2020 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.

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A panel of 50 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 16 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 17 at 6:00pm. at the Fremont Theatre.


Sky BergmanFilmmaker, Cal Poly Photography Professor

Dan BrawleyCucalorus Fest Director

Victoria Condor-WilliamsFormer Gainesville Latino Film Festival Director

Michael FloresFilmmaker / Film Studies Professor DePaul University, Chicago

Colette Freedman – Novelist/Playwright/Screenwriter
An internationally produced novelist, playwright and screenwriter, Colette Freedman was voted “One of 50 to Watch” by The Dramatist’s Guild. Her play “Sister Cities” was the hit of the 2008 Edinburgh Fringe and has been produced around the country and internationally, 26 times including Paris (Une Ville, Une Soeur) and Rome (Le Quattro Sorelle) and Melbourne. The film version (Michelle Trachtenberg, Stana Katic, Jess Weixler, Troian Bellisario) is on Netflix. She has published nine novels including The Thirteen Hallows (Tor/Macmillan), co-written with The New York Times best selling author Michael Scott. Her musical “Serial Killer Barbie” finished a sold out run in Los Angeles and was mounted in New Zealand last fall. Other producing credits include QUALITY PROBLEMS, an indie critically acclaimed comedy distributed by Freestyle and available on Amazon. She teaches screenwriting at Antioch University and NYFA. www.colettefreedman.com 

Jon GannFormer DCShorts Fest Director

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.

Jenelle Riley – Journalist/Celebrity Host
Jenelle Riley is the Deputy Awards and Features Editor of Variety and host of PBS’ “Actors on Actors” interview series, for which she has won two Emmy Awards. She regularly hosts Q&A sessions around town, including the “Conversations” series for SAG-AFTRA Foundation’s Channel.

Pamela SeggerLunenburg Doc Fest Director, Nova Scotia

Cameron SwanagonOscilloscope Pictures

Sarah LinnLocal News + Arts Editor, Tribune, SLO
Sarah Linn is the local/entertainment editor of The Tribune, covering movies and more on California’s Central Coast. She has served as a judge for the San Luis Obispo International Film Festival for several years. She derives daily inspiration from her husband, filmmaker and artist Chris Daly, and her son, Dashiell. Stay updated by reading Sarah’s articles at www.sanluisobispo.com and following Sarah on Facebook at www.facebook.com/SheLikestoWatch and Twitter at www.twitter.com/shelikestowatch.