2019 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 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.


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.

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.

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 

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.

Karen Garcia – Journalist
Karen Garcia is the staff writer for the San Luis Obispo New Times and recieved her B.A. degree in Journalism from Cal Poly in 2015. Her freelance work includes film and television for the publication and its sister paper the Santa Maria Sun. Garcia spends her free time streaming new shows and catching movies at the Palm Theater.

Paul Lichtman – Producer/Screenwriter/Actor
Paul Lichtman is a retired professional actor, writer and producer.  He has acted in more than 50 television shows including Barney Miller, Mary Tyler Moore and Chico and the Man. As a writer he was honored by the Writer’s Guild of America for having written two of the 100 best written series in the last 75 years. In European he produced more than 60 features and 150 hours of television, from Sophie’s Choice to the mini-series Winds of War and War and Remembrance.  He was an early developer of ‘soft money’ to produce American films. This earned him an invitation to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Caleb Wiseblood – Journalist
Caleb Wiseblood is the Calendar Editor for New Times and its sister paper the Sun. His freelance work includes film and television columns for both papers. A Central Coast native, Wiseblood received his B.A. in Philosophy from Cal Poly in 2015.

Terry Lichtman – Retired Talent Agent
Terry Lichtman has always loved film, theatre and actors. For 25 years, she owned and operated a boutique talent agency, Terry Lichtman Co. which specialized in representing actors for film, television and theatre. Upon moving to SLO County in 2005, she has been an active volunteer for a number of local organizations including serving on the Board of the SLO Little Theatre (SLO Rep), a judge and volunteer for the SLO Film Fest, CASA and for the last 11 years, a Senior Peer Counselor for Wilshire Community Services.

Laura Davis – Producer
Laura began her career as a rock & roll disc jockey at the legendary Los Angeles radio station KLOS, and went on to produce behind-the-scenes documentaries for some of the world’s most respected directors including Woody Allen, Martin Scorsese, James L. Brooks, Mike Nichols and Michael Mann.  Later, she produced the documentaries The Shot Felt ‘Round the World (Smithsonian), which won the CINE Golden Eagle and Best Documentary at SLOIFF 2012, and Burden of Genius, which is beginning its theatrical run.  She also produced the telefilms, Someone Else’s Child(ABC) and Still Holding On: The Legend of Cadillac Jack (CBS) and the features, A New York Heartbeat, starring Rachel Brosnahan (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel), an official selection of SLOIFF 2014, and Hellbent.