Exciting Changes at SLO Film Festival

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.
 
“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 Wendy 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.”
 
Skye 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.”


Our Next Best in Fest Film: An Act of Love

The SLO Film Fest strives to present an eclectic mix of films each year with the goal of attracting a wide ranging audience, as well as sharing current global, national and local issues. We bring the world to San Luis Obispo for those six days of film, wine and fun and we’re always excited to welcome truly awe-inspiring filmmakers to attend and bring their amazing stories to share with our festival audiences.

This was definitely the case with our 2016 Audience Award winner, AN ACT OF LOVE. Director/Producer Scott Sheppard remembers his visit to our festival very fondly. He attended with the subject of the documentary, Rev. Frank Schaefer. They had recently won the Audience Award at the Mill Valley Film Festival, which was just the start of their successful festival run.

“I had a great experience at the SLO Film Festival with Rev. Frank and Brigitte Schaefer. There was something truly special about the screenings there and the audiences really embraced our documentary. We enjoyed the parties, seeing other great films, and the gift baskets were amazing with locally produced foods and wine. I’ll be sure to come back with future projects.” – Scott Sheppard, May 2020

Lexi Brenner, Scott Sheppard, Frank Schaefer, Brigitte Schaefer

FILM FESTIVAL DAY – LIFE IN SYNCHRO – AVAILABLE TILL MAY 31ST

Missed Film Festival Day? You can still catch the virtual screening of the documentary LIFE IN SYNCHRO and filmmaker Q&A. PLUS, when you purchase tickets using the link below, proceeds will be split between us and the filmmakers! 


FREE SCREENING OF LINDA RONSTADT: THE SOUND OF MY VOICE – JUNE 4TH
The film follows one of the world’s best-selling artists as she defied genres and paved the way for her own sound and place in the world. Illustrated with concert footage, interviews with musical legends like Emmylou Harris, Jackson Browne, Don Henley, and narrated by Ronstadt herself, learn of her glorious career rise and its untimely end due to a neurodegenerative disease.

ACCESS OUR ARCHIVE
We’ve made it even easier for you to access and stream our past festival films! Now located in one place we will regularly update this page with new streaming links on how to view our festival selections from past years.




Discover & watch films during this first ever 10-day global film festival, May 29 – June 7, co-curated by over 20 film festivals from across the world. Check out the lineup here!


Thank you to our 2020 sponsors for their loyal support of the SLO Film Fest and for looking for ways to also support our community in these challenging times.Today’s Sponsor in the Spotlight is one of our 2020 Directors, The Tribune.

A longtime sponsor of the SLO Film Festival The Tribune is San Luis Obispo County’s leading media organization for 148 years and counting.  Even through a major transition to digital media and tough times, they have always featured our Festival in advertising, celebrity interviews, and overall event coverage.  Over the years they have done this for many of our local non-profits, and we commend their overall community involvement and support.  Many thanks from us to The Tribune!

It’s certainly an interesting time and we hope you’re enjoying the Best in the Fest films and other streaming opportunities. Please send us your feedback or let us know what your watching! You can still view past weeks Best in the Fest Films here.

Wendy, Skye and the SLO Film Fest Board and Staff


Purchased tickets for the 2020 Film Festival? You have until June 15th to let us know what you like to do with your tickets! Please visit here to explore ticketing options.

The Most Dangerous Man in America?

Over the many years I’ve been involved in the SLO Film Fest, I happily recall some favorite “festival moments”….experiences that I don’t think I’ll ever forget. Daniel Ellsberg was responsible for two of my memorable moments, and I’m guessing many of the lucky audience present at the screening of this documentary will remember one of them very clearly.

To say we were all excited to honor this brave man who singlehandedly changed history and transformed our nation’s political discourse is an understatement. When I led Daniel Ellsberg and director/producer Judith Ehrlich into the back of the Downtown Cinemas theatre to be introduced before the movie began, the capacity audience instantly leapt to their feet to give him a standing ovation. It was a thrilling experience and the first time I’d seen someone get a standing O just for being in the room. He got another one at the end of the film of course, and the Q&A with him and Judith Ehrlich was also notable because not one person left the theatre during the credits!

My other “festival moment” that evening was the experience of having a cup of tea with him and Judith while the film was screening. I was literally starstruck at Starbucks! Being in the presence of this brilliant, soft spoken hero was truly one of the most amazing experiences I’ve had as the Festival Director. When you see this film, I think you’ll understand why.

Standing O at Downtown Cinema screening at 2010 SLO Film Festival

FILM FESTIVAL DAY – LIFE IN SYNCHRO – MAY 23RD

On May 23rd, film festival audiences across North America will join together for a virtual screening of the documentary LIFE IN SYNCHRO and filmmaker Q&A. PLUS, when you purchase tickets using the link below, proceeds will be split between us and the filmmakers.
Suggested group watch times: (or you can view anytime over the weekend)
May 23rd, 2020
Start the Film: 3:00pm PDT
Join the Q&A: 4:00pm PDT


Thank you to our 2020 sponsors for their loyal support of the SLO Film Fest and for looking for ways to also support our community in these challenging times.Today’s Sponsor in the Spotlight is one of our 2020 Producers, KSBY.

It would be very difficult to have a local film festival without the help of the local television station.  And even through several ownership changes, the local management of KSBY  has always been a great supporter and sponsor of the SLO Film Festival.  KSBY broadcasts coverage to San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties, and provides essential promotional ad spots to our local audience.  Join us in thanking KSBY for being a great media sponsor for the SLO Film Festival and for much of the non-profit community as well! 


We hope you’re enjoying the Best in the Fest films, please send us your feedback or let us know what your watching! You can still view past weeks Best in the Fest Films here.  We also hope to see you vitrually on Saturday at Film Festival Day! 

Wendy, Skye and the SLO Film Fest Board and Staff


Purchased tickets for the 2020 Film Festival? You have until June 15th to let us know what you like to do with your tickets! Please visit here to explore ticketing options.

Our Next Best in Fest Film: My Mother’s Wound

It’s probably no surprise to most of you that our Festival audiences are diehard documentary lovers. Nine of the ten Best in the Fest movies from the last 10 years are in fact documentaries.

While the Turkish feature, MY MOTHER’S WOUND, was easily one of my very favorite films in the 2017 Festival, I think it’s interesting that it grabbed the audience the way it did and became the only narrative feature winner in ten years!

Often audiences are won over by filmmakers who entertain and thrill audiences during the Q&A segment of each screening, and this can enhance a voter’s evaluation on their way out of the theatre. But foreign filmmakers are often unable to attend festivals and in this case, talented Polish director Ozan Açiktan was not in attendance.

Some festival goers aren’t big fans of subtitles even though the SLO Film Fest always has a healthy number of foreign films programmed each year.MY MOTHER’S WOUNDis about as “international” as it gets – filmed in Serbia, Montenegro and Bosnia-Herzegovina by an international film crew, with leading roles played by German and Turkish actors – complete with English subtitles!
Despite all the odds, in March 2017 MY MOTHER’S WOUND scored an almost perfect score to win the top audience award, so the bottom line must be because it’s A REALLY GOOD MOVIE!


SPRING HAS SPRUNG!

Downtown SLO businesses are covered in beautiful flower displays thanks to the May Flower Initiative!  View the google map and take yourself on a stroll in SLO and check out our display at our 2020 Headquarters at the Hotel San Luis Obispo. (Corner of Morro St.) We created our display from our 2020 program guides!  Many business are going through difficult times and Downtown SLO has launched “Virtual SLO” where you can find out how to support them, everything from gift cards to take out to curbside pick up.


#SAVEOURSTAGES

The Fremont Theatre needs your help! We need you to tell our Senators and Representatives how important the Fremont Theater is to you and San Luis Obispo. They have joined the National Independent Venue Association (NIVA), a group of more than 1,200 independent music venues and promoters in all 50 states, to collectively urge Congress to help protect our industry by providing the financial support that is necessary for us to survive the shutdown and reopen once again.


Thank you to our 2020 sponsors for their loyal support of the SLO Film Fest and for looking for ways to also support our community in these challenging times.Today’s Sponsor in the Spotlight is one of our 2020 Executive Producers, City of San Luis Obispo.

In 2010 SLO was dubbed “The Happiest City in America”, and we all know why.  Besides all the other things the City does, it also partners with large regional events such as ours to increase tourism and fill hotels, restaurants and businesses.  That’s where the partnership between the City of SLO and our Festival started, and where it grows year after year.  Join us in thanking our wonderful partner for so many years! 


We hope you’re enjoying the Best in the Fest films, please send us your feedback or let us know what your watching! You can still view past weeks Best in the Fest Films here. Have you started a movie group? What was the best film you’ve seen the last few weeks? Let us know!

Wendy, Skye and the SLO Film Fest Board and Staff


Purchased tickets for the 2020 Film Festival? We have several options for you! Please visit here to explore ticketing options.

Lawrence Kasdan Accepts King Vidor Award

The King Vidor Award presentation has been a tradition ever since the first SLO Film Fest began in 1994, when director George Sidney was presented with the first award for Excellence in Filmmaking from Mary Harris. And so began the annual tradition of awarding a successful motion picture industry personality with the prestigious award on the stage of the beautiful Fremont Theatre in downtown San Luis Obispo. 

This year, our Festival was stopped before it could start, and the highly anticipated awards night honoring talented screenwriter/director/producer Lawrence Kasdan was cancelled. He was a very unique honoree this year too. He not only has the kind of impressive and prolific career that King Vidor did, but he continues to push the envelope and delve into new genres. Kasdan and his wife Meg would have also been attending as festival filmmakers for their screenings of a brand new documentary they had directed and produced, called LAST WEEK AT ED’S

They were as disappointed as we were that they could not be here but we do hope to have them attend next year, along with the wonderful Ben Mankiewicz who was looking forward to chatting with him after the award presentation.

Meanwhile, we are delighted to share Lawrence Kasdan’s acceptance speech, delivered straight to us from his lush backyard in Los Angeles! Congratulations from all of us at the SLO Film Fest!

Check out the New Times article about Lawrence Kasdan’s incredible career.


AGE OF CHAMPIONS was inspirational in 2012 but 8 years later it might even be more timely! Our audiences loved this entertaining and often amazing look at sports, aging and what is possible. We are delighted to bring back AGE OF CHAMPIONS and salute the athletes, the filmmakers who documented their awesome strength and determination…and everyone else who is challenging time and gravity and “going for gold” in their own way.


2019 FILM – ABOVE THE CLOUDS – NOW STREAMING

ABOVE THE CLOUDS, an audience favorite at our 2019 film festival and sold out three screenings is now available on Amazon Prime to stream! This is a beautiful coming of age story with an incredible scenic landscape

2019 FILM – WORKING MAN – NOW STREAMING

The Hollywood Reporter called WORKING MAN  “A potent tribute to out-of-work Americans.” 
An important film and timely drama, view all the streaming options here.


Thank you to our 2020 sponsors for their loyal support of the SLO Film Fest and for looking for ways to also support our community in these challenging times.Today’s Sponsor in the Spotlight is one of our 2020 Director Sponsors, JUSTIN Vineyards & Winery.

Since 2013, JUSTIN has donated over $500,000 to local non-profit organizations through grants and employee-directed donations. The SLO Film Festival has been a proud beneficiary of this generosity for several years now. JUSTIN also donates and pours its award winning wine at many of our special events, and is an ongoing co-sponsor of our King Vidor After-Party. Join us in raising a glass to our amazing sponsor – JUSTIN Vineyards and Winery!


We hope you’re enjoying the Best in the Fest films, please send us your feedback or let us know what your watching! You can still view past weeks Best in the Fest Films here.

Wendy, Skye and the SLO Film Fest Board and Staff

Purchased tickets for the 2020 Film Festival? We have several options for you! Please visit here to explore ticketing options.

SLO Film Fest Again Named One of The 50 Festivals Worth the Entry Fee

MovieMaker Magazine announced today its coveted “50 Festivals Worth the Entry Fee” and the SLO Film Fest was added to the list for the 6th time in 7 years.

“SLO was one of the very first film festivals to go online, a story you can read about here. It deserves a lot of credit for putting safety first and cancelling its live component early, out of the abundance of caution that soon became the norm. And it earned praise for a quickly assembled online program that balanced anti-piracy concerns with its goal of supporting filmmakers. We can’t wait for it to be able to resume.” (MovieMaker Magazine, April 28/20)

We also recently sat down with MovieMaker Magazine to discuss “Online Film Festival Dos and Don’ts” with festival friends Melanie Addington of the Oxford Film Festival, and Michael Cain of EarthxFilmListen to the full discussion here.


It’s very unusual for a film to win both the juried and audience award at our Festival, and back in 2011 those awards were presented on the same evening too. We festival organizers were feeling very excited about this big winner not just because it was a great movie but also because the director, Gabriela Cowperthwaite was attending the festival that weekend as well! We anticipated her great surprise and inevitable touching acceptance speeches when the awards were presented. 

But the surprise was on us! The humble, first-time director had skipped the award ceremony to enjoy a nice dinner in SLO, thinking there was no way her film would win anything. Fortunately, our intrepid team led by Nancy Ross Joynt managed to find her as she finished her meal and she arrived late (and very happily surprised) at the Awards Night After-party at the Monday Club. We celebrated her victory with bubbly along with that year’s King Vidor Award recipient, Greg Kinnear.

Gabriela went on to fame a couple of years later when she released her 2013 controversial documentary BLACKFISH, which focused on the captivity and cruel treatment of orca whales at SeaWorld. This was truly a movie that mattered, and it was instrumental in changing policy and awareness about this issue around the world. It was nominated for a BAFTA award that year too!

Gabriela recently directed her first narrative feature, THE FRIEND, which premiered at the Toronto Film Festival last year, starring Jason Segal, Casey Affleck and Dakota Johnson.


Thank you to our 2020 sponsors for their loyal support of the SLO Film Fest and for looking for ways to also support our community in these challenging times.Today’s Sponsor in the Spotlight is one of our 2020 Producer Sponsors, French Hospital Medical Center.

French Hospital Medical Center, has been transforming medicine on the Central Coast by investing in today’s most advanced equipment and procedures. Beyond Health is a movement to treat the mind, body, spirit, and community, creating wellness and happiness for every life we touch. They have been expanding their services, providing new medical capabilities, recruiting the best doctors, and doubling our capacity for more complex conditions. During the pandemic hospital workers and more have stepped forward to support our community. 

“We are proud and privileged to to serve our community. Every day, we are witnessing generous acts of human kindness as our community cares for one another in countless ways. It is so inspiring to know that when we get through this together, we will be stronger than ever.”
Donate to the Emergency Support Fund


We hope you’re enjoying the Best in the Fest films, please send us your feedback or let us know what your watching! You can still view past weeks Best in the Fest Films here.

Wendy, Skye and the SLO Film Fest Board and Staff


Purchased tickets for the 2020 Film Festival? We have several options for you! Please visit here to explore ticketing options.

Join Us For This Week’s Best In Fest Movie: Skid Row Marathon

We discovered this gem at the Napa Valley Film Festival in the fall of 2017. I knew it was going to be a definite audience award contender at our festival and sure enough, it scored higher than any other movie in the festival that year. Director Mark Hayes and producer Gabriele Hayes came to the Festival for a few days and happily received the award at our Closing Night ceremony. Unfortunately the subject of the film, the amazing Judge Mitchell was just coming back from another overseas marathon trip that weekend so he wasn’t able to attend.

Critics loved this documentary and it won many awards from festivals around the country, including the Palm Springs, Santa Barbara and Los Angeles Film Festivals.
“It’s a brilliant piece of documentary cinema.”– Michael Moore, Academy Award winner
“Highly motivational…Illustrates how rehabilitation can be fostered in the most unlikely ways.” – The Hollywood Reporter


NATIONAL VOLUNTEER WEEK
Our volunteers are the lifeblood of our organization! We could not put on a festival without them! For many weeks prior to our 2020 film festival we had multiple volunteers who came out to support us from helping us directly in HQ to planning events. Special shout out to Luann McDonald, our amazing swag bag coordinator and Pat Harris who planned many of what would been incredible events this year and Mona Jennings, sponsor and volunteer in our HQ! We’d also like to thank our amazing board for their year round commitment, learn more here.

THANK YOU!


Thank you to our 2020 sponsors for their loyal support of the SLO Film Fest and for looking for ways to also support our community in these challenging times. Today’s Sponsor in the Spotlight is one of our 2020 Executive Producer Sponsors, BHE Renewables.

Did you know that Berkshire Hathaway is the largest owner of solar/wind/geothermal energy production in the U.S.? And that they have the largest solar farm in SLO County? Topaz Solar Farm is located in Carrizo Plain, and is not only the largest in SLO County, but also one of the largest solar farms in the world.
Our Festival is proud to say that they have been one of our largest and most loyal sponsors for many years now, so please join us in thanking them for their amazing community support!


Stay tuned each week for more of our Best In Fest line-up!

Wendy, Skye and the SLO Film Fest Board and Staff

Purchased tickets for the 2020 Film Festival? We have several options for you! Please visit here to explore ticketing options.

Take A Trip Down Memory Lane with Ten Years of “Best in Fest” Movies

Each year our audiences have the opportunity to vote on their favorite movies throughout the festival. The movie that gets the highest score of all is dubbed the BEST IN THE FEST! Being voted the audience favorite is a very high honor, and besides the obvious bragging rights, winners get a two-night stay at Sycamore Mineral Springs Resort in Avila Beach along with the coveted Best in the Fest laurels. 

We are having some fun digging into the archives now to share ten exceptional films with our festival audiences over the next 10 weeks. They were incredible movies when they won…and they still are!!

In March of 2014, we were thrilled to present BOTSO, a locally-produced film featuring 92-year old Morro Bay resident, “Botso” Korishelli. To the delight of the audience that day, Botso was in attendance. When it went on to win the Neil Travis Best in the Fest award, no one was in the least bit surprised.

Made by a team of local filmmakers led by Tom Walters (SLO Film Fest board member), Hilary Grant and David Thayer, the film has garnered awards and praise wherever it has been screened. It was the NY Times Critics Pick in the fall of 2014 – “…an enchanting film.” The Hollywood Reporter called it “…a deserving homage to a life well lived” and the LA Times praised it, saying “He created a world of musical magic!

It is available now at no charge for one month (April 15 – May 15) courtesy of the producers.


FILM FESTIVAL DAY
Did you miss film festival day? You can still join us until Sunday, April 19th for the screening of PHOENIX, OREGON. When you purchase a ticket for only $6.50 using the link below, proceeds will be split with the SLO Film Festival!


2019 FESTIVAL FILM – COLLISIONS – AVAILABLE TO STREAM 
We had three very successful screenings of COLLISIONS at last year’s festival, and are excited to share the news that it has been nominated for a NAMIC Vision Award. The NAMIC awards honor “programming that reflects the lives, spirit and contributions of people of color that mirrors the diverse composition of the viewing audience.

COLLISIONS is partnering with the National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON) to support their Immigrant Worker Safety Net Fund – to provide the immediate financial support so desperately needed by workers and their families during this time.

From now through April 30, 50% of proceeds from sales of “COLLISIONS” will be donated to this fund.


Thank you to our 2020 sponsors for their loyal support of the SLO Film Fest and for looking for ways to also support our community in these challenging times.

Today’s Sponsor in the Spotlight is our 2020 Presenting Sponsor Hotel San Luis Obispo the home of our Festival HQ and Lounge.

The management and staff of Hotel San Luis Obispo have been supportive and excited about the SLO Film Fest since opening their doors last October. We were one of the first organizations to have an event in their ballroom when we presented “The Weird and Wonderful World of Industrial Musicals” and it became obvious that the hotel’s exquisite setting and location would be ideal for our Festival Hospitality Lounge. As a bonus, they agreed to let us use an empty space at the corner of the hotel for our Festival HQ. Unfortunately we didn’t have a chance to reap the full benefits of our partnership with Hotel San Luis Obispo, but just want to thank David, Lydia, Zoe, Marissa, Ryan, Kirsten and their entire staff for making us all feel welcome and well cared for! We look forward to future collaborations with this exciting new world-class hotel property.


We hope you enjoy our Watch at Home films! Stay home and stay healthy!

Wendy, Skye and the SLO Film Fest Board and Staff


Purchased tickets for the 2020 Film Festival? We have several options for you! Please visit here to explore ticketing options.

Join us for Film Festival Day!

We’re so excited to announce in partnership with the Film Festival Alliance and the independent streaming platform Theatrical At Home, the inaugural Film Festival Day!

On Saturday, April 11th, film festival audiences from across North America will join together for a virtual screening of the independent film PHOENIX, OREGON and filmmaker Q&A. When you purchase a ticket for only $6.50 using the link below, proceeds will be split with the SLO Film Festival!

We’re participating in the first FILM FESTIVAL DAY, with 29 other film festivals across the US, an initiative of the Film Festival Alliance, a collaborative community of mission-driven film festivals, and Theatrical At Home.

More than 175 film festivals across North America have been cancelled or postponed as a result of COVID-19. Movies unite us in a way that no other art form can and film festivals play an essential role in connecting our community to support the works of independent storytellers. Please join us in a celebration of our communities, our audiences, independent filmmakers and what makes the film festival experience so unique.

April 11, 2020
Start the Film: 3:00pm PDT
Join the Q&A: 5:00pm PDT

ABOUT THE FILM: PHOENIX, OREGON

Defying midlife haze, two friends, a graphic novelist and a chef, seize an unlikely opportunity to reinvent their lives, quitting their jobs to restore an old bowling alley and serve the “world’s greatest pizza.” Phoenix, Oregon stars James Le Gros (Drugstore Cowboy, Living in Oblivion), Lisa Edelstein (Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce, House), Jesse Borrego (Fame, Blood In Blood Out), Reynaldo Gallegos (Triple Frontier, American Sniper), Diedrich Bader (Napoleon Dynamite, Office Space, Veep), and Kevin Corrigan (The Departed, Pineapple Express, True Romance).

It’s been an interesting few weeks for all of us and we want to let you how much we appreciate your support during these difficult times. Over the next few weeks we have some additional fun things planned to bring the SLO Film Fest to your home, so keep an eye on your inbox!

We hope to see you “digitally” at Film Festival day this Saturday!

Wendy Eidson & Skye McLennan
SLO Film Fest Director & Associate Director


Purchased tickets for the 2020 Film Festival? We have several options for you! Please visit here to explore ticketing options.

Watch Now, Our Winners From Our Student Competition!

Each year, since 2008, our Filmmakers of Tomorrow Showcase has given creative young filmmakers all over the world the opportunity to have their short films seen in a theatre and compete for cash awards. Films 10 minutes and under are submitted by youth filmmakers, from elementary through high school, and each year we choose 15-20 films that are screened all together on Sunday afternoon before the awards presentations that evening.  

This year, we didn’t have a chance to screen them at all due to the festival cancellation only 5 days before we were slated to begin. A number of the filmmakers in this category would not have been present anyway, since they live as far away as Iran, China, France and Poland. But San Luis Obispo county filmmakers were very disappointed not to be at the festival sharing their films and there was no awards ceremony for the seven winners in a variety of categories. Each film gets a cash award of $100, courtesy of program sponsors Mechanics Bank, San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors and Pacific Wildlife Care.

We just wanted to say CONGRATULATIONS to all the filmmakers who had official selections in this showcase. We are delighted to share the following award-winning films with you here, and hope you enjoy the ingenuity, creativity, and talent of these young filmmakers. Feel free to send us any feedback and we’d be happy to share it with them. 

Happy Watching!

Wendy, Skye and Filmmakers of Tomorrow Judges, Grace Tucker & Tasia Trevino-Hill

Purchased tickets for the 2020 Film Festival? We have several options for you! Please visit here to explore ticketing options.