Category Archives: #SLOFilmFest

The San Luis Obispo International Film Festival names Skye McLennan Festival Director

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Wendy Eidson to stay on as Artistic Director

San Luis Obispo, CA (May 28, 2020) – The San Luis Obispo International Film Festival announced today that after a year as Associate Director, Skye McLennan has been named Festival Director. Wendy Eidson continues with the organization as Artistic Director, the job she was originally hired for in 2005.

Wendy Eidson
Wendy Eidson, SLO FilmFest Artistic Director

“I am so thrilled to announce Skye’s promotion and look forward to continue to work with her. She brings a wealth of festival experience, new ideas and a youthful perspective to our organization as we continue to add to the reputation we have earned across the country as an important regional festival,” said Eidson. “We all recognize how important it is to bring in people with enthusiasm and innovation to keep an organization fresh and relevant and she brings all of that and so much more to the table.”

McLennan grew up in Templeton, CA and went on receive her degree in Cinema from San Francisco State University. She also studied TV Documentary in Denmark at the Danish School of Media and Journalism. A dual citizen of Australia and the United States, after college she moved to Sydney, Australia and worked extensively in film production design on short films, features, advertisements, music videos and documentaries.

She first became involved in film festivals in high school. Her first volunteer position was with the San Luis Obispo International Film Festival. Over the next ten years she went on to work with major film festivals including the Sydney, Sundance, Tribeca and San Francisco International Film Festivals.  Since moving back to SLO County, she has been involved in the wine industry in both marketing and winemaking. In 2017, she launched her own rosé label, Rebel Skye. In her job as Associate Director this past year, Skye introduced new ticketing software, procedures and website improvements, as well as working with Wendy on programming and overall planning.

Skye McLennan - SLO Film Fest
Skye McLennan, SLO FilmFest Director

McLennan said, “It is an honor and a privilege to continue working alongside Wendy, our board and staff in my hometown of San Luis Obispo. While a difficult time for our industry, I continue to be amazed by the incredible creativity, ingenuity and dedication to sharing film with audiences. With the help of my incredible team, we look forward to coming back bigger and stronger to continue our mission of bringing diverse stories and entertainment to San Luis Obispo County.”

With a long held reputation as a beloved destination film festival, SLO Film Fest earned further kudos as one of the very first film festivals to go online following the effects of the pandemic across the country. MovieMaker Magazine cited the fest, known for its beautiful location, parties mixing filmmakers with film fans, and unique melding of surf culture and wine country, for leading the way for other film festivals to pivot to the virtual space. From the magazine, “San Luis Obispo is known for tranquil Central California weather, wine and beer, and a festival that boosts a personalized Filmmaker Concierge for moviemakers and other special guests. SLO also offers the truly unique Surf Nite in which surfers and ocean-lovers unite for an event that’s like a cross between a ’60s surf movie screening and THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW.”

Since then, SLO Film Fest has continued to share films online, with a Best in the Fest virtual presentation featuring popular films screened at the film festival from the past ten years, with a new film introduced each week. So far, Tom Walters’ 2014 winner (and locally produced) BOTSO, Mark Hayes’ 2018 winner SKID ROW MARATHON and Gabriela Cowperthwaith and Tor Myhren’s 2011 winner CITY LAX: AN URBAN LACROSSE STORY have been added to the lineup. These films are available to watch on a variety of platforms, some free, some for a small fee.

Plans are currently underway for the 2021 San Luis Obispo International Film Festival. Organizers will announce new dates and plans in the coming months.


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!”



San Luis Obispo International Film Festival 2020 Announces King Vidor Award Honoree!

Posted by Larry Gleeson

SLO Film Fest 2020

The 2020 San Luis Obispo International Film Festival

presented by Hotel San Luis Obispo

announces Lawrence Kasdan will be this year’s

King Vidor Award honoree

(March 17-22)


San Luis Obispo, CA (February 24, 2020) – The San Luis Obispo International Film Festival (March 12-17) has announced that critically acclaimed director/writer/producer Lawrence Kasdan will be this year’s King Vidor Award honoree.

Kasdan will be attending the film festival with his wife, frequent collaborator Meg Kasdan, with their documentary short film, LAST WEEK AT ED’S, about the closing of the beloved Ed’s Coffee Shop in West Hollywood.

Wendy Eidson
Wendy Eidson

“The King Vidor Award offers us an opportunity each year to celebrate and honor someone that has impacted our love of cinema, and Lawrence Kasdan epitomizes that as much as anyone” said SLO Film Fest Director Wendy Eidson. “From RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK, to THE BIG CHILL, to so much that we love about the STAR WARS films and more, he has either been one of the key people behind their creation or outright been responsible for some of our favorite movie moments.”

Presented by BHE Renewables and JUSTIN Vineyards and Winery, the King Vidor Award presentation will take place immediately after the George Sidney Independent Film Awards ceremony on Saturday, March 21 at 7:00PM at the Fremont Theater (1025 Monterey Street). Following the presentation, Turner Classic Movies’ Ben Mankiewicz will host a discussion of Kasdan’s career including a number of his classic and beloved films.

Known for updating old Hollywood genres—film noir, science-fiction, westerns—in a classical dramatic style with quick-witted dialogue, but dealing with contemporary social themes, Kasdan has helped create some of the defining cinematic mythologies of the 20th century (with a hand in resurrecting the Star Wars franchise in the 21st), while as a director he has made personal, slightly quixotic movies that examine characters and generations.

Kasdan Vidor

Kasdan’s introduction to film fans as a screenwriter came via two of the all-time popular classics of the 80s and beyond: STAR WARS: THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK (1980) and RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK (1981).

Kasdan Vidor 2

What would follow were a string of films that, while varied in setting and style, cemented Kasdan, the writer/director, as one of the top talents behind the camera helping set the tone for a decade onscreen: BODY HEAT (1983), THE BIG CHILL (1983) – for which he received his first Academy Award nomination for Best Screenplay, SILVERADO (1985), and THE ACCIDENTAL TOURIST (1988), for which he received nominations for both Best Picture and Best Screenplay Adaptation. The latter two films, Kasdan also produced.

Kasdan Vidor 3

Prolific, Kasdan continued to both write and direct films throughout the next decade, with highlights including; the critically acclaimed GRAND CANYON (1991), which he co-wrote with his wife, Meg Kasdan (and received another Academy Award nomination for Best Screenplay), as well as directed and produced; the box-office smash, Mick Jackson’s THE BODYGUARD (1992), which Kasdan wrote and produced; the epic western WYATT EARP (1994), which he co-wrote with Dan Gordon, directed, and produced; the Meg Ryan/Kevin Kline romantic comedy FRENCH KISS (1995), which he helmed; and the lightly comedic drama MUMFORD (1999), which he wrote, directed and produced.

Kasdan Vidor 4

2003’s DREAMCATCHER (co-written with William Goldman) and 2012’s DARLING COMPANION (co-written with Meg Kasdan), Kasdan’s other two outings as writer, director, and producer, could not have been more different from one another. The former being an adaptation of one of Steven King’s more gonzo horror works, and the latter being an introspective drama centered around the love for and loss of a dog.

Kasdan, the screenwriter, has recently been one of the architects of the growing Star Wars universe, having written STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS (2015), and SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY (2018).

Kasdan Vidor 5

Event tickets and Festival Passes are now on sale and the full film festival schedule and program can be found at



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!”


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



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

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

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.


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



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.

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.

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?

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.


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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.


(see above)

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.

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.


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.

Director: Dominic Hure
Country: USA, Running Time: 7 min

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Director: Mike Winger
Country: USA, Running Time: 3 min

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

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

Director: Heather Hudson
Country: USA, Running Time: 30 min

Director: Gail Osherenko
Country: USA, Running Time: 14 min

Director: Jeff McLoughlin
Country: USA, Running Time: 32 min

Director: Winslow Perry
Country: USA, Running Time: 40 min

Director: Alex Raban
Country: USA, Running Time: 17 min

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

Director/Writer: Justice Whitaker
Country: USA, Running Time: 40 min

Director: Bob Williams
Country: USA, Running Time: 40 min

Director: Louise Palanker
Country: USA, Running Time: 20 min

(see above)

Director: Jim Fabio
Country: USA, Running Time: 20 min

Director: Brandt Goodman
Country: USA, Running Time: 4 min

Director: Bryan McLain
Country: USA, Running Time: 8 min


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)

Surf Nite in SLO to Feature the Biggest Year for Big Wave Surfing at the Historic Fremont Theatre

Posted by Larry Gleeson

San Luis Obispo, CA (January 29, 2020) – The San Luis Obispo International Film
SLOFF_2020Festival (SLO Film Fest) presented by Hotel San Luis Obispo is delighted to announce its Surf Nite picks for 2020. Brent Storm’s award-winning WHITE RHINO will be the focus the festival’s most popular event, on Friday, March 20, with big wave surfer Dave Wassel traveling from Hawaii for the event. Surf photographer Brian Bielmann, director Brent Storm and producer Randy Olson will also be in attendance. Surf Nite will open with Santa Barbara filmmaker Heather Hudson’s new short documentary that about female surfing pioneer, Marge Calhoun. 93 – LETTERS TO MARGE will be introduced by her friend and surf legend, Linda Benson.

Surf Nite in SLO is presented by Surfing for Hope Foundation and the City of Pismo Beach. Surfing for Hope is a local non-profit organization created to help inspire people challenged by cancer through the positive energy of surfing. The event is also sponsored by Cliffs Hotel and Spa, Sea Venture, Sycamore Mineral Spring Resort, Coast 104.5, and Quality Suites San Luis Obispo.

Canadian Filmmaker Brent Storm’s latest release, WHITE RHINO, is a parallel story from the surfers and photographers who witnessed three historic swells that hit the shorelines of the South Pacific in 2011-2012. Photographer Brian Bielmann takes the audience on an edge of your seat adventure as we discover the stories behind some of his most iconic photos and what really transpired on those memorable days. WHITE RHINO features notable big wave riders Nathan Fletcher, Dave Wassel, Bruce Irons, Mark Healey, Kohl Christensen and Kalani Chapman. It also features cinematography from some of the best surf filmmakers, including SLO Film Fest Surf Nite alum, Tim Bonython (The Big Wave Project).

In 93: LETTERS TO MARGE, Heather Hudson pays tribute to surfing pioneer Marge Calhoun, sharing memories from handwritten letters to a friend before her death in 2017 at the age of 93 in Morro Bay, CA. Chronicling an independent life that most people know little about, Marge won contests, shared waves and held her own with many of the sport’s legends in the early days of surfing. She won the 1958 Makaha International Championships and continued to travel, surf and compete. She judged, organized competitors on the beach and worked closely with Hoppy Swartz and others to form the U.S. Surfing Association. Later, she moved to Morro Bay and loved watching the waves from her home in the hills above the ocean.

Surf Nite Special Guests:

Fearless, fit and funny are some of the adjectives that have been used to describe Dave Wassel, the Hawaiian-born North Shore lifeguard who is also featured in WHITE RHINO. He’s well known for braving huge surf as a surfer and lifeguard, going well beyond his duty to save lives in treacherous waters. He has a passion for the history andculture of Hawaii and is now the ambassador of Sustainable Surf, a California-based non-profit that protects and restores ocean health by shifting people to a highly desirable, low carbon, “Deep Blue” lifestyle.

As an internationally renowned photographer, Brian Bielmann has traveled extensively with many of the world’s best surfers. With his images gracing more than 150 magazine covers, the pages of 30 books and appearing in iconic magazines like Rolling Stone, Men’s Journal, National Geographic and Sports Illustrated, he is recognized worldwide to be a photographer at the very top of his field. He captures the entire surf lifestyle and continues to push the boundaries of photography both above and below the water. Brian’s passion for surfing and his love of photography have kept him on the cutting edge for over 35 years. He has won numerous awards and his client list includes major corporations. He is also an captivating public speaker.

Dividing his life between Canada and the United States, Brent Storm has a passion for surfing that began in his mid-20’s in San Francisco after a snowboarding injury in Mammoth. He discovered a way to blend his new passion with an old one – filmmaking, and after finally giving up on making wedding videos in Toronto, he decided to move to the North Shore and focus on surfing. WHITE RHINO began to take shape after he met Brian Bielmann and Randy Olson in 2016, and he discovered an amazing story in the three major swells Bielmann had captured on film in just one surf season.

Randy Olson began a career as a professor of marine biology at the University of New Hampshire, but during his first year as a professor he realized that he had grown more interested in telling stories about science and was drawn to the world of filmmaking. Despite his Harvard Ph.D., four years of post-doctoral research in Australia and Florida, and years of diving around the world from the Great Barrier Reef to Antarctica, he resigned from his tenured professorship and moved to Hollywood to explore film as a medium for communicating science. Now an independent filmmaker he is ‘fluent’ in the two languages of science and cinema. He has written and directed his own films about major issues in science, and has worked with clients to assist them with the use of visual media in communicating science to the general public.

Linda Benson started surfing at age eleven and at age fifteen was the first woman to surf the legendary big waves at Waimea Bay in Hawaii. Linda made her competitive debut in the 1959, winning the West Coast Surfing Championship and the Makaha International contest in Hawaii a few weeks later (a year after Marge Calhoun had won.) Linda’s other notable contest wins include the United States Invitational in 1964, the West Coast Championship in both 1960 and 1961, and the United States Championship in both 1964 and 1968. Moreover, Benson not only was a runner-up in the 1964 World Championship and was the top female vote-getter in a 1965 reader’s poll for Surfing Illustrated magazine, but also was the first female surfer to be featured on the cover of a 1963 issue of Surf Guide. She was inducted into the Surfing Hall of Fame in 1992 and the Huntington Beach Surfing Walk of Fame in 1997. This will be her third visit to the SLO Film Fest’s Surf Nite.

Heather Hudson is also not a stranger to the SLO Film Fest. Her short films, THE WOMEN AND THE WAVES, and its sequel screened at the Festival in 2009 and 2016. An avid surfer, filmmaker and mother, Heather has been sharing her love for surfing on the big screen since 2007 when she started her production company Graciegirl LLC. For over 18 years, Heather has supported and volunteered for Heal the Ocean, a Santa-Barbara-based non-profit citizen’s action group committed to ending ocean pollution. She is currently on the board and coordinates fundraising.

SURF NITE IN SLO – Presented by Surfing for Hope and City of Pismo Beach
Friday, March 20 – 7:00pm
Fremont Theatre, 1025 Monterey St. SLO

Tickets: $20 General / $15 Students & SLO Film Society (Mogul passes accepted)

Online: (limited tickets available pre-show)
In Person: Festival HQ (opens Feb. 15 – check website for hours)
South East corner of Hotel SLO, entrance on Morro St. (between Palm & Monterey)
Day of Show: Fremont Theatre Box Office – tickets will be sold first-come, first-served
beginning at 6:30pm
Phone: 805-546-3456


(Source: SLO Film Fest News Release)

The 2020 San Luis Obispo International Film Festival announces line up of competition films (March 17-22)

Posted by Larry Gleeson

San Luis Obispo, CA (January 19, 2020) – The 26th Annual San Luis Obispo International Film Festival (March 17-22) has revealed the films selected this year for the George Sidney Independent Film Competition sections. They comprise 10 narrative features and 20 documentary features, 22 narrative short films, and 10 documentary shorts. Representing 18 countries, the films include some surprising names as well as the independent streak that has characterized SLO Film Fest films for more than a quarter-century now.

Wendy Eidson
San Luis Obispo Film Festival Director Wendy Edison

“While our galas, special events and screenings, including Surf Nite, and the annual presentation of the King Vidor Award are always can’t miss affairs, the core of the film festival will always be our competition films. They represent the heart of the SLO Film Fest,” said San Luis Obispo Film Festival Director Wendy Eidson. “We look forward to presenting these films to movie lovers here in San Luis Obispo, and seeing which films and filmmakers take this year’s awards home.”


Highlights among the narrative competition include; Hans Petter Moland’s OUT STEALING HORSES, Norway’s official Oscar entry stars Stellan Skarsgård (recent Golden Globe winner for Chernobyl) about a widower looking back on a fabled childhood summer in the late 40s when he and his father rode wild horses; Danish Renzu’s THE ILLEGAL starring Suraj Sharma LIFE OF PI) as a film student in Los Angeles; Ron Vignone’s award-winning drama TWO WAYS HOME about a bi-polar woman’s attempt to get your life back on track and reclaim her family following a stint in jail. The film was a winner at the Awareness FF, Marina del Rey FF, and the Women Texas Film Festival. Gille Klabin’s mindbender THE WAVE is about a man dealing with the effects of a mysterious hallucinogenic drug stars Justin Long (TUSK, LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD) and Donald Faison (“Scrubs,” CLUELESS), and features incredible visual effects by SLO native, Patrick Lawler.
Wide-ranging topics and subjects in the documentary competition include; immigration – via Beth and George Gage’s A HOME CALLLED NEBRASKA, which looks at how that state approached bringing in more refugees per capita than any other state in 2016; “asshole culture” – via John Walker’s ASSHOLES: A THEORY, inspired by Aaron James’ New York Times bestseller of the same name; the history between Iran and America – via Taghi Amirani’s COUP 53, which unearths never seen footage during the CIA’s overthrow of the Iranian government in 1953; iconic photographers Tony Vaccaro and Santi Visalli – via Andrew Davis’s MENTORS: TONY & SANTI, a charming portrait of friendship and history of the two men who captured some of our most familiar images since WWII; and the perilous status of our bees – via Peter Nelson’s THE POLLINATORS, which looks at the threats to honey bees and what that means to our food security; and Nancy Lang and Peter Raymont’s MARGARET ATWOOD: A WORD AFTER A WORD AFTER A WORD IS POWER chronicles the busy life and career of The Handmaid’s Tale author as one of Canada’s most accomplished writers and ardent feminists.


Among the short films which stand out at first glance include; Rami Kodeih’s ALINA about a group of women trying to sneak a baby out of the Warsaw Ghetto, which stars Alia Shawkat (“Arrested Development”), Edin Gali (“Mad Men”), Erika Soto (VIDA) and Mark McCullough (LOGAN LUCKY); SLO Film Fest alum Bracq Fabrice’s BURQA CITY about a couple that have just got married in a Kafkaesque country;  John Gray’s EXTRA INNINGS about a contentious interview with the manager of the Boston Red Sox, starring Peter Riegert (LOCAL HERO, CROSSING DELANCY); Caroline Lindy’s YOUR MONSTER, about a girl who moves homesick and brokenhearted to find the monster in her closet is still there and ready to talk. The film stars Kimiko Glenn (“Orange is the New Black”) and Tommy Dewey (“Casual,” “The Mindy Project”).

The documentary short film competition will include Lawrence and Meg Kasdan, who will come to San Luis Obispo with their film LAST WEEK AT ED’S, about the closing of the beloved Ed’s Coffee Shop in West Hollywood.

Passes are now on sale and information on the film festival can be found at


Director: Paola Licata
Country: Italy, Running Time: 95 min.
Lucia is 11 when her parents leave Sicily in the late 1960s to find work in France and leave her with grandmother Maria, a strict woman incapable of expressing her feelings. As the months pass, Lucia is curious about the family Maria bans her from seeing without explaining why, so she visits them with tragic consequences. Years later, Lucia faces her past and realizes that Maria taught her dignity, strength, and optimism. This well-acted film also illustrates the plight of immigrants who entrust their children to those who remain – waiting for a family reunion that often isn’t possible.

Director: Heath Davis
Country: Australia, Running Time: 96 min.
When it looks like his novel is going to be published, high school English teacher and once famous novelist, Nicholas Cutler, thinks his luck has finally changed. But what promises to be the best week of his life professionally, spirals into seven days of hell personally. A pregnant girlfriend, student in trouble with the law, a gravely ill brother in law and the prospects of living a life of unfilled dreams force Mr. Cutler to re-examine just what’s most important in his life.
Director: Danish Renzu
Country: USA, Running Time: 86 min.
In this gritty, realistic story, a young film student from middle-class India is forced to drop out of college in Los Angeles to support his family, then loses his student visa and is stuck working at an Indian restaurant – unable to get a better-paying job because he’s undocumented, unable to save enough money to go home. This excellent, well-paced film is emotional and sad, reflecting a common plight of immigrant restaurant workers who are caught in the system, living a life they never envisioned, asking themselves: “Is this what you thought your life would be when you came to America?”

Director: Eliza Schroder
Country: UK, Running Time: 98 min.
A young woman wants to fulfill her late mother’s dream of opening a bakery in Notting Hill, London, so she enlists the help of an old friend and her grandmother. This well-paced story chronicles the women’s ups and downs as they strive to find their niche, forging lasting bonds along the way. Fine cinematography, moving music and great acting, especially by the lead award-winning actress, contribute to this feel-good film. Guaranteed to leave you wanting a coffee and croissant – or at least popcorn!

Director: Hans Petter Moland
Country: Norway, Running Time: 123 min.
Adapted by Norwegian director Hans Petter Moland from Per Petterson’s beloved 2003 novel “Out Stealing Horses,” the story follows 67-year-old widower Trond Sander (Stellen Skarsgård) as he transitions to a lonely retirement in the breathtaking but desolate landscape of eastern Norway. As winter arrives, he finds a neighbor who he once knew during the summer of 1948. Trond reflects back on that bucolic and childhood summer, the last one he spent with his father as they rode wild horses and chopped wood. This is Norway’s official Oscar entry.

Director: Ron Vignone
Country: USA, Running Time: 90 min.
A young woman living with bipolar disorder returns to her hometown in rural Iowa to reconnect with her estranged 12-year-old daughter. Going head to head with her family sets her on a course to free her cantankerous grandfather from a nursing home, and live his last days out on the family farm. As she struggles to maintain balance with her condition, complications with her daughter’s well-being and her grandfather’s health test her sense of self-worth to the limit.

Director: Gille Klabin
Country: USA, Running Time: 84 min.
A man on the verge of a promotion takes a mysterious hallucinogenic drug that begins to tear down his reality and expose his life for what it really is. Director Gille Klabin creates a stylish world that drags star Justin Long (TUSK, LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD) through some unconventional hardships. Also features Donald Faison (Scrubs, CLUELESS), and incredible visual effects by SLO native, Patrick Lawler.

Director: Martin Busker
Country: Germany, Running Time: 90 min.
A 13-year-old refugee from Afghanistan living in an emergency shelter in Germany joins a Christian boys’ choir to save his ill father who was left stranded in Hungary – and clashes with the strict choir director, among others. It’s an entertaining, dramatic and well-paced film that reflects the impact of immigration and families torn apart and how one individual can help make a difference in a young person’s life. It’s especially notable given that this is the Berlin director’s first feature film. Choir performances are moving.

Director: Dan Goldes
Country: USA, Running Time: 50 min.
San Francisco’s Market Street was once the grandest boulevard in America. No stranger to civic celebrations since the 1900s and just minutes from City Hall, the area fell into decline and became home to the city’s poorest population. The neighborhood is currently undergoing its most dramatic change in 50 years as tech companies, their employees, and the restaurants and stores that cater to them confront the realities of a neighborhood that still houses some of the city’s most marginalized residents. 5 BLOCKS explores the complex questions of income disparity, changing demographics, and the very nature of place.

Director: Emma Balnaves
Country: Australia, Running Time: 64 min.
A meditative inquiry into the lost art of classical Hatha Yoga, AGNIYOGANA explores the richness of traditional Hatha Yoga teachings and the deeply connected states of heart, mind and freedom these practices deliver to sincere truth seekers. Take a journey through time and space to rediscover the inner dimensions of Hatha Yoga and reconnect the human spirit to the true meaning of “yug,” the connecting roots of all yogas.

Directors: Beth and George Gage
Country: USA, Running Time: 69 min.
This well-paced film takes us behind the scenes of the U.S. immigration crisis, focusing on efforts in Nebraska to welcome immigrants and refugees. In 2016, during the world’s largest refugee crisis since World War II, this Midwestern conservative state resettled more refugees per capita than any other state. “Our legacy as a country is to be welcoming, whether you’re liberal or conservative,” one volunteer noted. The immigrants’ remarkable stories of survival and Nebraskans’ hospitality to help them create new lives here – and change their own perceptions in the process – are both heartfelt and informative.

Director: John Walker
Country: Canada, Running Time: 81 min.
Inspired by Aaron James’ New York Times bestseller of the same name, ASSHOLES: A THEORY investigates the breeding grounds of contemporary ‘asshole culture’ — and locates signs of civility in an otherwise rude-n-nasty universe. Venturing into predominantly male domain, Canadian director John Walker moves from Ivy League frat clubs to the bratty princedoms of Silicon Valley and bear pits of international finance. Why do assholes thrive in certain environments? What explains their perverse appeal? And how do they keep getting elected?

Director: Dani Menkin
Countries: USA/Israel, Running Time: 72 min.
Aulcie Perry, a basketball legend in Israel opens up for the first time about his roller coaster career, while searching for his daughter he hasn’t seen for more than 20 years. This is a truly fascinating story of fame, love, loss and redemption.

Directors: Sophie and Clement Guerra
Country: USA, Running Time: 79 min.
Four Indigenous environmental leaders embark on an extraordinary trans-continental adventure from the Canadian plains to deep into the heart of the Amazonian jungle to unite the peoples of North and South America and deepen the meaning of Climate Justice.

Director: Taghi Amirani
Country: USA, Running Time: 119 min.
While making a documentary about the Anglo-American coup in Iran in 1953, Iranian director Taghi Amirani and editor Walter Murch (APOCALYPSE NOW, THE GODFATHER) discover never seen before archive material hidden for decades. The 16mm footage and documents not only allow the filmmaker to tell the story of the overthrow of the Iranian government in unprecedented detail, but also lead to explosive revelations about dark British secrets buried for 66 years. What begins as a history documentary about 4 days in August 1985 turns into a live investigation, taking the filmmaker into uncharted cinematic waters.

Director: Peter Schroeder III
Country: USA, Running Time: 50 min.
In this insightful documentary on Gary Eberle, you’ll get a sense of the man called the godfather of the Paso Robles wine industry – his astute winemaking skills, warmth, deprecating self-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. It’s an engaging, informative film worth watching, even if you don’t love wine.

Director: Alexandra Lexton
Countries: USA/Belize, Running Time:67 min.
THE LURE OF THIS LAND is an exploration of why people leave the places they know and love. Why do they leave their homelands? What are they looking for? What do they find? Filmmaker Alexandra Lexton came to Belize and found these stories: A story of a place, the story of others, and the more personal internal voyage of the foreigner in a foreign land. Among others, we meet people who have left everything to regenerate and rediscover themselves: Zookeeper Sharon Matola who has made the Belize Zoo out of Belize’s rescued indigenous and threatened creatures, nature documentary filmmakers Richard and Carol Foster, and eco-lodge originators Mick and Lucy Fleming. Behind every door we find another story, another person who had the drive to change their life… and to risk for a time getting lost.

Directors: Nancy Lang and Peter Raymont
Country: Canada, Running Time: 90 min.
Margaret Atwood is in serious demand these days. With her dystopian novel of brutal gender divides, The Handmaid’s Tale, having been adapted for TV and becoming a global symbol for Women’s Marches, the 80-year-old’s fiction feels more relevant to real life than ever. Filmed over a year, this doc follows Atwood and her partner, Graeme Gibson (who died in September), as they jet to speaking engagements and meet devoted fans across the world, inspiring action.

Director: Andrew Davis
Country: USA, Running Time: 50 min.
Tony Vaccaro’s subjects include Enzo Ferrari, Pablo Picasso, JFK and Sophia Loren amongst hundreds of others for Look and Life magazines. Santi Visalli photographed five US presidents, Federico Fellini, Mohammed Ali, Louis Armstrong, and Sophia Loren, as well as covers for over 50 magazines and newspapers including the New York Times, Time, Newsweek and Forbes. MENTORS: TONY & SANTI is an intimate portrait of two renowned photographers by director Andrew Davis (THE FUGITIVE) Sharing their life’s journey not only as friends but also legendary photographers, they remind us all of the role family, friends, and mutual support plays in one’s life.

Director: Kevin Abrams
Country: USA, Running Time: 103 min.
In March of 2017, Baltimore was rocked by one of the nation’s largest police corruption scandals when seven members of the elite Gun Trace Task Force unit were federally indicted on racketeering charges. Defense attorney Ivan Bates wasn’t shocked by the new because for years he had been listening to the victims of these crimes and had been trying to bring down the corrupt sergeant. I GOT A MONSTER is the true story of a cat-and-mouse game in an upside down world where the cops are also the robbers!

Director: Chusy
Country: USA, Running Time: 85 min.
We all hum their tunes. We know their words by heart. And we tell the story of our own lives through their art. Yet, few of us know their names. This is a film about one of the most important and unknown, forces in music: The Nashville Songwriter. From paying their dues to working through their creative process, this documentary draws from more than one hundred hours of footage and includes more than eighty interviews with music industry figures and songwriters such as Garth Brooks, Ben Folds, John Hiatt, Brett James, Alison Mosshart, Kacey Musgraves and Keb’ Mo’. A truly fascinating and entertaining tribute to the most valuable resource in the music industry today: the songwriter.

Director: Angela Pinaglia
Country: USA, Running Time: 53 min.
Discover the world of synchronized ice skating, a sport that has been empowering generations of women since 1956 when it was founded by a father who saw the need for team sports for girls. Even though the sport has big dreams of Olympic inclusion, it has remained mostly on the fringe. Syncro is one of the few sports where there is not a male version of it. It’s 99.99% female and serves women of all ages. The film follows several determined skaters and coaches throughout a skating season, including a Team USA skater who wants to win big on the national stage and a 66-year old who found her passion for skating later in life and has built a community for herself around the sport.

Director: Lindsey Seavert
Country: USA, Running Time: 90 min.
After this Minneapolis school ranked at the bottom of the state’s list of underperforming schools for two decades, its principal set out to change the culture and expectations among students, teachers and parents. Calling the challenge “Mission Possible,” she started with a decision to love all of the students, making them feel safe and accepted. The beautifully executed film, which follows the principal, parents and students for a year, shows the challenges they face in a state that has the largest achievement gap between black and white children in the U.S. An important subject – inspiring, heartwarming and hopeful.

Director: Liz Canning
Country: USA, Running Time: 86 min.
In MOTHERLOAD, the cargo bicycle becomes a vehicle for exploring parenthood in this digital age of climate change. As Marin filmmaker and new mother, Liz Canning, meets people behind the push to replace cars with purpose-built bikes, she contemplates the increasing tension between modern life and our hunter-gatherer DNA, and discovers the history and potential future of the bicycle as the “ultimate social revolutionizer.” Conflict arises when characters in the film encounter cultural resistance – in particular, “bikelash” focused on women and mothers. MOTHERLOAD draws connections here to the struggle of cyclist Suffragettes and women’s seemingly endless fight for bodily autonomy.

Director: Steven Latham
Country: USA, Running Time: 74 min.
This beautiful documentary takes audiences on an odyssey throughout America to places few people have seen or even know about. There are more than 80,000 wild horses on our federal lands and more than 50,000 in government holding facilities. Whether you are a horse person or not, this film will make you fall in love with America all over again and understand why the protection of our wild horses and our public lands are worth fighting for. Wild horse sanctuary Return to Freedom, located in San Luis Obispo, is featured in the film.

Director: Peter Nelson
Country: USA, Running Time: 92 min.
Much of the food on our tables comes from the intrinsic act of pollinating the flowers that become the fruits, vegetables and nuts we eat. But the agricultural practices, pesticides and politics are making that simple act of nature more difficult every day. THE POLLINATORS takes us on a cinematic journey around the United States, as he follows migratory beekeepers and their truckloads of honey bees. Director/cinematographer Peter Nelson meets some fascinating farmers, scientists, chefs, economists and academics that give a broad perspective about the threats to honey bees and what it means to our food security.

Director: Jonathan Blank
Countries: USA/Netherlands, Running Time: 86 min.
Funny, creative and provocative, SEX, DRUGS & BICYCLES takes a good look at Dutch social democracy and answers the question: is having month-long double paid vacations, no fear of homelessness, and universal healthcare the nightmare we’ve been warned about? The answer may surprise you. Then again it may not. It really depends on a lot of factors outside our control. This is an enjoyable ride no matter what!

Director: Deia Schlosberg
Country: USA, Running Time: 89 min.
Headlines tout the crisis involving toxic plastic pollution, but not as much about plastic’s origin. This informative, sobering film aims to change that. A neighborhood in the Philippines that’s awash in plastic trash. A pipeline in Pennsylvania. A single refinery in Texas. They’re all part of a web of plastics infrastructure working together to significantly increase the amount of plastics in the world, threatening the life expectancy of animals, humans and Earth itself. Striking footage, original animations and archival material combine in this timely, must-see film that educates, offers solutions – and motivates us to change.


Director: Jessica Petelle
Country: Canada, Running Time: 19 min.

Director: Rami Kodeih
Country: USA, Running Time: 25 min.

Director: Dekel Berenson
Country: Ukraine, Running Time: 15 min.

Director: Ursula Ellis
Country: USA, Running Time: 10 min.

Director: Jeremy Merrifield
Country: USA, Running Time: 17 min.

Director: YiJia Fang
Country: China, Running Time: 16 min.

Director: Bracq Fabrice
Country: France, Running Time: 20 min.

Director: Hao Zheng
Country: USA, Running Time: 20 min.

Director: Lizette Barrera
Country: USA, Running Time: 12 min.

Director: John Gray
Country: USA, Running Time: 9 min.

Director: Doug Roland
Country: USA, Running Time: 18 min.

Director: Adetokumboh M’Cormack
Country: USA, Running Time: 20 min.

Director: Sudhanshu Saria
Country: India, Running Time: 37 min.

Director: Illogic
Country: France, Running Time: 2 min.

Director: Morgan Jon Fox
Country: USA, Running Time: 8 min.

Director: Fernando Bonelli
Country: Spain, Running Time: 20 min.

Director: Victoria Warmerdam
Country: Netherlands, Running Time: 13 min.

Director: Jolanta Bankowska
Country: Poland, Running Time: 5 min.

Director: Kerry van der Griend
Country: Canada, Running Time: 23 min.

Directors: Helena Hilario, Mario Pece
Country: Brazil, Running Time: 8 min.

Director: Joseph O. Hooten
Country: USA, Running Time: 16 min.

Director: Caroline Lindy
Country: USA, Running Time: 14 min.

Director: Christopher Stoudt
Country: USA, Running Time: 18 min.

Directors: Hannah McSwiggen, Russell Sheaffer
Country: USA, Running Time: 12 min.

Director: Patrick Norman
Country: USA, Running Time: 38 min.

Director: Cheri Gaulke
Country: USA, Running Time: 17 min.

Director: Brian Gersten
Country: USA, Running Time: 11 min.

Director: Megan Shutzer
Country: USA, Running Time: 12 min.

Directors: Lawrence and Meg Kasdan
Country: USA, Running Time: 40 min.

Director: Gabriela Cavanagh
Country: USA, Running Time: 24 min.

Director: Ross Kauffman
Country: USA, Running Time: 31 min.

Director: Polly Wells
Country: Canada, Running Time: 23 min.

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 credited and in remembrance of John Kevin O’Connor)


(Source: Press release from SLOIFF, Wildworks PR)

Surf Nite in SLO Puts South Africa in the 2019 Spotlight

Posted by Larry Gleeson

The SLO Film Fest is delighted to put South Africa in the spotlight this year for its 14th Annual Surf Nite in SLO!

Surfers Unite! The California premiere of SATORI by South African filmmaker Rick Wall  will be featured on the Big Screen at the historic Fremont Theatre in San Luis Obispo on Friday, March 15th at 7pm. Cape Town residents, filmmaker Rick Wall and SATORI surfer Rod Torr will attend.

Surf Nite in SLO is presented by Surfing for Hope, a non-profit organization in Pismo Beach created to help inspire people challenged by cancer through the positive energy of surfing.

Surf Nite is also presented by the City of Pismo Beach and sponsored by Cliffs Hotel and Spa, SeaVenture, Sycamore Mineral Springs Resort, Apple Farm Inn, Coast 104.5, Quality Suites San Luis Obispo, Anthony Peckham and Hilary Saner.

The beautifully cinematic SATORI, shot in dramatic black and white and color, documents a close-knit group of local big wave surfers who have dedicated their lives to the ocean and riding the huge waves off the shores of picturesque Cape Town, South Africa. “Satori” is a Japanese Buddhist word meaning a sudden moment of awakening or ‘glimpse of truth’ – the essence of surfing for many.

Featuring the awe-inspiring waves at two surf breaks on the South peninsula, the film focuses on the infamous “Dungeons” below the sentinel mountain in Hout Bay, and Sunset Reef, 1 km. out to sea off the small seaside village of Kommetjie. While each surfer is surfing these waves for different reasons, the film discovers that there is a connection that unites them – their love and respect for the raw beauty of the ocean.

Bertish_SLO2016 Surf Nite special guest Chris Bertish, pictured above, right, with HollywoodGlee, is featured in the film along with an interesting cast of characters from all walks of life.

Director/cinematographer Rick Wall and surfer Rod Torr who is also featured in the film, will be in attendance for a Q&A hosted by Coast 104.5’s Adam Montiel.

Rod Torr founded Kommetjie Surf in South Africa in 2007, and is passionate about the environment, the ocean and the pursuit of big waves. A lifetime surfer and long time friend of Rick Wall, he was an integral part in seeking funding and assisting with the production of the film.

Opening for SATORI will be a 30-minute documentary by filmmaker Graham Nash, and produced for Vans. In 2017, pro surfers Patrick, Dane and Tanner Gudauskas, and Michael February, hosted a surfboard drive to benefit the Waves for Change organization in Cape Town, South Africa. CAN’T STEAL OUR VIBE follows their journey to provide surfboards and a positive outlet to disadvantaged youngsters to help overcome the adversities of poverty, violence and abuse. Filmmaker Graham Nash will attend. Local surfers and businesses will have an opportunity to participate in a surf board drive with more details to come soon.

There will be a wine/beer bar in the lobby beginning at 6:00pm. A raffle of surf-themed items will be part of the excitement that evening, as well as an After Party at the Festival Lounge in downtown San Luis Obispo.

SURF NITE IN SLO – Presented by Surfing for Hope
Friday, March 15 – 7:00pm
Fremont Theatre, SLO

$20 General
$15 Students & SLO Film Society
Mogul passes & Red Carpet tickets can be used for this event and After Party

Tickets can be purchased by clicking on the Buy Now button
or at Festival HQ at 1040 Court St. SLO
(opens Feb. 15 – check website for hours)
or Day of Show at the Fremont Theatre Box Office. Tickets will be sold first-come, first-served beginning at 6:30pm


(Sourced from

Katharine Ross will perform with The Malibu Coast Silent Film Orchestra on Opening Night at San Luis Obispo Int’l Film Festival

Posted by Larry Gleeson

San Luis Obispo, CA (January 17, 2019) The San Luis Obispo International Film Festival screen shot 2019-01-18 at 5.04.01 pm(March 12-17) has announced that Katharine Ross will perform with The Malibu Coast Silent Film Orchestra on Opening Night to launch the 25th Anniversary edition of the popular film festival. Ross will tell the exciting true story of “Kate Shelley and the Midnight Express,” with the orchestra, prior to participating in a discussion on film and her award-winning career, and introducing a special 50th Anniversary screening of the 1969 classic, BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID.  

SLO Film Fest also announced the creation of the Movie Newbie Pass, designed to serve as a convenient and cost-effective way for the first time film festival audience member to enjoy the films. They will soon open an exciting new indoor Festival Lounge to better serve as the growing film festival’s epicenter and meeting place for filmmakers and passholders to enjoy SLO’s daily events, panels, and parties.  

“An Evening with Katharine Ross” will take place on Tuesday, March 12, 2019at theFremont Theatre, in San Luis Obispo, CA. Presented by BHE Renewables, and sponsored by Justin Vineyards & Winery, New Times, Luna Red, The Krush 92.5, KJUG 98.1, KVEC News Talk 920am, the event was originally scheduled for the fall of 2018 but postponed due to devastating fires in Malibu, CA. SLO Film Fest Director Wendy Eidson, said, “One of the universally beloved film actors from her signature roles in classics like THE GRADUATE, it will be a thrill and a delight to have Katharine Ross kick off our 25th Anniversary film festival in style with a rare live performance and special introduction to another one of our favorites, BUTCH CASSIDY & THE SUNDANCE KID. We’re beyond fortunate that we could reschedule this event after its postponement last Fall, and now it will begin this year’s film festival on a very high note.” 

The acclaimed five-pieceMalibu Coast Silent Film Orchestrawill accompany Ross as she recounts the true story from Margaret K Wetterer’s “Kate Shelley and the Midnight Express,” of Kate Shelley, a fifteen-year-old Iowa teenager who helped avert a train disaster in 1881 and went on to become a national heroine. Based on Mary Kay Shanley’s spoken short story, it was originally written for the Wonder of Words Festival in Des Moines, Iowa. This new version will feature Ross as the story-teller and composer Maria Newman’s original music. The performance will be the orchestra’s fourth visit to San Luis Obispo after impressing audiences at past Festival fundraising events, includingDaddy Long Legsand last year’s Silent Shorts event at the Madonna Inn. 

After a short intermission, Ross will join composer Maria Newman and Festival Directorscreen shot 2019-01-18 at 5.08.19 pm Wendy Eidson on the Fremont Theatre stage for a conversation about her career and her role in BUTCH CASSIDY & THE SUNDANCE KID, prior to a screening of the digitally restored version of the “Best Picture” Oscar winner that is still considered one of the best Westerns of all time. This timeless classic stars Paul Newman and Robert Redford as the true-life outlaws in the early 1900’s, and Katharine Ross as the lovely free spirit whose charm bewitched the outlaws…as well as audiences then and now.  

VIP ticket holders will also have an opportunity to meet Katharine Ross at an Opening Night reception before the event at Luna Red, located next to the Mission in downtown San Luis Obispo. Luna Red will serve appetizers, wine, and beer, with live music indoors and on the patio (weather permitting) from 5:00-6:30PM. The performance and movie event begins at 7:00PM. 


Katharine Rossis an acclaimed, award-winning American film and stage actress who is renowned for her performances in two of the most popular films of the late 1960’s. Ross was cemented forever in the hearts and minds of film fans and from her iconic role of “Elaine Robinson” in Mike Nichols’ groundbreaking film, THE GRADUATE (1967),for which she won a Golden Globe Award and was nominated as Best Supporting Actress for an Academy Award. Ross also made a significant mark as “Etta Place” in George Roy Hill’s BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID (1969),for which she won a BAFTA Award for Best Actress. Additional signature films include; Bryan Forbes’ THE STEPFORD WIVES (1975), Stuart Rosenberg’s VOYAGE OF THE DAMNED (1976), for which she won a second Golden Globe award, and Richard Kelly’s cult classic DONNIE DARKO (2001). 

screen shot 2019-01-18 at 5.10.22 pm

 In 1984, Katharine Ross married actor Sam Elliott. They met in London on Richard Marquand’s horror classic THE LEGACY (1978),and have worked together on several projects since that fateful meeting. They co-wrote and starred in Louis L’Amour’s CONAGHER,  co-starred in THE SHADOW RIDERS, MURDER IN TEXASand most recently in Brett Haley’s THE HERO,released in 2017. 

Tickets are available for the party and movie event for $50, as well as individual movie event tickets for $25 ($15 for students). Movie Mogul passes will be accepted for both the party and movie events. Tickets are on sale now at 

As plans are made for this year’s edition of the SLO Film Fest, one addition is the introduction of a new Festival Pass for first-time festival goers –  The Movie Newbie Pass. It will allow one person to use the pass for four regular festival screenings at the Rock at SLO Brew or the Fremont Theatre. The Movie Newbie Pass can also be used by four people for one screening or any combination that totals four uses. The pass is $40 and is on sale now at 

The Movie Newbie Pass is the ideal way for a first-timer to enjoy the festival without making a large time or cash commitment. There are four other festival pass options available, but this is the only pass that can be used by more than two people and is ideal for a movie-going group. Pass holders will be limited to movie choices at the Rock and Fremont Theatres and the pass does not include Red Carpet Events at the Fremont Theatre.  


Once again, the Festival will operate a Festival Hospitality Lounge during the Festival week. Located conveniently in the SLO Collection Court Street shopping area in downtown San Luis Obispo (1040 Court Street), the location will be a true epicenter for SLO, as it will also be the home of the Festival Headquarters, which functions as a box office and information outlet, and will be mere blocks from three Festival theatres – the Palm Theatre, Downtown Cinemas and Fremont Theatre.  


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 Festival’s thoughtful audiences and unique programming sensibility. At the SLO Film Fest, “Movies Matter!” 


(Source: Press release provided by



#SLOFF Film Capsule – Ella Brennan: Commanding the Table

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Director Leslie Iwerks newest documentary film, Ella Brennan: Commanding the Table, recently opened the 23rd San Luis Obispo International Film Festival, now referred to as the SLO Film Fest. To go along with the screening 15 food chefs served up traditional and current New Orleans gastronomical fare in the art-deco styled Fremont Theater and in the adjoining VIP tent in downtown SLO. Cafe Musique provided live music to round out the Mardi Gras themed party with covers from ragtime composer Scott Joplin as well as Cajun and Zydeco tunes. Several Central Coast vintners provided complementing libations.

Iwerks amassed a copious amount of archival photos, footage, newspaper and magazine articles to complement current day interviews as she uncovers one of the most revered chefs and restaurateurs in the world. In addition, a snapshot of New Orleans from the 1940’s and 50’s is shown as the focus moves toward the Brennan family restaurant, Brennan’s, and on into Commander’s Palace.

Ella Brennan was reluctant initially to take on a role in the family business. Her oldest sibling, Owen, cajoled Ella and tasked her with important roles while increasingly adding greater responsibility Eventually, Ella was traveling to the world’s great cities and dining in fine establishments. All the while, Ella scoured cookbooks looking for new and innovative ways to create cuisines for her clientele which not only included a who’s who of New Orleans Society but also world dignitaries and Hollywood entertainers.

Unfortunately, the family was dealt a severe blow as Owen suddenly passed away at 48. Ella and her siblings decided to keep the restaurant going with Ella at the helm. Soon after Owen’s death, however, the bank removed it’s vote of confidence that a woman could manage a restaurant like Brennan’s and called in the loan on the building. The family rallied raising money only to come up just short of the necessary funds. So the restaurant would have to move. The family found a location down the street. On the last day at the original location, the family served lunch and then moved to the new location led by a jazz band and served dinner in their new location without missing a beat.

The new location served the Brennan family well until a legal dispute with Owen’s wife precipitated Ella and her sisters establishing a new restaurant, Commander’s Palace. Under Ella’s leadership Commander’s Palace thrived. Soon Ella began a search for a Top Chef. Paul Prudhomme’s name was mentioned and Ella took Prudhomme in and the two put Commander’s Palace on the list of the world’s finest dining establishments. Prudhomme decided he wanted a smaller restaurant and left to open K-Paul’s. Following Prudhomme was Emeril Lagasse at age 23. Lagasse, too, would move on to start his own restaurant. Both became known as “celebrity chefs” with their own television shows. Next came Eddie Shannon, a tall Irishman with great flare. Eddie introduced farm to table to Commander’s Palace and the restaurant continued its fine dining tradition with bold, new, fresh and innovative dishes.

Then, Hurricane Katrina hit devastating the city of New Orleans. With the city deserted, the Brennan’s were unsure about the future of Commander’s Palace but not Ella. The restaurant re-opened after a year of repairs. During this time Ella and sister Adelaide bought an historic mansion directly behind Commander’s Palace. Today the sisters enjoy the finest take-out food, delivered by world renowned chefs.

After the screening TV actor and New Orleans native, French Stewart, chatted with Commander’s Palace owner Ti Martin (Ella Brennan’s daughter) and filmmaker Leslie Iwerks.

Ti Martin, far right, owner of Commander’s Palace, shares her experience being Ella Brennan’s daughter with Director Leslie Iwerks, center, and French Stewart, left, at the 23rd SLO Film Fest, following the Festival’s Opening Night screening, Ella Brennan: Commanding the Table, at the San Luis Obispo downtown Fremont Theater. (Photo credit: Larry Gleeson/HollywoodGlee)

Ella Brenan: Commanding the Table is a delicious treat. Iwerks gets behind the scenes with historical artifacts, Brennan family archives and present day interviews to reveal a formidable female figure who rose to the challenges presented to her and came out on top. Highly recommended for all audiences.







Actor/producer JOSH BROLIN will receive SLO Film Fest 2017 King Vidor Award.

Posted by Larry Gleeson

2017 King Vidor Award – Josh Brolin

Presented by BHE Renewables

The San Luis Obispo International Film Festival will honor Academy Award® nominee Josh Brolin with the prestigious King Vidor Award for Excellence in Filmmaking at its 23rd Annual SLO Film Fest in March.

Screen Shot 2017-03-13 at 12.13.45 AMNamed for film director, producer, screenwriter, and part time SLO County resident King Vidor, the King Vidor Award is presented as an annual tribute to a talented filmmaker, actor or film artist in recognition of his or her exceptional artistic contributions to the motion picture industry. A powerful, sought-after film actor, Academy Award® nominated Josh Brolin continues to balance challenging roles in both mainstream studio productions as well as thought-provoking independents. In addition to impressive careers in common, Vidor and Brolin share a deep affection for SLO County.

Fellow actor and former King Vidor Award recipient, Jeff Bridges, hopes to be available to present the award to his friend and colleague at the event taking place at the historic Fremont Theatre in Downtown San Luis Obispo on Saturday, March 18 at 7:00pm. TCM Host Ben Mankiewicz will chat with Josh Brolin about his accomplished career after the award presentation.

The Awards Night evening will begin at 7:00pm (6:30pm Red Carpet) with the George Sidney juried Filmmaker Awards. Representatives from festival media sponsors New Times, KSBY, Tribune and Coast 104.5 will present cash awards to winning filmmakers. There will be a no-host bar in the lobby serving wine and beer.

Former King Vidor Award recipient Jeff Bridges will present the King Vidor Award to Josh Brolin. Then TCM’s Ben Mankiewicz will sit down with Brolin for a conversation about his career and a short Q&A from the audience. An awards after-party will follow at the SLO Masonic Lodge in downtown San Luis Obispo. NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN will screen at the Fremont Theatre after a short intermission as well.

This event is also sponsored by: Coast 104.5, New Times, Tribune, KSBY, Novo, Big Sky, Windows on the Water, The Cakestress, SLO Provisions, Sidecar, Central Coast Distributing, Filipponi Ranch Winery, Justin Vineyards and more…

Get Tickets Here

7:00pm – King Vidor Award and George Sidney Filmmaker Awards
Saturday, March 18, Fremont Theatre, 1025 Monterey St. SLO
$20 General / $15 Students & Film Society (Only Movie Mogul Passes accepted).
9:00pm – Awards Night After-Party – King David Masonic Lodge, 859 Marsh St. SLO
At door: $50 General / $45 Students & Film Society.

About Josh Brolin

The Santa Monica-born son of actor James Brolin, and late wildlife advocate Jane Cameron Agee, Josh Brolin moved to Templeton, CA in his infancy, later attending Templeton Elementary and Templeton Middle School. He returned to the area as an adult and currently owns a ranch in the Templeton-Adelaida area. Brolin made his feature film debut starring in the action-comedy classic GOONIES, directed by Richard Donner for producer Steven Spielberg.

Screen Shot 2017-03-13 at 12.09.21 AMHe was nominated for an Academy Award®, a Screen Actors Guild Award and received awards from the New York Film Critics Circle and the National Board of Review for his portrayal of Dan White in Gus Van Sant’s acclaimed film MILK. He also co-starred in the Coen Brothers’ TRUE GRIT, which was nominated for 10 Academy Awards®including Best Picture. Prior to that, Brolin earned a Screen Actors Guild Award as part of the ensemble for his work in the Coen Brothers’ NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN, which also won four Academy Awards®, including Best Picture and Best Director.  Brolin received rave reviews and a Critics Choice Award nomination for his performance in Paul Thomas Anderson’s INHERENT VICE, opposite Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon.

Currently in production on SOLDADO, a follow up to SICARIO, Brolin will reprise his role as ‘Matt Graver.’ He can next be seen in GRANITE MOUNTAIN opposite Jeff Bridges, Miles Teller, and Jennifer Connelly, and in Jody Hill’s THE LEGACY OF A WHITETAIL DEER HUNTER alongside Danny McBride.

Brolin will soon begin production on GEORGE AND TAMMY opposite Jessica Chastain. The film follows the rise and fall of country music icons George Jones and Tammy Wynette, with Brolin starring as “George Jones.” Additionally, he is set to star in George Clooney’s upcoming film SUBURBICON, opposite Oscar Isaac, Julianne Moore, and Matt Damon. The crime mystery is written by Joel and Ethan Coen. Furthermore, Brolin will join the illustrious AVENGERS franchise as supervillain ‘Thanos.’

Screen Shot 2017-03-13 at 12.11.08 AMBrolin was last seen in Joel and Ethan Coen’s HAIL, CAESAR!, co-starring George Clooney, Channing Tatum, and Tilda Swinton. Brolin plays ‘Eddie Mannix,’ a Hollywood fixer in the 1950’s, who works to keep the studio’s stars in line. He also starred in Lionsgate’s SICARIO opposite Emily Blunt and Benicio Del Toro. The film debuted in competition at the Cannes International Film Festival in 2015. Additionally, Brolin co-starred in EVEREST, based on the book ‘Into Thin Air.’

Other film credits include: LABOR DAY directed by Jason Reitman; Spike Lee’s OLD BOY; Robert Rodriguez & Frank Miller-directed SIN CITY 2: A DAME TO KILL; GANGSTER SQUAD opposite Sean Penn; MEN IN BLACK 3 opposite Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones; Oliver Stone’s WALL STREET: MONEY NEVER SLEEPS and as the title role in W.; Ridley Scott’s blockbuster AMERICAN GANGSTER opposite Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe; Woody Allen’s YOU MEET A TALL DARK STRANGER; PLANET TERROR, part of the critically acclaimed Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez double feature, GRINDHOUSE; IN THE VALLEY OF ELAH for director Paul Haggis; John Stockwell’s INTO THE BLUE; Paul Verhoeven’s blockbuster hit, HOLLOW MAN; Scott Silver’s MOD SQUAD; Ole Bornedal’s psychological thriller NIGHTWATCH; BEST LAID PLANS opposite Reese Witherspoon, produced by Mike Newell; ALL THE RAGE; and Guillermo Del Toro’s science-fiction thriller, MIMIC. Brolin also received recognition from critics and audiences in David O. Russell’s FLIRTING WITH DISASTER, portraying a bisexual federal agent, alongside an outstanding ensemble cast led by Ben Stiller.