The 2020 San Luis Obispo International Film Festival presented by Hotel San Luis Obispo announces galas & special event screenings (March 17-22)

Posted by Larry Gleeson

 Chusy Jardine’s IT ALL BEGINS WITH A SONG: THE STORY
OF THE NASHVILLE SONGWRITER is the Opening Night
selection and Benjamin Kasulke’s BANANA SPLIT
is the Closing Night choice

Special screening events include “Hollywood & Vines” presentations
and two top titles from Sundance:
Adam Carter Rehmeier’s DINNER IN AMERICA and
Sam Feder’s DISCLOSURE: TRANS LIVES ONSCREEN

San Luis Obispo, CA (February 18, 2020) – The 26th Annual San Luis Obispo International Film Festival presented by Hotel San Luis Obispo (March 17-22) today announced this year’s gala selections and special event screenings. Chusy Jardine’s IT ALL BEGINS WITH A SONG: THE STORY OF THE NASHVILLE SONGWRITER is the Opening Night selection, and Benjamin Kasulke’s BANANA SPLIT is the Closing Night selection. Special events include the “Hollywood & Vines” screening events celebrating the intersection of food, wine, and film. The Central Coast Filmmaker Showcase titles were also announced.

Wendy Eidson
Wendy Eidson, San Luis Obispo Film Festival Director

“We have set ourselves up for a very musical start, which will lead into a number of special film events that set us apart from a lot of other film festivals: joining our love of food, wine and great cinema into one combined evening” said San Luis Obispo Film Festival Director Wendy Eidson. “When you then add on two very popular films to come out of Sundance this year, 64 George Sidney Independent Film selections, and our growing Central Coast Filmmaker Showcase, we will be rolling out one our most impressive lineups of films and events yet.”

Jardine’s IT ALL BEGINS WITH A SONG: THE STORY OF THE NASHVILLE SONGWRITER will open the San Luis Obispo International Film Festival on Tuesday, March 17 at the Fremont Theatre (1035 Monterey Street). The film documents songwriters’ struggles, from paying their dues to working through the creative process. Drawing from more than 100 hours of footage, the film includes more than 80 interviews with well-known and lesser-known music industry figures and songwriters, such as Garth Brooks, Ben Folds, John Hiatt, Brett James, Alison Mosshart, Kacey Musgraves, and Keb’ Mo.’ Attending are Jardine, Executive Producer Kathryn Montgomery, John Godsey, as well as singer-songwriter with local roots, Jude Johnstone and Jade Jackson, who will also perform following the screening. The Opening Night celebration will include an Opening Night Pre-Screening Party at Luna Red (1023 Chorro Street), featuring a performance by popular SLO County band Mother Corn Shuckers.

The Closing Night selection will be Kasulke’s teen comedy, BANANA SPLIT. Screening on Sunday, March 22 at the Fremont Theatre, the film marks the return of one of the SLO Film Fest’s favorite filmmakers, Hannah Marks, who stars alongside Dylan Sprouse, Liana Liberato and Luke Spencer Roberts in a film where two high school senior girls have to figure out how to maintain their friendship while one of the dates the other’s ex-boyfriend. Marks, who also wrote and produced the film returns after premiering her feature film directorial debut AFTER EVERYTHING at the film festival last year.

Two hot titles were picked up out of the recently concluded Sundance Film Festival for SLO Film Fest fans to catch: Adam Carter Rehmeier’s audacious crowd-pleasing comedy stars Kyle Gallner as an on-the-lam punk rocker who connects with a young woman (Emily Skeggs) obsessed with his band. They go on an unexpected and epic journey together through the decaying suburbs of the American Midwest. The film features a cast of favorites including Pat Healy, Hannah Marks, Jennifer Prediger, Mary Lynn Rajskub, and Lea Thompson. Sam Feder’s documentary, DISCLOSURE: TRANS LIVES ONSCREEN looks at how Hollywood has deeply influenced how Americans feel about transgender people, and how transgender people have been taught to feel about themselves. Both screenings are expected to have the filmmakers and special guests attending.

Special events this year are highlighted by something that the SLO Film fest is famous for (next to its previously announced Surf Nite): the intersection and celebration of Food, Wine, and Film on the Central Coast. Described as “Hollywood & Vines” events, the carefully curated and produced events include East Meets West, a double feature of Peter Schroeder III’s FULL BOAR, about Gary Eberle, the godfather of the Paso Robles wine industry, and Tim Clott and Libbie Agran’s 91 HARVESTS, which tells the story of the Dusi Vineyards and their wines. Naturally, wine and appetizers will be served in the lobby of the historic Fremont Theatre in between the screenings on Wednesday, March 18.

BIGGEST LITTLE FARM
THE BIGGEST LITTLE FARM

The Octagon Barn Movie Night features John Chester’s hit documentary THE BIGGEST LITTLE FARM about the filmmaker and his wife’s experience leaving the city for farm life, along with a special sneak preview of PBS’s WALKIN’ CALIFORNIA – PISMO PRESERVE, which takes us on a journey through the newly opened Pismo Preserve. The evening will include a delicious BBQ dinner with wine, to go along with the films in the historic and recently renovated barn in San Luis Obispo.

Other films in the “Hollywood & Vines” presentations include Beth Elise Hawk’s BREAKING BREAD, about the A-sham Arabic Food festival in Haifa, Israel; Abby Ainsworth’s STAGE: THE CULINARY INTERNSHIP about the apprenticeship experience at one of the best Michelin-starred restaurants in the world – Mugaritz; NOTHING FANCY: DIANA KENNEDY, about Mexican cuisine cookbook author and environmental activist; and the Tastes and Flavors of Japan afternoon event featuring Hironori Sakurai’s THE STORY BEYOND A CUP OF SAKE and Sky Bergman’s MOCHITSUKI.

Screen Shot 2020-02-18 at 7.55.21 PM

The Coastal Awakening this year will sponsor a special sidebar of films celebrating the life and art of renowned composer and pianist Philip Glass with presentations of Scott Hick’s documentary, GLASS: A PORTRAIT OF PHILIP IN TWELVE PARTS (2007), and two films that feature Academy Award-winning original scores by Glass: Godfrey Reggio’s KOYAANISQATSI (1982), and Martin Scorsese’s KUNDUN (1997).

Passes are now on sale and information on the film festival can be found at https://slofilmfest.org.

SPECIAL PRESENTATION FILMS

HOLLYWOOD AND VINES PRESENTATIONS

91 HARVESTS
Directors:  Tim Clott and Libbie Agran
Country: USA, Running Time: 45 min
The story of the Dusi Vineyard began in the early 1920s, when Sylvester and Caterina Dusi emigrated from Northern Italy and settled in Paso Robles. The Dusi Vineyard introduced some of the first Zinfandels to California’s Central Coast; vineyards were rare in Old California in the early 1900’s.  Sylvester and Caterina were highly enterprising, and working together with their three sons – Guido, Dante and Benito, eventually bought an additional property on the west side of Highway 101 in 1945 and planted Zinfandel. Three generations after Janell Dusi’s great-grandparents first planted the land to Zinfandel, she is continuing the legacy of one of the area’s most well-loved vineyards, and taking ten percent of the production off the Dante Dusi Vineyard to create J Dusi Wines.

THE BIGGEST LITTLE FARM
Director: John Chester
Country: USA, Running Time: 91 min
This beautiful, multi-award winning documentary chronicles the eight-year quest of John and Molly Chester as they trade city living for 200 acres of barren farmland and a dream to harvest in harmony with nature. By doggedly persevering and embracing the opportunity provided by nature’s conflicts, the couple unlocks a biodiverse design for living that exists far beyond their farm, its seasons and our wildest imagination. Featuring breathtaking cinematography, captivating animals and an urgent message to heed Mother Nature’s call, this film provides us all a vital blueprint for better living and a healthier planet.

BREAKING BREAD
Director: Beth Elise Hawk
Country: USA, Running Time: 86 min
A visually beautiful film that offers a recipe for tolerance – and hope. Dr. Nof Atamna-Ismaeel, the first Muslim Arab to win Israel’s MasterChef television competition, is on a quest to effect social change. So she starts the A-sham Arabic Food Festival in Haifa, Israel, where pairs of Arab and Jewish chefs collaborate on mouthwatering local dishes – and become friends. Set in a region beset with conflict, Breaking Bread sends a clear message: Strip away politics and religion and you’ll find that people are people. And what better way to do that than over a great meal?

FULL BOAR
Director: Peter Schroeder III
Country: USA, Running Time: 50 min
In this insightful documentary about Gary Eberle, you’ll get a sense of the man called the godfather of the Paso Robles wine industry – his astute winemaking skills, warmth, self-deprecating humor, genuine compassion and determination in overcoming a hostile corporate takeover. Now celebrating his namesake winery’s 40th year, the man once destined for medical research credits legendary football coach Joe Paterno and famed winemaker Robert Mondavi for teaching him key lessons along the way.

NOTHING FANCY: DIANA KENNEDY
Director: Elizabeth Carroll
Countries: USA/Mexico, Running Time: 82 min
Cookbook author and environmental activist Diana Kennedy reflects on an unconventional life spent mastering Mexican cuisine. It’s a candid, comprehensive whirlwind tour through the life and work of this 96-year-old uncompromising chef who’s been called an “adorable narcissist.” “If her enthusiasm were not beautiful, it would border on mania,” says influential New York Times food editor Craig Claiborne in a quote that opens the film.

STAGE: THE CULINARY INTERNSHIP
Director: Abby Ainsworth
County: Spain, Running Time: 78 min
A group of interns work together during a nine-month apprenticeship at one of the best Michelin-starred restaurants in the world, Mugaritz. They’re unpaid, away from home, speaking a different language and working brutally long hours. While the restaurant’s notorious avant-garde cuisine and creative working environment elevate those young hopefuls to think outside the confines of a kitchen, the extremely high standards prove to be mentally and physically challenging.

THE STORY BEYOND A CUP OF SAKE
Director: Hironori Sakurai
Country: Japan, Running Time: 62 min
A wonderfully intimate and special look at the delicate care and production of a local sake brewery in Japan through the eyes of a married couple who create the sake and oversee the brewery. We also meet many individuals who work in and care for the gorgeous rice fields and distribute the finished sake, drawing interesting parallels to the wine industry in California.
Screening with

MOCHITSUKI
Director: Sky Bergman
Country: USA, Running Time: 5 min
The ancient tradition of preparing Mochi to celebrate the Japanese New Year goes back centuries. Join one close-knit intergenerational community in San Luis Obispo County who revels in the ceremonial pounding of the cooked rice, the forming of the warm Mochi cakes, and of course eating the yummy results! Elders and kids alike reflect on what Mochi means to them, leaving not a cheek untouched by rice flour.

WALKIN’ CALIFORNIA – PISMO PRESERVE
Director: Cameron Mitchell
Country: USA, Running Time: 27 min
WALKIN’ CALIFORNIA – PISMO PRESERVE is about getting out of the office and off the couch and exploring all the diversity this incredible state has to offer. Join host Steve Weldon as he and Land Conservancy staff take a hike on the newly opened Pismo Preserve, located just north of Pismo Beach. As we meet a variety of Central Coast residents along the way, this episode highlights the natural beauty of the area and the important work the Land Conservancy is doing in our community.

ADDITIONAL SPECIAL PRESENTATION FILMS

ALMOST FAMOUS
Director: Ben Proudfoot
Country: USA, Running Time: 51 min
Pop stars who never were. Household names who remain unknown. Astronauts who never entered space. Rock stars whonever had their day. The lives of these fascinating and incredibly talented individuals are chronicled in this collection of four wonderful short films, produced by the New York Times Op-Docs series and directed by SLO Film Fest alum Ben Proudfoot (RWANDA AND JULIET, 2016), KIM I AM, THE LOST ASTRONAUT, THE OTHER FAB FOUR, and THE KING OF FISH & CHIPS are all memorable stories that will amaze, inspire, and most importantly, entertain.

THE BIG PARADE (1925)
Director: King Vidor
Country: USA, Running Time: 151 min
Wealthy young idler Jim Apperson (John Gilbert) enlists during the early days of World War I, to the worry of his mother (Claire McDowell) and the pride of his father (Hobart Bosworth). Sent to the front lines in the French countryside, Jim bonds with his working-class bunkmates and falls in love with young French farm girl Melisande despite having a girlfriend back home. But the romance of war is soon shattered for good. This 1925 silent film features a wonderful score by Carl Davis.

DINNER IN AMERICA
Director: Adam Carter Rehmeier
Country: USA, Running Time: 106 min
An on-the-lam punk rocker and a young woman obsessed with his band go on an unexpected and epic journey together through the decaying suburbs of the American Midwest.

DISCLOSURE: TRANS LIVES ONSCREEN
Director: Sam Feder
Country: USA, Running Time: 100 min
An investigation of how Hollywood’s fabled stories have deeply influenced how Americans feel about transgender people, and how transgender people have been taught to feel about themselves.

ENAMORADA (1946)
Director: Emilio Fernández
Country: Mexico, Running Time: 96 min
This 1946 Mexican drama was shot on location in Puebla. The revolutionary José Juan Reyes (Pedro Armendáriz, a Cal Poly graduate!) takes the town of CholulaPuebla and demands contributions from its wealthiest citizens for the Mexican Revolution. However, his plans are disrupted when he falls in love with the Señorita Beatriz Peñafiel (María Félix), the tempestuous daughter of the town’s richest man. The film was fully restored by UCLA in 2018. Film will be introduced by Latino Film expert Maria Elena de las Carreras.

GLASS: A PORTRAIT OF PHILIP IN TWELVE PARTS (2007)
Director: Scott Hicks
Country: USA, Running Time: 119 min
An eventful year in the career and personal life of distinguished Western classical composer Philip Glass as he interacts with a number of friends and collaborators, who include Chuck Close, Ravi Shankar, and Martin Scorsese.

HEARTS OF GLASS: A VERTICAL FARM TAKES ROOTS IN WYOMING
Director: Jennifer Tennican
Country: USA, Running Time: 68 min
Vertical Harvest (VH) is a highly innovative but risky experiment in growing crops and providing meaningful employment for people with disabilities. Built on 1/10 of an acre at an elevation of 6,237 feet, the high tech hydroponic greenhouse is located in Jackson, Wyoming, a mountain town with extreme seasonal fluctuations in weather, population and demand for goods and services. Business drama is interwoven with the personal journeys of individuals who are part of an underemployed and underestimated group, adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Plants and people grow together in this intimate portrait of one community’s attempt to address timely and pressing issues around local food production, inclusion and opportunity.

KOYAANISQATSI (1982)
Director: Godfrey Reggio
Country: USA, Running Time: 86 min
A collection of expertly photographed phenomena with no conventional plot. The footage focuses on nature, humanity, and the relationship between them.

KUNDUN (1997)
Director: Martin Scorsese
Country: USA, Running Time: 134 min
From childhood to adulthood, Tibet’s fourteenth Dalai Lama deals with Chinese oppression and other problems.

CENTRAL COAST FILMMAKER SHOWCASE

FEATURE DOCUMENTARY
91 HARVESTS
(see above)

BETTER TOGETHER
Director: Isaac Hernandez
Country: USA, Running Time: 50 min
Community makes the difference. The response to a horrendous oil blowout fifty years ago in Santa Barbara sparked the modern environment, creating a culture that continues to inspire local solutions to global problems. The legacy of the oil spill continues to inform this community, which keeps coming together, providing local solutions to global environmental problems; such as when over 3,000 volunteers jointed the Santa Barbara Bucket Brigade to dig the mud from homes after the deadly 2018 debris flow.

BY HAND
Director: Kellen Keene
Country: USA, Running Time: 67 min
In an attempt to escape comfort, reconnect to the natural world and set a new bar for ocean adventure, SLO County residents and twin brothers Casey and Ryan Higginbotham made a decision that would reshape their loives. On March 18, 2016, they embarked on a 2200-mile paddle from Alaska to Mexico with 18-foot paddle boards.

SPOONS: A SANTA BARBARA STORY

Director: Wyatt Daily

Country: USA, Running Time: 58 min

Dusty archives have been re-discovered remastered to bring a new perspective to one of the most crucial periods in surfing’s evolution. This is a film compiled of never-before-seen footage from surfing’s Golden Age, with outtakes and extras from some of surfing’s most well-known filmmakers to tell a history that has never been told before. A story of craftsmanship, work ethic, renegades and tradition; a film that goes beyond the time spent in the ocean to define how one spends a lifetime.

NARRATIVE SHORT FILMS
THE ADVENTURES OF COWMAN AND LAMBOY
Director: Dominic Hure
Country: USA, Running Time: 7 min

BLUE NOISE
Director: Jonah Moshammer
Country: USA, Running Time: 12 min

CAL POLY SHORTS
Directors: Cal Poly Liberal Arts students
Country: USA, Running Time: 50 min

CRIMSON CUFFS
Director: Madeline Vail
Country: USA, Running Time: 7 min

DIRTY LITTLE SECRETS
Director: Dale Griffiths Stamos
Country: USA, Running Time: 13 min

THE INCIDENT
Director: Johannes S. Beals
Country: USA, Running Time: 5 min

LOCKDOWN
Director: Jorrit Van Der Kooi
Country: USA, Running Time: 8 min

MOVING PAINS
Director: Michael Gould
Country: USA, Running Time: 14 min

NICKEL IN THE SAND
Director: Mike Winger
Country: USA, Running Time: 3 min

ODD BIRD
Director: Katy Dore
Country: USA, Running Time: 9 min

ROSIE
Director: Shanti Herzog
Country: USA, Running Time: 17 min

DOCUMENTARY SHORT
93: LETTERS FROM MARGE
Director: Heather Hudson
Country: USA, Running Time: 30 min

BIRDS OF LOS BANOS
Director: Gail Osherenko
Country: USA, Running Time: 14 min

CARRIZO PLAIN: A SENSE OF PLACE
Director: Jeff McLoughlin
Country: USA, Running Time: 32 min

THE EDGE OF PURPOSE
Director: Winslow Perry
Country: USA, Running Time: 40 min

FARM TO FLOAT: THE MAKING OF THE CALIFORNIA GROWN ROSE PARADE ENTRIES
Director: Alex Raban
Country: USA, Running Time: 17 min

FOREVER VOTERS
Director: Sky Bergman
Country: USA, Running Time: 7 min

KUT TO BE THE BEST: THE LAST BLACK BARBERSHOP IN SAN LUIS OBISPO
Director/Writer: Justice Whitaker
Country: USA, Running Time: 40 min

LIFESAVER: THE SLO NOOR FOUNDATION STORY
Director: Bob Williams
Country: USA, Running Time: 40 min

MARGARET SINGER: SEEKING LIGHT
Director: Louise Palanker
Country: USA, Running Time: 20 min

MOCHITSUKI
(see above)

ORANGEBURG: A TOWN, A TEAM, AN AMERICAN TRAGEDY
Director: Jim Fabio
Country: USA, Running Time: 20 min

PASO ROBLES: A GOODBYE STORY
Director: Brandt Goodman
Country: USA, Running Time: 4 min

REFORGING A LEGACY
Director: Bryan McLain
Country: USA, Running Time: 8 min

SLOFF_2020

ABOUT SAN LUIS OBISPO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL
Located half-way between Los Angeles and San Francisco, San Luis Obispo’s laid-back vibe and serene natural beauty is the perfect setting for this highly regarded annual film celebration. Filmmakers rave about the warmth and attentiveness that is so much a part of the SLO Film fest experience, as does the swelling tide of industry pros and film critics who are fast discovering the film festival’s thoughtful audiences and unique programming sensibility. At the SLO Film Fest, “Movies Matter!”

*Featured photo: HollywoodGlee at the SLO Film Fest Festival Tent (Photo by Kevin O’Connor, in memoriam)

(Source: Press release provided by John Wildman, Wildman PR)

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