revealed! It is followed by Twisted Humor and Tribes on the Edge. The evening film is Makoto Mioya’s film IMMORTAL HERO and the last film of the evening THE TRUTH.

Day Three brings a story of a small town who is on the verge of panic when a chemical plant has the potential to interfere with the residents love life with LOVE IN KILNERRY. The next film about a look at the last week of school, friendship and PHILOPHOBIA. Next is a look at Animation Filmmaking with a question & answer session to follow the screening. BELLINGCAT – Truth in a Post-Truth World is a look at what is called ‘citizen investigative journalists’.

The riveting documentary that looks at women and poaching is BREAKING THEIR SILENCE: Women on the Frontline of the Poaching War. Decisive Moments is a look at what is going on in the minds of everyday people.

The film DOING MONEY is a look at sex slaves and trafficking with District Attorney Summer Stephans and City Attorney Maura Elliot will be participating in a question and answer session following the film. 100 DAYS TO LIVE brings a serial killer and the race to stop him.

PORTRAIT OF A LADY ON FIRE is the story about a painter in the 18th century who must pain the portrait of a young woman getting married. INSIDE GAME is the real life story of Tommy Martino who came up with a plan, along with his friends, to make money betting on the NBA.

The Opening Night film at ArcLight Cinemas is the Premiere and Afterparty for THE IRISHMAN. Director Martin Scorsese is back with a blockbuster film starring Robert DeNiro and Al Pacino (who we are happy to see together again!).

Day Four brings Waiting for Mamu, a documentary about CNN Hero of the Year Pushpa Basnet who helps the children of Nepal.  The PANEL – Streaming Services 2020 discusses what lies ahead for digital platforms. HAWAII is the story of a family in communist Romania and a family member that had always been thought dead.

San Diego Scene discuss local filmmakers and its followed by THE GREAT ALASKAN RACE with a story of a champion musher racing to deliver medicine in Alaska that will save lives. BABYSPLITTERS has a couple disagreeing on whether to have a baby and how to solve their stalemate. Global Consciousness brings films that discuss problems and how to handle bringing about solutions.

We Rise Up takes on the continual question of ‘What is Success?’ followed by a question and answer session. Twisted Humor is always a personal favorite because I can almost guarantee the funny will be twisted and I certainly can’t get enough of that!

SHE IS THE OCEAN is a story of two women who share a love for the ocean and it gives them the power to make their dreams comes true. Strangers in a Strange Land always tests the limits of filmmakers imaginations and they never disappoint with their creative visions up on the big screen.

CLEMENCY is the story of a prison warden who has spent years handling death row executions. Alfre Woodward stars as Warden Williams, a woman who comes face to face with the issues of her job and a connecting with an inmate she is ordered to execute.

THE TRUTH is a mother and daughter dealing with their personal issues while Mom is working on a sci-fi film. When World Collide are films that bring out the best out of the most unexpected people or situations. THE KILL TEAM is the story of a soldier in Afghanistan who witnesses the killing of innocents and must navigate his way to telling the truth. BUCK RUN is a film about memories in rural Pennsylvania from director Nick Frangione. 

The evening also includes the NIGHT OF THE STARS TRIBUTE with Laurence Fishburne receiving the Gregory Peck Award for Cinematic Excellence, Pitbull receiving the Music Icon Award, Lindsay Wagner receiving the Humanitarian Award, Jared Harris receiving the Cinema Vanguard Award, Jillian Bell receiving the Fairbanks Award and Camila Morrone receiving the Rising Star Award. It is a night for celebrating and just knowing that Laurence Fishburne and Jared Harris are in the same room together gives me awesome chills!

Day Five brings a morning panel – Development Hell to learn more about the stages of getting an IP in the marketplace and the 48 Hour Film Project brings their creations. ANGELIQUE’S ISLE is the story of a woman who joins her husband to Lake Superior hunting for copper. MY BODY IS NOT A WEAPON bring several women together to learn from one another. Student Shorts highlights the work of student filmmakers from everywhere.

EVE is the story of a young girl who wants one specific role badly but when it goes to someone else, life begins to spiral for them both. The next panel of Unstoppable Women bring together a discussion of filmmaking and defying stereotypes in the entertainment industry.

(Un)clear Intentions asks the question ‘is it real or it fake?’! ORDINARY LOVE is the love story of Joan and Tom and what it means to truly be devoted for better or worse. SAFE SPACES is the story of a professor dealing with events in his life and an ill grandmother added to the pile. The Condor and the Eagle bring four indigidgenous leaders from Canada to the Amazon jungle to bring meaning to climate justice.

SEA OF SHADOWS follows scientists who risk their lives to bring a crime syndicate to justice. A panel about Social Impact follows the film. INSIDE THE RAIN brings a college student and a stripper together in an effort to deal with a potential school expulsion. LIGHT FROM LIGHT brings Sheila to investigate a haunted farm in Tennessee meeting a man who believes his deceased wife is with him.

The following panel is Technology in Entertainment followed by the award winning Mongolian film THE STEED. Alluring & Enchanting bring pieces that are funny and full of surprises. CAROL OF THE BELLS has a young man looking for his biological mother who turns out to be disabled.

MOTHERLESS BROOKLYN has Edward Norton directing and staring in a film about the 1950s New York and Lionel, a P.I. with Tourette’s Syndrome. Befriended by Frank Minna played by Bruce Willis,  Lionel is looking into the murder of his friend and won’t stop until he finds answers.

EXTRA ORDINARY is the story of Rose, a young girl with gifts that she tries to hide from. That is until she is put in a position where she can’t hide much longer. PARASITE is writer/director Joon-ho Bong’s film about a family trying to find their way with jobs being scarce. When Ki-woo poses as an English tutor, the mayhem beings!

The evening brings the Filmmaker Awards Show along with an afterparty. It is a celebration with awards for the films voted on by the audience. It’s always fun to see if my list matches the winners.

The final day of the San Diego International Film Festival starts with Culinary Cinema at the Arclight as San Diego Chefs bring their enticing delicacies. It is always a fantastic time to mingle with fellow foodies to talk about the films seen so far at the festival.

TEMBLORES is a story of man coming to terms with who he is and the fallout in his family, the community and a society that just isn’t ready. The Dead Soldier is the story of Jacob Panton who is mortally wounded in Afghanistan. In the operating room he is brought back and this is his story.

BY THE GRACE OF GOD is the story by Francois Ozon that tells of three men who refuse to remain silent about a priest’s abuse. The Best Global Cinema Winner and Feature Winner  will be announced at the Filmmaker Awards and shown on the final day. A HIDDEN LIFE is the story of Franz Jagerstatter who refused to fight for the Nazis in World War II and the threat of execution for treason.

Finally, to end the San Diego International Film Festival of 2019 is MARRIAGE STORY. Staring Scarlett Johansson, Adam Driver, Laura Dern, Alan Alda and Ray Liotta, the film is written and directed by Noah Baumback. It is the story of a marriage breaking up and still trying to keep a family together.

That’s about it, that’s everything that people can expect from the SDIFF this year and it is a full schedule so wear comfortable shoes! It is always a pleasure to be a part of the film festival as a moderator which I will be doing again this year for look for me while I ask questions and get you to ask even better questions.

For more on the SDIFF and to see the schedule or purchase tickets for films for the fantastic events and parties, please visit https://sdfilmfest.com/passes-and-tickets. Come be part of the scene!

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About the Author

Jeri Jacquin

Jeri Jacquin covers film, television, DVD/Bluray releases, celebrity interviews, festivals and all things entertainment.