We are happy to announce a unique collaboration with our 2020 Presenting Sponsor, Hotel San Luis Obispo. Beginning Sept. 9, every Wednesday evening you’ll be able to join us at Piadina on the Courtyard to sip cocktails and savor delicious pizzas while classic films are projected onto the courtyard wall. It promises to be a spectacular twilight dining experience!
A portion of the cocktail sales for the evening will be donated to the film festival and help us financially as we navigate our plans for next year’s film festival and year-round programming. We hope you enjoy this safe, socially distanced outdoor event.
Due to social-distancing, limited seating is available. We strongly encourage you to make reservations in advance.
SEPTEMBER FILM SCHEDULE
Note: Films are played silent with subtitles (if applicable) this is a dining experience and not intended to be a full sit down cinema event.
Sept. 9, 7:30 p.m. – Charlie Chaplin in THE VAGABOND, THE IMMIGRANT, KID AUTO RACES IN VENICE
Sept. 16, 7:15 p.m. – Buster Keaton in THE GENERAL
Sept. 23, 7 p.m. – Lon Chaney and Patsy Ruth Miller in THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME
Sept. 30, 7 p.m. Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell in HIS GIRL FRIDAY
EARLY BIRD SUBMISSION DISCOUNT – ENDING MONDAY SEPTEMBER 7TH Don’t miss your last chance to take advantage of our early-bird discount to submit your film! We have two new categories this year — Best Music Video and Best Animation. We can’t wait to receive your submissions!
It’s been a rough several months, but we remain optimistic about the SLO Film Festival’s future and hope to announce future collaborations soon. Now, more than ever, independent cinema has an important role to play in shaping our future.
Watching movie stars gather at the Venice Film Festival this week gave us a twinkle of hope that we may be able to enjoy cinema together again soon. Until then, we look forward to seeing you at Cinema Piadina! (distantly of course)!
See you at the movies!
Skye McLennan & Wendy Eidson Festival Director // Artistic Director
This is my first email to you as your new Festival Director. It’s been an interesting and thought-provoking few months as a new leader and I’m humbled by the collaboration and support of our community in SLO County. As we look towards the future of next year’s event, we’re exploring all kinds of possibilities to continue bringing important storytelling to San Luis Obispo. Whatever the format the festival takes, whether virtual, in-person, or drive-thru, we can’t wait to entertain and inspire you. So many of you that I’ve spoken with over the last few months have expressed your support and how much our institution means to you and that is what makes our work worth it.
It is with great pleasure that I announce our film festival dates and that we are open for submissions. We welcome filmmakers from around the world and locally to take part in the future of our festival. We also have two exciting new categories: Best Animation and Best Music Video. We have always had a wealth of incredible animated films and we are excited to bring a special spotlight to their work. Music also has been an important thread in our county and we can’t wait to see what local and global musicians come up with!
March 9th – 14th 2021
In addition we have joined the SLO Arts Leadership Roundtable, a coalition of local arts organizations and live entertainment venues in San Luis Obispo County. We are working together to determine how we can safely and responsibly return during these times, as well as what we can do better within our institutions regarding anti-racism and inclusion. This is the first of many collaborations that we look forward to being a part of.
Wendy & I had the pleasure of attending Sundance this year, and this was a documentary that stole our hearts. Puerto Rican Astrologer Walter Mercado was a force of good energy and a Pisces spirit that warmed Latinx homes and we are sure you will fall in love with him as we did. He also had the best sense in fashion!
DISCLOSURE was one of our 2020 Special Presentation films this year. It’s a thought-provoking documentary about trans lives on screen. If you enjoy film history, this is an important film to watch as trans voices reflect on how certain representations, or lack thereof, influenced their lives and culture.
JULY 9TH SLOMOTION – LIVING IN AMERICA – VIRTUAL SCREENING Our friends at SLOMotion are hosting a series of virtual screening events with live Q&A’s that focus on racial injustice, environmental inequality, systems of oppression, and mass incarceration. Donations go directly to R.A.C.E Matters SLO.
THE POLLINATORS (2020) Much of the food on our tables comes from the intrinsic act of pollinating the flowers that become the fruits, vegetables and nuts we eat. But today’s agricultural practices, pesticides and politics are making that simple act of nature more difficult. This cinematic journey around the United States follows migratory beekeepers and their truckloads of honey bees and notes the devastating loss of bee hives and the impact on our food supply.
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, New Times!
New Times is San Luis Obispo County’s locally owned and operated news and entertainment weekly. Celebrating over 30 years of publishing the largest circulated paper in the region; covering local news, politics, opinion, food, wine, arts, and entertainment each week. Their publicity coverage of the SLOIFF has been amazing over the years, and a key part of our overall marketing efforts. Thanks New Times!
See you at the movies!
Skye McLennan & Wendy Eidson Festival Director // Artistic Director
While our “Surf Nite in SLO” has become world renowned in some circles, cycling movies have always struck a chord with our audiences too! We’ve had some of our biggest and most passionate crowds attend movies about bicycles and we’ve screened some memorable ones over the years.
There was the grueling RACE ACROSS AMERICA, documenting the most challenging bicycle race on the planet. There was a fantastic documentary about the early days of velodrome racing. There was one about the invention of the mountain bike and another about a Tour de France cycling team owned by a SLO County resident. More recently, we screened one about a group of Afghan women who defy all odds to start a cycling team in their war-torn country. And who could forget BREAKING AWAY, with stars Dennis Christopher and Paul Dooley in attendance for a hilarious Q&A? I could on….
But it was PERSONAL GOLD: AN UNDERDOG STORY that captured the hearts of our 2015 audiences and crossed the finish line with the Best in the Fest award that year. Local resident and former Olympian cyclist Adam Laurent was at the Festival, along with directors Sky and Tamara Christopherson. Their “underdog story” examined the success of tracking athletes physical data using what was cutting edge technology in 2012. Now ubiquitous in a wide variety of applications, wearable devices are being used to track everything from physical activity, caloric intake, sleep quality, posture and much more! What does that all have to do with a cycling movie? Check out this winning film and find out!
An incredibly powerful documentary based on James Baldwin’s unfinished manuscript Remember This House. Narrated by actor Samuel L. Jackson, the film explores the history of racism in the United States through Baldwin’s reminiscences of civil rights leaders Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King Jr., as well as his personal observations of American history. WATCH NOW
JUST MERCY (2019)
Starring Jamie Foxx and Michael B. Jordan comes the true story of Walter McMillian, who, with the help of young defense attorney Bryan Stevenson, appeals his murder conviction. In the years that follow, Stevenson encounters racism and legal and political maneuverings as he tirelessly fights for McMillian’s life. WATCH NOW
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, Boutique Hotel Collection.
BHC is made up of 3 of our County’s finest hotels, The Cliffs Resort in Pismo Beach, Sycamore Mineral Springs in Avila Beach, and the SeaVenture Resort, also in Pismo Beach. All feature a range of room accommodations as well as fine restaurants and spas. BHC is also a long time SLO Film Fest major sponsor, and has donated rooms for our traveling filmmakers as well as event promotion. You may recognize them as a proud and participative sponsor of our Surf Nite event every year. Great to have you as a hospitality partner Boutique Hotel Collection!
Anyone who loves elephants (and honestly, how could you not?) is bound to love this deeply moving documentary by actor/director Ashley Bell. She teams up with Lek Chailert, an amazing conservationist in Thailand, and together they do the near impossible – rescue an abused and elderly elephant from a life of captivity in the Thai tourist trade. The journey is unforgettable (you’ll definitely need some Kleenex for this one) and when I met the petite and adorable Ashley Bell at the Festival, I was reminded that small people can move mountains (in this case, elephants) when they have the passion and support to do so. She was yet another incredibly inspiring festival visitor, and Ashley had some nice things to say about our festival too:
“The SLO Film Fest had such a genuine and authentic feeling to it. Everyone felt like they were really there for the art and the films. That’s such a rarity and I can’t tell you how exciting it was to be part of that environment. Also, because everyone had a like-minded sensibility–it made it so easy to connect with other filmmakers!” – Ashley Bell, March 2019
We are delighted to share this beautiful film with you again, and want to congratulate Ashley Bell and her team for helping to make a difference in the lives of countless Asian elephants.
VIRTUAL PRIDE FILM FESTIVAL While unfortunately Pride cannot happen in person this year, GALA Pride and Diversity Center has organized an incredible line-up of films for the month of June. Highlights include documentary THE DEATH AND LIFE OF MARSHA P. JOHNSON (2017) which investigates the mysterious 1992 death of black transgender activist and Stonewall veteran, Marsha P. Johnson. And don’t miss the doc KIKI (2017) about the 1980’s ballroom scene in New York City. REGISTER TO WATCH HERE
BLACK LIVES MATTER – FILMS FREE TO STREAM
A chronicle of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s campaign to secure equal voting rights via an epic march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, in 1965.
Combining archival footage with testimony from activists and scholars, director Ava DuVernay’s examination of the U.S. prison system looks at how the country’s history of racial inequality drives the high rate of incarceration in America.
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, American General Media.
AGM has been SLO Film Festival exclusive radio sponsor for many years. Although a large regional organization, their local focus with stations like Coast 104.5, the Krush, KJUG Country 98.1, 93.3 KZOZ, and KVEC talk radio have added immensely to our Festival promotion every year. With on air interviews, ticket giveaways, event promotion and radio celebrity hosts for our events, AGM donates an essential part of our marketing promotion. Thank you AGM for all your efforts to help us make the SLO Film Festival one of the best Film Festivals in the country and for entertaining many homes these past few months.
The world is in an interesting place right now. We hope that these films continue to entertain and inspire you and want you to know that we are listening, learning and growing with you.
Skye McLennan & Wendy Eidson Festival Director // Artistic Director
“…a movie that vitally captures an extraordinary character in extraordinary circumstances.” Variety, July 1, 2012
This is another in a string of wonderful documentaries that have helped create important cultural and political change! G-DOG premiered at the prestigious Hot Docs International Documentary Festival in April 2012. It won our BEST IN FEST award the following spring, with Homeboy Industries Hector Verdugo attending and accepting the award for director/producer Freida Lee Mock.
In 2014, Homeboy Industries went worldwide when it launched The Global Homeboy Network. Since then, over 400 organizations from around the world have visited their Los Angeles campus and their global network continues to expand each year. In the summer of 2019, Homeboy Industries hosted individuals devoted to supporting marginalized populations in Los Angeles to learn from their model and to share best practices.
We are proud to have been a cog in the wheel to give this incredible film some added attention and help Father Greg Boyle fulfill his dream that began decades ago. In this film, Freida Lee Mock documents a particularly challenging time in the organization’s history.
Incidentally, Freida Lee Mock attended an exciting SLO Film Fest screening of ANITA in March 2014, sharing her award-winning film that profiles Anita Hill’s battle to expose sexual harassment at the Supreme Court level.
The entire program of films in the We Are One Global Festival looks amazing! We are delighted to see the short film ANNA is included. It was an official selection of our Festival this year. Another film that stands out and brings back memories is AMREEKA, a movie we programmed in 2010. This is a beautiful story about a Palestinian single mom and her teenage son who immigrate to small-town Illinois. It is one of the picks from the Cannes Film Festival where it won the Fipresci critics award in 2009.
It is memorable not just because it was an extremely touching and beautifully made film. We screened it at the Palm Theatre, the original home of the SLO Film Fest 27 years ago. The Palm staff and owner Jim Dee bend over backwards to make sure everything runs smoothly, festival after festival and we are so grateful to them. That year, a new projectionist was being trained and this was back in the days of heavy cans of 35mm film that had to be assembled on a very large platter before running through the projector. In the chaos of the Festival, the novice projectionist messed up the last reel and right in the middle of a dramatic scene, the movie was suddenly playing upside-down and backwards! Festival goers were more upset about not getting to see the end of this wonderful film than the mess up, and even though they got refunds and a voucher for another film, to this day they are probably still sad they didn’t get to see how it ended. Fortunately, now they can!!
VIRTUAL PRIDE FILM FESTIVAL While unfortunately pride cannot happen in person this year, GALA Pride and Diversity Center has organized an incredible line-up of films for the month of June. Highlights include documentary STATE OF PRIDE (2019) about the history of Pride since the Stonewall riots and for fans of documentary Paris Is Burning, narrative feature KIKI (2017) about the 1980’s ballroom scene in New York City.
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, Downtown Centre Cinemas.
Downtown Centre Cinemas, aka The Movie Experience. And what would a film festival be without theaters to show the films in? The Downtown Centre 7, right in the middle of downtown SLO, has played host for many years to hundreds of film screenings for us, and has become an essential venue sponsor for the SLOIFF. Our thanks go out to this longtime SLO fixture!
As an international film festival, we recognize the power of our platform in addressing the systemic racial issues that divide our country. We stand against all forms of racism, bigotry and violence. And we will continue to share stories from diverse voices that expose injustice, promote understanding and advocate for equality. For more information on how you can support racial justice locally, contact R.A.C.E. MATTERS SLO and Black Lives Matter.
Skye McLennan & Wendy Eidson Festival Director // Artistic Director
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.”
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
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.
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.
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.
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. KSBYbroadcasts 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!
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!
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.
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!
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!
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.
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
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.