SLO Film Fest Wraps Up Another Record-Breaking Festival!


Ashley Bell – “Love and Bananas”

San Luis Obispo, CA (April 3, 2019) – The 2019 San Luis Obispo Film Festival announced impressive audience and sponsorship growth numbers following the conclusion of the 25th Anniversary edition of the film festival two weeks ago on March 17. Winners of their jury awards for the popular film festival included Jesus del Cerro’s HAWAII (Best Narrative Feature) and Delila Vallot’s SATAN AND ADAM (Best Documentary Feature). Audience Award winners were topped by Benedikt Erlingsson’s WOMAN AT WAR*, chosen as Best Narrative Feature, Aaron Lieber’s UNSTOPPABLE: BETHANY HAMILTON, Best Documentary Feature, and Ashley Bell’s LOVE & BANANAS taking the Best of Fest award.

*San Luis Obispo County audiences can see WOMAN AT WAR at the Palm Theatre starting on April 5th!

Attendance and pass sales rose sharply by 15% and sponsorships were up 18% for the 2019 edition of the film festival.

The George Sidney Independent Film Awards took place on Saturday, March 16 preceding the presentation of SLO’s King Vidor Award to critically acclaimed character actor Alfred Molina. The festival’s Student Filmmaker Awards and Audience Awards were announced the following evening.

“While the San Luis Obispo International Film Festival has been on an upward trajectory as far as the number of audience members have been concerned for a few years now, this year’s response was seriously off the charts,” said San Luis Obispo Film Festival Director, Wendy Eidson. “There are lot of areas that one could chalk that up to, but we all know that it begins and ends with the quality of our films, and our award winners certainly exemplified a very fine year as far as that was concerned.”

Filmmakers Ryan Suffern, Lauren Schwartzman and Hammad Rizvi.

Additional winners in the George Sidney Independent Film Awards category included a tie in the Best Narrative Short category between Jason Maza’s THE LITTLE PRINCESS and Hammad Rizvi’s RANI. Best Documentary Short Film went to Leslie Iwerks’ SELLING LIES, and Lauren Schwartman’s DUST RISING won Best Student Film. The short films chosen for Audience Award nods were Nate Duncan’s THE INTERVIEW (Best Narrative Short Film), and Morgan Elliot’s BAND GEEKS (Best Documentary Short Film).

Chris Metzler – “Rodents of Unusual Size”

Winners of the Central Coast Filmmaker Awards were: Seanie Sugrue’s MISTY BUTTON (Best Narrative Feature), Chris Metzler, Jeff Springer, and Quinn Costello’s RODENTS OF UNUSUAL SIZE (Best Documentary Feature); Dale Griffiths Stamos’ THE DINNER GUEST (Best Narrative Short Film); Alex Astrella’s TRIAL BY FIRE (Best Documentary Short Film); Ellen Osborne’s REBOOT (Best Animated Film), and Carlos Plummer’s BECOMING RICH (Best Student Film).

Sunday also featured awards given to the top high school and middle school students whose films screened in SLO’s Filmmakers of Tomorrow Showcase. Best Individual Achievement went to Kylia MaMure’s THE SIGHT YOU GAVE (High School), and Isabella Masrouga’s NEVER ENOUGH (Middle School), and

Carlos Plummer – “Becoming Rich”

Bo Yu Lin, and Shuo-Heng Li’s HI SIRI – OH NO – ITS MOM. The film chosen for Best Group Achievement was Brendan Hickey, Rachel Warshaw, and Claire Kikenny TAKEOUT, Emmet Arries’ BACKYARD WILDLIFE took The Wild World We Love Award (Pacific Wildlife Care Award), Riley Stewart won Best Film in SLO County with THE COMPLEX, Max Shoham’s HEARTH was named Best Animated Film, and Nina Rafique’s GROWTH won the Festival Directors Award for Creativity.

The Malibu Coast Silent Film Orchestra and Katharine Ross dazzled the Opening Night audience at the Fremont Theatre.

Kicking off the film festival was a special Opening Night event, “An Evening with Katharine Ross” at the Fremont Theatre, where Ross delighted the crowd with a performance reading from the true story from Margaret K. Wetterer’s “Kate Shelley and the Midnight Express,” accompanied by the Malibu Coast Silent Film Orchestra. As if that wasn’t enough, Ross then participated in a conversation about her acting career in a number of classic and beloved films before introducing a 50th Anniversary screening of BUTCH CASSIDY & THE SUNDANCE KID.

“Creature of the Black Lagoon” audiences enjoyed vintage 3D cinema.

Highlights of the Festival included world premieres of Dina Mande’s wine country documentary TIN CITY, and Guillermo García López’s thought provoking DELICATE BALANCE. Rodrigo Bernardo’s romantic comedy MAYBE A LOVE STORY, and Meaghan and Marie Wright’s documentary THE SOCIAL SHIFT, both made their U.S. premieres at the SLO Film Fest this year, and the filmmakers for each film were on hand for the debuts to talk about their films. The SLO Film Fest’s 25thAnniversary was celebrated with filmmakers returning to SLO for screenings of LIVES WELL LIVED (Sky Bergman), PLAGUES AND PLEASURES ON THE SALTON SEA (Chris Metzler), and BOTSO (Tom Walters). Other special presentations includeda 3-D presentation of CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON (1954), and a MARY POPPINS (1964) Sing-along, which continued a SLO tradition that started in 2000.

Surf Nite special guests Shawn Tomson, Dane Gudauskas, Graham Nash, Rod Torr and Rick Wall

The San Luis Obispo International Film Festival’s hugely popular “Surf Nite,” packed them in once again at the Fremont Theatre, featuring CAN’T STEAL OUR VIBE by Graham Nash, and SATORI, directed by Cape Town’s Rick Wall. Legendary South African surfers Shawn Tomson and Peter Townend were also in attendance.

Ben Mankiewicz and Alfred Molina sharing a laugh.

King Vidor Award honoree Alfred Molina charmed, entertained, and provided belly laughs for the crowd that came out to see the presentation of his award and conversation with Turner Classic Movies host Ben Mankiewicz. Molina then attended the SLO Film Fest after party at the San Luis Obispo Museum of Art, where he met several film fans, took photos, and proved himself to be not simply an amazing actor, but quite the ambassador of film, as well.

You can watch most of the entertaining conversation between Ben Mankiewicz and Alfred Molina on YouTube! Video by Kyle & Carlos Plummer .

Hannah Marks chatted with Jenelle Riley on Closing Night.

Closing Night featured the presentation of San Luis Obispo native 25-year-old Hannah Marks’ directorial debut, AFTER EVERYTHING. Following the screening, Marks, who was named one of Rolling Stone’s 25 under 25 Artists Changing the World, discussed the film and her impressive young career with Variety’s Jenelle Riley.

2019 San Luis Obispo International Film Festival Jury

Colette Freedman – Novelist/Playwright/Screenwriter (QUALITY PROBLEMS, AND THEN THERE WAS EVE)
Karen Garcia – Journalist (San Luis Obispo New Times)
Kirk Honeycutt – Author/Film Critic/Journalist
Paul Lichtman – Producer/Screenwriter/Actor (SOPHIE’S CHOICE, Barney Miller, Mary Tyler Moore)
Terry Lichtman – Retired Talent Agent
Jenelle Riley – Journalist/Celebrity Host (Variety)
Tom Walters – Writer/Producer/Director (BOTSO)
Caleb Wiseblood – Journalist (San Luis Obispo New Times)

The 2019 San Luis Obispo Film Festival Award Winners:


HAWAII – Best Narrative Feature
Director: Jesus del Cerro

SATAN AND ADAM – Best Documentary Feature
Director: Delila Vallot

THE LITTLE PRINCESS – Best Narrative Short Film (TIE)
Director: Jason Maza

RANI – Best Narrative Short Film (TIE)
Director/Writer: Hammad Rizvi

SELLING LIES – Best Documentary Short Film
Director: Leslie Iwerks

DUST RISING – Best Student Film
Director: Lauren Schwartman


WOMAN AT WAR– Best Narrative Feature
Director: Benedikt Erlingsson
San Luis Obispo County audiences can see this film at the Palm Theatre starting on April 5th!

Director: Aaron Lieber

LOVE & BANANAS – Best in the Fest
Director: Ashley Bell

THE INTERVIEW – Best Narrative Short Film
Director: Nate Duncan

BAND GEEKS – Best Documentary Short Film
Director: Morgan Elliott


MISTY BUTTON – Best Narrative Feature
Director:: Seanie Sugrue

RODENTS OF UNUSUAL SIZE – Best Documentary Feature
Directors: Chris Metzler, Jeff Springer, Quinn Costello

THE DINNER GUEST – Best Narrative Short Film
Director: Dale Griffiths Stamos

TRIAL BY FIRE – Best Documentary Short Film
Director: Alex Astrella

REBOOT– Best Animated Short Film
Director: Ellen Osborne

BECOMING RICH – Best Student Film
Director: Carlos Plummer


THE SIGHT YOU GAVE– Best Individual Achievement (High School)
Director: Kylia MaMure / Orange County, CA

NEVER ENOUGH– Best Individual Achievement (Middle School)
Director: Isabella Masrouga / Los Angeles, CA

HI SIRI – OH NO – ITS MOM – Best Individual Achievement (Elementary School)
Directors: Bo Yu Lin, Shuo-Heng Li / Taipei, Taiwan

TAKEOUT– Best Group Achievement
Directors: Brendan Hickey, Rachel Warshaw, Claire Kikenny / Seattle, WA

BACKYARD WILDLIFE– The Wild World We Love Award (Pacific Wildlife Care Award)
Director: Emmet Arries / Atascadero, CA

THE COMPLEX – Best Film – San Luis Obispo Country
Director: Riley Stewart / Arroyo Grande, CA

HEARTH– Best Animated Film
Director: Max Shoham / Toronto, Ontario, Canada

GROWTH– Festival Directors Award for Creativity
Director: Nina Rafique / Toronto, Ontario, Canada

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