Another film festival in your back yard



If you missed the San Diego Film Festival last month, you’re in luck. There’s another film festival right here in your backyard – the Coronado Island Film Festival. Now when it comes to Coronado, I always think about the time I ran into Jesse Ventura at a pub that one of his Navy SEALS buddies owns. Another time, I was at the 100th anniversary of one of my favorite movies – “Some Like It Hot” – which was filmed at the Hotel Del. I got to hang out with Connie Stevens, Dick Van Patten, George Burns, and a whole host of others. 

As a huge fan of The Doors, I remember bugging a friend of mine who was installing cabinets in the Morrison family home, which was there.

But my favorite memory of Coronado is the time I was part of the Coronado Film Festival years ago. I got to watch a screening of “Some Like It Hot” with star Jack Lemmon’s son Chris who talked about the film (it will screen again this year). I was part of a movie critics panel that included Joe Morgenstern (Newsweek, The Wall Street Journal), Leonard Maltin, and the Union-Tribune critic, back when they actually had local writers. One of the questions I was asked from someone in the crowd was about a Janis Joplin documentary. 

I told her I was lukewarm on it, as many of the clips I had already seen before. Little did I know that it was a Coronado resident who produced the movie who was asking me what I thought. She also had an Oscar nomination for producing “The Theory of Everything.” Her name is Lisa Bruce and she’s at the Festival each year (fun fact: she got her first job in the movie business, as a Coronado High School student, working at the movie theatre on the island). 

I’m looking forward to see Bruce talk with actress Geena Davis at the event. Yep, Thelma herself will be there in person (or was she Louise?). Davis has won two Oscars, and has a new book out, and will be discussing gender in media and in films. I once talked with her briefly about this, when she had a small part in one of the most underrated movies ever, about voice-over talent called “In a World…”

I’m not going to say I’m excited to see Jacqueline Bisset in person at this festival, because I’d sound like a creepy old man. So I can’t talk about how in 11th grade I saw her play Anna Karenina, and thought about her for a week straight. Or when I was a freshman, and saw her in “Class,” where she’s helping Rob Lowe, a prep school student, lose his virginity. Nope. I won’t mention that. I refuse to bring up the time I was bored and going through the channels, and I saw an old Nick Nolte movie on TV (“The Deep”), and there she was in a bathing suit. Why mention that? I mean, she’s not going to be wearing a bathing suit to the Festival. Will she? Anyway…I undress. I mean, I digress.

For a lot of attendees, seeing the celebrities is a treat. It’s not like they’re traveling the world to other Festivals to see the folks walk the red carpet.

 I really prefer the panels and programs. There is going to be a track that shows shorts, which are always a lot of fun. There’s going to be a segment of films by younger filmmakers. I’m always surprised at just how well put together their films are. At one festival over a decade ago, I saw one of those films, by a young filmmaker named Ryan Coogler. Ya know what he’s doing now? The Black Panther films! So you never know how big these writer/director/filmmakers will become. And who wouldn’t have liked to have seen The Beatles at the Cavern Club before they became huge? So, come catch the next Tarantino or Scorsese at this Festival (just refrain from handing them headshots).

One day there’s going to be a family film shown on the beach (hopefully the weather cooperates).

The usual host, Leonard Maltin, will be running many of the festivities, including the tribute dinner and awards gala. One of those young filmmakers I talked about earlier, was once honored at this – Chloe Zhao. She did one of my favorite movies of 2017 – “The Rider,” and got an Oscar for “Nomadland.” Again, these young filmmakers are the future of cinema. 

There’s an animation showcase, which always brings lots of laughs. 

But it’s not just shorts and young filmmakers stuff. The two movies you can see that will get Oscar nominations – “Empire of Light” (which is one of my favorites of the year, and Olivia Colman will get an Oscar nomination), and “She Said.”

But I’m most excited about two things the Festival put together. A segment called “Babe and Harold.” Leonard Maltin will be talking about the films Babe Ruth has done, with Tom Stevens and John Weisbarth. And, who is the Harold? That would be the guy my stepdad first turned me onto when I was a kid – Harold Lloyd. His granddaughter Suzanne Lloyd, and president of Harold Lloyd Entertainment will be there. I can’t wait to hear what she has to say about her legendary granddad. 

The other event I’m looking forward to is a screening of “Bull Durham.” Now while some would want to see Susan Sarandon there (after all, she was Thelma. Or wait, was she Louise?), they got the best guest from that film – writer/director Ron Shelton. When I did a list of the 75 Best Sports Movies of all-time, he peppered the list with a bunch. Not just this movie, but “White Men Can’t Jump,” “Best of Times,” “Cobb,” “Great White Hype,” and “Tin Cup” (another with Kevin Costner). I’m so looking forward to the Q&A with him. 

And with the Padres doing so well this season, why not continue the baseball love by attending this event; or any number of these fine films this week/weekend, at the Coronado Film Festival.  

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