Category Archives: Ojai Film Festival

Ojai Film Society announces Free Summer Film Series

Posted by Larry Gleeson

The Ojai Film Society announces
Free Summer Film Series

Screenings will kick off July 28th

Series will conclude on October 6th

Ojai, CA (July 12, 2023) – The Ojai Film Society announced the lineup of films for this year’s edition of the organization’s popular Free Summer Film Series. Sponsored by Hotel El Roblar, the series kicks off with Alejandra Vasquez and Sam Osborn’s Sundance hit Going Varsity in Mariachi on July 28. The series will include classics and beloved favorites that movie fans, cinephiles, and families alike can enjoy in outdoor screenings at the Libbey Bowl (210 S. Signal Street) every other Friday from late July through early October.

Regarding the creation of the Summer Film Series, Ojai Film Society President, Kathleen Schafer, said, “As the OFS emerged from the Pandemic, we understood the need for a new way of fulfilling our mission to bring film to the Ojai Valley. By focusing on screening films outdoors and making attendance free for everyone, it is easier for anyone who wants to enjoy these films to do so. And the enthusiastic response of our audiences helps attract filmmakers to bring their new films to Ojai. Not only is it a wonderful model for watching films, but it is also a great way for filmmakers to share their work with communities.” This year’s theme is ‘Shooting for the Stars,’ which reflects the aspirational, and practical ways we are all searching for something better for our lives.”

OFS Vice President, Nicholas Weissman, added, “Great films allow for wonderful collective community experiences and that’s what we’re trying to facilitate with the Ojai Film Society. Bringing people together to inspire, learn, and enjoy cinema – outdoors – on the warm summer nights that are so special to the California coast. That elevated outdoor experience provides a special setting for everyone to see both new and old films to our audience – including classics, independent, foreign, documentary, and first run films.”

The Free Summer Film Series concludes on October 6th.

Ojai’s Hotel El Roblar is the premiere sponsor for this series with additional support from the City of Ojai.

For tickets, please go to:, and more information on the Ojai Film Society can be found at:

About the Ojai Film Society:
Founded in 1988, the mission of the Ojai Film Society is to present quality independent, foreign, documentary, and classic films to the Ojai Valley, outdoors, in community for free.

From press release provided by Wildman PR

A Night to Remember – An Evening with Chloé Zhao

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Ojai resident Chloé Zhao wrote and directed Nomadland, recipients of Best Picture and Best Director Oscars at the 2020  Academy Awards. Zhao makes a special appearance at the 2021 Ojai Film Festival on Saturday, November 13 at 7 pm. A screening of her 2017 film The Rider precedes a Q&A with Director Zhao, followed by a reception, all at the Ojai Art Center.

Growing up in Beijing Zhao felt drawn to influences from Western pop culture. She attended a boarding school in London before moving to Los Angeles to finish high school. She worked odd jobs as a party promoter, in real estate, and bartending before studying film production at New York University Tisch School of the Arts.

In 2010, Zhao’s short film, Daughters, premiered at the Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival and won Best Student Live Action Short at the 2010 Palm Springs International ShortFest and Special Jury Prize at the 2010 Cinequest Film Festival.

Zhao directed her first feature film in 2015, Songs My Brothers Taught Me, which premiered as part of the US Dramatic Competition at Sundance Film Festival. It later played at Cannes Film Festival as part of the Director’s Fortnight selection.

Next Zhao wrote, produced, and directed The Rider, an American contemporary western drama shot in the Badlands of South Dakota. The film won the Art Cinema Award at the Cannes Film Festival and received Independent Spirit Award nominations for Best Film and Best Director. Rotten Tomatoes wrote: “[The film’s] hard-hitting drama is only made more effective through writer-director Chloé Zhao’s use of untrained actors to tell the movie’s fact-based tale.”

The Rider follows a young cowboy’s journey of self-discovery after a near-fatal accident ends his professional bronc riding career. Zhao engaged a cast of non-actors who lived on the ranch where she shot the film. Her inspiration came from a cowboy she befriended on the reservation where she filmed Songs My Brothers Taught Me.

Seating is limited for this special screening of The Rider with Academy Award-winning writer, director Chloé Zhao in attendance. Tickets are $30 and can be purchased here!

(Source: Ojai Film Fest News)

The Twenty-Second Annual Ojai Film Festival Expands Its Reach to the World of YouTube.

Posted by Larry Gleeson

The Twenty-Second Annual Ojai Film Festival expands its reach from independent films to the world of YouTube. A panel discussing and exploring the free-flowing creativity of the worldwide YouTube phenomenon takes place on Friday, November 5 at 7 p.m.. The premiere recipient of the Outstanding YouTube Filmmaker Award will accept the honor at the Festival’s Awards Brunch on Sunday, November 7 at 11 a.m..

John Branagan, Festival Board Member and filmmaker, spearheaded the development of this award. Branagan sports over 200 films and television shows on his resume and continues to work as a stuntman/stunt coordinator. Some of his latest credits include the feature film “Searching,” starring Jon Chu, the ninth season of the FX show “American Horror Stories,” and a miniseries for Hulu titled “Pam & Tommy.”

“These filmmakers not only supply their YouTube channel with compelling content,” Branagan said. “They shoot, edit and do the post work from remote locations under not so ideal conditions.”

Criteria for the award involves presentation of real stories documenting life, travel and adventures highlighted by challenging settings. Trials faced while shooting also add to consideration. The winning filmmaker must exhibit professionally produced video, sound, and post-production.

Branagan recently announced the five finalists for the 2021 Outstanding YouTube Filmmaker Award:

Jon Lambert

The 2021 award focuses on the world of motorcycle adventure and travel. Festival President Jon Lambert said, “Ojai is one of the top ‘go to’ destinations for motorcyclists in California so this focus is a ‘natural.’”

Tickets are on sale and available here!

(Source: Ojai Film Festival News)



New Mini-Festival Focuses on Diversity

Posted by Larry Geeson

The Ojai Film Festival will present its 22nd consecutive event celebrating independent films from around the world LIVE in Ojai, November 5-8, 2021. A new mini-festival within the umbrella of the 22nd Annual Ojai Film Festival reflects the theme “Enriching the Human Spirit through Film.” This inaugural “Diversity and Inclusion for Social Impact and Vision” program explores the breadth of “diversity.” At the same time it examines “intersectionality,” aspects of a person’s identity that may cause conflict yet create an opportunity for understanding marginalized communities.

“Intersectionality” observes overlapping factors, such as ethnicity, gender, and sexual orientations, that cause discrimination. It also establishes ways to show sensitivity to shared social hardships. “Diversity” encompasses acceptance and understanding by recognizing our individual differences. Together these promote learning about one another to move beyond simple tolerance, and to embrace the rich dimensions of diversity contained within everybody.

This mini-festival consists of thirteen films sprinkled throughout the Festival, plus a dynamic two-part panel. The first panel focuses on Women in Filmmaking, highlighting career gains. The second panel centers on LGBTQ+ Representation, where filmmakers discuss the growth of queer visibility on Film & TV. announced soon.

Films competing in the 2021 Diversity category:

  • Streets of Lagos by Dom West (Documentary Short) gives a rare insight into the lives of Nigeria’s first generation of rollerbladers.

  • At the Ready by Maisie Crow (Documentary Feature). For most teenagers, the sound of gunshots ringing through hallways is their worst nightmare, but for criminal justice students at Horizon High, it’s the first step toward achieving their American Dream. At The Ready follows three Mexican-American students as they embark on a career path to become police officers and Border Patrol agents.

  • Missing in Brooks County by Lisa Molomot & Jeff Bemiss (Documentary Feature) families search for their missing loved ones in the vast ranch lands of Brooks County, Texas, the site of more migrant deaths than anywhere else in the country.

  • Jasmine Road by Warren Sulatucky (Narrative Feature) a widowed conservative cowboy takes in a Syrian refugee family of Arabic ice cream makers.

  • Storm Lake by Jery Risius & Beth Levison (Documentary Feature) Pulitzer prize-winning journalist Art Cullen and his family fight to unite and inform their rural Iowan farming community through their biweekly newspaper.

  • The Recess by Navid Nikkhah Azad (Narrative Short) Sahar is determined to attend an AFC Champions League football match in spite of the national ban on women to enter football stadiums in Iran. Sahar disguises herself as a boy with the help of her friends. Things take a tragic turn when Sahar’s disguise is uncovered. Inspired by true events, The Recess explores gender oppression in Iranian society.


  • Voice Above Water by Dana Frankoff (Documentary Short) Wayan uses his fishing boat and net to pull trash from the water in hopes of being able to fish again.

  • FreeBird by Michael Joseph McDonald & Joe Bluhm (Animation)A boy with Down’s Syndrome grows to adulthood under the loving care of his mother. Although the boy experiences his share of challenges—including an absent father and a classroom bully—he finds love and acceptance thanks to his mother’s support. Years later, roles are reversed when the boy, now an adult, returns home to care for his aging mother.

  • Mommy or Daddy by John H. LaDue Jr. & Jennifer Ladue (Documentary Feature) a Filipino-Japanese mother finds she is not alone on her journey to be reunited with her son.

  • SFUMATO by Amirali Mirderikvand (Documentary Short) in Iran the eldest child a rural family helps them a lot in life, but continues to face difficulties and obstacles.

  • All the World is Sleeping by Ryan Lacen (Narrative Feature) a mother sinks in her addiction while struggling to surface for her daughter.

  • The Forgotten Place by Oscar Rene Lozoya (Narrative Short) Eric wants to find a friend but doesn’t know how.

Not to miss! On Sunday, November 7th, the Ojai Film Festival will present its first Social Impact and Vision Award, sponsored by Panavision.

Tickets and packages are available here.

Trained actor-director, producer-writer Eshaana Sheth at the 19th Annual Ojai Film Festival. Sheth screened her film The Butter Knife to rave reviews. (Photo Credit: Larry Gleeson/HollywoodGlee)

(Source: Ojai Film News)

Ojai Film Festival Award Brunch celebrating winning films and lifetime achievement

Posted by Larry Gleeson

The Ojai Film Festival will hold its Award Brunch and present awards to the winning filmmakers in eight categories, as well as Lifetime Achievement Award honorees, Ojai’s own actor Malcolm McDowell and cinematographer Ellen Kura, ASC.


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Actor and Ojai resident Malcolm McDowell, left, participates in a conversation with Actor/writer Peter Fox at the Ojai Art Center on Saturday, November 3rd, 2018, following the screening of O Lucky Man! during the 19th Annual Ojai Film Festival in Ojai, Calif. (Photo credit: Larry Gleeson/HollywoodGlee)
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Academy Award-nominee and Primetime Emmy winner, Ellen Kuras, left, shares her experience and insights from her career as a cinematographer and director in a  conversation with Stuart Crowner, Saturday, November 3rd, 2018, at the Ojai Art Center during the 19th Annual Ojai Film Festival. (Photo credit: Larry Gleeson/HollywoodGlee)

The brunch takes place in the Ojai Art Center Courtyard. The brunch will be catered by Home Kitchen of Ojai and chef Hector Orozco will make his signature crepes onsite along with other brunch items and mimosas. To enjoy the brunch, everyone is welcome to arrive at 10 am. Presentations begins at 11 am. TICKETS: $24

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Come and See What’s Happening Today at the Ojai Film Festival

Posted by Larry Gleeson

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Ojai Film Festival President, Jonathon Lambert, welcomes high school film students to the 19th Annual Ojai Film Festival to the festival’s Student Filmmakers Program at the Ojai Art Center in downtown Ojai, Calif., on Friday, November 3rd, 2018. (Photo Credit: Larry Gleeson/HollywoodGlee)



The 19th Annual Ojai Film Festival is off to a rousing start. Yesterday four high school groups participated in this year’s Student Filmmakers Program attending two seminars on conducted by industry professionals, filmmaker Q & A’s and festival Screenings.



Today’s festivities include a Business and Legal Seminar with a panel of industry executives led by entertainment legal expert Laura Caulfield followed by a 2 PM Cinematographer Seminar with Ellen Kuras, one of the few female member of the American Society of Cinematographers. And, if you’re looking for something more, The Art of the Pitch, a “how-to” on selling an idea to potential funders with Emily Best, CEO of Seed & Spark,  is scheduled for 4PM.

The main event for the evening is the Screening of this Year’s Lifetime Achievement Actor Recipient Malcolm McDowell’s film, O Lucky Man! The screening will be followed by a Q & A with Mr. McDowell led by actor/writer Peter Fox. A reception in the Ojia Art Center will close out the day’s scheduled activities.

For tickets, passes and additional information visit the Ojai Film Festival website!

Until next time, I’ll see you at the movies!

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*Featured photo: Welcome volunteers, left to right, Chris Malzone and Gaile Leskowitz. (Photo credit: Larry Gleeson/HollywoodGlee)



Eshaana Sheth Brings THE BUTTER KNIFE to Ojai

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Trained Actor-director, Producer-writer Eshaana Sheth unleashed The Butter Knife at the 19th Annual Ojai Film Festival Friday morning, November 2nd, at the Ojai Art Center Theater. Utilizing snappy banter between her lead characters, Ria (Shalina Bathina), a witty, resourceful young American woman and Alistair (Daniel Halden), a bespectacled young, male Brit, Sheth slashes through cultural norms, stereotypes and even manages to whip in some geopolitical witticisms along with a Hitchcockian cameo!

Filmmaker Eshaana Sheth addresses the audience during a Q & A at the 19th Annual Ojai Film Festival following the screening of her new film, The Butter Knife, at the Ojai Art Center Theatre, in downtown Ojai, Calif., Friday morning, November 2nd, 2018 (Photo Credit: Larry Gleeson/HollywoodGlee)

In addition to Sheth’s talents, Cinematographer, Editor and Sound Producer, Sean Cruser, dazzles with a dynamic camera accentuating the hysterical interpersonal, heated exchange between the two leads.

Based on the reaction from the morning screening, The Butter Knife is a film to be reckoned with when it comes time for audience awards and screens again next Sunday, November 11th, 10 AM, at the Chaparral Auditorium in downtown Ojai. The film festival runs through November 11th.

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19th Annual Ojai Film Festival Opens

Posted by Larry Gleeson

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The 19th Annual Ojai Film Festival (OFF) is up and running. Last night at the enchanting Libbey Bowl in downtown Ojai, a free Community screening of Mel Brooks’ raucous and rollicking Young Frankenstein was the Opening Night Film. OFF President Jonathan Lambert jump started the evening with Opening Night remarks including a plug for Loving Vincent and OFF’s new environmentally-oriented films, “Focus Earth.”


Without further adieu Lambert brought forth the evening’s special guest, Hank Wynands. Wynands built the sets for Young Frankenstein and worked on several other of Mel Brooks’ films. Wynands shared some colorful inside jokes on the day-to-day operations on a Brooks film set and the impact budgeting has on a production.

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Special Opening Night guest, Hank Wynands shares his experience on working with Mel Brooks on the set of Young Frankenstein (1974), last night, November 1, 2018, during the 19th Annual Ojai Film Festival at The Libbey Bowl in downtown Ojai, Calif. (Photo credit: Larry Gleeson/HollywoodGlee)






Tomorrow is the first full day of OFF starting at 10:00 A.M. with the Student Filmmakers Program at the Ojai Art Center Theater. Stay tuned for more on this emerging film festival! Legendary Hollywood producer Peter Guber, Chairman and CEO of Mandalay Entertainment Group, told the audience at a recent Toronto International Film Festival that “Ojai is the next Telluride.”

Ojai Street entrance to Libbey Park in downtown Ojai, Calif., on November 1st, at the 19th Annual Ojai Film Festival. The festival will run through November 11th, 2018. (Photo credit: Larry Gleeson/HollywoodGlee)
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Welcome sign to the 19th Annual Film Festival on Ojai Street at Signal Street in downtown Ojai, Calif., November 1st. The festival will run through November 11th, 2018. (Photo credit: Larry Gleeson/HollywoodGlee)

See you at the movies!