2017 George Sidney Independent Film Competition

George Sidney and the Festival's co-founder, Mary Harris

George Sidney and Festival co-founder, Mary Harris

Our annual film competition continues to attract exciting new independent films from around the world. Named for director George Sidney, the Festival’s first recipient of the King Vidor Award, Sidney was a Central Coast resident and a passionate supporter of independent filmmaking.

Film Festival laurelssmallA panel of 40 screeners evaluated the 1000+ entries and then made some difficult decisions, resulting in the Official Selections listed here.

The finalists in competition are juried by a panel of film and media professionals, and cash prizes will be awarded at the Fremont Theatre on Saturday, March 18 before the King Vidor Award presentation. During the festival, ballots will be distributed to allow the audience to vote on their favorite films in competition. The coveted Audience Awards will be presented on Closing Night, Sunday, March 19 at 5:30pm. at the Fremont Theatre.


Ryan CooleyNew Times Arts Editor
Ryah Cooley is the arts editor at New Times and a connoisseur of movie popcorn.  She’s a San Luis Obispo County native and is always looking for the untold stories of the local art, film, dance, and literary communities.

John Hampian – Production Manager / Producer
John began his career, like most, as an eager production assistant willing to do whatever it took in order to earn the reputation of a quality hire. Nearly a decade later, his credits include shows like Mad Men, Kingdom, Magic City, and last year’s SLOIFF Narrative Short winner, Winter Light. Hampian joined the Directors Guild of America in 2016 and looks forward to many years ahead in this crazy business.

Kirk Honeycutt – Author/Film Critic/Journalist
Kirk Honeycutt served as chief film critic for The Hollywood Reporter and Daily News of Los Angeles for many years. He also teaches at the Dodge College of Film and Media Arts at Chapman University. His book about filmmaker John Hughes was published in 2015.

Betsy KalinFilmmaker
Betsy Kalin is an award-winning producer/director at Itchy Bee Productions and Bluewater Media, and is a featured speaker at conferences, universities, film festivals and community events. Her films RoofHearts Cracked Open, Chained!, and Click have been honored with multiple awards at festivals around the world. Her most recent documentary East LA Interchange was highlighted on NBC L.A. and has won ten jury and audience awards to date.

Camilla LanhamNew Times Editor
Camillia runs the editorial side of things for New Times, San Luis Obispo County’s award-winning alternative weekly newspaper. She earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Montana School of Journalism and has called the Central Coast home for the past four years. She’s won awards from the California Newspaper Association, Montana Journalism Association, and the National Newspaper Association for environmental and agricultural reporting and is an avid consumer of documentary films. 

Paul LichtmanProducer/Writer/Actor
Paul is a member of Screen Actors Guild, Writer’s Guild, and the Motion Picture Academy. He lives in Los Osos, CA and has been an active supporter of the SLO Film Fest for many years.

Terry LichtmanFormer Theatrical Agent
Terry Lichtman was the owner and chief operator of the Terry Lichtman Co., a theatrical agency representing actors for over 25 years.  She was based in Studio City Ca  and franchised by SAG/AFTRA and AEA.  Terry was an active member of the entertainment community there and has supported the arts locally by serving on the Board of the San Luis Obispo Little Theatre and as a judge for the  San Luis Obispo International Film Festival.

Sarah LinnTribune Entertainment Editor
Sarah Linn is the entertainment editor of The Tribune, covering movies, music, theater, dance and the visual arts on California’s Central Coast. She derives daily inspiration from her husband, artist and filmmaker Chris Daly, and her son, Dashiell. Stay updated by following Sarah on Facebook at www.facebook.com/SheLikestoWatch and Twitter at www.twitter.com/shelikestowatch.

Cindy MyersScreenwriter
A SLO county resident for over 20 years, Cindy’s film credits include 2016’s “ALL ROADS LEAD TO ROME” starring Sarah Jessica Parker and Claudia Cardinale.  Among her many TV credits are the Emmy-nominated miniseries, “A Woman of Independent Means,” starring Sally Field; “Incident in a Small Town,” starring Walter Matthau and Harry Morgan, “The Natalie Cole Story,” starring Natalie Cole, and Sci-Fi Channel’s “Five Days to Midnight”, with Timothy Hutton and Randy Quaid.  View more at http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0616671/

Tom WaltersFilmmaker/Board Member
Tom has worked as a writer, producer and director on internationally distributed documentary and educational films for over 20 years. After graduating from Cal Poly, he received additional training at the Sony Institute and at the American Film Institute in Hollywood. His most recent movie, Botso, won several awards and was the Critics Pick of the New York Times. Walters is also a performing songwriter and current festival board member.